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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank you, Leah!

Welcome once again to my place!

In my first post I asked this question about the main characters in the Ernestine and Amanda series:
If you could talk to one of the girls, which one would it be and
what would you say to or ask her?

I promised to send to the person whose response I liked best an autographed copy of book 5, the most recent book.
Book 5 of the series
Among the responses I received was one that impressed me deeply. It came from Leah who lives in Los Angeles, California.  She addressed her response to Ernestine and Amanda (I loved that), and here is part of what she said:  

Dear Ernestine and Amanda,
You guys are SOOOOO lucky - I wish I lived your life!!

Living in one place for years - that's awesome. We moved all the time. :-(

Teachers who care…!

You had Enough. Never going to bed hungry, always safe. I say "WOW!"

Ernestine: Your Mama and Daddy, Uncle J.B. and more family, a sister (I've always wanted a sister), music lessons, friends like Clovis and Alicia, safe streets, a loving Church - Again all I can say is "WOW!" 

Amanda: It's harder for you, with your folks breakup and all. But you know your Dad and you know he loves you. I never knew my Dad at all. And you have grace and Dance to help you find your way.

So, I guess my only question for the both of you is "Do you know how lucky you are"? 

Leah’s response made me think about Ernestine and Amanda in a different way. I once said that their stories are the keepers of my childhood memories, and that remains true. The things they do, the voices they hear, the communities in which they live… all of these things were of my childhood.

Leah helped me know that I must remember that some kids see their lives as very different from the ones of Ernestine and Amanda. In fact, some kids’ lives are very different, and for many different reasons. In some ways this is good; in others, not as good. Of course, every kid will have to decide for herself or himself how this is so. 

What I must decide and remember when I’m writing the Ernestine & Amanda stories is to show how what they do, how they feel, and what they strive for should reflect a reality all kids can understand, no matter in what time they live.

At the Farm

On the Ocean
The photo of the young women in “At the Farm” above was taken over 40 years before the times of Ernestine and Amanda. The identical twins in “On the Ocean” was taken over 40 years after those times. However, although living in times almost 90 years apart, every single one of these young women is the same in some very important ways:
  • Each wants to find joy in herself and with those in her life.
  • Each has a dream about herself—a dream that will affect the choices she makes.
  • Each is a young woman of color and will sometimes be forced to look at herself through the world’s mirror… one that often does not recognize and welcome her because she is of color.
  • Each will become a woman in a world that often does not value her because of her gender and will have to figure out how to be true to herself and her goals despite this.
Leah’s words will help me remember how the above are true in Ernestine and Amanda’s lives, especially now as both girls get ready to enter high school.    

I’ll sign off now with a special message to Leah:

Thank you so much for your wonderful response and for telling me that you’re a fan of the Ernestine & Amanda series. It was great to hear that you’ve read and loved every book. I hope you’ll continue to read and enjoy them, including the autographed copy of book 5 which you should have received by now.
By the way, one of the main characters in another one of my books, Store-Bought Baby, is named Leah. That name is going to be a very special one for me.

To everyone, I hope you will visit again… soon!

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