When most people think of Michigan they think of: unemployment, broken down Detroit, dying economy, foreclosure, and closed manufacturing plants. I am from Michigan and have lived here everyday of my life. Reading got me thinking a little bit about my state…
Recently I finished the 2000 Newberry winning book “Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis. The book is about an orphaned boy, during the depression, looking for a home. Bud takes his quest into his own hands when yet another trip to a foster family fails.
Bud has no idea where his father is, but he does have these clues from his late mother that he feels will lead his to his father. Bud’s journey involves hopping trains, attempting to hike accross Michigan, a library, a soup kitchen, and a famous Big Band.
Being from Michigan this book was extra special to me. Mr. Curtis started his adult life working on the assembly line in Flint, Michigan hanging doors on cars for 13 years.
After reading “Bud, Not Buddy” I started to think about the success authors from Michigan have found in children’s literature. Here is the list quick-incomplete that I came up with while reflecting:
Jon is the author of many books for children including: the Time Warp Trio series, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and Math Curse. Jon is also and advocate of boys reading. He created the website guysread.com to help encourage boys to read,and to help adults get young men excited about reading.
Like Mr. Curtis, Jon grew up in Flint. He attended college at the small liberal-arts college Albion (I currently live in Albion!).
Ms. Polacco is on of my favorite authors of pictures books that are centered around a true life moment. Ms. Polacco writes many of her stories from important moments from her childhood.
Patricia’s childhood included stints in both Lansing, and Union City. She does an amazing job capturing these settings in her picture books. Currently she lives in Union City where she opens up her old farm house multiple times a year for fans to come in and explore her world.
Last year I met Patricia at a book singing for the book “January Sparrow”. At book signings I always watch how the author interacts with children, and I was blown away by Ms. Polacco. She was so gentle and kind with this little 8-year old girl. Patricia took the time to tell her a little story as she was signing her book. It was awesome!
Gary D. Schmidt
Mr. Schmidt career is as hot as blacktop in the summer. His most recent book “Okay for now” is being dubbed a favorite for the Newberry. Mr. Schmidt curently teaches writing at a small Christian College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he lives on a farm near by in Alto. Gary did not grow up in Michigan, but he is a Michigander so I decided to include him on my short list.
I haven’t read “Okay for now”, yet, but earlier this summer I fell in love with his writing in the book “The Wednesday Wars”.
Living in a state that has had so much bad press the last few years, knowing that we excel in something that I hold dear to my heart makes me so happy. When I look across my classroom in the fall I will be wondering if I’m looking at next great Michigan author trying to develop their craft.