Wednesday, March 6, 2019

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Martin & Anne - the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And Anne Frank


By Nancy Churnin

I was inspired to write Martin & Anne after learning they were both born in the same year – 1929.  I have always written about people who inspire me, people that I think will inspire kids to make a positive difference in the world. Up until now, however, I’ve made it my mission to shine a spotlight on people who were not well known. Both Dr. King and Anne Frank are famous. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about how different they seemed on the outside – different genders, races, religions, countries, languages – and how similar their hearts, spirit and message were.

That similarity sends a powerful message in a polarized world where it’s been painful to see so many people turn inward to their own separate bubbles and attack those they perceive as different. I thought that if I focus on how much these two people have in common, it may help kids to see how much we all have in common. That’s why I created a project to go along with the book, Kindred Spirits, where I ask kids and schools to reach out to kids and schools in other neighborhoods, cities, states and maybe even countries and explore the dreams and hopes they share. 

The book is dedicated “For those whose lives were cut short everywhere, including Bialystok June 27, 1941. Your memory is a blessing. Love lives on.” That is in honor of all victims of hate crimes, including members of my maternal grandfather’s family who were rounded up into a synagogue that was set on fire by Nazis.

Being hyper aware of where prejudice can lead, I’ve been discouraged and worried to see a rise in hate crimes, bullying and ugly speech. Spending time thinking about the spirit and words of Dr. King and Anne Frank gave me hope. When I would see or hear things that alarmed and frightened me, I would remember that despite terrible things happening around Dr. King and Anne Frank and to them, they never gave up on humanity, that the "arc of the moral universe...bends towards justice," as Dr. King said and that people are "really good at heart," as Anne Frank said.

It's my hope that the book will give that same hope to kids and that these parallel stories will encourage them to come up with new ways that kindness can heal the world. Because the world is waiting for their ideas and actions!

AUTHOR BIO: Nancy Churnin is the author of eight picture book biographies, two of which are due out in 2020. MARTIN & ANNE, THE KINDRED SPIRITS OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND ANNE FRANK  is a Missourian in Education March Book Buzz pick and a Children’s Book Council Hot Off the Press pick.  THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME is on multiple state reading lists. MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN is the 2018 winner of the South Asia Book Award, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection, a 2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, on the 2018 ILA-CBC Children’s Choices list, a Silver Eureka Award-winner and a 2019 Little Free Libraries/Children's Book Council Action Book Club Selection. CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF, winner of the Silver Eureka Honor Award. IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING is a 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book, a 2019 Social Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE is on the 2018 A Mighty Girl list. A native New Yorker and former theater critic for The Dallas Morning News, Nancy is a Harvard University alumna, with a master's from Columbia University. She lives in North Texas with her husband, a dog named Dog and two cantankerous cats.

On Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books
On Twitter: @nchurnin
On Instagram: @nchurnin

JACKET FLAP COPY FROM BOOK: What’s the connection between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank? They seem to be from different worlds, different lifetimes, but they were born the same year, 1929. Across the ocean, the faced similar racial hatreds and reacted to that hate with words of love, reaching out to build understanding rather than divisiveness. Martin & Anne tells their inspiring stories, encouraging all of us to choose kindness whenever we can.



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