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March 2019

Who wouldn't be ready to march into spring after the winter we've had! Brrr. That's not to say February didn't come with its own joys, though. I can definitely tick off a few.

I began the month by participating in the African American Children's Book Fair in Philadelphia, the longest running, and I dare say largest fairs of its kind in the country. I joined notable authors and illustrators like Renee Watson, James Ransome, Kwame Alexander, E.B. Lewis, Tracy Baptiste, Crystal Allen, Tonya Bolden, Kelly Starling Lyons, Floyd Cooper, and Derrick Barnes, among others. It is wonderful and rare that so many of us are in the same room together! It was a blast. Signing books for hundreds of young readers who looked like us wasn't bad, either.

Back home for a minute, I unpacked, then repacked my bags for a writing retreat on San Francisco Bay, at the home of friend and illustrator Lea Lyons. In between work on a new book, Lea and I enjoyed visiting, sharing bits of our works-in-progress, and taking in an inspiring film about Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg! If you haven't seen it, you must. Her story reminds us how recently in our history women won some of the freedoms we enjoy, and now take for granted. As for the book I was working on, that would be a companion to One Last Word. (Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone. It's our secret.)

  Between the Lines
Now available in paperback!

I came home to learn that Between the Lines has gone paperback! That was exciting news. Between the Lines also came in for some special attention as part of Black History Month, but so did One Last Word, Bronx Masquerade, Garvey's Choice, Poems in the Attic and a host of other titles. Many libraries honored my works, including Hotchkiss Library who featured my biography of Barack Obama as part of their Black History celebrations. All in all, my work was represented from sea to shining sea! I definitely felt the love.

John Page, CEO of National Reading Recovery and Literacy read four of my poems from Thanks A Million at their recent annual conference, as part of the African American Read-In session. How cool was that? Plus, I'll be one of their keynote speakers at next year's conference.

Pittsboro Elementary posted photos of young readers crazy for Dyamonde Daniel, which warmed my heart. The smiles on their faces as they held copies of the books in their hands was priceless.

Since it's publication, One Last Word has proven inspirational for teachers exploring Golden Shovel Poetry with their students. I love that! Recently, on The Robb Review blog, teacher Linda Rief extolled the virtues of the golden shovel poetry form, with a nod to One Last world as her mentor text. So jazzed!

February included a couple of interviews, too. One was a talk radio interview in Philadelphia, and the second was an interview by Nicole Stevenson for On the Wall, a live interview on Facebook on Feb. 13th, as part of Black History Month.

Whew! What a month. I got in some writing, too, in case you wondered. Besides my work at the retreat, I wrote an essay for Horn Book, for a future issue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Awards and penned a poem for a new anthology. More on that in the months to come.

Oh! I don't want to forget this: I was included in the list of poets in the resources for actives section of Watch Us Rise, by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan. Score!

Arnold Adoff Poetry Award
African American Children's Book Fair, Philadelphia. Loved catching up with Floyd Cooper, illustrator of Meet Danitra Brown.
My publisher sent copies of the ARC for my coming memoir, Ordinary Hazards, along with cookies that matched the cover!

The book fair sold lots of my books, including these. The sponsors also bought copies of my books to give away! How cool is that?

Well, that's enough for now, right?

Until next time.

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Nikki Grimes

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