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December 2018

Cool Breeze

Thank You for cool
breezes on my fevered brow,
for teaching my heart
to break when others suffer,
for sharing love's communion.

—Nikki Grimes

I'm writing this newsletter on Thanksgiving Eve, when my thoughts turn to all that makes me grateful. This last month has been one long reminder of God's grace: work I'm passionate about that is embraced and honored by others (including those carving out valuable time from their busy schedules to write blurbs for my new book. You know who you are!); journey mercies as I flew from coast to coast, and back again; visiting with old friends and making new ones; finally, a community of friends and surrogate family waiting for me when I got home.

I'm grateful for the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for One Last Word, and the beautiful crystal statue I was given to mark it. Grateful, too, for the Newbery Tart Podcast interview with me that was recently posted online. Make sure to check it out!

Arnold Adoff Poetry Award
Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for Middle Readers
Arnold Adoff Poetry Award, nicknamed the "Rudini" after Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop

I'm grateful for poetry champion Janet Clare, who arranged school visits for me in Auburn, New York, along with a variety of meaningful events: I toured the Harriet Tubman home, home for the aged, and museum where I met Pauline Copes Johnson and Leslie Walker, two of Harriet's descendants! How cool is that?  (Amari, one of my student greeters at Genesee Elementary, is one of the younger Tubman descendants.) 

Greeters at Genesee Elementary
Johnny Smith and Amari, my student greeters at Genesee Elementary.
Assembly at Genesee Elementary
Love those faces!  Snapped this just before assembly began.

I also visited Tubman's gravesite, and toured the home of William Seward, a staunch supporter of Tubman and friend of Abraham Lincoln. I read from Chasing Freedom at the public theater, a special event arranged by the Harriet Tubman Boosters. The cherry-on-the-pie?  Tubman's grandniece, Ms. Pauline, was in the audience, front and center! So cool. (And she gave me the thumbs up!)

Harriet Tubman's home
Harriet Tubman's Home
Harriet Tubman made some of these bricks
What's so special about these bricks? 
Some of them were made by the hands of Harriet Tubman!
Harriet Tubman's relatives

Never imagined I would one day meet descendants of Harriet Tubman! 
Here, at the Harriet Tubman Museum, with Tubman's grandniece,
Pauline Copes Johnson, and relative Leslie Walker.

Harriet Tubman's gravestone
Tubman's headstone
Harriet Tubman's gravesite
Tubman's gravesite. A beautiful resting place for a beautiful human being.

Before leaving town, Janet took me to see a special quilt exhibit at a gallery in Auburn, which I'm still talking about! The quilts were so superb, I'm seriously considering taking classes.

Onward to Rochester for the Rochester Children's Book Festival! I'm grateful for the organizers and volunteers who help to make this event a highlight of my year. I especially enjoy the chance to spend time with good friends like Linda Sue Park, Charles Smith, Joseph Bruchac, Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville, Heidi Stemple, and Carol Boston Weatherford, among others.

Rochester Children's Book Festival

Good times at Rochester Children's Book Festival
with Joseph Bruchac, Grace Lin, Carol Boston Weatherford and Charles Smith!

autumn splendor
Check out the setting for the festival!  That was the view from my table.

And did I mention my gratitude for, and enjoyment of the vibrant fall colors back east? We don't get those here in Southern California.

With so many friends threatened by the recent wildfires, (they didn't reach my neighborhood, this time) I'm grateful for their lives, for the homes spared, and for the open hearts of the surrounding communities, anxious to help those who suffered huge losses. Continued prayers, though, for the people still missing, and the families who ache for them.

In the midst of a world gone haywire, I still have much to be grateful for. Don't you?

As Christmas approaches, I hope we will all extend the love we have, and the good we've been blessed with, to those who need it most.

Until 2019—

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Nikki Grimes

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