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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Katherine Paterson, Peter Sis, Carole Weatherford

and I will be at the Kennedy Library in Cambridge this Monday As you can see from the link, we are talking with teachers and librarians about Reading, Writing, and History. In preparing for the session, I thought back to the first time I met Peter, which was in 1993. He was on a panel with Kyoko Mori, whose novels I edited at the time. Peter talked about A Small Tall Tale From the Far North and why he had created it just after his Follow the Dream. Dream was about Columbus, and came out just around the anniversary, in 1991. But he had not realized the Columbus was now seen in a much darker light. But, of course, Dream was also about Peter — about being an immigrant, crossing an ocean, moving to a new land. 

If you track Peter’s wonderful career, it is always in one way about his personal experience, and yet about some historical person or place. And then with Tibet, and now The Wall, he has made explicit what was implicit in those earlier books — his own experience leads to larger history.

To me, that is the theme of the conference, how each of us uses a particular angle — Katherine as an American born in China to missionary parents, Peter the Czech immigrant, Carole in her concern with African-American history, and for me now writing about race, and, later this year, Israel, I move out to big histories through my personal experiences and emotions.

As you know, that is a point I’ve been making, and encouraging here in the abstract. But having just spent some time looking over the very impressive work of my fellow panelists, it is neat to see that same thrust in their work. 

I’ll let you all know how the conference goes — and perhaps see some of you there.