All posts by Linda Sue Park

Three Things

Here is my simple list of action items for anyone who believes in the mission of We Need Diverse Books, and wants to help but isn’t sure how.

#1: Gene Luen Yang is our current National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. His platform is READING WITHOUT WALLS. Take up his challenge–for yourself, AND for the young readers in your life.


#2: Bookmark these two pages:



Make them part of your regular online reading/listening, no matter what your skin color.

#3: BUY BOOKS by diverse authors. Every time you go book shopping, make a point of it. If you can’t buy, REQUEST them at your local library.

Three simple steps. If even half of ‘everyone’ did them, what a movement that would be!




I could not be more excited about this book project! Six female authors, one male author, each writing one of seven linked YA stories, from the individual points of view of . . . HENRY VIII AND HIS SIX WIVES!!!

GENIUS, RIGHT!?? It was author Candace Fleming’s idea, to be published by Schwartz & Wade, Random House Books. The authors?

M.T. Anderson
Jennifer Donnelly
Candace Fleming
Stephanie Hemphill
Deborah Hopkinson
Lisa Sandell
. . . and me!

What an honor to work with these fantastic writers. And what a story–politics and religion and sex and blood and gore and intrigue and jewels and death and more sex, and no wonder it continues to fascinate people five hundred years later.

Besides the excitement inherent in such a brilliant idea and such terrific colleagues, I have another, more personal reason to be joyous here. This seems to me to be a great example of a ‘post-diversity’ project: I’m a POC invited to work on a book that has nothing to do with my ethnicity–while at the same time, it was precisely exploration of my ethnic background which led to my interest in writing historical fiction, which in turn got me this gig.

A baby step at a time…toward a world where there is no danger of the single story. May we all get there together, and soon.


The crowdfunding campaign for the Rabbit hOle project–to build a NATIONAL MUSEUM for children’s books!–has been extended until June 10, so you still have time to JOIN TeamPark! All team members will be entered into a drawing to win fabulous prizes: SIGNED BOOKS or one of five copies of a beautiful print by Grace Lin!

These prizes are SEPARATE from the Rabbit hOle’s campaign perks–they’re EXCLUSIVELY for members of TeamPark!


–Are you already a member of #TeamPark? If yes, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Will you continue to help? Ask/encourage/badger friends and family to become part of the team! For every new team member you recruit, your name will go into the prize drawing AGAIN, to increase your chances of winning SIGNED BOOKS or the beautiful print above!

Here’s how to join the fun!

  1. Go here:
  2. Donate any amount to help build the Rabbit hOle, a national museum of the children’s book (HOW COOL IS THAT!??).
  3. Hit me with a tweet or DM @Linda Sue Park to let me know you’ve joined #TeamPark! OR email
  4. If you’ve been recruited for #TeamPark by another team member, please tweet or DM me @LindaSuePark after you make your donation, with the name of your recruiter.





(Quick reminder: I’m competing against Lemony Snicket and Jon Scieszka to see which of us can get the greatest number of team members donating to the Rabbit hOle project, the plan to create an AMAZING new museum for children’s books in Kansas City. The crowdfunding campaign is HERE.)

GAK. Snicket got a WHOLE BUNCH of new team members yesterday. So it’s time for some major troop-marshalling!

–Did you see my TedX talk? or Grace Lin’s? Grace, award-winning author/illustrator, has generously offered to help with my campaign! Both of our talks focus on the importance of children’s literature, just as the Rabbit hOle does. So if you liked her talk or mine or both, please join the team! Instructions below.

AND…(drum roll, please!) Grace is donating FIVE copies of this gorgeous print as prizes in the random drawing for all #TeamPark members!


–Are you already a member of #TeamPark? If yes, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Will you continue to help? Ask/encourage/badger friends and family to become part of the team! For every new team member you recruit, your name will go into the prize drawing AGAIN, to increase your chances of winning SIGNED BOOKS or the beautiful print above!

Here’s how to join the fun!

