“One of life's greatest joys is to create spaces where children feel safe, welcome, and beloved. Stories are one such space.” — Mitali Perkins
here's a quick video intro to me, made just for you ...
Who In The World Is Mitali Perkins?That's a good question. I've been trying to figure it out myself, spending most of my life crossing borders.
I was born Mitali Bose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and always tried to live up to my name—which means “friendly” in the Bangla language. I had to! Because my family moved so much, it was the only way I could make new friends.
By the time I was 11, I'd lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York and Mexico before settling in California just in time for middle school. Yep, I was the new kid again, in seventh grade, the year everybody barely makes it through.
My biggest lifeline during those early years was story. Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.
Open Mic: Ten Authors Riff About Growing Up Between Cultures, an anthology of fiction, poetry, and memoir edited by me, released from Candlewick in 2013, and a middle-grade novel, Tiger Boy, will be published in 2015 from Charlesbridge.
A bestselling recent book is Bamboo People (Charlesbridge), a Junior Library Guild selection which actually featured boys on the cover — a first for me!
The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen (Little Brown), my first novel, is the story of a California middle-schooler whose traditional Indian grandparents visit for a year, completely upending her typical teenage world. Wonder where I got that idea? Try asking my parents. :) I'm so delighted that it was as an ALA Book for Reluctant Readers and the winner of the Christian School’s Association’s Lamplighter Award.
Next came Monsoon Summer (Random House), featuring a biracial teen who goes back to India for a life-changing summer of romance and realizations. This novel was an ALA Quick Pick, a Bank Street Best Book, a New York Library Book for the Teen Age, and a Texas Library Association TAYSHAS Best Book for Young Adults. Hooray!
The First Daughter novels (Dutton), two fast, light reads for teens, explore the campaign experience through the eyes of a candidate’s adopted Pakistani-American daughter. These were fun to write during an election year.
I also published Rickshaw Girl (Charlesbridge), a story for younger readers about a young Bangladeshi girl who challenges the traditional female roles in her village. I was thrillled when the book won the Jane Addams Honor Award, the Maine Lupine Honor Award, and the Julia Ward Howe Honor Award.
Secret Keeper (Random House) is a novel for teens that made the ALA's Amelia Bloomer list of great titles empowering girls.
When I’m Not Writing
After stints in Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malibu, and Boston (for 12+ years!), we're settling back home in the San Francisco Bay Area, thanks to my husband's call to serve as pastor of Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. (If you want to find out how I ended up as a pastor's wife, you'll find the start of the story here.)
I love visiting schools and libraries to discuss “books between cultures” and the life-changing power of story.
I love it when people stop by my virtual “fire escape” (mitaliperkins.com), or my blog about books between cultures (mitaliblog.com).
That's Not Enough?!
Here are some interviews where you'll probably find out more about me than you ever wanted to know:
- Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Hip Writer Mama
- School Library Journal
- Big A little a
- Mother Reader
- Books in 140 via Twitter
- The Life Uncommon
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) was born in India and immigrated to the States with her parents and two sisters when she was seven. Bengali-style, their names rhyme: Sonali means "gold,” Rupali means "silver,” and “Mitali” means “friendly.” Mitali had to live up to her name because her family moved so much — she’s lived in India, Ghana, Cameroon, England, New York, Mexico, California, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Massachusetts.
Mitali studied political science at Stanford University and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley before deciding to try and change the world by writing stories for young readers. Now she’s settled in Newton, a town just outside of Boston, where she writes full-time.