“Should be required reading.”
“Grabbed my attention on the first line.”
“Small in pages but powerful in impact.”
That’s just a tiny sample of what reviewers have been writing about Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration since the book published. Needless to say, it’s been very well-received and because February is Black History Month, we thought it only appropriate to give you, dear readers, a chance to own your very own copy. Find out how at the end of this post.
I recently had a chance to chat with author Shelley Tougas about the success of her book…
First of all Congratulations on all of the success of Little Rock Girl 1957! Starred reviews, best of the year book lists, numerous awards… Have you been surprised with the response to your book?
I thought the book was really strong. The editor, Catherine Neitge, had a great eye for reading and making suggestions, and the design is beautiful. Still, I didn’t anticipate this kind of attention. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by a writing project, I look at some of the awards and reviews. It helps me stay focused and feel optimistic, which is hard when you work alone. A writing career can be isolating.
I’m proud of Little Rock Girl, but mostly I’m pleased that kids are learning about the civil rights movement and the media’s impact.
Why do you think Little Rock Girl 1957 has resonated with so many readers?
The title Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photo Changed the Fight for Integration immediately tells a reader that this is a human story, a story about a girl who wanted an education.
I think the entire Captured History series is outstanding. I wrote another book for the series called Birmingham 1963: How a Photo Rallied Civil Rights Support. It’s another amazing story about a teenage girl who took great risks to advance the cause. And the cover is riveting. These teenagers are pinned against a wall by water blasting from a fire hose.
Did you know a lot about the history of the Little Rock Nine prior to writing the book?I knew the story of the Little Rock Nine. I took a college political science course where we focused mostly on the conflict between the state and national government as it related to Little Rock. As a former journalist, I’m always intrigued by media coverage and how it makes an impact on public opinion and public policy.
Some things I learned while researching and writing my book:
- The story of Daisy Bates, a key figure in the fight for integration at Little Rock schools.
- I knew the Little Rock Nine were bullied when they finally got to school, but I didn’t know the intensity. They were tormented. Teachers looked the other way. I don’t know how they were able to learn anything in an environment of fear and abuse.
- Gov. Orval Faubus was such an odd man. He flip flopped on civil rights policies, engaged in a standoff against the national government, and inflamed the situation instead of subduing it. Then, 30 years later, he endorsed Jesse Jackson, an African American leader, for president.
- Ernest Green was the only member of the Little Rock Nine who actually stayed and graduated from Central High School.
What current projects are you working on? What can we see from you in 2013?
I’ve worked on three books for a new brand at Capstone called Savvy: Girls Rock!: Amazing Tales of Women in Music; Girls Rule!: Amazing Tales of Female Leaders, and a third that remains untitled. These books are fun, snappy reads about women in music, women in leadership, and (the third) women in movies and TV. They’re creative, and the editor is focusing on a design that pops.
My agent will soon be submitting my middle-grade novel, The Graham Cracker Plot, to publishers. My agent is optimistic about its chances, so I’m crossing my fingers. I’m currently working on my second middle-grade novel.
[Note: Shelley’s books Girls Rock! and Girls Rule! will be published and available from Capstone this fall.]
Autographed Copies Giveaway
OK readers – here’s the giveaway portion you’ve been waiting for! We have 3 autographed copies of Little Rock Girl 1957 up for grabs. Simply leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, Feb. 5 for your chance to win. We’ll randomly select our winners and announce them next week. Best of luck!