Illustrators series! This week we are welcoming Tricia Brown, author of Children of the Midnight Sun: Young Native Voices of Alaska.
Tricia Brown is an author, editor, and book developer. She travels often and is a popular speaker in schools, libraries, and events in Alaska as well as the Lower 48. Her multimedia presentations, which include lessons on Alaska natural history and culture, regularly receive high praise from educators and parents. She loves to get kids excited about reading, writing, and art.
Tricia Brown is known for her authentic, celebratory books on Alaska Native life. She travels often to speak in schools, libraries, and events in Alaska as well as the Lower 48. Her multimedia presentations, which include lessons on Alaska natural history and culture, regularly receive praise from educators and parents. She loves to get kids everywhere excited about reading, writing, and art.
Question 1: What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
Ellemenohpea is my favorite “letter” because I love to hear little ones sing their ABCs and crowd five letters into one. I have a five-year-old grandson who just sang it to me the other day.
Question 2: What would you like readers to know about Children of the Midnight Sun?
It’s based on a true story. This recent story from the Arctic Sounder newspaper in Barrow, AK newspaper sums it up nicely:
Brown, a longtime Alaskan, who now lives in Oregon, spent time in Barrow many years ago while working on her book “Children of the Midnight Sun,” and was drawn to the customs and generosity of the people there. She remembers her host, Ben Nageak, bursting through the door one day exhausted and ecstatic announcing that they had landed a whale.
“The whole image just stayed with me and I thought about him when I was writing the opening of this book,” Brown said last week.
“When I’m talking to kids, I always say that books are born when you start with the words ‘what if’ and for me, I thought an untold story was the whole blanket toss story and Nalukataq in particular,” Brown said. “And I just wondered how to tell it and I thought ‘how about if we have a little boy afraid of heights’ and one thing just led to another.”
The book is entertaining and heartwarming, with informative tidbits woven through the story via cultural facts and Inupiaq words defined and translated into English.
The book also includes a nonfiction section in the back about the whaling tradition on the North Slope.
“Outside people might not understand that whaling and eating the meat and maktak is essential to Inupiat people,” Brown said. “I hope the nonfiction part … will help (people) gain understanding.”
“I would love to see more Native writers and I want to encourage the children when I’m speaking to them to tell their own stories,” Brown said. “There’s still a gap in Alaska literature. I hope to encourage kids and adults to find their voice.”
Question 3: As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
Good ideas stick with me and bug me until I pay attention to them. My thoughts return to an idea and play around a little, then give it more time to ferment. There are always more ideas than time to do them.
Question 4: What’s next?
I’m all over the place, really. A wonderful artist is currently illustrating my next children’s book, from WestWinds Press, titled Bobbie: The True Story of Oregon’s Wonder Dog. I think it’s important to write non-fiction for children, because it stirs the imagination even more when you realize it’s a true story. I also write for adults, and I just completed a manuscript and collection of amazing photos chronicling the history of St. Helens, Oregon, that will be out next year. And, lastly, I’m in the page-proofing stage of a big book that I edited and have enjoyed every step. The State of Alaska is publishing a book of essays and photos by some of their best writers and photographers. It focuses on creative ways that people celebrated the 1967 centennial of Alaska’s purchase from Russia. The 150th anniversary is coming up in 2017.
More books by Tricia Brown:
To learn more about Tricia Brown, please go to her website.
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