December Author of the Month Kyo Maclear

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Whimsical. That’s a word that should pop into your mind when you hear the name Kyo Maclear. It’s a word that describes so many of her children’s books—The Wish Tree, Virginia Wolf, Mr. Flux, and more. So when you see those children who could use a little whimsy in their lives, do them a favor and introduce them to Kyo Maclear.

Be sure to look for our review of her new book, The Wish Tree, which received a highly recommended rating in the November-December issue of School Library Connection. Subscribers can see our complete archive of reviews at reVIEWS+.

maclearwOnce upon a time there was a Japanese-British-Jewish-Canadian couple who were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. Wanting “to celebrate that multiplicity,” novelist (and soon-to-be new mother) Kyo Maclear decided to write her first children’s book, and so was born Spork—the name of the book, not the baby. Fast forward to today and we find that her children are still a source of inspiration for Maclear; she also draws inspiration “from walking in the city and eavesdropping, from art and artists around me, from my own feelings and memories of being small in the world.”

Maclear writes “eccentric and fanciful stories,” she tells us, “to invite big and little readers to see the world less rigidly.” Books like The Wish Tree demonstrate that Maclear is “big on kindness and community.” According to Maclear, “If there is one theme that runs through most of my books, it’s the idea that we should be hospitable to the small, the seemingly strange, the wild (including wild, wolfish humans), and the unexpected.”

And so it is that during her school visits she makes sure that no one is overlooked: “I really love meeting kids. I like the liveliness of a large group and the pure energy and hilarity that can ensue during a Q&A, but I often leave time for an independent drawing activity at the end of my presentation so I can walk around and meet students individually. I was a very ‘shy’ kid so I like to make time for the quiet ones, the corner sitters, the kids who tend to hang back. It’s amazing how many questions they have, how vocal they will be, when they don’t have to worry about performing in front of a large group or about the judgment of their peers. I also like it when children of color see me and, maybe even subliminally, realize that writers can come in various shapes, genders, and races.”

Libraries hold a special place in Maclear’s heart. As she explains, “I grew up in a transnational, fairly rootless family. My mother was from Tokyo and my father was from London and we eventually moved to Toronto (Canada). My sense of home was always a bit unstable, but I found a sense of sanctuary in reading, in books, and particularly in school and public libraries. From my own experience, I think libraries are the most precious portal for new immigrants.”

To learn more about Kyo Maclear and her books, visit http://kyomaclearkids.com/

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