My (literary) love affair with Kwame Alexander


Anjie Trusty's class

Anjie Trusty's class


So, it all begins like this:

On March 29, 2015 at 7:52 AM, I message:

On page 168. Have to take a break. Too tense: Is Dad going to be ok? Will the boys make up? What about the championship, and will they let Josh play...???

Still sad about Josh's dreads, buried in the hat box...

Will there be a happy ending? Ugh... So worried it will not be a happy ending...

At 8:20 AM, I receive this message from Kwame:

Awww Sherri, I felt the same way writing it. I will say this...uh, no I won't. Enjoy, my friend!

Later that day:

I close the last page of The Crossover and it feels like I've lost a friend. It's over. I'm feeling empty. And, yet, oddly, I also feel completely, overflowingly filled — in that way that only closing the final page of a great read can fill you. 

Suddenly: I want the entire world to experience this book! So, acting without thinking (one of my famous trademark moves), I burst onto Facebook:

"The first 5th grade teacher to FB message me will receive The Crossover for every student in his/her class!"

A few days later, I call HMH sales and try to explain who the heck I am and why I am ordering all these books.

I send 20 books to Dave Leckrone's class in Virginia.

I send 50 books to Anjie Trusty's class in Ohio, because her impassioned plea comes just moments after Dave's, and I just cannot say no to a teacher who so desperately wants her students to experience this book.

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A month or so later, coincidentally, I have just recently signed a contract with HMH. When my husband sees the credit card statement which includes 70 hardcovers from HMH, he questions: "Wait. Aren't THEY supposed to be paying YOU?"   Oops.

I reason: "Putting a great book into the hands of kids. It's no-lose, Babe."

(He is a patient and forgiving man. He would have to be to stay with me all these years.)

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In June, I have the honor of sitting at the Newbery-Caldecott banquet at ALA in San Francisco, listening to Kwame accept his honor. His voice, his presence... it's a beautiful blending of something between poet and preacher. He moves us with his words, his wisdom, his struggles and ... this incredible victory. He honors his family, the love of words and music and work ethic that they've instilled in him. I wonder what they must be feeling at that moment. We are all so awestruck. I post:

And the joy in the room is so powerful... It raises us up... And we ALL are flying... alongside him... Congratulations on your beautiful book, the Newbery Medal, and your equally beautiful speech, Kwame Alexander.

Still starry-eyed and slightly gushing, I introduce myself to Kwame while he is still seated at the honor table. And, after a bit more wine, we meet again in the receiving line — like old friends.

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A few days ago I attend a book signing, and I hear Kwame read a little from his newest title, Booked. He is, always, cool. Awesome. Later, we sit together, talking, laughing, eating pizza and discussing miracles. 

But, what I don't say is this:  Just hanging out with him — teasing him about his man-purse, talking books, talking family, talking life...  That totally feels like kind of a miracle, too.

 
  Kwame Alexander: Let's Get Busy, Episode 226 - All The Wonders www.allthewonders.com Thanks for listening to the Let’s Get Busy podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the Stitcher radio app.

 

Kwame Alexander: Let's Get Busy, Episode 226 - All The Wonders

www.allthewonders.com

Thanks for listening to the Let’s Get Busy podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the Stitcher radio app.