Publishers' Preview: Diversity Five Ways: Five Questions for Erin Entrada Kelly

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diversity Five Ways, 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.

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Three siblings, with difficult parents, each differently await the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in We Dream of Space.

1. On the morning of January 28, 1986, I was in a children’s librarians’ meeting. You?

In fourth grade at T. H. Watkins Elementary. We didn’t watch the launch live in the classroom, but I remember seeing it on the news later that day. I was at the coffee table with a coloring book. Crayons were scattered everywhere. When the shuttle broke apart, I remember thinking, “Is that supposed to happen?”

2. Do you think young readers will know what’s coming?

It depends. I’ve talked to thousands of schoolchildren, and most of them have never heard of the Challenger. There are some exceptions, though. In Hawaii, for example, most of the middle schoolers I met were familiar with the disaster, because astronaut Ellison Shoji Onizuka was a native of their state.

3. Which one of the siblings is mostly you?

Cash. He hates school, often daydreams about walking off campus in the middle of the day, and doesn’t think he’s very good at anything. He’s also a terrible student. That describes me when I was his age. (And, I must admit, I actually did walk away from my middle school a few times, for which I was rewarded with out-of-school suspensions!)

4. Who was your favorite teacher? (Pick ONE.)

In seventh grade, I had a social studies teacher named Mr. Little. He told me one day that I had a great sense of humor. As a kid with no self-esteem, I cherished every compliment, and I’ve never forgotten that. Sometimes, all it takes is one.

5. When they start selling tickets to space, will you go?

Last I read, tickets were valued at around $250,000-ish. So probably not. But would I go if I could afford it? Again: Probably not. Well, maybe. I don’t know. Maybe? Erm. No. I don’t know. I want to sound really cool by saying, “Heck, yes! When do we leave?!” but the truth is, I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat. Plus, how long will the journey take? If I’m away from my dog for more than two weeks, my heart starts to ache.

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Photo: Laurence Kesterson.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. 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 MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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