As I eagerly await my first roses of the season, I look back on the literary blooms of March. There's Garvey's Choice, for example. It was selected as a Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee! One Last Word, not to be upstaged, made the Great Lakes Book Award list, and was featured along with Between the Lines on Michelle Barnes Blog. And Almost Zero showed up in Scholastic's summer reading catalog. Yay, all!
I hit the road in March for SE-YA's book festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. There I met a host of new-to-me young adult authors, and shared time with wonderful fans. I quietly came up behind a few of them while they were looking at, and talking about, my books. I suggested they might try Between the Lines, since it was the companion of Bronx Masquerade, which they'd already read. When one of the girls turned to ask me how I knew about the companion novel, she got quite the surprise! Her mouth fell open when she recognized me, and I smiled. Fun!
Next, I was off to Atlanta for the Kennesaw State University Conference on Literature for Children and Young Adults. Try saying that quickly three times! It's quite a mouthful, and it was a wonderful conference. I had a chance to meet teachers who are ready to diversify their classroom libraries. It was also lovely to meet fellow keynoter, Duncan Tonatiuh, an author/illustrator whose visual work honors the Pre-Columbian style of his Mexican ancestors, while the subjects of his stories are perfect for today. I came home with his beautiful Diego Rivera: His World and Ours and Separate Is Never Equal.
Back home, I spoke at Inlandia Institute's Family Reading Con in Colton, California, and later visited Peninsula High School, in Rolling Hills Estates, and Hillsides Education Center, in Pasadena, to talk about and sign copies of Between the Lines. Booksigning is one of my favorite things to do! I never saw a book of mine that I wasn't ready to sign.
Oh! There was one more little highlight in March I forgot to mention, and it came at the beginning of the month: I had a chance to meet, and have dinner with, world renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma!
Yo-Yo came to Corona as part of a new Kennedy Center arts initiative called Arts Across America. Corona, California, was the first stop! We were chosen because of the extraordinary work of CAT, a thriving children's and young adult theater company, and also for our town's first-class orchestra, the Corona Symphony.
I was invited to an afternoon "Cultural Conversation" which included Violinist Vijay Gupta, of the L.A. Philharmonic, and Yo-Yo Ma, two Citizen Artists with the Kennedy Center. In that capacity, they go out into the community, speak to and perform for schools, senior centers, and prisons, as well as meeting with local arts groups, particularly those outside of the main city centers. After the day of programs, a Family Dinner was held in Yo-Yo's honor, and I was one of the local artists invited to attend! Not only was I seated closely enough to be included in Yo-Yo's conversation, but I was also present as he played an impromptu piece of music between dinner courses! Wow. The magical evening ended with a private concert by South American Harpist, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, spontaneously accompanied by Vijay Gupta! I'm still grinning.
What a month. What a March!
Right now, it's pouring rain outside, but I'm cozy indoors, wondering what April has in store.
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Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved. Navigation bar photo by Aaron Lemen.