Friday, March 2, 2018

Cover Reveal: First Generation by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

Hello, Sandra and Rich! Thank you for returning to Watch. Connect. Read. to share the BEAUTIFUL cover for First Generation. Please tell us about the individuals featured on the cover.


Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace: As a teenager, Martina Navratilova defected from a communist regime after competing in the U.S. Open. She went on to be an all-time tennis great and a passionate defender of women’s rights.

Madeleine Albright fled from the Nazis with her family during World War II and came to the U.S. as a refugee. She became the first female Secretary of State in American history.

Halima Aden grew up in a refugee camp in Africa. When she moved to the U.S., she was surprised to see no women who looked like her in fashion magazines. She is the first Hijabi to appear on the cover of Vogue and is an outspoken voice on issues of social justice.

Yo-Yo Ma is a renowned cellist and the leader of the Silkroad Project, which fosters cultural connections throughout the world.

NBA basketball star Dikembe Mutombo has been called the world’s most generous athlete for his many humanitarian projects.

All are U.S. citizens. First Generation also features scientists Ahmed Zewail, Maryam Mirzakhani, and Adriana Ocampo; artists Diana Al-Hadid and Willem de Kooning; journalists Jorge Ramos and Cheryl Diaz Meyer; plus entrepreneurs, activists, and many more.


What is the best thing about writing nonfiction for young readers?

Sandra and Rich: Real people help kids see that they’re not alone and that others have experienced the same things in life and can help guide them. History gives young people perspective on how we humans have navigated life to this point. We love bringing historical figures to life for kids, especially those whose lives provide a template for doing good in the world. Writing nonfiction is a matter of digging into archives, scoping out original sources, conducting interviews, and sorting it all out.



Which books do you recommend to young readers who want to learn more about the trailblazing immigrants and refugees featured in First Generation?

Sandra and Rich: There’s an extensive bibliography of books and websites in First Generation, but here are a few: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson; My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz by Monica Brown; On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne.



Please finish these sentence starters:

Agata Nowicka’s illustrations are brilliant, modern, captivating.

School libraries are where every writer we know first found their spark, and where every kid can feel welcome and find a book they’ll relate to.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about Sandra’s experiences as a “First Gen” herself. “My mother and grandmother are refugees from Yugoslavia (now Serbia) and World War II concentration camp survivors. They inspired us to write First Generation. So did Barbadian American Barbara Young. Like my grandma, Barbara is a home care worker. If Barbara hadn’t convinced lawmakers to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, millions of home workers would have no employment rights.

“I thought of these women as I waited nervously to take my own U.S. citizenship test in 2016. Lining the walls of the immigration office were photos of movie-star immigrants. But where was Barbara Young? We thought kids ought to know about Barbara and the many trailblazing immigrants and refugees who are changing America for the better and positively impacting our lives.”


Look for First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great on September 4, 2018. 

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