  1. Go here:
  2. Donate any amount to help build the Rabbit hOle, a national museum of the children’s book (HOW COOL IS THAT!??).
  3. Hit me with a tweet or DM @Linda Sue Park to let me know you’ve joined #TeamPark! OR email
  4. If you’ve been recruited for #TeamPark by another team member, please tweet or DM me @LindaSuePark after you make your donation, with the name of your recruiter!







But I need your help to do it! And you’ll be aiding a great cause at the same time.

It’s easy.

  1. Go here:
  2. Donate any amount to help build the Rabbit hOle, a national museum of the children’s book (HOW COOL IS THAT!??).
  3. Hit me with a tweet @Linda Sue Park to let me know you’ve joined the team! OR email

The author with the greatest number of supporters WINS, AND CRUSHES THE OTHER TWO LIKE BUGS.

The losers will pay a penalty of excruciatingly public humiliation, TO BE REVEALED LATER IN THE COMPETITION.

Now, a note about tactics. Sciezska and Snicket have anywhere from twice to FOUR TIMES as many Twitter followers as I do. The playing field is NOT LEVEL.

Therefore, I will be playing dirty.

You have been warned.

NEW RULE: All of ‘my’ contributors will be entered into a drawing. Prizes: SIGNED BOOKS from me!

NEW RULE #2: Jon Chesska’s name must be spelled correctly for his votes to count.



Spring photojournal

I’ve had such an amazing spring, and I yearn to blog about all the events I got to attend… but grandbabies and writing take priority over blogging. Instead, some photos, with thanks to all the wonderful folks who hosted me, and especially to the young readers I had the privilege of meeting.

APRIL: Texas Library Association annual conference, Houston


I got to participate on a panel moderated by Cynthia Alaniz (left), with Kathi Appelt, Katherine Applegate, Joan Bauer, and Kirby Larson. We had so much fun! Many thanks to HarperCollins for sponsoring my appearance there, especially Abby Ranger and Patty Rosati.


SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference, Naperville IL


…where I got to meet Jennifer Black Reinhardt, illustrator of YAKS YAK! Do we look happy or what!??


20160429_142458The fun, hardworking, and attentive members of my Novel Revision workshop.

And something incredible happened at the conference, which I’ve already blogged about here. Publishers Weekly wrote about it, too!


MAY: People’s Light Theater, Malvern PA, and Philadelphia area


Children’s Book World in Haverford hosted me for a presentation and signing. Above, I’m signing a book for author Deb Heiligman’s nephew, with Deb’s brother at left!



People’s Light Theater Company in Malvern were staging a stunning production of A SINGLE SHARD, screenplay by Robert Schenkkan, directed by Seema Sueko. Here, Marcie Bramucci, the theater’s Director of Community Investment, who took care of me during my visit, stands in front of the lobby display. The trip was a busy one, with a very full schedule, and not only did Marcie see to it that everything ran smoothly, she bent over backwards to make sure I had every last thing I needed. THANK YOU, MARCIE!



With some of the cast members: Greg Watanabe (Kang), Jeanne Sakata (Ajima), and Thom Sesma (Min).



With more of the cast and crew.



Backstage: props.



After the performance: talkback with the cast!


Shard talkback with LSP May 6 2016

Look at me, sitting between Tree-ear and Crane-man!



Several children’s-book friends came to see an evening performance with me, including David Wiesner, Jen Bryant, and Margo Rabb. A few days later, Matt Phelan (illustrator of XANDER’S PANDA PARTY, and creator of many other books) brought his daughter Nora to a matinee.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful the production is–and it’s playing until May 29! If you’re anywhere nearby, go see it, and tell everyone I said hi!



The schedule of events associated with the play included three library visits. At Philadelphia Free Library, Wyoming branch, I signed books for students who came by bus to hear me speak.


Showing slides of celadon pottery.



At Chester County Library in Exton, librarian Jeanne Clancy (right) and her staff provided a cake and book giveaways!



