OD and I met when he wrote a rap song for Viola (in The Good Braider). Now we’ve done a book together, Aii Yee, Joseph! I love this book because with OD, it’s an Acholi story. OD says, this is me when I was growing up. He came to Portland from Kyangwali refugee camp in Uganda. And now our Joseph was a small boy in Kyangwali before he came to Portland. We’ve made discovery after discovery together about Joseph. For instance, in Kyangwali, he played the awal, a percussion instrument you hit with a wire comb. Now our book has moved to the art department at Groundwood where the art director will do a rough layout. Then the book goes to Ken Daly, the artist of Joseph’s Big Ride. Final art in 2020, then printing in Asia. Aii Yee, Joseph arrives in 2021!
“The narrative, which focuses on building a friendship, is paired with Daley’s vibrant illustrations, which depict just how fast the minds, and bikes, of young children can go…An ideal addition…” School Library Journal
This has been a good, good year for my characters, Joseph and Whoosh, in Joseph’s Big Ride. Their bike – the one Joseph FINALLY gets to ride, his wish come true! – came to life in a school in Westbrook, Maine. Master’s of Education students at the Maine College of Art made it happen with an Art Lesson they did with the students beginning with drawing lots of kids’ hands and the connected hands become the spokes of the bicycle’s wheels. Like this….
The children and these extraordinary art teachers put Joseph’s – really Whoosh’s (but she likes him) – bike all together like this…
You can see the steps to make the bike is this gallery of images and videos. The Art Lessons for Joseph’s Big Ride are created as part of a tool kit for a collection of children’s books called the, Welcoming Library
Libraries and community centers can purchase the Welcoming Library of children’s books, mobile exhibit, and program resources to help new Americans and U.S.-born families in the neighborhood meet each other through story. See all the books and meet the creator, Kirsten Cappy, champion of books and children, at Welcoming Library.
Joseph’s Big Ride also comes to Dads in correctional facilities to help parents connect with their kids through stories
I had to get this for my daughter. She’s got hair just like Whoosh.Dad at Concord State Prison
The Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF) gives brand-new children’s books to incarcerated parents in New Hampshire and Vermont prisons to support family literacy. I’m one of the writers who visits schools and prisons to tell stories and talk about reading. We imagine ways to read aloud to their kids which parents can do, depending on the facility, by Skype, phone call, or making a recording. CLiF also gives children brand-new books in schools and community centers. I’ve brought Joseph’s joyful tale to many, many children in schools in immigrant neighborhoods.
Finally, for this good, good year for Joseph and Whoosh, South Sudanese rapper, OD Bonny and I have teamed up to write a new story for Joseph called AII YEE, JOSEPH! I first met OD when he wrote a tribute song, “A Girl from Juba” for Viola, the heroine of my novel in verse, THE GOOD BRAIDER. I am very excited to work with this talented singer and storyteller who brings his music around the world to the Acholi people and all of us.