Friday, June 08, 2007

PaperTigers: A Chat With Aline Pereira

With the launch of PaperTigers' new blog, I invited Aline Pereira, editor of the award-winning, resource-rich site, to talk about her vision and vocation.

Q. Tell us about your journey to this land where children's literature is beloved. When did you start reading? How did you end up as the managing editor of the site?

A: I have always loved reading and writing, which I have been doing ever since I can remember. When I came to San Francisco from my native Brasil in 1996, after living in Portugal for some time, the first thing I did was join a writing group of non-native speakers writing fiction in English. To this date those co-writers are my closest friends... But before moving to Portugal and then here, I was working as assistant manager at a bookstore in Rio de Janeiro that specialized in art and children's books. It was the first bookstore in Rio to have a café, readings, music performances... It was a remarkable place to be. Lots of positive, creative energy...

In San Francisco, I worked as a project manager at a web design firm in the South of Market area for 6 years before my daughter was born (I took a 3 year-break after her birth) but I never lost sight of my dream of working with books again. And as it happens with most important things in life, serendipity played a big role in my joining PaperTigers: one day, when I was not even looking for a job, my husband was hired to work on the Pacific Rim Voices family of websites (of which PaperTigers is one of the projects) and heard that they were looking for someone to replace Elisa Oreglia, the person who conceived and started the site, as she was moving to China to pursue other projects. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. Luckily, Peter Coughlan, the Executive Director of Pacific Rim Voices, believed in my skills and enthusiasm enough to give me the reins of the project. It's been a challenging, wonderful and very rewarding ride.

Q. (Note to confused Fire Escape visitors: In the photo, the stony dude with large nostrils is neither Aline's hubby nor Peter Coughlan.) What do you like about managing the PaperTigers site?

A: The most rewarding things are being familiar with the great work of authors and illustrators; letting others know about new books, talents and projects, and providing a type of grassroots overall support to those involved in writing, producing, recommending and reading these great books (authors, illustrators and publishers, and also librarians, teachers and parents) in their attempts to encourage children to become hungry readers and respectful citizens of the world. Knowing that our rapidly growing readership thinks that we are doing a good job feels pretty good, too.

Q. What are your dreams for the site and the blog?

A: I hope that PaperTigers new team blog helps us get closer to our audience, which includes teachers, librarians and parents working with and raising children in different parts of the world. As for the website, I hope for more funding so we can do more of what we do, and better: that is, to promote understanding within and across cultures through children's literature with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Growing our pool of overseas contributors is also a priority, to make sure we are covering more literature coming out of other important but less talked about parts of the region as well.

Q. Name a couple of reads with bookmarks that are on your nightstand right now.

A: To the horror of many an avid reader, I admit to having a chronic problem with dog-earing my books. My nightstand is almost collapsing under the weight of my dog-eared piles, but their company helps me sleep better. The books don't get moved from my nightstand (or the floor around my bed, for that matter) to the bookshelves until long after I've finished reading them.

Books there now include: Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Lensey Namioka's Mismatch; the YA poetry collection What Have You Lost?, selected by the terrific Naomi Shihab Nye, and several others, including your First Daughter. I'm embarrassed to say Sparrow has been staring at me for a couple of weeks now, with those pretty eyes of hers. "I'll get to you soon," I assure her every evening before falling asleep.

Aline, please don't let Sparrow become a literary nag; it's heartening to know she's on your nightstand in such superb company. A thousand thanks to you and to Pacific Rim Voices for the information and encouragement you provide to those of us in children's literature circles. Até a vista!

2 comments:

Aline Pereira said...

Thanks for the highlight, Mitali. Now everyone knows there's nothing terribly exciting about me... but PaperTigers and the other Pacific Rim Voices projects sure are worthy of people's attention – if I may say so myself : )

Mitali Perkins said...

On the contrary, Aline, I think people realize that a person who cares deeply about multicultural books is editing the PaperTigers site, not to mention a person with pizazz!