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Celebrate the Caldecott, Courage, Pottery & Radishes!

Speaking with other educators – especially librarians – is one of the rewards of being a writer of children’s books! In September, I spoke at an ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) National Institute in Indianapolis and met hundreds of librarians from the Midwest, other authors and illustrators. ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.

This year’s Institute was the kick-off for the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Caldecott Award which along with the Newbery Medal is the most important recognition for excellence in children’s literature. So of course, it is one of my favorite anniversaries to celebrate!

At ALSC I was on a panel about writing non-fiction books for children with my friend and collaborator Bryan Collier and April Pulley Sayre who writes wonderful read-aloud books on natural history.

Bryan is both an award-winning illustrator and author. Our project together, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr., won numerous awards. It is read in classrooms across North America each year to honor Dr. King on …

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An Amazing Gathering!

This September 26th marks the 79th anniversary of the remarkable escape by 230 Jewish prisoners from the Novogrudok Labor Camp in Poland – a story and escape I describe in my book and on this site.

Among those who worked round clock to dig a tunnel for the escape was fourteen-year-old Jack [Idel] Kagan, who had tried to escape the previous winter. On that night he had been forced back because of heavy snow and his frostbitten toes, which when he returned to the camp had to be amputated without the benefit of anesthesia.

But, that did not deter Jack from a second try at freedom.

And, on the moonless, windy and rainy night of September 26, 1943, he and the others made their escape. Of the 230 Jews from that escape, one hundred and seventy survived the war. In August of this year, Jack, his wife Barbara, their two sons Michael and Jeffrey, and their ten grandchildren went to the site of the labor camp, now in Belarus. Their group included other survivors, Riva Kaganovitz and Israel …

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