They're finally here! Thank you, Rights People and Beijing BabyCube Children Brand Management Co., Ltd. for introducing our books into a quarter of the world's population.
Our fuzzy creature friends have arrived, and oh, are they soft and squishy! For an idea in your head to be realized so magically on paper by your talented illustrator-husband, Christopher Weyant, and then brought to 3D-life by the incredible MERRYMAKERS, is more than a dream come true. As Ogee (Orange Guy) and Peegee (Purple Guy) go out into the world, may they play nicely, debate honestly, and remember that there is always another perspective. #love #compassion
It's been quite a week. Quite a year. The world has shifted, once again.
So what do we do?
We teach, through our words and our actions, especially in front of our children, who look to us (parents, caregivers, teachers) as role models. Because as you know, they are always watching and listening.
We can also read. This is a list I've compiled, far from complete, but a good start. Let's teach our children well. They deserve that much.
I received this email yesterday, and it epitomizes why writing for children is one of the greatest privileges in the world. LOVE.
My name is Johnny and i just wanted to reach out to you and thank you for creating & sharing "You Are (Not) Small." Your book actually assisted me in an otherwise complicated discussion with my 5 year old. You see, she has Achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism. Recently she had been asking questions about her height, or lack thereof. I was dreading this day. She was frequently commenting on how she wanted to be big, like me. I had no idea how to break the news to her that she was a "little person" and that she would not be growing at the same rate as her 3 year old sister, who is a few inches taller than her already. Ultimately, I decided to use your book as a tool within our conversation. It helped me to explain to her that height was relative to how you perceive it and that no matter how short or tall you are, it's what's inside that counts. We both enjoyed your book very much. Again, I thank you for your gift."
So thrilled to see our latest book, CAN I TELL YOU A SECRET? out in the world. Thank you, Castleton Elementary, for celebrating little Monty's book birthday with popcorn and a song:
And thank you, The Curious Reader, for hosting our book launch!
Oh, and one of the best parts of the day was receiving a birthday serenade from the adorable kids at Punahou school in Honolulu - mahalo!
Whenever I hear a loud THUMP! outside my front door, it usually means that UPS has just delivered a huge sack of bedding for our guinea pig.
But sometimes, on particularly special days, it means that we have just received a giant box of....
....ADVANCE READER COPIES!!
CAN I TELL YOU A SECRET? will hit bookstores and (hopefully) your doorstep, on MAY 31st!
Orange Guy and Purple Guy made their modeling debut in MERRYMAKERS' 2016-17 catalogue. Order your very own furry creatures today and watch them battle it out (peacefully, of course)!
Our very own Purple and Orange creatures will come to life in 3D -- an extremely soft and plushy 3D -- by the end of Summer 2016!! They will be listed in the MerryMakers catalogue in time for BOOKEXPO AMERICA in May, and hopefully appear on shelves by the end of the summer. We are over the moon! Can't wait to snuggle and play with them!
I am thrilled that our fuzzy creatures are being used in classrooms to teach lessons on tolerance, perspective, diversity, and even measurement. Purple and Orange guys can be used as fun rulers in Math activities.
The Activity Guide can be downloaded here.
Hooray for students! Hooray for teachers!
Good books are like old friends, which makes it even more amazing that they can bring new ones into your life:
May your holiday season be full of peace and joy, and may the new year bring you good health and wonderful books.
This sums it up:
As does this:
Happy Holidays! Mele Kalikimaka! Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa!
A thoughtful response from a veteran children's librarian. From her blog post:
"So, what conclusions I drew from reflecting on all of the above experiences?
- Whether the author or illustrator of a book is of a particular culture matters less than if they do their homework and work diligently to produce authentic and culturally sensitive books. I am hopeful that many authors and illustrators will become more and more culturally aware and do not find such demand unreasonable or burdensome — or, perhaps it is burdensome but not something that can be shirked!
- Wouldn’t it be great if publishers encourage or even create professional development opportunities for their sales, marketing, and editorial teams to enrich everyone’s understanding of the importance of diversity, respect, and inclusion?
- Wouldn’t it be great if publishers hire more diverse employees to allow for better understanding of varied cultural contents in the manuscripts or illustrations?
