Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet children's author and fellow kid-lit blogger Mitali Perkins. She came to do a reading from her brand new book, Rickshaw Girl, at a Towne Center Books in Pleasanton. The presentation also included an alpana drawing demonstration by Mitali's mother, Madhusree Bose. Mitali's father and sister were there, too, making the whole thing quite a family affair. This seemed appropriate to me, since Mitali's books are so much about family.
I got there early, and had the opportunity to talk with Mitali before the program. This was a real treat for both of us, after exchanging comments on our blogs over the past year (she's been blogging in this area for an incredible three years). It's such a gift, getting to meet someone in person who you only know from email and blogs. Especially when the person is as warm and friendly as Mitali.
The reading was a great experience. The bookstore was cozy on a rainy morning. The staff served pomegranate juice, and put rugs on the floor for the kids to sit on. We all divided our attention between Mitali's words, and some pictures that she had to show, and her mother's drawing. Mitali is an excellent speaker. She drew the kids in with questions and personal anecdotes, without talking down to them. Topics included art, the traditional lack of work opportunities for girls and women in Bangladesh, and the improvements that micro-lending type programs are making there (loaning a village woman money to buy a cell phone, for instance). The alpana drawing was neat, too.
I have my signed copy of Rickshaw Girl now, and will get you more feedback on that after the Cybils are over. You can learn more about Mitali at her website, Mitali's Fire Escape, or her blog. You can also read my review of her tween/YA novel Monsoon Summer, which I highly recommend.