It was such a joy and so inspiring to chat with Janet Fox last Thursday (August 19) on my Write Space with Kirby Larson and Friends program, still viewable over on IGTV. One of the things I admire about Janet’s newest novel, Carry Me Home, is that it tackles an important societal topic (homelessness) without turning into a “problem” book. That requires a deft hand and Janet clearly has the gift. I was completely caught up in Lulu’s story from the very first line: “The day Lulu’s daddy disappeared was, so far, the coldest morning of the year,” and I am confident you will be, too. Whether you add this book to your classroom, school or family library, it will offer ample opportunity for discussion and growth.
Making Good Trouble
This motto of the late John Lewis speaks volumes, right? If you want to impact the world – make a difference, make a change – you need to stir the pot, but do it in a decent way. I think about this a lot, because I feel passionately that writers can and do make a difference when they show readers something important, something to think about.
I also think that kids are particularly capable of dealing with important and timely issues, and that sometimes adults try to protect them or think they can’t handle deep ideas.
I would say that young leaders like Greta Thunberg prove that notion wrong.
Change the World
Using insight and a dose of magic to change the world, one book at a time.
There’s a reason I love that phrase and use it as my personal motto. I aspire to write a book that could make a difference, to impact the world, to reach children and adults and open discussions about important issues.
This is my fervent hope for my newest novel, Carry Me Home (August 24, Simon & Schuster): that my book would (a) give voice to the need for remedies to homelessness, and (b) give my young main character Lulu her voice, to reach out for the help that she needs. And in addition, to encourage kids, wherever they are and in whatever circumstances, to know that help is out there.
A Very Important Moment: Now
At this very moment, people across this country are dealing with possible eviction from their homes, due to repercussions from the pandemic. We cannot not fault the landlords; they have bills to pay, too. The problem is that for too long we’ve ignored the problem of affordable housing.
I say when I am signing my book, ‘Everyone should have a home’, and I truly believe that.
All of Us: We Can Do It
Those of us who can – we all need to raise our voices in alarm that some among us have 4 or 5 luxurious homes, and some sleep in their cars.
Among other things, the very people we rely on all the time – waitstaff, delivery people, cooks, grocery clerks, store workers, skilled laborers, hospital workers, home healthcare workers, and more – all those folks are being shut out of affordable housing. This is not about people who can work but don’t, but about people who want to work but can’t.
Can’t, because they can’t live where the work exists. I see this first-hand in the restaurants and stores in my small city in a rural state, where businesses simply cannot get help and must close early, or entirely.
Please help me raise awareness about the homeless. Most especially, let’s think about the children. Let’s make good trouble, and change the world.
Janet Fox writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. Her published works include GET ORGANIZED WITHOUT LOSING IT (Free Spirit, new edition 2017), and the YA novels FAITHFUL, FORGIVEN, and SIRENS (all from Penguin). THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE (Viking, 2016), her middle grade debut, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness, is on numerous lists, and received SCBWI’s Crystal Kite award, and it has a companion novel, THE ARTIFACT HUNTERS (Viking 2020). VOLCANO DREAMS (Web of Life Books, 2018) is her debut picture book. CARRY ME HOME, a middle grade contemporary novel, is out from Simon & Schuster in 2021. Janet is a former high school teacher and a 2010 graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s represented by Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Find out more at www.janetsfox.com