What Is Michelle H. Martin wearing?

I wanted Michelle Martin for this series because she's so danged outdoorsy. Why, when I emailed her asking to participate she was on her way out the door and into the rain for a bike ride with a friend through the Richmond Beach hills, which Michelle described as "killer." She wrote about her (and cofounder Rachelle D. Washington's) wonderful summer camp, Read-a-Rama, for the Horn Book in 2018, and I have wanted to attend ever since. Especially this year.

Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children and Youth Services and MLIS Program Chair at the University of Washington's Information School. And has great taste in fabric.


What are the plans for your wonderful Read-a-Rama project this summer? (I've told you I want to be a CIT.)

It seems unlikely that we’ll be able to have face to face camp this summer, but my business partner, Dr. Rachelle D. Washington, and I are planning a Read-a-Rama e-camp for the YMCA of Greater Seattle and have been hosting Read-a-Rama Storytimes online since quarantine started back in March.  We are featuring an exciting lineup of authors, readers, books and hands-on activities, delivering storytimes with the “100% engagement model” that we’ve always had for programming. To check out what’s on, visit www.Read-a-Rama.org (soon to be redesigned) and click on the “Storytimes” tab.


What is the best new thing you and your family have discovered in this quarantine era?

During quarantine, which started early in Seattle since we were the first US “hot spot,” my family has discovered great new recipes, and because all three of us are foodies who are also excellent cooks, my husband, Glenn, my 17-year-old daughter, Amelia, and I have all been eating very well. I’m cultivating gluten free sourdough (both buckwheat and brown rice flour), with which I have made some excellent waffles and bread. I have made shrimp and grits made with South Carolina Geechee Boy Mill blue grits, and chicken pot pie soup made with coconut cream; Glenn has made lamb stew and some excellent grilled baby back ribs; and Amelia has made several batches of French macarons with amazing fillings, and congee (rice porridge) with pork, veggies, and an incredible homemade sesame glaze. At least I have enough Pollyanna in me to be able to see that quarantine isn’t all bad. After all, how else would I get to taste Amelia’s amazing French macarons?


How is being a former Girl Scout helping you?

I’m still a Girl Scout! I have been a Girl Scout for roughly 36 years and have spent the last 12 being a troop leader and moving up with Amelia, who has earned Bronze and Silver Award and is now working on the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting (which I also earned). Despite spending 5-8 hours a day on Zoom in my “day job” as a professor, I and my 2 co-leaders are making time for fun with our Girl Scout troop of Seniors and Ambassadors (9th-12th graders) each Sunday and helping them stay connected with each other. This Sunday, we played a game of “Guess that Sound”: one person turns her camera off and makes a noise with something, and everyone else has to guess what’s making the noise. In lieu of our service unit campout (for about 250 girls from our surrounding area), I played guitar and sang for an online campfire with our portable fire pit and with my computer tethered to my phone in the backyard. We all had a good time.


What are you reading that you think the rest of us might like, too?

I taught Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet this quarter to my grad students and am hosting a Teen Book Club on Zoom on Tuesday, May 26, to which I’ve invited all the Girl Scouts in our area and all of the 9th-12-graders at my daughter’s school. I really enjoyed Pet, as did my students, and I think it provides excellent opportunities for discussing the agency of teens to make societal changes that need to be made. For fun, I’m reading A Monster Calls, by Siobhan Dowd and Patrick Ness, which has been on my bedside table pile for far too long.


If you could go camping absolutely anywhere in the world, where would you go?

New Zealand. I traveled to the North Island as a Girl Scout in January of my junior year of high school, when it was summer there, for a month-long international encamporee with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world.  I fell in love with New Zealand — the place and the people — and have also had the great fortune of taking a group of 12 students from the Information School to New Zealand for a study abroad in summer 2018. I would go back in a heartbeat, camping somewhere in their sheep-peppered, rolling hills instead of still being on lockdown.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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