I do a lot of virtual programming for my library system. It’s something I love doing, and my colleagues and I have gotten really good at just having fun with it. When I was invited to host an author/illustrator chat with Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome, I was thrilled and, quite frankly, terrified. I love the Ransome’s books. Their collaboration on Before She Was Harriet is one of my favorite picture book biographies of all time. James E. Ransome’s picture book illustration is stunning, with a masterful use of color and movement, all coming together to create beautiful landscapes that evoke emotion just as powerful as an author’s words. Lesa Cline-Ransome’s storytelling can go from powerful verse to factual text that never, ever speaks down to readers or makes things commonplace or – dare I say it? – dull. So I was about to speak to an author and illustrator I was in awe of. GAH.
Courtesy Queens Public Library’s Facebook. Thanks again to The Friends of Pomonok Library and Former Councilman Rory Lancman!
I needn’t have worried. Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome were DELIGHTFUL. They took my gratuitous fangirling in stride and shared insights into their creative process; authors and illustrators that they enjoy, even how they met (at a Purple Rain party in college!). I discovered that Lesa and I share a love for dystopian sci-fi, especially for Neil Shusterman’s Scythe and Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts. James talked about being mentored by and working with Jerry Pinkney, and what an experience that was for him as an artist. He asked after my cat, who announced her presence during the backstage warm-up. It was a fantastic way for me to spend an evening, and I can honestly say that I’m a better person for having spent time with them.
If you haven’t read any books authored by Lesa, or illustrated by James, you are doing yourself a disservice. I’ve already put more books on my holds list, including Lesa’s middle grade novels, Finding Langston and Leaving Lymon. If you’re interested in the author talk, you can find it here on Queens Public Library’s Facebook page.