Welcoming Author-Illustrator Anita Crawford Clark
GRP: Thank you, Anita, for “stopping by” to tell us more about this incredible story. Let’s start with one (or more!) reasons this book is special to you.
ACC: For me, this story celebrates the human spirit, the love and the bond that children share with their grandparents. Although some may not have experienced this special bond and relationship, reading this story, I hope they are inspired to nourish such a bond with their grandparents or children.
I first wrote this story in 1999 not too long after my grandmother passed away. I worked on it from time to time and over the next 20 years. It evolved from that early draft to represent not only me and my relationship with my grandmother, but also the relationship I now have with my own grandkids. The grandmother in this story, while initially based on my grandmother, now embodies a little bit of my mother as a grandmother to my children. At first glance it may seem that this story is germane to Black culture, it is representative of human qualities of different cultures - qualities of love, hope, wonder, understanding and joy.
Old to Joy is special for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, but it is equally important to show Black characters in a light other than the one’s told for so many years by anybody but Black people. Therefore, this story also celebrates Black Joy.
GRP: We loved this intergenerational story from the moment we reviewed your query, Anita! What an incredible journey you have been on with it over the last 20 years. Looking ahead, what fills you with excitement about the publishing process?
ACC: Wow.There are so many aspects of this journey that excite me. What I’m most excited about is seeing the illustrations and the words come together in a powerful way, taking this story to new and unexpected heights. Being the illustrator as well as the author makes this process delightful. The collaboration with my editor and art director has been fabulous. I hope to create something fabulous for children.
GRP: Collaborating with you has been wonderful, too. We know your future readers will love what you are putting together to share with them. What is something you hope they can take away when OLD TO JOY is finally out in the world?
ACC: Each reader will experience this book in a different way. Each reader’s experience will come from their own lived experiences and worldview. But seeing this book in the hands of a child, a teacher, a parent or a librarian will be special on so many levels. Seeing it in the hands of someone I have never met and their hearts filled with joy, their eyes full of hope and wonder, or just having whatever experience this book holds for them. I hope, in a more subtle sense, some come away with a positive outlook on ageing well and an appreciation for our older fellow humans. That is what I wish for my readers.
GRP: We appreciate you, Anita, and celebrate this story. Thank you for sharing!