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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Julie K. Rubini writes about fellow Ohio author Virginia Hamilton

Julie K. Rubini graduated from the University of Toledo, and is the recipient of the Toledo-area Jefferson Award and the YWCA Milestones Award. She also served as a city councilwoman for the City of Maumee. Rubini’s latest work is Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller, a biography of America’s most honored author of children’s literature and the first African American to win the Newbery Medal. Rubini is a literacy advocate, and enjoys reading to kindergartners weekly. Rubini and her husband, Kyle, established Claire’s Day, a children’s book festival in honor of their 10-year-old daughter who died suddenly in 2000. The festival has grown into an outreach event which now impacts more than 20,000 children each year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE CLAIRE’S DAY FESTIVAL YOU STARTED. Claire’s Day began as a one-day book festival. It has grown to a month filled with multiple book festivals at different locations and dozens of school visits by our participating authors and illustrators. One of the amazing highlights is Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence. This past year we gave more than a thousand children this empowering award. How cool is that?

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA TO DO A BOOK ABOUT VIRGINIA HAMILTON? I knew of Virginia Hamilton and her work through our work at Claire’s Day. There had never been a biography of this depth for middle-grade readers, and as they are her primary audience, I thought it was time.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK? I was contacted by the publisher to write Hidden Ohio. Researching, writing in concise form, and learning about the editing process provided me with great lessons. I loved every step of the creation of the book. Even more so, Hidden Ohio provided the opportunity to share all I discovered about our great state with children during school visits.

WHO’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST LITERARY INFLUENCE? From a writing standpoint, Candace Fleming for children’s nonfiction. I also recently read and loved Melissa Sweet’s biography of E.B. White.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LIBRARY STORY FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD? I do but it might come out in a picture book someday, so I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say it involved six kids, a mini-bike, an overladen Red Flyer wagon, and a library card found in the corn field years later by our mother.

WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTSTAND READING RIGHT NOW? Five books, all reflective of my interests and future writing projects: Hillbilly Elegy, a book on grief, a baseball book, Someone by Alice McDermott, and Presenting Buffalo Bill by Candace Fleming.

LibraryLinks | Winter 2018

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