We Need Diverse Books

I’m headed toward the Pennsylvania School Library Association conference today, where I’ll get to connect with (and hug!) the people who get books into the hands of those who need them most.

This year, I’m not only on Authors Alley, I’m part of a panel on diversity with authors Maria Andreu and Jeffrey W. Johnston on Saturday, which is both a huge honor and an intense responsibility. Has this issue ever been more important?

Along with topics such as We Need Diverse Books, In Our Own Voices, and Window & Mirrors, we plan on sharing lists of books and activities (which I’ll update here after the conference!) Most importantly, we hope to facilitate a safe environment where attendees feel comfortable discussing topics which often feel, well, uncomfortable.

Because discussion is key. We can’t change anything without talking – and listening – to each other.

We need diverse books logo

The conference’s focus this year is on “curiosity.” In this case, I think we can learn a lot from the children themselves. How many times do we shush someone’s questions, saying it’s “not appropriate to ask such a thing”?

Kids notice. Kids ask. It’s their job.

And it’s our job to answer them.

When our boys were toddlers, we read a story featuring an African American family. About halfway through the book, Alex pointed to an illustration, his forehead crinkled. “Why doesn’t that daddy look like mine?”

There was no malice in his question. He was curious.

“Some books do show Daddies that look like yours,” I answered. “But how do you think Wesley feels (one of his best friends, who is African American) if he never gets to see Daddies that look like his?”

“Oh.” Alex nodded with a smile. “That makes sense.”

And that was it.

Because that does make sense.

People need to see themselves reflected in books to know they’re not alone. And people need windows, to see – and hopefully venture – outside of their own walls: to appreciate, to understand and to connect.

Stop shushing. Start talking. Start sharing.

Children aren’t born with prejudices. They are, however, born with curiosity. They’re born to ask questions. Books can help answer them.

We need diverse books.

When A Dragon Moves In – the Graphic Novel? !!!

Today I received a truly splendiferous email. It seems a fifth grade teacher challenged her students to take a favorite story and turn it into a graphic novel.

And guess what?

*drum roll*

One of her students chose When A Dragon Moves In…and her mom not only shared it with me, but gave me permission to share it with all of YOU!

*Tigger dances*

Words can’t describe what an honor and a thrill this is. And so without further ado, it’s my privilege to share the work of this brilliant young artist:

(SPOILER – check out the alternate ending!!!)

1 When A Dragon Graphic Novel

2 When A Dragon Graphic Novel

3 When A Dragon Graphic Novel

4 When A Dragon Graphic Novel

Isn’t this fantabulous? Isn’t this young artist fantabulous???

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sarah. Like Howard McWilliam (the illustrator for When A Dragon Moves In and When A Dragon Moves In Again), you’ve brought my characters, my vision – my dream – to life! You’re an inspiration to all of us, and we can’t wait to enjoy more of your talents!

Feathered Friends, Feathered Therapy Animals

I love New York. The bustle. The food. The arts.

The people.

Last week, when visiting our son and his girlfriend, we walked down the busy sidewalk to enjoy brunch before going to a show (the bustle, the food, the arts all wrapped up in one delicious package.)

In the distance, a woman in a wheelchair rolled toward us. “She usually has a parrot on her shoulder,” Steve remarked.

parrot

(Note: this is not the woman’s parrot…this is an actor playing the role of the parrot.)

“Wait…a parrot?” I asked. “As in, a real parrot, or a stuffed animal parrot?”

“A real parrot,” he replied.

So of course, I had to talk to her. “Hello!” I called. “Where’s your parrot today?”

She stopped and smiled. “Oh, I’m coming back from church,” she replied. “I can’t bring him anymore. He sings too loud for the congregation.”

But she was only too happy to share pictures of her colorful roommate. Turns out, her parrot is a therapy animal. He keeps her company, talks to her (yes, they have real conversations – he doesn’t only “parrot” her words!), and can call for help when necessary.

I love New York. The bustle. The food. The arts.

