Monday, October 14, 2019

October #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh with Author Supriya Kelkar

Today I'm shining the spotlight on Supriya Kelkar,
author of #cbadspotlight pick The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh 
and also middle grade novels Ahimsa and coming in March 2020: American as Paneer Pie

Harpreet Singh loves his colors—but when his family moves to a new city, everything just feels gray. Can he find a way to make life bright again?

Harpreet Singh has a different color for every mood and occasion, from pink for dancing to bhangra beats to red for courage. He especially takes care with his patka—his turban—smoothing it out and making sure it always matches his outfit. But when Harpreet’s mom finds a new job in a snowy city and they have to move, all he wants is to be invisible. Will he ever feel a happy sunny yellow again? 

Thank you, Supriya, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

·  What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I wrote this book at a time when the world was feeling less kind, and when it felt like racism and othering and hate were becoming emboldened. I wanted to put more kindness out into the world, and that's how the idea for THE MANY COLORS OF HARPREET SINGH was born.

·  What message do you hope kids (of all ages) take away from this book?
I hope kids will take away the message that everyone deserves kindness. I hope they feel like reaching out to a classmate after reading the book and doing a simple act of kindness for them in school.

·  What was your writing & revision process like for this story?
I wrote several drafts of this book before getting to the crux of the story. I can't remember all the different drafts, but I do remember one took place on a field trip, and one had to do with a school play. Once I came up with Harpreet moving to a new town, the other pieces of the story fell into place.

·   Was there any part of the process where you worked together with the illustrator on the vision for this book?
Although we haven't had a chance to meet or even chat about this project, I think my words and Alea's gorgeous art work so well together in this book. She made all the characters come to life and created the warmth and kindness and joy I was trying to express with my words.

·  What is your favorite part of making picture books?
I love seeing the final product, and seeing how the illustrations and text work together. But my most favorite part is before the publishing process begins, when I finally figure the story out over the course of several revisions, and suddenly everything clicks. It's a very satisfying and rewarding feeling. 

·  #cbadspotlight is putting the spotlight on inclusive #ownvoices books. What can you share with students about the connection you have to this book or the choices you made while writing/illustrating it to add diverse representation?
Like Harpreet Singh, I am also Indian-American. And while I never moved as a child, I did grow up in a small midwestern town, like the one Harpreet moves to. A lot of the moments of othering that Harpreet goes through are ones I have experienced. Most of my classmates and teachers could not spell my name right or pronounce it correctly. I would get Valentines written to "Sapria," "Suripa," "Suprema," and many other misspellings. If I ever brought my culture's food to school, I was made fun of for it. And as an adult, my family and I have been viewed with suspicion at airports. I was honored to have Simran Jeet Singh, an author, educator, and activist, write a beautiful afterword in THE MANY COLORS OF HARPREET, in which he discusses the meaning of turbans in Sikhism. 

·  #classroombookaday is a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year to students at any grade. What would you like to say to the teachers who are taking on this challenge?
A big thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read to your students and make sure they get that reading time in every day. I still remember every book my teachers read aloud to me and I think what you're doing is amazing!

Be sure to check out all of the #cbadspotlight choices for this school year!
Visit for more information on #classroombookaday,
a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year, at any grade,
inspired by Donalyn Miller's #bookaday.

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