A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy and Kayla Harren

Hello, Frank Murphy! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I am so grateful for the time I spent in your fabulous school a few months ago. I loved visiting your classroom and meeting your amazing students.

Frank Murphy: John, thank you for this. And, oh my, my school was buzzing about you for the rest of the year. You inspired so many readers to take chances with books they maybe wouldn’t have without you. So much gratitude for you!

Scenario: Hilary Adams, the wonderful teacher-librarian at your school, asks you to create a shelf talker for A Boy Like You. There is enough room on the shelf talker for approximately 250 characters.

Frank Murphy: A Boy Like You encourages boys to embrace all the things that make him unique, to follow his dreams, to be brave and ask for help, and to lead with kindness. This book celebrates the many different ways there are to be a smart, brave, and kind boy.

Illustration Credit: Kayla Harren 

What planted the seed for A Boy Like You

Frank Murphy: The seeds were sown over the past three decades of teaching, coaching, and parenting. Being the father of two boys (who are now 21 and 19) was huge - teaching them about how to lead and that true strength lies in their decisions to be kind, always. As a teacher, seeing so many boys go out to recess feeling undervalued and a little lost (because of sports dominating the culture of recess) was a big inspiration for writing A Boy Like You; it’s why the second spread is about sports and then leads into the many other possibilities there are for boys. There are too many confusing messages about masculinity; I want boys to know that there are many ways to be strong - not just with muscles, but with inner strength and kindness. Those are just a few of the seeds that inspired me to write A Boy Like You.


What are some recently released picture books you and your students are super excited about?

Frank Murphy: My sixth graders really loved regularly reading picture books all year! Some of our end-of-the-year favorites were Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Zachariah OHora; Be A Maker by Katey Howes, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic, Peter Reynold’s Say Something was a class favorite, and The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson was a late favorite.

Please finish these sentence starters:

Kayla Harren’s illustrations illuminated every message I was trying to convey. Her ability to capture the essence of these messages with diversity and verve and tenderness - I still find myself staring at her art. The way she attaches light and shadows to characters and scenery wows me! She is a force!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me the highlight of my writing career. Honestly, this interview is among the top highlights - and I mean it. A Boy Like You is probably the most important picture book I’ll write; having you read it and love it means more than any review it’s received or will receive. You know picture books better than anyone and I value what your heart says about a book. And I thank you for loving this one!

Thank you, Frank! :) 

Look for A Boy Like You on July 15, 2019. 


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