Dear readers of my blog: As most of you know, after many, many years of running this feature, today is my very last Friend Friday. Don’t worry — I haven’t stopped shining the spotlight on fellow book creators and their work. I’m just doing it in a different form, over on Instagram, every Thursday at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET.
I cannot think of a better note to go out on than with Laura McGee Kvasnosky. She and I have been friends for decades and I cherish her work and her insights. Her Zelda and Ivy books are examples of perfection in stories for early readers. And there is always something new to appreciate in her illustrations. Though I’m a bit embarrassed by her lovely comments below, I second Laura’s acknowledgment of how important it is to both support and lean on others in the creative community as we strive to make our best work. I know you will want to hear more of Laura’s insights– and you can! Just click here to listen to the replay of last night’s Write Space with Kirby Larson and Friends conversation.
Thank you for inviting me to Friend Friday. All the years I have known you – and I think that’s pushing 30 – you have been such a force for community with support and encouragement for your fellow children’s bookmakers. I understand this is the last of the Friend Friday series and it seems a good chance to thank you.
I think we met in a critique group. As the acknowledgements in my lone novel confirm, I am ever grateful for your comments there. I fondly remember your character Opal and will always wonder how things worked out for her in the swimming pool.
Then there was the Marketing Circle you organized over 20 years ago that helped me get my own efforts together. You have done such an admirable marketing job since, growing your brand and our children’s book community through your newsletters, Friend Fridays and Write Story conversations.
Thanks, also, for taking the reins of the Inside Story when George Shannon and I passed it to our local SCBWI. We can all be proud that this twice-yearly salon celebrating our area’s new children’s books is still going strong 23 years later.
We’ve been together for some great times. Like the Seattle hotel ballroom when ALA announced your Newbery honor and my Geisel award. Felt like we hit the jackpot, right?
You’ve helped through discouraging patches too. Years after our ALA awards, I put together a talk for our SCBWI about how to keep going in the tough spells. Your answer was my favorite:
“What keeps me going? Chutzpah! Honestly, I don’t know. What makes me think anyone wants one more word from me? And yet, the stories bubble up and I can’t contain them. But I do know it takes persistence! After five books published, I had a seven-year dry spell — Lady Bug magazine even rejected a 10-word story!!! — and I didn’t stop writing. I think it is so much a part of me that I don’t know how to stop. Nor do I want to stop.”
Through it all, I think we agree there’s a lot of happily ever after to be had in the children’s book biz: the fascination of days spent making a book, the satisfactions of deep observation, the connection to kids. Best of all, we get to do this together. We have a great support network to lean back on when times are tough. And to celebrate with when times are good. Thanks for all you have done to nurture that network.
As Jacob Lawrence said. “We are here to show each other the way.” I am so glad you are my friend and fellow writer and I know there is a big community of children’s book people who feel the same way.
p.s. I have had a great time collaborating with my sister Kate on our last three books. Here are links to blogposts about our work:
Laura McGee Kvasnosky is an award-winning author/illustrator of over 20 books for young readers. Laura is best known for her early reader series that explores the ups and down of sibling rivalry between two fox sisters. The original, Zelda and Ivy, arrived to peer acclaim by the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) with dual Golden Kite honors for writing and illustration in 1998. Zelda and Ivy the Runaways, in 2007, won the American Library Association’s Theodore Geisel Award that honors the year’s outstanding American book for beginning readers. Laura grew up in the small town of Sonora, CA, where she honed her writing skills by working on her dad’s local newspaper. She graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles and ran her own craft making and graphic design businesses. At age 40, she turned to her dream job of making children’s books. Laura’s work includes board books, picture books, easy readers and a middle-grade novel, One Lucky Summer, that was a Junior Library Guild selection. More recently she created Little Wolf’s First Howling with her sister Kate McGee that debuted in Spring 2017 to three starred reviews (Kirkus, SLJ and Booklist) and won Red Bud award and the Margaret Wise Brown honor for text. Their next two titles. Squeak! and Ocean Lullaby, are Dolly Parton Imagination Library selections. Laura lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband, John, and they are proud parents of two grown children and two grandsons. Laura is a school presenter and conference speaker, and has taught writing at the University of Washington and Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program for children’s literature.