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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Working together: Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

February 12, 2018

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a bookstore program featuring author Lesa Cline-Ransome and artist James Ransome. This husband and wife team continues to create books for young readers that intrigue as well as inspire. And their work — together and as individuals — continues to evolve and grow.

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Their newest collaboration is a fresh take on Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet (Holiday House). It presents Harriet first as an old woman then exploring her different roles as nurse, spy, conductor on the Underground Railroad, and more until she is presented as a young enslaved child with her father.  The language is lyrical and reads like poetry. It’s accompanied by beautifully crafted, dramatic illustrations that show this woman at the various stages of her life.

[Breaking news: On February 12th, the ALA Youth Media Awards announced that James Ransome received a 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Before She Was Harriet. Congratulations!]

Lesa read it aloud to the audience of 3rd and 4th graders (as well as the adults attending) who sat rapt at the words and images projected. Before the reading both Lesa and James discussed they come up with ideas and how those ideas are turned into books, equally enthralling to the audience.

I’ve got lots of questions for both Lesa and James which they have agreed to answer. So look for a blog interview in the next week or so!

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass