How Girls and Women Can Work Together to Create Something Amazing

Something incredible happened when I began actively fighting my daughter’s school dress code policy. Local women came out of the woodwork. There was the brave journalist who included my letter to the principal in her article, the feminist author who contacted me to ask how she could help, a gender studies professor with her own daughter in the school district, and the activist who shared her mutual righteous anger over a martini with extra olives.

And then there was Carrie Goldman.

Carrie and I knew each other because our kids had been to preschool together. But we’d connected on a more personal level because, at the time, she was the mother of one (adorable) adopted daughter. “You’re the author of Sam’s Sister!’” She said to me in the hallway as toddlers tumbled past. “I have your book. I read it with K because she’s in an open adoption. She loves it!”

We talked about K’s open adoption history, and I chatted with K a bit. Over the years, I’d cheered Carrie on as she became a writer herself, tackling issues of bullying that stemmed from a separate misogynistic series of events that took place at one of our local schools.

When Carrie heard about my fight against the school dress code, she reached right out. She connected me to the Brave Girls Alliance. She introduced me to other feminists fighting for the fair treatment of their daughters in a world where what they look like, what they purchase, and what they wear, unfairly define them.

You know that old saying that describes two compatible people getting together “like a house on fire”? That’s how Carrie and I are when we get together. Neither of can talk fast enough.

So one afternoon over a cup of coffee and a (delicious) chocolate crepe Carrie asked, “Do you want to write a children’s book together?”

Since becoming a children’s book writer and instructor, I’ve been asked this question many times. It’s never really appealed to me. Collaborating with someone who has their own unique voice and interests has always sounded like too much to tackle. Still, I wanted to know what Carrie had in mind.

“What about?” I asked.

“Well, K is really struggling to feel she belongs anywhere.”

Since I’d met K, Carrie and her husband had gone on to have two children by birth – both pregnancies and deliveries fraught with challenges and both truly, living miracles. Carrie’s children by birth are dark-haired, petite and elfen-ly cute. K is tall for her age, has long blonde hair, and lovely blue eyes. There are obvious external and not-so-obvious internal issues that K struggles with as an adoptee.

Carrie and I talked about feminism, K and the lack of main characters in children’s books that reflect:

  1. People of color
  2. Girls who like traditionally “male dominated” toys, movies, books and characters like those in Star Wars
  3. Other diversity of character representations in children’s books – like kids who grow up in foster care, kids with disabilities and kids with other life challenges
  4. Books that appeal to kids who read at about a third grade level – so early chapter books – with this kind of content.
  5. K’s struggle as an adoptee (who is in an open adoption) in a family with two children by birth.

As a result of this conversation, you guessed it, we wrote a book. Miraculously, we also found an enthusiastic publisher, Marcinson Press, who supported our idea of a series. So, meet Jazzy Armstrong. She’s a spunky, complicated, adopted, Star Wars fan who will encounter many exciting challenges, meet new people and grow up alongside so many AMAZING kids who want to see a bit of themselves reflected in a character. We can’t wait for you to get to know her!

JazzysQuest2

And I want to emphasize how the strong women and girls that I know (fictional and real) have made me amazing in my own way. Carrie Goldman, you know who I’m talking about…

Carrie and Me

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    Juliet C. Bond

    Juliet C. Bond is a writer and professor at Columbia College in Chicago. Her first book, "Sam’s Sister," was published in 2005, and has sold over 50,000 copies. She went on to collaborate with Newberry winner Joyce Sidman to publish the stage adaptation of "This is Just to Say." Juliet’s shorter works can be found in "The Prairie Wind," at storystudiochicago.com and citymusecountrymuse.com. Juliet serves as the Welcome Coordinator for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Illinois, and has had the pleasure of working under the tutelage of award winning authors including; Jane Yolen, Jane Hamilton, Laurie Lawlor and Audrey Niffinegger. She chose the name for this space as an homage to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony whose hard work on gender equality serve as daily motivation to continue fighting for girls and women everywhere.

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