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Publishers’ Preview: Diverse Voices: Five Questions for Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2018 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diverse Voices, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored by
Random House

Diversity reigns in We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, a collection of poems, essays, and pictures from more than fifty authors and illustrators.

Photos: Stephan Hudson.

1. Wade, you write in the first selection, “It will be all right!” Will it?

WH: I firmly believe it will. There is a famous quote by Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” It will be all right speaks to our determination to carry on the struggle for change that will make our world a better place for all. It affirms that no one is alone. It is aspirational.

2. How did you decide the order of the included pieces?

CWH: We wanted a rhythm to run through the contributions and the accompanying art. The input of editor Phoebe Yeh was invaluable.

3. Cheryl, what’s one book that served as a lifesaver in your childhood?

CWH: The first children’s book that had a major impact on me was one I didn’t read until I was an adult. Zeely by Virginia Hamilton spoke to my childhood experiences in a realistic and affirming way. As an African American child in the segregated South of the 1950s and 1960s, there were no children’s books that were lifesavers for me. Rather, magazines like Ebony fueled my imagination.

4. Did putting together this book change your perspective on resistance?

CWH: Love, hope, and resiliency of spirit are inherent throughout the pieces, whether from elders like George Ford and Ashley Bryan, Baby Boomers like Eleanora Tate and Pat Cummings, or younger contributors like Jeffery Weatherford and Jason Reynolds.

5. Are you hopeful that publishing for children will, truly and lastingly, become more diverse?

CWH: I am hopeful because the number of creators of color is growing. Yet some editors, reviewers, sales and marketing teams, and readers still need to lose the “white gaze.”

WH: There is still so much work to be done. But there has been hard-earned progress. I am hopeful, too.

Sponsored by
Random House

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