Sunday, March 15, 2009

Whoa. Lots of love in the CG blog!

It's been a crazy week here at the blog, in the best kind of way!

First, Peter H. Reynolds, author/illustrator of the inspiring books The Dot and Ish (among lots of other great titles!) left us a truly lovely comment. Peter's website and many blogs are just as inspirational for artists and artists-to-be of all kinds as his books. Head over and spend some time looking at the beautiful artwork and learning about Peter's campaign to help people of all ages "make their mark."

Then, Susan Marie Swanson, whose poetic Caldecott-winning picture book The House in the Night just came back in stock after a too-long absence, sent us a hug via Twitter... which THEN prompted her Twitter friends to leave us nice comments as well! (A recent Twitter by my all-time favorite author was rather less-well received by many, in case you missed the uproar.) Hugs to you, too, Susan (and friends!) -- we adore the book and are so excited it's back at Curious George.

Finally, we're ready to unveil a project we've been scheming about for a while: a series of guest posts by our favorite children's book authors, illustrators, and critics!

Our first guest blogger is Anita Silvey, who has in her distinguished career worn the many (fabulous) hats of children's literature publisher, The Horn Book Magazine editor-in-chief, Simmons College publishing professor, critic, author, and all-around kids' book expert. Curious George general manager Bindy was lucky enough to speak to Ms. Silvey about her fascinating new book, I’ll Pass for Your Comrade, in which she reveals the involvement of women soldiers during the Civil War, their motivations, and efforts to maintain their right to fight.

What drew you to this subject matter?
I’m an armchair Civil War historian, and when I read about these women for the first time, about six years ago, I wanted to tell their stories to young readers. Forgotten fragments of history fascinate me. Close to 1000 women, dressed as men, actually fought in the Civil War, and the record of their accomplishments has vanished from most of our accounts of the Civil War until recently.

What did you come across in your research that most surprised or disappointed you? Any preconceived notions that were proven false?
I kept wishing I could find out more about each of these women; sometimes all we have is one newspaper article. I began my research asking myself, “Why did they go,” but felt I got a handle on that. Then I had to ask, “Why did they stay?” They could have left at any time, and yet, with great determination, many of them fought throughout the war.

Your book came out in December 2008, on the heels of a most historic and symbolic election, leading into Lincoln’s 200th Anniversary, and now taking us into Women’s History month. Can you talk a bit more about the timing of its publication, and the scope of relevance you may have aimed to achieve?
Although the book does fit current landmarks, I didn’t plan it that way. It took much longer to write and create than I anticipated. When I start a project, I always think I can finish writing it in five months. This took five years. But I am glad it can be used with the Lincoln 200th. Lincoln, himself, as did many of the Presidents, knew of these women. He secured army pay for one of them.

Can we look forward to more nonfiction from you in the near future?
Absolutely. I am a nonfiction reader and writer. I’m currently writing Botanomania, a book about some of the 18th-20th Century botanists; their adventures rival those of Indiana Jones as they scoured the earth for plant species.
Thanks so much to Ms. Silvey for her post, and to Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Swanson for their friendly comments! Stay tuned for more great guest posts and more we-hope-they're-great posts from your regularly scheduled bloggers Michelle, Rachel, and me, Katie.

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