The Author as a Writer

Author as a writer:

Andrea Davis Pinkney was born in the 60’s and grew up in the Civil Rights Movement. Her parents modeled the importance of standing up for your rights and improving the lives of others. Her original goal was to become a journalist. Her husband and children’s book illustrator, Brian Pinkney, encouraged her to start writing children’s books.

In many of her books, her strong connection with Civil Rights and African American history can be seen. She has written many biographies of African Americans. Picture book topics range from Benjamin Banneker, Duke Ellington, Bill Pickett and a larger text, Let it Shine, a book that is focused on African American freedom Fighters. She writes about people she in interested in and starts by doing a tremendous amount of research. Research includes going to the actual places that the subject is from or has been, studying the subject’s own art, and she interviews as many people who knew (or has knowledge of) the person as possible. This makes the subject come alive in her books.

Her fictional works fall into the historical fiction and realistic fiction genres. They include historical information or events from her childhood. In Dear Mr. President: Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a Slave Girl, Andrea tells the story of a young slave who writes to President Lincoln during the Civil War and his writing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Through the fictional letters, the reader lives parts of history. Hold Fast to Dreams is a fictional work based partly on Andrea’s own experiences growing up in a mostly white town in Connecticut. The main character, Dee, worries about fitting in and all the members of her family deal with some form of prejudice. Similar to Hold Fast to Dreams, but written for a younger audience, is Solo Girl. This book follows Cass, a math whiz of a third grader who moves to a new neighborhood and works hard to fit in and join the local double Dutch crew.

In many of her nonfiction and fictional works, the themes of overcoming obstacles, following your dreams, and fitting in can be found. Her goal is to “set positive examples and [provide] ideal icons for young people.” (from Voices from the Gaps, http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/entries/pinkney_andrea_davis.html)

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