Tuesday, December 05, 2006

the agony and the ecstasy

Between my store, my work (2 books at once!) and my life, I've been pretty overwhelmed. In an attempt to try to get a handle on things, I've been pulling all-nighters, or 5 AM-er's. While this has helped to some extent, last night I paid the price. In my half-awake stupor, I walked into a chair and...broke my little toe. It REALLY HURTS. And it is a disturbing shade of purple, too.

As I nursed my toe, my inner whining chorus of "Is this even worth it?" began. But just as it the song reached its crescendo, I received this lovely e-mail. Suddenly all the juggling, stress and fatigue doesn't seem so bad. Maybe even worth it... though perhaps not to my toe.

Dear Grace,
I recommended your book to some teachers in a book discussion group I lead, and sent Booklist's review of The Year of the Dog along with it. Here is a response I got from one of the members:

".....when I read Mary's note about the new book by Grace Lin, Year of the Dog, I was thrilled. What I have tried to do through LATTICE, Grace Lin has done with her book. But more than that, she loved the Carolyn Haywood books, "a series about a quintessentially American girl whose days centered around friends and school." Well, Carolyn Haywood was a close family friend of my family when I was growing up. For a number of years, I was the model for this quintessential American girl, Betsy.

When I read the books to my own kids in the 70's, I always asked them who was missing in these stories. Their African American and Chinese American friends were definitely missing! Interestingly, by the 1960's Carolyn even realized the problem and wrote some stories about African American children. Since she was always visiting and observing children in schools in order to make her books authentic, she visited some schools in Philadelphia with African American populations. At that time the schools were definitely segregated! I don't think that she portrayed the children accurately. They looked like white children with black skin but anyway, she tried!

I like to think that she'd be very, very pleased and honored to know that Grace Lin has taken on this important challenge of providing diversity of perspective and experience in children's literature. "

The woman who wrote the above, Sally M, is the founder of LATTICE (Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-Cultural Education). This is an organization in mid-Michigan that works to help teachers put a global perspective in their classrooms. (www.latticeworld.org ) We meet once a month to discuss issues pertaining to education and world events. I am the co-leader of a book discussion group that reads multicultural books and then invites in a person from that country to discuss it, and the accuracy of the book. Usually these are international students at Michigan State University, in our town. We have some great discussions!

I am a librarian, too, and love all your books. Thanks for all you do for children, and for us adults, too, with your beautiful books.

East Lansing Public Library


alvina said...

Wow--that's incredible!

Grace Lin said...

Yeah, isn't that neat? (The e-mail, not the purple toe).

Rita said...

WOW. The original Betsy for Carolyn Haywood!!