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Showing posts from March, 2016

RICKSHAW GIRL the play premieres this April and May!

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Every Saturday and Sunday at 11 and 2 from 4/2-5/22, you may catch the Bay Area Children's Theater's beautiful adaptation of my novel Rickshaw Girl. GET TICKETS HERE!

And if you want to get a signed copy, come to the show when I'll be there (see below). Thanks for supporting this story of a brave girl who finds a way to honor her family.


Mind the Gap: Questions about Power for Storytellers

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I'm an advocate of safe spaces. I like creating them, especially for children. I also like creating in them. In my years as a writer of children's stories, it feels to me like the tension and hostility about issues such as appropriation and authenticity is growing. Sometimes this exhausts me, and I'm tempted to crawl off the fire escape and hide. But there's too much at stake (i.e., the well-being of children). So, in order to keep pressing on in my mission, I offer these questions as a checklist for fellow authors and illustrators, perhaps as fodder for discussion in critique groups and conferences, or for your private journaling pleasure.

As always, conversation is encouraged as we pass the tea and biscuits.
"How big is the power gap between me and my main character?""What kinds of power gaps exist between me and my characters in the time and place of their story?" (i.e., class, culture, education...)"How do these gaps matter in the time and …

"Should White Authors Avoid Writing ... Blah, Blah, Blah?"

I'm scheduled to be a Highlights Foundation mentor this summer, and so was recently interviewed by author Barbara Dee on a blog called "From The Mixed Up Files ... of Middle-Grade Authors." She asked me about middle-grade fiction and mentoring, and then added a question about whether or not white authors can write main characters of color. I want to share my answer to that here.

Do you feel white authors should avoid writing from the POV of a character of color?

No. I’m alarmed that this question is increasingly asked. As adults who write for and about children, ALL of us have to confront the intersections of our privilege before telling a story. As we explore how we are crossing different kinds of power borders to tell a certain character's story, it should become more clear to us whether or not we should proceed with that story. For example, take my RICKSHAW GIRL. Naima, my main character, and I do share the same cultural origin, skin color, and gender — we are both…