Monday, May 23, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Two: Jo Kittinger, ROSA'S BUS: THE RIDE TO CIVIL RIGHTS

Week two of winner interviews kicks off with Jo Kittinger, whose book ROSA'S BUS: THE RIDE TO CIVIL RIGHTS won the 2011 Crystal Kite Award for the Florida/Georgia/South Carolina/
North/Carolina/Alabama/Mississippi region. To learn more about today's award-winning author, visit her website (where teachers, librarians and homeschoolers can find ROSA'S BUS curriculum tie-ins, including questions, games and activities).

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

ROSA'S BUS: THE RIDE TO CIVIL RIGHTS provides a great read-aloud introduction to Civil Rights for young readers, while an author's note at the back, contextualizes the boycott and adds more information for others.

Bus #2857, on which Rosa Parks was arrested (prompting the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights Movement) has become a National Treasure, much like the Liberty Bell. ROSA'S BUS employs free-verse stanzas to portray public transportation under Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, Alabama and the fight for better treatment of black passengers.

Additionally, readers learn the history of the bus itself, following Bus #2857 from the General Motors factory in Michigan, through days of segregation and integration in Montgomery, years of ruin in a field and finally to the Henry Ford Museum. I was thrilled with Steven Walker's rich oil paintings, which evoke the emotions of determined people and perfectly complement the text.

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

I feel incredibly honored and humbled to have received this peer-voted award. Many fantastic books were published this past year and to have ROSA'S BUS selected for the Crystal Kite is very heart-warming. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to showcase my book. Thank you to everyone who voted.

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?

I was one of the founding members of the Southern Breeze region (AL, GA, MS) of SCBWI which was established 20 years ago. Since the beginning of our region I have been an active member, volunteering at our first conferences, moving up the volunteer ladder, and now serving (since 2002) as a Co-Regional Advisor.

Without my critique group and SCBWI I would never have been published. The instruction, networking and inspiration received through SCBWI not only led me to the point of my first book (published in 1996) but have continued to help me hone my craft, learn marketing tips, and introduce me to people who have been able to open doors. Most of my titles can be directly linked to SCBWI connections.

What will we see from you next?

Thanks for asking! THE HOUSE ON DIRTY-THIRD STREET will be released with Peachtree Publishers next year. The amazing Thomas Gonzales (14 COWS FOR AMERICA) is my illustrator and I can't wait to see the finished picture book. I only wish it was already available for all the children who have suffered through the recent tornadoes in the Southeast and floods along the Mississippi River. This fictional picture book addresses the discouragement and hope when a family has to start over.

No comments: