Yesterday at the Baltimore Book Festival, Derrick Barnes shared his series, Ruby and the Booker Boys and an excerpt from his YA novel, We Could Be Brothers. I met Derrick a few times at the African American Book Festival in Philly but had never heard him speak or read his work aloud. He shared his experiences of raising four young boys and using them as inspiration to write the character of Ruby, an 8 year old girl. During the question and answer session I asked him if it was challenging to write a female character without having a daughter. He said that because he was raised around a lot of women it isn’t that difficult to bring Ruby to life.
I think sometimes about how gender affects the creative process. I find that I am more comfortable illustrating boys than girls. I don’t know why yet. Maybe because I find that I can simplify male characters externally where with female characters I get caught up in details of clothing and hair and things that make them…girlie. I dunno. I don’t consider myself that girlie to begin with, but I do think about ideas of femininity and masculinity and what defines the two.
I am working on two books currently with female leads. So far, so good. One manuscript is story heavy, where I don’t have to work as much to describe the main character in gesture and expression. The other is picture driven and it is up to me to bring this little girl to life. It is extremely challenging and I have been in the planning stage for quite some time now. Along with her expression, I am also playing with mood to move the story along. It will be a big payoff in the end for sure..okay, hopefully.
I met the wonderful Sophie Blackall after she spoke with Annie Barrows about their Ivy & Bean series. It was the world premiere of the Ivy and Bean museum. What a treat for the rows of wide eyed girls who devoured the series.
Hudson Talbott shared his hilarious ode to felines, It’s All About Me-Ow, I laughed out loud at the humor and thoroughly enjoyed seeing his beautiful painting.
To close the day, I saw Kevin O’Malley speak and wow us with stories. If you have never seen him speak before, you are missing out. Just crack open any of his wonderful books and you will see just the type of zany humor that I am referring to. I hope my students had as wonderful a weekend as I did!