Friday, May 13, 2016

In Which I Win A Gold Sticker After All

When your children's book wins a big-deal award, it gets a shiny sticker on its cover. The Newbery, the Caldecott, the Odyssey, the Siebert, the Schneider, the Coretta Scott King, the Printz--all these awards come with stickers. Until today, TWTSML had earned 3 stickers, a silver Newbery Honor, a blue Schneider, and a gold Odyssey (that one's an audio award and only gets put onto the audio box). Today I won a coveted gold sticker--the Roary Award, presented by the fifth graders of Mt. Kisco Elementary School, Mt. Kisco, New York.

I Skyped into the award ceremony luncheon, held in the school library. It was really lovely. Usually when I Skype into schools I spend the whole time answering questions, but this time I spent the first part listening while groups of students spoke about the book and me and formally presented me with their award. It's a lovely framed certificate AND a medal AND a gold sticker with a pawprint on it. (The school mascot is a lion, hence Roary.)

I knew that the school was a Title 1 school, which means it receives extra federal funds because of the high proportion of its students living in poverty. The students I saw had a wide range of skin-tones and ethnicities. They'd dressed up for the occasion and prepared well. They were sincere and thoughtful; they asked interesting questions and were attentive to the answers. Mt. Kisco seems like a great place to go to school.

When I disconnected from the Skype--15 minutes ago now--I sat a few moments before going back to my writing. I thought about yesterday's blog--about the mother who wanted her child protected from the TWTSML, what with its abuse and trauma and gay characters. I thought about what it means to live in poverty in this country. I thought about the wide-ranging diversity I could see in the Roary committee members and how any diversity that I could see was only part of the diversity that actually was. I thought about what a privilege it is to write for children for a living, and to listen to children tell you that a book you wrote was meaningful to them. I found myself, just minutes ago, more committed than ever to diversity in my writing, not for diversity's sake, but for my reader's sake, that I might be worthy of them.

Thanks for the Roary, Mt. Kisco students. I'll wear it to ALA, with pride.