AUTHOR LOIS BRANDT ROARS
Before we welcome the fabulous Lois Brandt to Roar on Library Lions, let’s congratulate the two winners of The Poetry Friday Anthology Celebrations contest. Winners are (drum roll please) Laurie Ann Thompson and Angie Karcher! We’re sure you will treasure your first edition copies of this amazing book edited by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell!!
And now let’s roar for author Lois Brandt who has stopped by to share her new book and her Library Love with us. Take it away Lois!
I’m Lois Brandt and I write because otherwise I get extremely grumpy. I write for kids because they are the most intelligent readers on the planet. My short stories have appeared in Highlights and other fine children’s magazines. I’m here to roar because libraries and librarians provided a safe and nurturing environment for me when I was a kid.
Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?
Over the past 20 years we’ve seen cutbacks for school and public libraries. These cutbacks are happening, I believe, because a lot of people don’t understand what libraries do.
With the guidance of a librarian, libraries provide children with a safe place to explore not only the world around them, but who they are. Books also give children a break from the stress of being a kid. A child’s appreciation of and abilities in math, science, music, sports, and history increase if there is a library in the equation.
School visits are the best part of being an author.
The schools I speak at hold a food drive that either starts or ends on the day of my visit. Kids are very excited to help their friends and neighbors who may have empty refrigerators!
But my school visit is really about the power of stories. I share how Maddi’s Fridge came from an event in my life, the day I realized my best friend’s family didn’t have enough food.
I ask kids to think about the stories that stick in their heads – funny, sad, weird – and we talk about how each of these stories is important to all of us. We tell stories to build community.
Library Love When You Were a Cub
I grew up in a town of 1500 people, and our elementary school did not have a library. The town did have a library, a few hundred books on gray utility shelves in an old building across the alley from the laundromat.
I came from a large supportive family, but I was an odd, lonely kid. (I’m sure you’ve never heard THAT from a children’s writer before ; ) The one place that felt like my own was the utilitarian and (now I realize) very limited town library. Mrs. Herrala, the librarian, always welcomed me with a smile and was very gentle when she had to remind me that the library was closing for the day.
What really strikes me now going into my local (Issaquah, Washington) library is how incredibly crowded it is. I think one thing that has changed over the years is that libraries are now much more than a refuge for lonely girls. They are a community hub. I see all ages at the library, including limp-boned teenagers, trying to both look cool and sneak peeks at the books in the teen section.
For an author libraries are essential. Even with new release books, I put my hold in and get a book fairly quickly. Well, except for the time I spend browsing shelves or checking out the “recommended” bookcase.
I’ve been very lucky with the teachers that my kids have had, and especially my oldest’s kindergarten teacher. She told me that she always saved a part of the day for just observing. Maybe they’d gather around the class lizard. Maybe they’d go outside and watch the shadows moving across the pavement, or the way the rain drips from the eaves. She believed strongly in giving kids time to absorb their world.
Libraries are one of the last places in our fast-forward culture where children get to explore at a child’s pace. Books slowly stretch young minds, reeling out the beauty and, eventually, the complexity of the world around them.
Maddi’s Fridge, Flashlight Press, 2014
Nominee for the 2015/2016 Washington Children’s Picture Book Award
Named one of the Best Indie Picture Books of 2014 by Foreword Reviews
A Top 2014 Mighty Girl Books For Younger Readers
“This is more than a book about child hunger in America—this is a story of friendship. Maddi’s empty fridge and Sofia’s full one are juxtaposed in a subtle way, while scenes of modern New York elapse across the background: taxis and tofu, hipster cyclists and yoga studios. Maddi and Sofia take center stage in this adorably rendered tale…”
“This title is notable. . . . A thoughtful and well-executed look at the challenge of childhood hunger.”
“I really admire Lois Brandt for writing about those in need without making this an ‘issue’ book. It’s first and foremost a story—and a good one.”
—Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor–winning author, Hattie Big Sky
Let’s Link Up
Thank you, Lois, for your terrific interview!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.