The Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight today is on Karen English and her second book in The Carver Chronicles series, Skateboard Party.
Question 1: What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
My favorite letter of the alphabet—if I had to choose one—would be K because it’s the first letter of my name.
Question 2: What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
My latest book is the second in a series. I hoped to make it a book that all children can relate to—even girls. But I also hoped to give children of color a story that was outside the defining narratives of poverty and struggle. Those are issues that affect children of color more so but they don’t just live in that world. Like all kids, they also grapple with everyday kid issues: homework; competition; squabbles with classmates; petty jealousies; annoying siblings, etc. I wanted this series to reflect that.
Question 3: As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
I happen to have a problem with ideas bombarding me all the time. You know that poster, So many books, so little time? My problem is so many ideas, so little time. If I make an emotional connection to an idea than I have to turn it into a story.
Question 4: What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
The catalyst for the entire series is Beverly Cleary. And she’s still alive at 98. (I don’t think she’s still writing—oh but to be 98 and still writing would be heaven) I read everything she wrote when I was in the fourth and fifth grade and wished I lived in the world of Henry Huggins and Ellen Tebbits. As a writer I wanted to create a similar “regular “neighborhood with all kinds of crazy things going on ensconced in the “everyday.”
Question 5: What’s next? What projects/books/events do you have in the works that you would like to share?
My latest project (I’m halfway through the first draft) was inspired by the vision of my sister–ten years younger—sitting on our front porch when she was a little girl. We were the first black family to move to our all white street (in the sixties). When all the kids on the block went down to the Zahana’s to play, my sister sat on our porch and waited it out. She told me this years later. The Zahanas didn’t allow black people in their house. I think they were the only ones who had this rule. The other kids were okay were accepting. The thought of my sister sitting on the porch petting our cat or reading a book led me to write Montego Drive (working title) circa 1965, right before the Watts rebellion.
Karen English is a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning author who lives in Los Angeles, California. Her books have been praised for their accessible writing, authentic characters, and satisfying story lines. Karen is a retired elementary school teacher, and she wrote these stories with her students in mind.
One more chapter book by Karen English:
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