On Race: Growing up white American in South Korea focused my attention on race, and a career creating multiracial children's books has continued my fascination with and exploration of the beauty and challenge of human differences and commonalities. These essays, from my column "The Illustrator's Perspective" for the Bulletin of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, focus on making sure all of our childen are represented in the books we create for them.
On Process: Reflections, from my column "The Illustrator's Perspective" for the Bulletin of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, on creativity, organization and production.
I'm back on my blog, after an absolutely packed six months of events, projects and deadlines. A bit belatedly, I've posted my book and resource list for my "Books as Bridges" workshop, which I just presented at the spring conference of the Massachusetts School Library Association.
So many exciting things have been happening with I'm New Here!
This past summer, I worked with publicist Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and videographer Fred Okot Ben to produce two videos to serve as enrichment for my latest book, I'm New Here.
In July, we worked with a group of incoming 1st and 3rd graders at Hall School, presenting the book and engaging them in discussions about being new and being welcoming. The following day we returned for individual interviews with many of the students. Fred also interviewed me about my purpose and my process in creating the book.
Here's a blogpost with some photos and a little more information about the filming.
And here... (cue music)... are the results:
I hope these videos get used in classrooms, across the country and around the world, to engage in reflection, to build knowledge and to develop empathy about the immigrant experience.
I'M NEW HERE in the NEW YORK TIMES!
I'm New Here was featured in the August 23 New York Times Sunday Book Review, in an article entitled, "'Mama's Nightingale' by Edwidge Danticat, and More," examining how four picture books portray the struggle to learn a new language:
"These books will inspire not just empathy for the struggles of childhood immigration, but admiration for their authors’ and illustrators’ ingenuity as well. With all they accomplish in conveying both inexpressible emotions and linguistic barriers, they also give us new insight into the central challenge of making books for young children: telling stories through pictures."
LAUNCH PARTY for my just-released picture book, I'm New Here
Saturday, September 19, 2015, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library, Portland, Maine
Portland School Children Star in Video on Immigration to Premiere During “National Welcoming Week”
Portland, ME—“Being new feels happy, shy and scared,” said a Portland third grader in a recent interview. This summer, thirty-five Hall School children shared their feelings about being “new,” being a new arrival and what it looks like to be welcoming to new arrivals with Maine author/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien
The video, featuring their thoughtful responses, will premiere at the Portland Public Library’s Rines Auditorium on Saturday, September 19th at 2:00PM in celebration of National Welcoming Week and the release of Anne Sibley O’Brien’s children’s book on immigration, I’M NEW HERE.
At the library event, the stars of the video, their families, and the entire Portland community will be welcomed down the red carpet with flash bulbs popping. The event will include the video screening by Maine videographer Fred Ben, book sales and signing, community responses to welcoming, and snacks from the city’s various multicultural markets.
“Author Anne Sibley O’Brien’s book I'M NEW HERE and her visit opened up our students' thinking about universal feelings,” said Tina Mikkelsen, a community coordinator for Portland Public Schools. ”Immigration is not a universal experience, but being new is. Anne’s discussion with our summer school students created a space for empathy and jumpstarted ideas about being welcoming to both new students and immigrants.”
In I’M NEW HERE (Charlesbridge Publishing), a picture book for elementary school children, the three characters are recent immigrants - Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatima from Somalia. Each has trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews said, “Whether readers are new themselves or meeting those who are new, there are lessons to be learned here about perseverance, bravery, and inclusion, and O’Brien’s lessons are heartfelt and poetically rendered.” The book was featured in the August 23 New York Times Sunday Book Review.
“Over the years as I was doing school presentations and creating books, I noticed there was a missing piece in how we often perceive and portray immigrant children,” says O’Brien. “There is a sense that these children arrive as ‘blank slates.’ With this book, I wanted to show that these children bring with them full, complete, rich lives in which they have already accomplished so much and know so much. And now they have to build a new life all over again.”
Fred Ben’s video of Hall School students' ideas on welcoming immigrants will be shared nationwide in a campaign of welcoming based on O’Brien’s book. Videographer Fred Ben was himself a new arrival at the age of seven when he came to the United States from the Sudan. Ben pursued videography partially because of the role TV and film played in teaching him English and American culture.
“Portland, Maine is a model of welcoming,” says Portland School Board member Pious Ali, “We should be proud that not only has this new book come out of Anne’s experiences in our multicultural community, but that the book and video featuring Portland school children will be a model for schools nationally.”
This celebration is part of National Welcoming Week, a series of nationwide events that highlight the contributions of immigrants to America, bringing together recent arrivals and U.S.-born members of receiving communities in a spirit of unity.
The event is sponsored by Portland Public Library and “I’m Your Neighbor,” a project that encourages the use of children’s books to create bridges between new arrival and long-term community members.
At Reading Roundup in Augusta, Maine, the Maine Library Association presented me with the Katahdin Award, a "lifetime achievement award (which) recognizes an outstanding body of work of children’s literature in Maine."
An extraordinary honor to be in the company of the 13 winners, including Robert McCloskey, Ashley Bryan, Cynthia Voight and Lois Lowry!
Thanks to Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, here's a video of my acceptance remarks.
Talking Walls: Discover Your World has just been released. It's a revised and updated "Classic Edition" of the two Talking Walls books, written by Margy Burns Knight and illustrated by me.
We'll be celebrating on February 7 in Portland, Maine:
3:45 - 4:45 FREE TEACHER WORKSHOP
519 Congress St #2B, Portland, ME 04101, 2nd floor -
Maine Charitable Mechanic Association Library
The first forty educators who register are invited to an hour-long free workshop with the author and illustrator to introduce the new Talking Walls - Discover Your World, and to share examples of how to use the book to meet Common Core standards for informational text, grades K-8: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, and Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity.
Each participant will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the book at the launch party (see below).
To register: Email name, school and contact information (subject line: Teacher Workshop) to email@example.com by February 1, 2014
5:00 - 8:00 LAUNCH PARTY (during First Friday Artwalk)
541 Congress Street, Portland
- Refreshments: Wine & cheese & crackers
- Display of original Talking Walls illustrations
- Books available for purchase and autographing
- "Reconciliation and Forgiveness Wall" - Community activity honoring the life of Nelson Mandela
- Drawing for free copies of the book (for educators who attended the workshop) - 5 winners
On my trip to Korea last week, I was invited to be the subject of “The INNERview” on Arirang TV. The hour-long program, INNERview #71, aired this week. It can be viewed on YouTube here.
Arirang TV (livestream here) broadcasts 24/7 news, culture and all things Korean, in English, for overseas Koreans and the English language community in South Korea. The INNERview has very interesting people - Koreans, Korean Americans, and a few foreigners like me who've made deep connections with Korea - every week at these same times.
On June 30, at a ceremony at the American Librarian Association convention in Chicago, I was honored to receive the Honor Picture Book citation of the 2013 Asian/Pacific American Award For Literature.
The Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature were instituted in 2003 by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) to promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and are awarded based on literary and artistic merit.
APALA was founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian/Pacific ancestries committed to working together toward a common goal: to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian/Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian/Pacific American communities.
In 2007, I received the Asian/Pacific American Award For Literature in the Picture Book category for The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea.
I just mailed the signed contract for my next picture book, a concept book about immigration titled, I’m New Here. It follows three young students, just arrived in the U.S. - Maria from Mexico, Jin from South Korea, and Sahra from Sudan - facing the challenge of adjusting to a new country, a new language, new customs, and new friends.
The title will be released from Charlesbridge in 2015.