I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book is titled THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger, published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Synopsis: 2020 marks the women’s suffrage centennial. In 1920, after decades of perseverance, women were finally given the right to vote. But it almost didn’t happen. THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE: How One Woman’s Words Made History, tells the little-known story of Febb Burn, the mother who saved suffrage with a handwritten note to her son.
I had the pleasure of connecting with Elisa and I asked her a few questions about her experience writing for children.
1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I’ve been writing children’s books with themes of courage and resistance ever since I could hold a pen (the cover of one of my earlier works is attached… See “You Can’t Catch Me”) 😉
I was painfully shy as a child, and I can remember seeing myself and my emotions reflected back in certain books, although I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. I have just always felt at home in the pages of children’s books, especially those with deeper emotional pull. But even though I have been writing children’s book manuscripts for as long as I can remember, and attending SCBWI conferences for the past 15 years, I never really considered making a career out of it. I was always in the trenches of newspaper, magazine and television journalism. A couple of years ago, however, I got sidelined with a severe case of Lyme disease. Since I was basically housebound, I decided to take my research and storytelling skills from journalism, as well as my love of writing, and put them to use pursuing my childhood dream.
2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book. Although I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights, I have to give my agent, Steven Chudney, credit for this idea! I got an email from him in 2018 (we had another book out on submission at the time), letting me know the women’s suffrage centennial was coming up in two years, and suggesting I write a picture book about it. As a journalist, I’ve always been drawn to stories of unsung heroes, so I started researching little-known women in the suffrage movement. When I came upon the story of Febb Burn, I instantly felt that tug, you know, that pull from within that says this is it! I was drawn in by her courage in speaking (or in this case, writing) her truth, when it went against what society expected of her.
3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers. Something that has kept me inspired, even on the toughest of writing days, is remembering my “why” — why I wrote this book, why I write in general, what message I want to convey with my work. I want children to know that their voices matter. I never want children to keep their truth quiet. That’s my “why.” My best piece of advice is to find yours. Keep it in your heart. Let it infuse your writing and inspire you.
Thank you Elisa Boxer for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/eboxer
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