At Abington Free Library with librarian Carolyn Dubois. This event was co-sponsored by the Society of Young Korean-Americans…


…founded by Michael Choe. From left, Ji Hyun An, Michael, and his mom. 🙂


Jamestown NY: I spoke at the Robert H. Jackson Center for Social Justice, as part of their Young Readers program, about A LONG WALK TO WATER.


With the Center’s executive director Susan Murphy (left) and the three winners of the Young Readers program essay contest.


The Reg Lenna theater in Jamestown, starting to fill up with some of the 1,200 students who came to hear me speak.


With students outside the theater.


Brighton (NY) Memorial Library annual staff & volunteer dinner: I was honored to be the keynote speaker this year.


With BML teen and children’s staff. My peeps!



With more BML staff members. I LOVE LIBRARIANS!


Aurora NY: the Anne Frank Sapling Project annual dinner

Do you know about the Anne Frank Sapling Project? I didn’t before, but now I do, and I’m so glad!


Thirteen locations throughout the U.S. were chosen to receive a sapling–including Southern Cayuga Central School in rural upstate New York. I was humbled and delighted to speak there, where the local project committee had sponsored an all-community read of A LONG WALK TO WATER.


I couldn’t think of a better way to finish out my spring travels.



Last weekend I was in Naperville IL for the SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest conference. It was a terrific gathering, 500 writers and illustrators sharing and learning from one another.

On Saturday morning, I got to address the whole group with agent Marietta Zacker and author Miranda Paul, on the We Need Diverse Books initiatives. We each took a few moments to update the conference attendees on various WNDB efforts, like the internship program, the Walter Grants and Award, and the mentorships. We took questions and explored some of the difficulties and rewards of the kind of societal change WNDB is striving for.

Then attendee Karmen Kooyers, from Holland, Michigan, raised her hand and took the mike. “Why don’t we all donate now?” she said. “If each of us gave $5, that would be $2,500 total!”

Such a simple idea….

The conference organizers rallied the troops. WNDB secured $1,000 worth of matching grants.

And in 24 hours, more than $3,900 was raised.

It’s not the first time an SCBWI regional conference has contributed to a cause near and dear to my heart: SCBWI Midsouth did a similarly amazing thing back in 2011. Nor is it the first time SCBWI has supported WNDB.

SCBWI. WNDB. Two organizations I love and support. It’s like two of my best friends met and fell in love and are now spreading that love far and wide. THANK YOU, WildWildMidwest conference. I’m verklempt.


And it’s NEVER too late to join the fun. Here’s what I told the conference participants they can do–how to make supporting diversity part of your everyday life.

BUY books by diverse authors.


REQUEST them at your local library/bookstore.


TALK about diverse titles that you love. Talk, blog, post, pin, tweet!

We need you–every single one of you!–to be part of the conversation!


Not for you or me?

I read with great interest Caroline Starr Rose’s blog post here, responding to Colby Sharp’s post here. Nutshell: the difference in the responses of adult readers and young readers to middle-grade books. Because adults have read so much more than young readers, can something that feels ‘tired’ to us still be new and wondrous to the child reader?

With the usual (and vital) caveat that *not every book is for every reader*, I’d like to continue the conversation. I believe that there are truly only a handful of story modules in existence. We humans tell the same stories over and over. It’s a great strength of humanity and a tribute to the enduring power of stories: How they tie us together across time and space.

You don’t have to be an adult to have read many examples of the kinds of stories that people tell. An enthusiastic 10-year-old reader has probably already come across most of them. The writer’s task is to make those same old stories new again.

There is a danger in the line of thinking that ‘middle-grade is for kids, to whom All Is New.’ It’s a slippery slope to lazy writing: I can use this tired plot line, these stock characters, this trite language…because it will be new to them. I don’t know any writers who think this way consciously, but alas, I frequently read books in which these kinds of thoughts would appear to be in play subconsciously. (Editors and publishers must shoulder their share of the blame here.)

