Today’s stop on the tour is dedicated to the students in Mrs. Walshe and Mrs. Herrera’s First Grade Class at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Chino Hills, California! It’s so much fun to have you here on the tour today! And thank you for sending me such interesting questions. I've really enjoyed thinking of the answers.
Q: Do you write every day?
A: Yes…and no. Right now I am writing fulltime which means I write every day while you’re in school. But I usually don’t write on the weekends. And I take vacations, too! When I wrote the book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, I worked on writing it almost every day, except for weekends and holidays. This is a picture of me writing D is for Drinking Gourd. I sat on our couch and wrote most of the text by hand, then later moved to the office to type the words into the computer.
Q: Do you have pets?
A: Yes. Humphrey, our cat, and Lucy, our dog, are my writing buddies! When I sit on the couch to write, Humphrey often jumps up on the matching couch. He likes to lay upside-down on his back and stretch out to watch me. Doesn’t he look funny? Sometimes while I’m writing, he tries to hide underneath the couch. He used to be able to do that when he was little and was a kitten, but now that he weighs 21 pounds, he doesn’t fit! He thinks I can’t see him, but I can. Can you see him, too?
Here’s a picture of Lucy. She is part dachshund. Can you tell she has very short legs? Lucy and Humphrey are about the same size and they like to play tag. They chase each other around and around the couch, even while I’m writing! (Humphrey cheats, though! He jumps over the top of the couch and then “tags” Lucy by jumping down on her when Lucy runs to the other side.)
Q: How long does it take to write a story?
A: When I wrote D is for Drinking Gourd, it took me three months to write it. Most pictures books take me that long. Some books take me longer to write. I’m starting to write a brand new book this week. My deadline is in December. There will be a lot of research and a lot of pages in this new book, so it will take me longer.
Q: How do you think of your characters?
A: Some characters in my books are real people. So I try to find out all about them. I read about what they did and then I like to ask, “Why?” For instance, when I wrote the page “F is for Founding Fathers,” I discovered that James Forten joined the American Revolution as a kid. He sailed on a small ship and helped carry gunpowder to load the cannons. I wanted to know why? Why would a kid want to join the American Revolution to fight against the British? So when I went back to Philadelphia last year on a family trip, I went to the address where his house used to be when he was growing up. I stood on the corner and looked around. There, through the treetops, I saw Independence Hall! He grew up close enough to Independence Hall to see it from his house. And I also learned that when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the very first time just outside of Independence Hall, James Forten joined the crowd and listened. Knowing all this helped me understand how much James Forten believed in freedom. He fought for freedom in the American Revolution when he was young. And when he grew up and became very wealthy, he was an abolitionist and helped lead the fight to bring freedom and equal rights to all people in America.
Q: Are all your stories true stories?
A: No. Some are true stories, some are half true and half fiction, and some are completely make-believe! I like to write different stories at different times.
Q: What do you read for fun?
A: Some of my favorite books to read are encyclopedia sets about African American history. My other favorite books are picture books and classic children’s books. Right now I’m reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of Little House in the Big Woods. Just before that I read Charlotte’s Web. And I’m in the middle of listening to a book on tape of The Secret Garden.
Thanks again, to the students at Oak Ridge! It was nice that you could join my Virtual Book Tour.
Just for Kids!
Do you have a favorite book? If you know how to read it yourself, you could make a recording of yourself reading it aloud. You could add fun sound effects and ring a bell each time the page is supposed to be turned. Then you could share the recording with your friends. If you don’t know how to read it yourself, you could tell the story in your own words and record it on a DVD to share with your friends. You could even make up your own story, write it down, draw pictures to go with it, and make it into a book. Then you could make a recording of yourself reading your very own book out loud. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
Yesterday’s Trivia Q and A:
Yesterday’s question was:
Why was Martin Delany famous?
a. As an explorer
b. As a major in the Union Army
c. As a leading abolitionist
d. All of the above
The answer is: d. All of the above. A gifted leader, Martin Delany led an amazing life. He traveled tirelessly on the antislavery lecture circuit, speaking frequently at abolitionist meetings across the northern United States. He explored the northern continent of Africa in hopes of establishing a colony where blacks could live a life of freedom. When Civil War broke out, he met with President Lincoln and encouraged him to assign blacks as officers. He, himself, was commissioned as a major in the Union Army, the highest ranking black officer in the Civil War!
Today’s Trivia Question:
Where did Charlotte Forten teach?
a. the South Carolina Sea Islands
Submit your answer by posting it as a comment to today’s blog. It won’t be published on the blog, but your name will be put in a hat to be drawn for 5 prizes to give away at the end of the tour. Check back in tomorrow for the answer!
On Day 16 of my Virtual Book Tour, I’ll be posting information about a fun activity you can do with your family, friends, or class. Stop on by!