- Wouldn’t it be easier to verify authenticity and spot questionable treatments if there are enough pairs of culturally sensitive eyes to review and evaluate the books in-house, prior to publication, and not wait to put out fires after the book lands in the hands of the readers?
- As consumers, we hold much power in our hands as well. If we keep buying the same-old same-old, and do not seek out or demand availability of the much needed diverse books, there will be no incentives for the publishing industry to heed such need: since it needs to survive and meet the bottom line, after all."
A discussion/debate/all-out brawl has been brewing on social media recently regarding the diversity (or lack thereof) in children's literature and whether bringing up the issue in a particular book or celebrating one that features a member of an underrepped group is tantamount to calling for a "diversity agenda" with a "diversity checklist."
Not that anyone is asking, but in my opinion, NO, IT DOES NOT.
Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of The Horn Book states in his editorial that a 10-11 year old boy who had asked author RJ Palacio why she didn't include a gay character in her book, WONDER, was, by his very question, calling for a diversity agenda in children's literature. That's right. Because he asked her why there wasn't a gay character in her story.
As the mother of a 10-year old child who spends A LOT of time with 10-11 year old children, I can confidently say that most 10-11 year old children, no matter how brilliant and sensitive they are, do not normally interrogate authors in order to convince them that going forward, they should write stories with "an agenda," first and foremost.
Someone who questions or criticizes a book and its lack of diversity or its misrepresentation of a member of a minority group does not = a) a bully or b) a "reverse" racist. And neither is a person who celebrates/promotes/evangelizes a book that features a member of an under-represented group.
I think the authors and editors involved in this imbroglio have gone off the deep end in their defensiveness and nastiness, and it depresses the hell out of me. Why? Because these are our "esteemed" leaders in children's publishing: the tastemakers, the educators, the perception-shapers. I expect more from them. Children deserve more from them.
Author Linda Sue Park sums up my feelings perfectly in her blog. Thank you, Linda, and thank you, 10-11 year old boy who dared to ask an important question to a revered author in a room full of grown ups. You rock.
One last thing: I loved WONDER. My 10-year old daughter reads the book on repeat, she loves it so much. Whether or not Palacio should have included a gay character in her story is besides the point. The fact that a child or adult -- white, black, yellow, trans, queer, or straight -- can ask this question IS THE POINT.
Maybe this 10-11 year old boy will one day write a story with a gay character. Wouldn't that be grand?
Voila! The French edition of THAT'S (NOT) MINE! Hourra!
I was over the moon to receive the F&Gs (Folded & Gathered) for our upcoming book, CAN I TELL YOU A SECRET? It features a new character, a little frog named Monty, who needs YOU to help him with a big problem.
It'll be out May 31, 2016, so mark your calendars! Thank you to the fabulous Margaret Anastas and Rachel Zegar of HarperCollins Children's Books for doing such a beautiful job!
I'm proud to report that YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL and THAT'S (NOT) MINE are featured in this year's national BOOK IT! reading program, sponsored by Pizza Hut. If you have a chance, check it out, and get a FREE Kindle version of You Are (Not) Small and discounts on several other books. There are really cool suggestions for activities as well. Read and eat pizza!
If you're free this Saturday, 9/19, at 3:30pm, we will be at the amazing indie bookstore, The Curious Reader, reading, drawing, signing, and giving fun things away (balloons may be involved). Not only that, you will have a chance to be the Orange and Purple guys!
Any reason to celebrate with cake is a good one. Thanks to Books, Bytes & Beyond and our local library, Chris and I got to collaborate on an original tale, THE SOCK THIEF, with a group of imaginative young kids, give away a Kindle Fire HD, and eat cake. A banner afternoon.
One of my happiest memories of school is receiving these thin, paper Scholastic brochures. A shopping catalogue of books! For kids! Like thousands of other kids, I loved browsing and circling all the books I wanted, hoping my parents would agree to buy at least one or two. When our book orders finally arrived, it was like Christmas morning.
Fast forward many, many years later to today, the day my Kindergartener brought home her first Scholastic Book Club brochure and proudly to turned to this page and showed me YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL, among all the books.