Author Spotlight

34th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference

Last week, I attended the 34th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference at Kent State University, focusing on multicultural literature for children and young adults.  Living in Northeast Ohio, I have attended several times in the past; however, this year I am a newly minted member of the Conference’s Advisory Board and got to see a bit “behind the curtain” of the event as well. In addition, this year was unusual.  The typical April date was changed to October to be combined with a Literacy Conference Kent State was hosting this year, and that content was also included in breakdown sessions. The Conference began Thursday evening with dinner, the Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards, and one of the Conference’s three keynote speakers, poet Marilyn Nelson. Present to pick up their poetry awards, and to read excerpts from their work, were winner Nikki Grimes (One Last Word) and honor recipients Hope Anita Smith (My Daddy…

Author Spotlight

How Author Visits Helped Heal Our Community

This past November, tragedy struck my elementary school community when one of our fifth grade students died. Within hours of her passing, reporters and cameramen showed up on school grounds, filming our children on the playground and through the windows of the cafeteria, placing blame for her death on bullying at our school. In all the chaos, we didn’t have time to process anything. There really aren’t words to describe how difficult this experience was for us. We were grieving – not only for our student, but also for our community. After an emotional staff meeting, I realized that all of us needed something positive to rally our community around. Since we are located in a suburb of Denver, and ALA’s Midwinter Conference was taking place here in February, I began contacting authors in hopes of coordinating school visits. First, I reached out to Marley Dias’s agent with Scholastic. Scholastic…

Author Spotlight

An Interview with Deborah Hopkinson

Author Deborah Hopkinson shares her process of writing Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen and the role children’s librarians play in supporting the dreams of their young patrons. What motivated you to write a book about Jane Austen for young readers?     I’ve been an Austen fan for a long time. I was perhaps in sixth grade when I first discovered her books. I still have a few old battered paperbacks from those days. And I once took my daughter on a “literary pilgrimage” in England. And yes, we went to Bath. I don’t anticipate young readers to rush out and devour Pride and Prejudice, of course. But I think it’s wonderful to give readers the chance to discover accomplished women of the past from all cultures. And Austen offers a model for an ordinary person determined to follow her own path, which seems especially relevant in our celebrity-focused culture.  What do you…

Author Spotlight

An Interview with Author Richard Torrey

Author and illustrator Richard Torrey shares his thoughts on the role of libraries and his process creating Ally-Saurus & the Very Bossy Monster. How would you describe your book ALLY-SAURUS & the Very Bossy Monster to children’s librarians sharing this book with young readers? Like the first book (ALLY-SAURUS & the First Day of School), it’s primarily a celebration of the incredible resilience and flexibility of children’s imagination. In this story, Ally-saurus and her friends are having a wonderful time playing pretend, each in their own way. But everything changes when the bossy new neighbor, Maddie, shows up. Maddie insists they play what she wants to play-and according to her rules. When she finally goes too far, Ally-saurus ROARS into action, helping Maddie understand that bossiness is no fun at all. What inspired you to tackle the issue of bossiness in this book? I never intentionally set out to tackle specific issues when…