A Guest Post by Kevin Henkes
Whenever Kevin Henkes publishes a new book, I want to throw a BIG PARTY. His books touch my heart. They make me cry. They change me. Therefore, I am honored to turn over Watch. Connect. Read. for the day to Caldecott Medalist and two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Kevin Henkes. Thank you, Kevin! Thank you for making my day.
Although it is my picture books that people seem to know best and love most, it is my novels that are nearest and dearest to my heart. Perhaps, the reason is no more than the simple truth that novels take longer to write. They become very real to me. They fill my thoughts during the day and enter my dreams at night. For months and months. Year upon year.
I wrote the first line of Sweeping Up the Heart in May of 2013. Poor Amelia Albright. Before I wrote that line Amelia had been with me for over a year, and she’s been with me ever since.
Amelia is twelve years old, and she is an artist. These two facts are important. I love writing about young artists because I was one. And I love writing about people in the fuzzy land between childhood and adulthood. It is a thrilling, frightening, wonderful, horrible time of life. A time rich with exquisite human mysteries. The perfect place for a writer to study, observe, explore.
Amelia is trying to figure out her place in her family and in the world. She lives with her father; her mother died when Amelia was two. Her search is complicated by meeting Casey Kirkwood-Cole, also twelve. He enters her life and changes it. He opens the door to a scenario Amelia never would have dreamed possible. But she wants to believe it with all her heart. And so, she does. Shaking up her life as never before.
The book’s timeline is one week. That week stretched out over many years for me. And now, although I’m happy to let Amelia go to make room for someone new, I sometimes wish she’d stay.
Look for Sweeping Up the Heart on March 19, 2019.
Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father—a cranky and conservative English professor—has decided Florida is too much adventure. Now Amelia is stuck at home with him and her babysitter, the beloved Mrs. O’Brien. The week ahead promises to be boring, until Amelia meets Casey at her local art studio. Amelia has never been friends with a boy before, and the experience is both fraught and thrilling. When Casey claims to see the spirit of Amelia’s mother (who died ten years before), the pair embark on an altogether different journey in their attempt to find her.