Here’s where I’ll be this summer to celebrate the release of PAPA PUT A MAN ON THE MOON. Please join me if you can!
My family has a long history in a little mill village in Slater, SC. My mama grew up there with her two sisters, Kathy and Elizabeth. My grandparents, Kathryn and Oscar, lived there in a little house on Webster Street where we celebrated many Easters, Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, and regular days, somehow fitting family and extended family and friends into a five-room house.
I remember walking to the general store to buy penny candy. If someone happened to be sitting on their porch as I passed by, they knew me, even though I had never lived on that hill.
The families that lived on that hill mostly lived there for generations. Many of them worked at the J.P Stevens textile mill that had given birth to the community back when companies built housing for their employees and owned all the stores in town too. My own grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents all worked in the textile mill at one time or another. I remember visiting my grandmother Kathryn when she worked as a switchboard operator, right inside the entrance of the mill. Yes, an actual manual switchboard at which she pulled corded plugs and inserted them into the appropriate jacks to connect the caller to the correct extension. It seems like something that should have been before my lifetime, but no, I remember it clear as day. My papa had several different stints at the mill too, in between other jobs. The mill and the community center provided by the company were the center of this community.
In the late 1950s, as cotton mills moved to Asia, the Slater mill turned toward production of fiberglass fabric, a move that would eventually provide them with a government contract to produce Beta-cloth, a special fabric engineered by Dr. Frederick Dawn of NASA. The Beta-cloth would be used as one layer in the spacesuits of the astronauts who would land on the moon. This was a secret project and only a few workers at the mill were chosen for it. Those that did were grateful for the work and for the ability to continue making a living at what they knew and what they did best.
It wasn’t until Neil Armstrong actually stepped onto the moon that Slater, SC even began to consider its role in this monumental American achievement. And even then, some of the impact on this community was lost to history until recently.
This is the story of the legacy of one community, written to honor the hundreds of thousands of hands in many factories across the United States that “touched the face of the moon” through their work ethic in weaving, building, and fabricating the pieces and parts that were required to put a man on the moon.
I feel privileged to have the opportunity to share this story with the world.
Coming from Dial Books for Young Readers in May 2019, written by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Sarah Green.
For aspiring picture book writers (or for picture book readers!) I was recently interviewed by Brian Humek and he got me to spill the beans on one of my forthcoming books, and somehow managed to get me to expose my corny sense of humor. Also: I pontificate about self-promotion, the joy of teaching, and something most people don’t know about me!
Check out the interview at http://www.gotinterviews.com/interview-picture-book-author-kristy-dempsey/.
So during my leave of absence from my job at the American School of Belo Horizonte during the 2016-2017 school year, I had the opportunity to do presentations in schools around the world. Thank you to the amazing students, teachers, librarians, and parents I had the privilege of visiting with this year! Wanna see how much fun we had? Here are pics from just some of the SUPER schools I visited. (And if you’re interested in having me visit your school this year, I have a few open dates! Email me at kristydempseybooks @ gmail.com).
Last fall, I visited a school to talk about adventure and how to live a daring life, a life that could change the world. And to be honest, most of the examples I gave were about quiet courage and daily actions that would likely never make the news. After the presentation, I had a few extra moments with one particular class while they waited their turn to file out of the cafeteria. We chatted and then I got lots of hugs as they stood up to leave. I remember telling them that I think the most important quality they can have as learners is a sense of wonder and expectation about the world. A sense of hope for the future.
I’m thinking about those kids today, about who they will each become and about how they will change their world. I won’t be watching the inauguration, not for any grand protest, but because I’ve got some work to finish. The work I need to do is the same today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. This world is filled with both beauty and brokenness. And these kids — all kids — need books that celebrate beauty and mend brokenness. Sometimes the best way to live a daring life is to quietly shine a light on that which is beautiful AND on that which is broken. So whichever you are doing today, I’m with you. Shine on, friends.
I may soon be at a school or conference near you! I still have lots of open dates if you would like to book a school visit. I also have some pending and unconfirmed dates at schools that I haven’t listed here, so be sure to check with me for specific dates.
January 12, 2017: Pelham Road Elementary, Greenville, SC
January 21-23, 2017: American Library Association Mid-Winter meeting, Atlanta, GA
January 25, 2017: Mitchell Road Elementary, Greenville, SC
February 10, 2017: Paris Elementary, Greenville, SC
February 13, 2017: Bell’s Crossing Elementary, Greenville, SC
February 24, 2017: Oakland Elementary, Greenville, SC
February 25 – March 6, 2017: American School of Guatemala and Colegio Maya, Guatemala City, Guatemala
March 8-10, 2017: International School of Panama, Panama City, Panama
March 24-25, 2017: SCASL meeting, Greenville, SC
April 18, 2017: Oakview Elementary, Greenville, SC
May 2-4, 2017: The American School of Lima, Lima, Peru
So happy about this School Library Journal review (below) for Ten Little Fingers, Two Small Hands! The book releases in just a couple of weeks: July 5, 2016! I have always been in love with books for the very smallest readers. The babies in these pages are adorably illustrated by Jane Massey and I think this book makes a perfect baby shower gift. Will it be obnoxious of me to give my own book to all the babies-to-be-born for years to come? Here’s even more good news: Ten Little Toes, Two Small Feet follows in November!
School Library Journal:
Toddler-PreS—This ode to delightfully dimpled hands is the stuff laptime snuggles are made of. A simple rhyming text describes toddlers’ hands as little ones play, wait for treats, eat, and clean up. The fresh, child-friendly illustrations are spot-on. Adults will appreciate the easy to read verses like “One last bite, then arms up high!/Wash two hands and pat them dry.” Little listeners will be comforted by the familiar scenarios and are sure to recognize themselves in the group of diverse faces. The simple finger-counting framework facilitates learning numbers without detracting from the appeal. VERDICT A solid choice. Purchase this hardcover edition, or wait for the board book so it can be zealously enjoyed by two small hands.—Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH