Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
As we approach American Thanksgiving, many of us are thinking about what we’re thankful for, and especially in these times, I bet many of us are even more grateful for small things than we usual are. To honor this thankful feeling, we have the pleasure of welcoming author Barbara Lowell to talk about her book BEHIND THE BOOKCASE featuring a woman our culture is incredibly thankful for (and many of us didn’t even know it): Miep Gies.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Barbara, thanks so much for joining us!
Barbara: Thank you so much Kaitlyn for inviting me on your blog!
Kaitlyn: My pleasure; this is such an important story to share, so first, I’d love to know what inspired you to share Miep’s story with the world.
Barbara: When I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, I felt a connection to Miep Gies and wanted to learn more about her. I read her autobiography, Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family, and knew I wanted to tell her story for children.
Kaitlyn: That sounds like an amazing experience. I think the parallel between Miep and Anne’s upbringing is such a mix of sad, important, and powerful. Was this something that you always wanted in the story or did it come about later?
Barbara: I really didn’t think about the parallels when I wrote the manuscript, although they are clear to me now. It was when my editor at Kar-Ben, Shaina Olmanson, wrote the line: “She [Miep] knew how it felt to be young and leave everything in your world behind.” that I recognized the importance of their parallel lives. It was war that changed Miep’s and Anne’s lives. It’s very sad. I think that Miep’s childhood gave her a great empathy that helped her risk her life in the attempt to save Anne, her family and friends from death.
Kaitlyn: Wow, that’s when you know you found the best editor for your story, when they give you one line that helps make such an important part clear in your story. What do you hope children will get out of this book?
Barbara: I think it’s important for children to learn about and then remember the Holocaust. Through Miep’s story in BEHIND THE BOOKCASE, young children are introduced to the Holocaust in gentle way which allows them to learn about the time without overwhelming them. Hopefully, as they get older, they will want to learn more about this tragic time.
Kaitlyn: I agree; it’s so important for this history to be shared and never forgotten, thank you for helping share this story with the world. Can you share some advice you like to give to authors?
Barbara: Read a lot and write a lot, take classes, webinars, go to conferences, and join a critique group. Join SCBWI the international organization that offers so much to writers and illustrators. Be receptive to your editor’s suggestions. Be open to changes that are made to your manuscript. It’s your editor’s job to make your book the best it can be. And unless you are asked to offer art suggestions, don’t. Enjoy what the illustrator and art director created for the book that is truly a team effort.
Kaitlyn: All great advice! Can you share with us what you’re working on now?
Barbara: I’ve spent time this year learning more about craft by attending virtual conferences and webinars. I am working on a picture book inspired by a true story and using the book Story Genius to help me. I have manuscripts in various stages that I will be getting back to and have ideas for new nonfiction picture books. I also have a book that should be released in Fall 2021, but hasn’t been announced yet. It’s a funny nonfiction picture book about a mischievous kid, the son of a famous father.
Kaitlyn: Oh, sounds like you have lots of exciting things coming up! I can’t wait to hear more about the surprise book! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, historical figure, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Barbara: I have lots of favorite authors and historical figures, but if I could meet only one, it would be Buster Keaton, the silent movie comedian that made most of his movies in the 1920’s. We would go on an adventure around Los Angeles where he made his movies and he would show me all the sites and tell me how he made his incredible stunts work.
Kaitlyn: Haha that sounds like so much fun! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today to talk about your wonderful book and your interesting career!
Barbara: Thank you, Kaitlyn! I enjoyed your interview very much. You have always been an inspiration to me.
Kaitlyn: Me? That’s the sweetest thing, especially coming from an author with such a rich library of lovely books you’ve published. I can’t wait to see what you do next!
Information for BEHIND THE BOOKSHELF
Miep Gies risked her life to keep a secret. Behind the bookcase in her office, stairs led to a hiding place where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. Once a refugee herself, Miep knew the power of kindness. Her selflessness, humanity, and bravery sheltered Anne for a time. Because of Miep, Anne Frank’s story lives on.
About Barbara Lowell
Barbara Lowell is the author of the picture books: SPARKY & SPIKE: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever; MY MASTODON; BEHIND THE BOOKCASE:: Miep Gies, Anne Frank and the Hiding Place; and more books for children, including the early readers: DARING AMELIA; and ALEXANDER HAMILTON AMERICAN HERO. She loves picture book biographies, chocolate, her cats and traveling to new places especially in Europe.
She is an active member of SCBWI Oklahoma, a runner-up for SCBWI’s Barbara Karlin Grant and a winner of the Katherine Patterson Prize at Hunger Mountain (Vermont College of Fine Arts.) MY MASTODON received a Kirkus starred review. SPARKY & SPIKE received a Booklist starred review and is the recipient of a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection Award.
Kaitlyn’s Review of BEHIND THE BOOKCASE
This book is so important to share with children. Not only does it introduce kids to Anne Frank, an incredibly important person in our history, but it also teaches kids (as well as parents) about one of the heroes of history, Miep Gies, who risked her life to help the Frank family during the Holocaust. I adored the parallels between Miep and Anne for so many reasons. One, I don’t recall learning about Miep in school, and I love learning something new. Two, it shows why Miep felt so compelled to help. Three, it reminds us that war and atrocities can happen many times in a lifetime and affect so many lives every time. Also, the art is very well done, taking on an eloquent air to underscore this powerful story.
Do you wan tot win a copy of BEHIND THE BOOKCASE by Barbara Lowell? (contiguous US only please)?
You can enter in the follow ways (each earns you another entry into the random drawing)
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added BEHIND THE BOOKCASE to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of BEHIND THE BOOKCASE
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for BEHIND THE BOOKCASE at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS. If you haven’t checked out our Week 2 Analysis for the Fall Writing Frenzy winning entries, check it out now and join the conversation! I’ll post another next Wednesday, but you can visit and comment on any week’s analysis anytime! It’s so fun learning with you all!
PPS. I have a super fun announcement coming next week, so make sure to watch out for it!