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After the Call: Sarah, Then and Now

I began Sarah, Plain and Tall long ago in my 1790 New England house, while missing my Wyoming home. I sat in the music room with my dogs, watching my children take the school bus. I worked on a typewriter, listening to the noisy eraser cartridge slap back and forth....

After the Call: Dazzled and Honored

Oh, I remember that evening. We were entertaining dinner guests, and the phone rang. I answered it, and listened, and then the call was over, so I returned to the table to report, except — and I remember this vividly — that the mental tape on which I had always...

After the Call: The Newbery's Gifts

Two-time winner Katherine Paterson (far right) with her family, celebrating her 1981 Newbery for Jacob Have I Loved. Photo courtesy of Katherine Paterson. Most awards are given soon after or even when they’re announced, but winners of the Newbery Medal are told on a morning in January and have until...

After the Call: Love Letters

Susan Cooper at Pembroke College, Oxford, to give the Tolkien Lecture in 2017. Photo courtesy of Pembroke College Tolkien Lecture. The Newbery Award had no effect on my work, I believe — apart from making it temporarily harder, due to the mean little voice in one’s head that sneers: Okay,...

The Writer's Page: "Why Don't You Write About White People?"

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While I was an active writer in the 1970s and 1980s, I was invited to speak to children in many elementary schools around the country. Most of the students, in the third to sixth grades, were white. The children were interested in my work and the images that were all...

Field Notes: Teaching Flying Lessons & Other Stories

In a foreword to the paperback edition of the groundbreaking anthology Flying Lessons & Other Stories — edited by Ellen Oh, first published in 2017 in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, and dedicated to the late Walter Dean Myers — Christopher Myers writes, “Imagine…this book you are holding, Flying...

Graphic Memoirs: Why We Read Them. Why We Need Them.

When a new graphic memoir comes out, I need to read it. I can’t get enough of people’s stories about their own lives — and I love comics. What an easy hunger to satisfy nowadays as the number of books in this genre — for all age groups — continues...

The Shut Doors of Libraries

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At the 2016 National Book Awards, the late Congressman John Lewis, being honored for the graphic memoir March: Book Three, spoke of being turned away, along with his sisters, brothers, and cousins, from an Alabama library in 1956. “And to come here and receive this award, this honor, it’s too...

How to Read a Wordless Picture Book — The Mary Nagel Sweetser Lecture

How do you read a wordless picture book? You read the pictures — and there are no air quotes around the word read. The pictures are the language and they must be read as carefully as any book with text. It’s a radical decision that an artist makes to not...
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