When I am writing middle-grade novels or stories, my first responsibility is to the story itself. I’m not thinking of the age of the reader. I’m focused on choosing the right words and putting them in the right order to best serve the story. In the very late stages of revision, I might have a thought like, Hmmm, maybe kids won’t know what that is, won’t be able to picture it. I’ll add an image for reinforcement.

I’m glad Mr. Sharp was helped by the thoughts of Linda Urban, and glad too for Caroline’s thoughtful post. But Mr. Sharp, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss your concerns about staleness. There are times when you’re right. All readers, and especially young readers discovering the power of story, deserve nothing less than the best effort of the storyteller.

If I do my job well, the young reader might indeed experience something new. And the ‘old’ reader will hopefully experience the same-old same-old in a way that makes her or him see it in a new light.

Which means that a good middle-grade book is indeed for you and me. And them. For anyone who wants a good story.



And then this happened

The last several weeks have been so busy for me that I’m still dizzy. While I was away on tour, two lovely reviews of my two new books came in. First, in case you missed it, the NYTimes review of FOREST OF WONDERS:




Second, a *starred review* from Shelf Awareness for YAKS YAK!


“Yaks yak over tea, bats bat baseballs and steers steer bumper cars in the thoroughly delightful picture book Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard). . . .”

And don’t miss this terrific blog post by Jennifer Black Reinhardt, on illustrating YAKS YAK. So fun!




Tour stats

Recap: the WING & CLAW tour for Book One, FOREST OF WONDERS



Days away from home: 17

Air + road miles: approx 6,500

States: 7 . California, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee

Schools visited: 16



Interviews: 14

…including this one, with Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville

Presentations: 22

Books read: 6 (see below)

Books signed: hundreds

Readers met: thousands!

20160310_103021     20160309_153234


Bat rings distributed: 300



Sides ordered at Monell’s Cafe in Nashville: 7


(Mashed potatoes, turnip greens, corn pudding, cornbread dressing, green beans, mac & cheese, broccoli salad)

Festival appearances: 2

The Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival, Redlands CA

The Southeastern Young Adult Bookfest, Murfreesboro TN

Special thanks to the organizers of these two TERRIFIC festivals. Can’t recommend them enough!


Bookstore sponsors: 6

Mrs. Nelson’s, Pomona CA

Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee WI

Kids’ Ink, Indianapolis IN

Book Stall, Winnetka IL

Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville IL

Parnassus Books, Nashville TN

MTSU Bookstore, Murfreesboro TN


Librarians / teachers thanked: dozens

20160308_154457    20160304_132403

…including Sam Bloom, Cincinnati Public Library, and Randy Lynn, DaVinci Academy, Elgin IL.


My tour guru was Lindsey Karl, publicist at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Lindsey straightened out dozens of little details on the fly, everything from flight glitches to hotel snafus. THANKS, LINDSEY!

The books I read on the road:

PAX, by Sara Pennypacker –Middle-grade realistic fiction, alternating viewpoints, boy and fox.

DUMPLIN’, by Julie Murphy –YA contemporary. All hail the fat girl!

AT THE CROSSING PLACES and THE JANUS STONE, by Elly Griffiths  –Adult. The first two books in the Ruth Galloway series, mysteries starring a forensic archaeologist.

NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT, by Derek B. Miller  –Adult. Thriller with an octagenarian protagonist.

ONE MAN’S FLAG, by David Downing  –Adult, spy novel. WWI and the Irish Easter Rising.

ALL highly recommended: I’m so grateful for books that dissolve the long hours of airport and airplane time! Special thanks to Betsy Groban for the Griffiths and Miller titles.

FOREST OF WONDERS has now been launched into the world. I can’t wait to hear about how it’s received by readers!

Favorite moment: Meeting one of the first young readers to have finished FOREST OF WONDERS. He eagerly asked when the second book of the series would be out. I told him March 2017, and his expression…”crestfallen” is putting it mildly! So glad there’s already someone waiting for the next WING & CLAW book!