Monday, June 25, 2012

Connections: Congratulation, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Suzy Lee's Shadow, and Tributes to Ellen Levine

After a month-long travel hiatus, it's especially wonderful to come back to blogging with a cheer for a dear friend and writing colleague. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's YA novel, No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller, has just won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction!

Illustrated with archival photos and R. Gregory Christie's haunting black and white line drawings, this amazing work blurs the borders between history and family story, fiction and nonfiction, using multiple voices to tell the story of a man driven by a mission. See starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It's such a thrill to see this beautiful book get the recognition it deserves.  I'm privileged that I got to see it in many iterations along its journey. Congratulations, Vaun!

Speaking of crossing boundaries, I've long been fascinated by illustrator Suzy Lee's work. Her wordless picture book, Wave, plays with intention and action in glorious blue spreads, using both gutter and the landscape orientation of the book in wonderfully imaginative ways. It's a visual narrative that I think writers of picture book texts would do well to study, just to get the feel of the story moving back and forth, wave-like in its progression, and never once straying from the young child's sensibility.

I got to meet Suzy briefly in Singapore, and heard her speak about another of her books, Shadow. It's the second of three picture books (the first was Wave) that Suzy calls the Border Trilogy. Here's a link to a slide show of the third book, Mirror which has not as yet been published in a North American edition.

And finally, a sad goodbye to novelist, picture book writer, fearless activist and all-around inspirational woman Ellen Levine.  This summer, at the VCFA residency, we'll be taking time to remember Ellen's life, her books, her vision, her legacy. More tributes to Ellen Levine from Debby Dahl Edwardson and Rene Colato Lainez.