And the people. Including the feathered, furry and fuzzy ones.

 

Having a Ball in the Snow…it’s all in one’s perspective

Yesterday, as so many did, I woke up in a lovely snow globe.

snow backyard

The flakes fluttered and danced, twirling in a soft, soothing ballet; cradling the earth in a gentle hush.

It brought back treasured memories of sledding, of snowmen and snow angels. I caught snowflakes on my tongue. I marveled at the frosted trees. I frolicked. (It’s a proud Moore family tradition.)

snow day ruler.JPG

About halfway through shoveling my driveway, however, things felt slightly less fun. The chill numbed my fingers. The wind reversed my progress. The plow rumbled as it roared by, tossing waves of snow back onto my newly cleared surface.

Snow cars driveway

Sadly, I stopped seeing the glory of the snow. And only saw the tediousness of the work.

Then, one of my sweet furry neighbors bounded out to share her ball with me.

Snow mia

As I tossed it for her, the snow morphed from annoying icy stuff to dreamy marshmallow fluff.

It’s all in one’s perspective.

The skies haven’t cleared yet, but thanks to this precious pup, my thinking has.

Happiest of birthdays to my love

Today is special because it’s my hubby’s birthday. Larry is my best friend & my love… my partner in life.

larry & me wedding

The father of our wonderful sons…

larry alex & stevie

My favorite DJ and dance partner…

larry dj

My perfect sandcastle builder…

larry castle

My invaluable author helper/techie…

larry author help

And my inspiration and support system in every way.

larry castle w baby

larry castle baby building.jpg

Every season.

Larry & me beach

larry & us christmas

Every day.

larry spaghetti moment

Every moment.

He makes my world a better place. He makes the world a better place.

Because no matter how independent I may be, how strong, how self-sufficient, I feel so blessed to be able to share my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my tears, my joy, my journey, my love, my life with this man.

Glass kiss

Who makes your world a better place? Tell them today. You might just make their world a little brighter.

H4L Day 28: The “Spirit” of Theater (celebrating new work in historic spaces)

This past weekend, my husband and I had the intense joy of watching our son perform in a new, immersive show called FREAKS DON’T CRY (a production of Linked Dance Theatre) on Coney Island.

Billed as a fusion of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” and the history of Coney Island’s sideshow, we watched, white-knuckling our seats, as drinks in the bar changed from clear to deep purple right in front of our eyes, as characters walked (and lay!) on glass, and as knives spun in a tantalizing game of Russian roulette and flew through the air. Dance wove both the story and the colorful characters together.

Freaks Steve on glass

(Photo Credit: Brooklyn Daily)

What’s more, this show is performed on the actual freak sideshow stage, which is now over 100 years old. We couldn’t help but think of all those who had performed before them, their spirits lingering, watching, enjoying the show.

Freaks Don't Cry stage shot

And oh, the inspiration for the young adult novel I’m currently writing. There’s something so special about an old theater! I felt the same way years ago when Steve and I performed as part of the cast of The Christmas Carol in the old Garman Opera House in Bellefonte, PA, which had hosted the brilliant minds and talents of George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Houdini, among so many others. There’s a certain feeling of awe, of respect, of fascination that ripples through me. It’s almost as if you feel an extra surge of responsibility to live up to “their” expectations.

They were proud, Steve. They were proud.

And so are we. Always.

And now, I must write.

H4L Day 27: Happy Place, Happy Feet

I ended my last blog with “there really is no place like home”. And I won’t argue the sentiment.

But sometimes, home is where the heart is.

beach feet.JPG

Last week, Baby Dragon and I were privileged to visit our happy place. To me, nothing is more inspiring than a day (or preferably, more!) at the beach, feet frolicking in the sand and foam.

baby-dragon-daytona

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones.

birds-flying-in-small

I guess sometimes home is where the hearts, and feet, are.

birds-flying-in

And are…

birds-closeup

And are…

birds gather 1.JPG

And are.

birds-gather

And now, I must write.