The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson

Hello, Leah Henderson! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.

Leah Henderson: Thanks so much for having me!

According to this tweet, we met in person for the first time on April 23, 2017. 2017???? It feels like it was just yesterday, but in many ways it feels like it was 20 years ago. One Shadow on the Wall was the subject of our conversation in 2017, and today I am THRILLED to chat with you about The Magic in Changing Your Stars

What ran through your head (or your heart) the first time you saw Brittany Jackson’s cover illustration and Irene Vandervoort’s cover design? 

Leah Henderson: I felt transported to 1930’s Harlem right along with Ailey. And I was bursting with so many emotions seeing Ailey still looking up to Grandpa even as his younger self!

Please tell us three things about Ailey Benjamin Lane.

Leah Henderson: Oh, Ailey, my heart! As someone named after the dancer, choreographer, and activist Alvin Ailey, he love, love, loves moving his feet. His rhyming skills are on point, and his love for Grandpa always makes me smile.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

The Wiz is the yellow brick road that gets this story started.

Ailey’s Grampa is Ailey’s North Star.

I hope The Magic in Changing Your Stars makes people laugh, cry, hold their breath, and dance while also encouraging them to search out their own possibilities among the stars.

Story is an open window or door to possibilities both great and small. Story shows us what is, what was, and what can be.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me all about the names! This story is about Black excellence in so many forms, and all the characters are named after people who epitomize Black beauty, Black sparkle, and Black shine. African Americans who left marks on the world that should always be remembered.

Look for The Magic in Changing Your Stars on August 4, 2020. 

Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message about believing in yourself.

Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance—so he’s certain that he'll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and a serious attack of nerves derail his audition: he just stands there, frozen. Deflated and defeated, Ailey confides in his Grampa that he’s ready to quit. But Grampa believes in Ailey, and, to encourage him, shares a childhood story. As a boy, Grampa dreamed of becoming a tap dancer; he was so good that the Hollywood star and unofficial Mayor of Harlem, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, even gave him a special pair of tap shoes. Curious, Ailey finds the shoes, tries them on, taps his toes, and makes a wish. In the blink of an eye, he finds himself somewhere that if most definitely no place like home! Featuring an all-African-American cast of characters, and infused with references to Black culture and history, this work of magical realism is sure to captivate and inspire readers.

Leah Henderson tells stirring stories featuring Black heroes and heroines. She is the author of the middle-grade novel, One Shadow on the Wall, and her short story will be included in the YA anthology, Black Enough: Stories in Black Teenhood in America. She lives in Washington, DC.


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