I was intrigued by her blog, "A Is for Aging" and her goal to tackle ageism in children's books. One way that Lindsey has challenged ageism is through picture book reviews and her own PB biographies.
|Lindsey's picture book biographies |
about Gwen Frostic and Gerald Ford
Her latest biography, however, takes on an even larger issue: racism.
|Lindsey and her father|
|Integrated beach in South Africa|
PT: This book began as a fictional story, but you later decided to write it as nonfiction. What led to this decision? How did the text change?
PT: You learned about the technique of journaling from author Candace Fleming. How did it help you with this book?
LM: I was intimidated writing about Mandela and was unsure of my focus. At a conference, I heard Candace Fleming share her "morning pages" routine of journaling. It helps her get to the heart of her writing.
I was initially resistant. I didn't like journaling. But Candace's books are amazing! Per her instructions - first thing in the morning, no laptop, no reading anything beforehand - I put pen to paper. An hour each day, for one month, writing about writing. So messy. But eventually I gained clarity through it.
|A sample of Lindsey's journaling|
PT: What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
LM: Definitely my author's note. Writing the entire book, I wrestled with strong emotions and memories of the old apartheid-era South Africa - knowing that generations of my family had been part of the white minority suppressing the Black majority. But in my note, I tried to share honestly. I want to make a difference with this book and to share a hopeful message about change and fighting racism. I fervently hope I was able to do that.
|Illustrator Charly L. Palmer at work|
The book also contains a terrific illustrator's note from Charly Palmer, the book's illustrator, a super-talented African-American artist from Atlanta. Charly knows South Africa well and he was the perfect partner for this project. Charly shares: "I wanted to convey the spirit I've experienced South Africa, a Mandela-like spirit of love and forgiveness." The art is warm, bright, and beautiful.
PT: This book includes several pages of back matter. How did you decide what to include?
LM: Yes, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers supported ten pages of back matter! Deciding what to include was difficult. A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE is for ages 7 & up, but the back matter is designed to intrigue older readers and assist educators. We added lists of books and videos and websites to bolster understanding, and a selected bibliography.
The back matter includes both timelines and text on apartheid laws, South Africa's journey to democracy, and Mandela's life. I'm hoping they help others understand how fear and racist ideas can be exploited by government. And how discrimination against people by the color of their skin can become hateful laws. I still have lots to learn as I strive to be actively anti-racist, but we all need to pay attention. A government that's not a democracy for all is not truly a democracy.
Kirkus recently awarded A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE: NELSON MANDELA'S HOPE FOR HIS NATION a starred review, declaring the book "Beautiful. Informative. Essential." It will be released on March 30.
Find Lindsey McDivitt at www.lindseymcdivitt.com, where she reviews picture books with accurate images of aging and older adults on her blog, "A Is for Aging." Her next book is CHRISTMAS FAIRIES FOR OUMA, coming in 2022 from Familius Books.