Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sesame Street Made Me Cry (or, an amazing resource for kids with incarcerated parents)

Stumbling upon these new resources from Sesame Street was a little serendipitous, for me.  I happen to have just caught a documentary called "Herman's House" on PBS (Independent Lens), so incarceration was already on my mind.

It also happens that, as a young person (not quite Sesame Street young, but younger than I am now), I had a parent who spent time in prison.  It ALSO also happens that my upcoming YA novel (the working title is TIFFANY AND TIGER'S EYE, currently in edits, contracted by Prizm Books) is about a teen who faces many of the challenges I did.

My character Rebecca is very near to my heart because she's so much like me.  I had to write this book, in solidarity with every child or adult whose parent was absent for any duration due to incarceration.  As the people at Sesame Street write in their introduction to their Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration initiative:

Unfortunately, few resources exist to support young children and families coping with this life-changing circumstance. These children have to deal with the confusion, shame, and anger that accompany the sudden absence of a parent. 

I never told ANYONE my father was in jail until after his death, and I was in my late twenties by then.  There's a stigma that follows you your whole life if you don't have the resources to deal with feelings of isolation and shame. That was a huge contributing factor, when I wrote TIFFANY AND TIGER'S EYE: on a personal level, I needed to write about the experiences that shaped me; on a larger level, I wanted to show other young people (and adult readers, too) that they're not alone.  Other people have experienced and are experiencing situations similar to yours.

Nobody wants to feel alone.

That's why this new resource from Sesame Street struck me to the core and, yes, made me cry.  There's a sweet little ebook picture book called In My Family, which I would recommend for ANY child.  I certainly wish there had been books like this available to me when I was younger.

This Sesame Street site: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/incarceration has links to the ebook, video clips dealing with the topic of incarceration, and many resources for grown-ups and children, including a printable activity sheet called "How Am I Feeling?"

The launch site with an introduction is here: http://www.sesameworkshop.org/incarceration/

Please share widely.  You never know who might need a resource like this one.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

I Know What Gay Is

Looking for a sweet summer read? Fan of Adventures In Babysitting?  (Is that too dated a reference?  You'll have to rent the video. Is THAT too dated a reference...?)

Well, gather 'round--closer, that's right, little ones in front--because HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU!

My newest Prizm Pinch is called I Know What Gay Is, and it's a short story about trapeze artists.  No, I'm kidding.  It's a story about babysitting, of course!  But a story about trapeze artists would be pretty cool.  (If you've written one or read one, let me know in the comments.)

I Know What Gay Is

by Foxglove Lee
15 / Words: 4000
Genre: Prizm Pinch, Contemporary, LGBT, Gay Romance
Age Rating: Young Adult

When the couple next door asks Jay to babysit, he can't help wondering… why him? Did they hire Jay as some kind of queer role model because they suspect little Sarah is gay?

At the park, when Sarah and Jay run across the guy he's been pseudo-stalking, Sarah insists she’s a boy. Darien’s sheer sexiness makes Jay pretty brain-dead, and he can't think what to talk about except how Sarah wants everyone to call her Frank.  The funny kid reminds Darien of his transgender cousin.  Could Sarah be trans, too? Should Jay talk to her parents?  What if they say it's none of his business? What if they fire him?

Well, then he'll just have to spend his summer watching Darien work in the park, sweaty and shirtless...

Read an excerpt:

“Hey,” he said to Sarah. “See that guy over there? He goes to my school. Wanna see if he’s any good at soccer?”

Sarah beamed. “Yeah, and tell him I’m a boy.”

“Okay...” Jay tried to focus on her, but he kept looking up at Darien, who was tracing new lines around the field with one of those rolling chalk machines. Darien hadn’t noticed him yet. He couldn’t wait to see the look on this guy’s face.

“Tell him my name is Frank.”

God, the way Darien’s back muscles surged when he pushed that contraption past divots. His T-shirt was shoved in the back of his pants, and it flapped against his butt as he moved. Jay felt dizzy just watching.

“Tell him I’m Frank, okay?”

Sarah tugged on the hem of Jay’s top until he snapped out of his daydream.

“Huh? Frank? That’s a funny name.”

“I like it,” Sarah said. “Tell him that’s my name, and I’m your friend who’s a boy.”

Something in Sarah’s intense expression told him this was more than just a child’s prank. In the back of his mind, little puzzle pieces started fitting together. He knew he should ask why she wanted to say she was a boy and her name was Frank, but he couldn’t wait even a second longer to call out, “Darien! Hey, Darien!”

Buy a copy!

I Know What Gay Is is available from many fine retailers, including:

Torquere Press: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=83&products_id=3938

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Know-What-Gay-Is-ebook/dp/B00DUZRGVS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373752956&sr=8-1&keywords=i+know+what+gay+is

OmniLit (it's already got one of those silver best-seller stars!): https://www.omnilit.com/product-iknowwhatgayis-1228858-176.html

And remember: if you know of a book about trapeze artists, tell me about it in the comments!