Bartography Express, November 2019
Hey there!
As you may have heard, on the last Saturday of October the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List for 2020-21 was announced —
— and you can watch the very seconds when my book What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was revealed to be on the list .

That immensely satisfying moment was part of a stretch of days that were full of them. Two days earlier, the book's illustrator, Ekua Holmes, arrived in Austin for a much-photographed event at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building celebrating What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?

It was the first time Ekua and I had seen each other since long before the book was published, and that one previous meeting had been just a quick hello at a conference. If Ekua's artwork has given you the sense that she must be a marvelous person, I can assure you — after the state library event and our lunch the next day (where the photo above was taken) — that your impression of her is completely accurate. I feel more blessed than ever to have gotten to work with Ekua, and I can't wait to see what she does next.
A few days earlier, I awoke to the first review of my upcoming nonfiction picture book All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing , illustrated by Nicole Xu and coming next February 4 from Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing.

It’s a starred review from Kirkus , which notes that “Grief knows no boundaries” and concludes by calling the book “An affecting story of loss rooted in one specific tragedy.” I’m so thankful to the people at Lerner who saw the same need for this book that I did.

I'm thankful as well for the survivors, victims' family members, first responders, and others who shared their stories with me as part of my research. With the arrival this past weekend of my box of finished copies of the book, I'm so glad that I can finally share All of a Sudden and Forever with these people. I dearly hope that, upon seeing the book, they will believe that their faith in me was well placed.

I know that part of making a book — even about so sensitive a topic — is promoting that book, but I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about doing so for All of a Sudden and Forever . On the one hand, I want people to know about what we've created, and I especially want the book to reach readers who themselves have been touched by tragedy and might find some solace in what transpired in Oklahoma City.

But book promotion can easily become self -promotion, and that's what I'm uncomfortable with in this case. We'll see how I navigate that next week at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
This will be my initial appearance at AASL, and I'm looking forward to visiting with librarians from all over the country. (Is it too much to hope that I'll be able to meet a librarian from every state?)

I'm also nervous. The conference will feature my first signing events for All of a Sudden and Forever , as well as my discussion of the book during a couple of panel appearances. This book means a lot to me, and I hope I represent it well.

The weekend after that, I'll be back on my home turf, discussing picture book biographies in general and Barbara Jordan and What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? in particular at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference here in Austin. I loved my previous time at that conference, in Washington, D.C., and I'm eager to reconnect with folks I met there.

If you'll be at AASL or NCSS, please holler — digitally or literally. They both work for me.
Now it's time for my monthly Q&A and new-book giveaway. My guests are author Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal, creators of Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story , which was published last month by Roaring Brook Press.

If you’re a Bartography Express subscriber with a US mailing address and you want to be the winner of Fry Bread , just say so in a reply to this email before midnight on November 30, and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

In the meantime, please enjoy my two-question Q&A with Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal .