Welcome to the Q&A and giveaway for the July 2020 edition of my Bartography Express newsletter, which you can read here and sign up for here.

My two-question Q&A this month is with Rita Lorraine Hubbard, author of The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, which was illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Oge Mora and published earlier this year by Schwartz & Wade.

This picture book tells the incredible-but-true story of formerly enslaved Mary Walker, who realized her lifelong dream of literacy during her twelfth (!!!) decade. It has received a bevy of starred reviews — among them, one from School Library Journal that noted, “An absorbing narrative and excellent illustrations combine to create a moving story of encouragement for youngsters.”

I’m giving away one copy of The Oldest Student to a Bartography Express subscriber with a US mailing address. If you want that winner to be you, just let me know (in the comments below or by emailing me) before midnight on July 31, and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

In the meantime, please enjoy my two-question Q&A with Rita Lorraine Hubbard.

Chris: What do you remember wanting to learn when you were a kid that you still haven’t gotten around to?

Rita: I wanted to be multilingual and know at least three or four languages — including Spanish, Italian, and French. Although I’ve dabbled with Spanish here and there, I’m nowhere near fluent, and I know absolutely nothing about the other languages. Ah, but one can dream!

Chris: What’s something you wish you knew how to do now — and that you can see yourself taking up at age 114, if need be?

Rita: I wish I knew how to illustrate a picture book!

It has been my dream to write and illustrate my own books since I was very young, but I haven’t found the time to really study drawing. Oh, I’ve signed up for classes, but many times this whirlwind called life has prevented me from really benefiting from classes.

If I made it to age 114, I could see myself finally having the time to sit down (in my rocker, of course) and take focused art lessons that would enhance my illustration skills.