ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
1) Why did you write The People In The Park?
2) How did you get started as a writer?
3) What does a typical day look like for you?
4) Why did you write The People In The Park in first person instead of third person?
5) Why the title – The People In The Park?
6) How did the character of Lauren Moffit originate?
7) Talk about the process of developing Lauren and her growth from the self-absorbed girl at the beginning of the novel to the person she became at the end.
8) Cutting back on spending is a theme throughout the book, not just for Lauren but for her fellow classmates and her teacher. Why was it important to include cutting back on spending in a novel for teens?
9) What was the thinking behind Lauren losing touch with her extended family?
10) The book ends with the start of ‘new beginnings’, not only for her parents but for Lauren as well. Why did you bring us to the brink of hope for a new life and end the story?
News Feed Item
Award-Winning Author Fills Void with Young Adult Book Featuring African American Teen Facing Family Scandal
“The People In The Park” by Margaree Mitchell Mixes Diversity With Contemporary Teen Issues
|Blog This KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Sometimes an innocent conversation can lead to a great idea. That’s exactly what happened when Margaree King Mitchell’s (www.margareekmitchell.com) nieces were visiting from Atlanta. When the discussion turned to books, her nieces expressed dismay that they couldn’t find books with characters they could identify with. Mitchell had no idea that books featuring African American teens weren’t being published. So she visited local bookstores and libraries. And as her nieces had complained, Mitchell found no books featuring African American teens. An award-winning children’s book author, Mitchell had been thinking of writing teen fiction for a couple of years. Now that she had heard her nieces’ plaintive cry, the idea that had been percolating in the back of Mitchell’s mind suddenly seemed relevant andmuch needed.(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131018/PH99870-a )
“I’d been thinking about a story featuring an upper class African American teen who suddenly had to cut back and learn to live on less,” says Mitchell. “After talking to my nieces, I decided to make writing the book a priority.”
The People In The Park, which is set in an affluent suburb of Kansas City that snakes along the Missouri River, is the story of 16 year old Lauren Moffit, who is privileged and overprotected by her wealthy parents. She is one of few African American students in a prestigious prep school in a predominately white neighborhood. Nothing can prepare her for the devastating scandal that rocks her world when her father is charged with investment fraud. Lauren struggles to keep her head high, while learning to live on less, and dealing with shame, friend betrayal, and heartbreak. But it’s not until she hears the stories of the people in the park, where she takes her daily run, that Lauren realizes she can rise above her family ‘situation.’
“I started writing the story in the midst of the recent recession,” Mitchell says. “I wanted to show that teens can face adversity and come out whole on the other side without turning to alcohol or drugs. In the process I hope I’ve written an entertaining story for all teens as well one with characters with which my nieces can identify.”
Mitchell thought of calling the book Scandal or Shame, but settled on The People In The Park. “I walk in a park much like the one in The People In The Park. I see the same people every day. They stop to talk, share wisdom, and life stories,” Mitchell said. “I wanted the same sense of community for Lauren, my main character. She finds strength and support from the people in the park.”
The People In The Park is available wherever books are sold.
About Margaree King Mitchell
Margaree King Mitchell (www.margareekmitchell.com) is the author of When Grandmama Sings, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, and Granddaddy’s Gift.
Copy Line News Magazine
Posted by admin On February – 17 – 2012
Mitchell’s New Book, “When Grandmama Sings,” Adds to the Literary Record
Kansas City, KS (BlackNews.com) — Award-winning children’s book author, Margaree King Mitchell, has a new book that inspires children to sing their own song when deciding their life’s goal. When Grandmama Sings reunites Mitchell with James E. Ransome, the award-winning author and artist of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Mitchell’s books are set in the segregated South and focus on ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things for the time period in which they live.
She writes to inspire children to dream great dreams for their lives. “If children can see that the characters in my stories, which lived during a time of racial barriers and discrimination, could achieve their dreams, surely they will believe that they can too. I’ll never forget the little girl who said to me that because of Uncle Jed’s story she now believes she can become a doctor even though her grandmamma told her she would never be one,” says Mitchell. She adds, “In all of my school visits I always ask the kids to tell me their dreams. I want them to be heard. I want them to feel that their dreams matter to someone.”
Mitchell has listened to thousands of children sharing their dreams about the future. More children will be sharing their dreams with Mitchell in the coming months as she has programs scheduled in Northern Mississippi, South Florida, Little Rock, Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, and places in between.
Although she now lives in Kansas City, Mitchell grew up in the South. “I was born and raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi on my grandfather’s farm. My grandfather owned his own farm during a time when not many black people owned their own land. I was a firsthand witness to the struggles he went through in maintaining his farm, which is why I put obstacles to be overcome in my stories,” Mitchell says. “I want children to know that their dreams will not be easy to achieve. It seems like the bigger the dream, the bigger the obstacles that come your way. But with persistence and focus and determination, dreams can and will come true.”
Mitchell also takes time to explain the historical aspects of her books to children. “Valuable lessons can be learned from history,” Mitchell says. “If children learn the lessons of the past they will not repeat those mistakes.”
Set in the 1940’s, When Grandmama Sings follows eight year old Belle as she accompanies her grandmother, Ivory Belle Coles, a jazz singer, on a tour of southern cities. What she sees affects her deeply. But her grandmother’s handling of the obstacles she faces makes a profound impression on Belle. At the end of the tour Grandmama Coles is offered a record contract and moves up north. Belle realizes she also has a song to sing and one day her gift will take her places. James Ransome’s imaginative watercolors breathe life into every page and every situation encountered on the tour.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with James again,” says Mitchell. “His work on Uncle Jed’s Barbershop and on When Grandmama Sings is filled with passion and exemplifies the era.”
Mitchell’s presentations also touch her adult audiences as she talks about the value of southern history in children’s literature. “I’m surprised by the way my stories affect adults, especially the ones who grew up in the South. I hear countless stories of their experiences. They tell me their stories with as much emotion as if the incidents occurred yesterday,” Mitchell says. “In some cases it is the first time they have shared family stories from the past. I hear stories from white and black people. They tell me that my books encourage them to talk to their children about the past.”
When Grandmama Sings is available online and in bookstores everywhere.
About Margaree King Mitchell
Margaree King Mitchell is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, illustrated by James E. Ransome, and Granddaddy’s Gift, illustrated by Larry Johnson. An award winning musical, featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus, has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. She is the creator of the EveryBody Has A Dream program, which empowers students in urban and rural areas to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives. Her new book, When Grandmama Sings, illustrated by James E. Ransome, was published January 2012 by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. She lives in Kansas City.