Category: Authors

The very talented father and son, Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have both written separate pieces in the New York Times on the need for more children’s books to be written featuring children and people of color.  Both pieces are powerful and vital.

Walter Dean Myers writes of his own complex relationship with books and then his own role as a writer:

When I was doing research for my book “Monster,” I approached a white lawyer doing pro bono work in the courts defending poor clients. I said that it must be difficult to get witnesses to court to testify on behalf of an inner-city client, and he replied that getting witnesses was not as difficult as it sometimes appeared on television. “The trouble,” he said, “is to humanize my clients in the eyes of a jury. To make them think of this defendant as a human being and not just one of ‘them.’ ”

I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do when I wrote about poor inner-city children — to make them human in the eyes of readers and, especially, in their own eyes. I need to make them feel as if they are part of America’s dream, that all the rhetoric is meant for them, and that they are wanted in this country.

Christopher Myers writes so poetically of the children we are not supporting and instead are abandoning:

We adults — parents, authors, illustrators and publishers — give them in each book a world of supposedly boundless imagination that can delineate the most ornate geographies, and yet too often today’s books remain blind to the everyday reality of thousands of children. Children of color remain outside the boundaries of imagination. The cartography we create with this literature is flawed.

My hope is that their voices are heard, that we move beyond platitudes to true inclusion of people and children of all sorts of diversity.  In the meantime, I will do my small part of selecting books for my community that show the rainbow of diversity that we serve and also blogging here and featuring books about diverse people.  We can make a change!

natamb medal1 Kate DiCamillo is New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Kate DiCamillo has been named the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014-2015.  She was named by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington who had the following to say about her:

Kate DiCamillo is not only one of our finest writers for young people but also an outstanding advocate for the importance of reading. The Library of Congress is pleased to welcome Kate as a worthy successor to our three previous National Ambassadors.

SLJ has an interview by Travis Jonker with our new ambassador who will be inaugurated on January 10th. 

Ned Vizzini Dead at Age 32

It's Kind of a Funny Story Be More Chill The Other Normals

I saw rumors swirling this morning about this, but didn’t want to post anything until something looked official.  What a tragedy to lose a tremendous writing talent so very young.  According to the LA Times, Vizzini committed suicide on Thursday in New York City. 

Vizzini was the author of several books, including It’s Kind of a Funny Story which was a fictionalization of his own time spent in a psychiatric ward due to being suicidal.  That book was made into a movie in 2010.  I particularly enjoyed an earlier book of his, Be More Chill and found it to be a great book to booktalk to teens.  I was also a fan of one of his more recent books The Other Normals which I had hoped would have a sequel since I loved the world he built so much and the humor too.

This is a deep loss for YA literature.

Charlotte Zolotow Dies

Charlotte Zolotow has died at age 98.  She was an author and editor of children’s books.  She wrote more than 70 picture books, including Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present and William’s Doll.  She worked as an editor at Harper & Row with her own imprint, Charlotte Zolotow Books.  The New York Times has details of her life and work.

Barbara Park Dies


Bestselling author, Barbara Park has died at age 66 from a long battle with ovarian cancer.  She is the author of the beloved Junie B. Jones series that has sold over 55 million copies.  She has published more than fifty books over the years.

Ann Jonas Has Died


Ann Jonas, creator of some amazing picture books, has died at age 81 according to Publisher’s Weekly.  She is the creator of the very innovating Round Trip, a black and white picture book that flipped over and you read it backwards to finish the story.

Jonas was married to Donald Crews, also an author and illustrator of children’s picture books.  She is also the mother of Nina Crews who too creates children’s books.  That’s one talented family!

Barbara J. Robinson Dies

Barbara Robinson The Best Christmas Pageant Ever The Best School Year Ever

Barbara J. Robinson, author of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, has died at age 85 according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Author of 12 books for children, she had a wonderful ear for comedic timing, basing her books on the antics of the Herdman family. 

While continuing to write, Mrs. Robinson spent the latter part of her career visiting schools across the country, speaking to children and teachers about writing, and attending writers’ conferences.

"That was the favorite part, speaking with the children who were her readers," her daughter said. "She was delighted with their questions and comments, some of which were hilarious."

Marc Simont Dies

A Tree Is Nice The Philharmonic Gets Dressed

Illustrator Marc Simont has died at age 97. 

Simont won the Caldecott Medal in 1957 for A Tree Is Nice written by Janice May Udry.  Over his career, he illustrated nearly 100 books, according to an article in the New York Times covering his death. 

Perhaps his best known title is The Philharmonic Gets Dressed written by Karla Kuskin, one of my all-time favorite picture books. 

Bernard Waber Dies

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile The House on East 88th Street Ira Sleeps Over 

Bernard Waber, author of classic picture books like Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, The House on East 88th Street, and Ira Sleeps Over, has died at age 91.  His 33 books have sold over 1.75 million copies. 

Fredrick McKissack Dies

Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues The Clone Codes (The Clone Codes, #1)

The St. Louis Post Dispatch carries the news of the death of Fredrick McKissack.  Mr. McKissack co-authored many books with his wife, Patricia McKissack.  According to the article, he also helped with research on books that did not bear his name as well. 

Fredrick McKissack died on Sunday at the age of 73.  Together with his wife, they wrote more than 100 books for children and adults many of which focused on African-Americans and civil rights. 


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