Monthly Archives: May 2011

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers’ We Are America

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers’ We Are America provides a personal and moving window into what it means to be American.  Here are father and son on the inspiration for the book:

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A Pair of Newbery Winners

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Yesterday I was honored to moderate a discussion with this year’s and last year’s Newbery winners Clare Vanderpool and Rebecca Stead for a whole auditorium full of Random House folk. Clare and Rebecca were fantastic, of course. Among other things they talked about THE CALL (the early morning phone call informing each that they’d won the award), school visits, writing, setting, genre, family, and a whole lot more. Clare and Rebecca’s responses to my questions made me realize how much Moon Over Manifest and When You Reach Me have in common —  a strong sense of place based on each author’s own experiences, intriguing and unconventional threads of plot, a setting back in time, and more.  Thank you so much, Random House, for inviting me to do this.

photo from @randomhousekids


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I recently read A Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness from an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd. Because it doesn’t publish in the U. S. until September I was going to hold off writing about it, but the announcement of Bin Laden’s death following so closely on the anniversary of Hitler’s made me change my mind.

One of the many extraordinary aspects of Ness’s work is the way he presents the nuances of good and evil and complicates the very notion of monster. In his earlier Chaos Walking series the monsters were absolutist and terrorist humans involved with the colonization of a planet, each one convinced that the dreadful things that they did were done for righteous reasons. In A Monster Calls (the first chapter can be read here) the landscape is not literally as vast as a planet; instead it is the smaller world of a boy in emotional anguish. Yet even in this very intimate environment the monsters are just as complex and almost equally unfathomable.

As I consider the understandable responses to the deaths of real life monsters like Bin Laden and Hitler, I’m reminded how complicated good and evil are. And also, that the end of a bad person doesn’t mean the end of bad things, sadly.


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