02 Jan

“…the balance between what readers NEED and what readers WANT”

I always enjoy learning more about how the editors of my books work and think, which makes this interview with Carol Hinz by Ryan G. Van Cleave at his Only Picture Books blog highly satisfying.

Carol is Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books at Lerner Publishing Group. She and I are in the process of making our fourth picture book together, following The Nutcracker Comes to America, Dazzle Ships, and our upcoming All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing, which will be published next month.

Given the difficult topic that we explore in All of a Sudden and Forever, I’m especially interested in Carol’s comments when Ryan asks — in the context of Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story — “How do you negotiate the balance between what readers NEED and what readers WANT?”

Part of Carol’s answer:

I think adults … don’t give kids enough credit for what they can handle. This often comes out of a desire to protect kids from all the terrible things that are a part of our world. But we need to keep in mind that not all kids receive that protection, and we can’t control when a kid is going to first encounter something biased, racist, or hateful. To those adults who feel uncomfortable, I say: Isn’t it far better for a kid to encounter [difficult subject matter] for the first time in the pages of the book, when there’s time and space for a kid to think about it and talk with a trusted adult about it, rather than encountering it first in some other way when there might not be opportunity for thought and conversation?

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