When I heard that the District of Columbia Public Library was receiving a set of high-quality posters of American art for each site—thanks to the NEH/ALA Picturing America grant—I couldn’t have been more excited. Our staff of 50 children’s and teen librarians had just received training in Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). They had new-found knowledge that could bring these images to life in programs for any age group. Now they would have resources to use while their training and enthusiasm were fresh.
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On June 8, 2009, the ALA’s Great Stories CLUB sent me to Crossroads juvenile detention center in East New York, Brooklyn. ALA’s Lainie Castle put out a call to Penguin, my publisher, looking for the wonderful YA author Paul Volponi, to whom I am sometimes compared—a great compliment to me but maybe not so great for Mr. Volponi. Alas, Penguin’s author appearance coordinator, Emily Heddleson, said, “We don’t have Paul Volponi, but I can get you Paul Griffin. He will be more than happy to go.” And I was.