Writing the scary, reassuring with love: Supriya Kelkar's First Book Love
Today's first book love is shared by Supriya Kelkar, screenwriter and author of such novels a Ahimsa.
One of my first book loves were the books of Holly Keller.
As a child, I loved the way Geraldine, the pig who has a beloved accessory she cannot part with, outsmarted her parents in GERALDINE'S BLANKETS. I felt how much Geraldine cared for her blanket and I couldn't stand the thought of her having to get rid of it. I got it when Geraldine had to take her blanket wherever she went, sensing that losing it meant losing something greater than just an object. And I rejoiced when Geraldine finally found a way to keep the blanket and "act her age."
When I was a little older, I connected deeply to the way young Lizzie felt in LIZZIE'S INVITATION, when she was left out of a classmate's birthday party. There was a gentle sadness to the story that melted away into friendship and warmth by the time the book was done. I remember staring intently at those illustrations, and almost feeling like I could taste the jelly cookies Lizzie makes with a new friend. (In fact, jelly cookies never tasted the same to me after that book because I just knew the illustrated ones tasted better than what I was eating).
As an adult, I got a Holly Keller book for my kids that was published after I had grown up: FARFALLINA AND MARCEL. I could see my children feeling the peaceful joy I felt whenever I stared at her illustrations, as they read the story of the deep friendship between a caterpillar and a gosling. I could sense their worry as they saw the characters go through the changes brought about by age. And it was almost like I could see how content their hearts felt when a friendship that seemed lost forever was finally healed, and all was well again.
Many of the Holly Keller books I read were about the joys of sharing love. I learned from her stories that it was okay to write about sad or scary life changes and events because that reassuring love was there. I try to remember those lessons when I'm writing, whether it's a picture book or a novel. And I'm grateful I get to share my love of books with my kids, and with kids everywhere as an author. (And one day I hope to find a jelly cookie that tastes as good as the one in Lizzie's Invitation.)
More about Supriya:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. Winner of the 2015 New Visions Award for her middle grade novel AHIMSA, (October 2, 2017). Supriya is a screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films, including Lage Raho Munnabhai and Eklavya: The Royal Guard, India’s entry into the 2007 Academy Awards. She was an associate producer on the Hollywood feature, Broken Horses. Supriya’s books include AHIMSA, THE MANY COLORS OF HARPREET SINGH (Sterling, 2019), and THE SANDALWOOD PYRE (Tu Books, 2020). Supriya is represented by Kathleen Rushall at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
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