Monday, November 19, 2007

An Interview with Author Jeannine Atkins

Jeannine Atkins is the author of several historical fiction books and biographies for young people, including Aani and the Treehuggers, Becoming Little Women, and Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. Here Jeannine talks about her latest title, Anne Hutchinson's Way.

I'm not sure if we choose our stories or if they choose us. What was the case with Anne Hutchinson's Way?

My heart seems to beat a bit harder when I hear of someone who does something great and never got quite enough attention for that feat, or was too much forgotten. While Anne Hutchinson’s name appears in many American history textbooks, I wanted to give her a book of her own which could bring out more aspects of her uncommon courage.

What were the challenges in bringing Anne's story to life for children?

Picture books, even those aimed at readers age six and up, don’t often deal with the finer points of Puritan theology or colonial laws! I tried to simplify these issues and still give them respect.

How will children relate to Anne?

I chose to tell her story from the point of view of one of the youngest of her many children, so she will be viewed partly as a mother: one who was brave and committed but also, sadly, sometimes distant from the child. I wanted to show some of the costs as well as benefits of having a hero for a mother.

Many authors of historical fiction and nonfiction have a favorite time period. Do you?

I grew up loving Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and nineteenth century New England remains a favorite place to “be.” But books lead me to other great places and I’m now writing about northern Greenland in the nineteenth century and I have an early draft of a book set in ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia. My college age daughter is fascinated by France in the age of the Revolution, so… who knows?

What can your fans look forward to next?

A piece I wrote about Woodrow Wilson will appear in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, due out from Candlewick Press in 2008.

Find out more about Jeannine and her books at

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