Hello, everyone. I’m happy to introduce one of my critique partners, Linda Covella, who inspired several posts on this blog by bringing related information to my attention. When I was sick I turned to Linda for help with the blog, and she accepted to become a contributor.
Linda, thank you for joining Multiculturalism Rocks! Please, tell us a little bit about your background. 🙂
First, Nathalie, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to join MC Rocks! I’ve been following the blog since you first started, and have been impressed with the information you provide your readers, including that killer chicken recipe. 🙂
I’ve always loved to write, but never thought of it as a career until later in life. My first artistic love was drawing and painting. But I did incorporate the two even as a child—writing and illustrating two “award winning” stories in 2nd and 10th grade. 🙂 Hey, you have to grab that praise and encouragement whenever and wherever you can!
Now, while running a small home-based technology business with my husband, I write as much as possible. I’ve published some articles in children’s magazines, my agent is shopping one of my middle-grade novels, and I’m just finishing up a revision of a young-adult novel.
From spending time with you and reading your work, I know that you strongly feel about cultural diversity in kid lit. Where does that stem from?
Well, without getting into a rant 🙂 it stems from a time in the 1980s when there was some very strong anti-immigrant sentiment in our country, and that really bothered me. One of the things I love most about the U.S. is the mix of cultures we have. That diversity strengthens, not weakens, our country. Not to mention making it a fun and interesting place to live. I love learning about other cultures’ traditions, foods, etc. and seeing them incorporated into the U.S. lifestyle.
I thought people needed to be reminded that we’re all immigrants. Since I had started to (semi)seriously pursue children’s writing, I wanted to approach it from that perspective. Naïve about the publishing biz, I wrote what I now laughingly call my 30,000 word picture book based on the history of U.S. immigration. Though an agent took it on (surprise!), it was never published (not surprised). But since then I’ve written other stories pulled from that “PB,” including the YA novel I mentioned.
What are your favorite books so far?
It’s always difficult to pick “favorites,” but some of the books I have on my shelf that I really enjoyed are:
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata. This was the 2005 Newberry Medal winner. I really loved this book. Cynthia’s style of writing is deceptively simple. She incorporates many little details that put you fully into Katie the main character’s head and world.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (all Linda’s books that I’ve read are great). Also a Newberry winner (2002). I like this book because of Linda’s writing, seeing how the main character Tree-ear changes, for the historical aspects (12th century), and that it takes place in another country (Korea). Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to read books that let you into another country or culture.
My Loco Life by Lee McClain. This is a fun book for teens with its contemporary setting, romance, and theme of following your dreams. Everyone assumes Alicia Jiminez, who just moved into a new foster home, speaks Spanish, but in reality she’s flunking that class. Her passion is fashion design, and her dream is to win a scholarship to a fashion institute in Madrid. Things heat up when she enlists the help of hunky neighbor Hector to help her with her Spanish.
China’s Son, Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution by Da Chen. The author’s memoir of his childhood in China from 1966 to 1976 when he was four- to fourteen-years-old—a terrible time in China’s history. I think this is a fascinating book about the changes Da Chen and his family go through during Mao’s reign, and their struggle and determination to put Da through college once Mao—along with his anti-intellectualism laws—dies.
Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings. Disclosure: this book is by my agent, but I really wanted to include it. A picture book about adoption, I love the beautiful realistic pictures, and the text simply and lyrically captures a young Chinese girl’s feelings about her “three names”: from her birth mother, from the orphanage, and from her adoptive U.S. parents.
Thank you, Linda!