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The Writer's Page: The Lovely Dance: The Alone/Together Collaboration of Picture-Book Storytelling

A picture book is a dance that begins with a solitary dancer, whose success depends on sharing the stage with future partners. In truth, it is a company of dancers: author and illustrator, editor, designer, and art director. And only together will the dance flourish. But as Patrick Swayze famously...

The Writer's Page: Walking in Their Footsteps: An Impossible Escape Research Trip

Early on the morning of August 1, 2022, I joined a group of hikers at the gates of what was once the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and we set off on a six-day, 140-kilometer trek across southern Poland. Within a couple of hours, it became clear that I was in for...

The Writer's Page: Born in Babylon: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Duncan in third grade. Photo courtesy of Alice Faye Duncan. When I consider my thirty years writing picture books and poetry that honor Black achievement, I know that the template for this life began in 1975 while I read crisp new library books about Harriet, Rosa, and Martin. I know...

The Writer's Page: Yes, And...

In improv comedy there is a hard and fast rule: whatever your scene partner asks you to do, no matter how ridiculous or outrageous, you always answer, “Yes, and…” Saying no ends the scene and cuts off all possibilities. Saying yes continues the scene and provides infinite opportunities. It’s a...

The Writer's Page: Not-Quite-All-of-a-Kind: Seeking My Jewish Life in Books

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The author, age eight, in an Easter bonnet, hunting for eggs in her yard. Photo courtesy of Laurel Snyder. We talk a lot lately about representation in children’s literature, about the need for all kids to see themselves in the books they read. And, of course, this has been a...

The Illustrator's Eye: Illustrating in Layers: The Wonder of Preseparation Art

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Last summer I had the opportunity to visit the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, one of the largest archives housing materials related to children’s literature. Amid the sketches, dummies, early manuscripts and correspondences, and many other related paper ephemera and objects, what especially drew my interest was a...

The Writer's Page: A Chorus of Storytellers: Mythology and Comics

I’m fond of reminding people that Greek mythology isn’t a compendium of dead narratives about long-dead people and distant places, pulled from a dusty old book or scroll. What we now call Greek mythology is what remains of a past culture’s most sacred beliefs — a collection of living stories,...

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...

The Writer's Page: Imagining Our Way to the Other Side: Children's Literature and Radical Imagination

In a 2020 essay called “The Pandemic Is a Portal,” novelist and ­activist Arundhati Roy wrote, Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can...
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