Ten writers for children. All with something to say.
Later today I'll drive about three hours south through burgeoning signs of spring to Charlottesville, VA, the setting of the annual Virginia Festival of the Book, where I will join four other debut author/friends for a Saturday afternoon panel discussion about our group marketing efforts on behalf of the Class of 2K9. Although a few of our twenty-two middle-grade and YA novels have already launched (HEART OF A SHEPHERD, BULL RIDER, THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY, MY LIFE IN PINK AND GREEN, JANE IN BLOOM, FREAKED, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS), this panel discussion will be our first official gathering and public launch of our Class of 2K9.
Participation in this group of talented authors has been an enlightening experience for me. Not only have I learned much about the self-marketing and promotion of our books (very necessary in this troubled economy), including all the technological avenues such as websites, blogs, facebook, live journal, jacketflap, widgets, twitter, etc, but I have gained an incredible online community of caring, supportive, like-minded friends. As we go through this exciting roller coaster of events and emotions, we're discovering there are both highs and lows in the unveiling of our most personal efforts. Who better to share them with than each other? Like all new authors, we have some fears outshined by great hopes for our books and our careers.
It seems especially fitting that I make this journey of hope on the official first day of spring. To paraphrase my character, Miss Eliza, in my forthcoming novel, ROAD TO TATER HILL: "Birds have been singing and chirping of a morning. The trees have that haze of first green about them, buds fairly bursting with the promise of leaves and life."
My Diego book is out!
What's next? Diego was published after Frida, so a book about Pablo Picasso must follow. Picasso admired Frida's art. And Diego and Picasso imitated each other. It has been said that Diego added all his last names to his first name because Picasso did; that Diego said he was placed in a dung bucket after his birth because Picasso was placed on a table after he was born; that Diego had an affair with Marievna because Picasso did. It has also been said that Picasso copied a painting from Diego, making Diego and his family furious.
If the book about Diego Rivera was hard for me to write, the book about Picasso will be more so. But I accept the challenge.
One of the many things I like about my life is the great variety it offers me. For example, today...
I spent the morning and afternoon at a Catholic school in St. Paul, working with the third and fourth graders. The third graders are writing stories about shrinking and the fourth graders are writing stories about turning into animals. I am visiting each classroom three times over the course of this week. It is very rewarding to see these students getting so excited about their own writing.
I spent this evening at Open Book in Minneapolis, being one of three judges for a juried illustrators' show. What a delight to view such strong pieces, and to see how different artists responded to illustrating the same works of poetry. Very inspiring. The other judges were an illustrator and an author, and collaborating with them on the winners provided for stimulating conversation.
And tonight I will spend reading a book by Alison McGhee, another Minnesota author. The two of us are going to be interviewed by the local public television station next week, and I want to be as familiar with her work as possible before the taping.
Teaching, Illustrating, Writing, Reading.
Working with kids, working with other adults, working alone.
Such a wonderful mix of ways to spend my day.
This very day my book goes to the printer.
Here is the front flap copy and a few images
(click to enlarge).
The book publishes in Sept. 09.
isamu was a boy of the East and the West.
Born in the United States to a Japanese father and
Scotch-Irish American mother, Isamu grew up in Japan.
From his earliest years he felt the tug of his biracial
heritage, never quite fitting in or thinking he belonged.
Pleasure came, however, from the natural world.
Color, light, and shadow. Earth, wood, and stone.
Working with these forms of nature, Isamu found
a way to blend his cultural divide. It was an
exploration that became the cornerstone and
spirit of his lifelong creative journey.
With lyrical text and luminous artwork, Christy Hale
tells the story of the boy who grew up to be the
multi-faceted artist Isamu Noguchi. Guided by his
desire to enrich everyday life with art while bringing
together Eastern and Western influences, Noguchi
created a vast array of innovative sculptures, stage
sets, furniture, and public spaces. The East-West
House is a testament to the artistic beginnings
of this pioneering modern sculptor and designer.
As the years go by, I sometimes think my early books are "over." By that I mean, oh , it's been so long since they came out. Is anyone even reading them anymore?
The second picture book I sold came out in 1998. Put out by the special needs publisher Woodbine House, We'll Paint the Octopus Red is a story about a little girl named Emma who is expecting a new sibling any day. She muses about what she will do with the new sibling, but when Isaac is born, he has Down's Syndrome. Emma then has a talk with her dad and realizes Isaac will still be able to do all the things she had planned.
Over the past decade, the response to this book has been amazing and steady. In 2007, the Barnes and Noble CEO, who had a daughter with Down Syndrome, decided to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month with a special story time at over 500 Barnes and Noble stores, featuring We'll Paint the Octopus Red.
This weekend, I'm flying to LA to be part of a celebration for a new resource center, Club 21, for families with children with Down Syndrome. Why? They love my book and want me to read it, so I'll be doing a few story times throughout the grand opening. I imagine it will be an incredible, inspiring experience
I can't tell you how much it means for someone to tell me they like a book that I wrote. Especially ten years later...