Tag: Jacqueline

Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow

Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur

Author Jaqueline Woodson yesterday was named one of the winners of this year’s MacArthur “genius grants”—one of at least three queer moms ever to win the accolade.

Jacqueline Woodson - Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Jacqueline Woodson – Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Fellowship, as the grant is officially known, is a “no-strings-attached,” $625,000 grant “for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more.” The MacArthur Foundation says of Woodson:

Jacqueline Woodson is a writer redefining children’s and young adult literature in works that reflect the complexity and diversity of the world we live in while stretching young readers’ intellectual abilities and capacity for empathy. In nearly thirty publications that span picture books, young adult novels, and poetry, Woodson crafts stories about Black children, teenagers, and families that evoke the hopefulness and power of human connection even as they tackle difficult issues such as the history of slavery and segregation, incarceration, interracial relationships, social class, gender, and sexual identity.

Woodson served as Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 17 and the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature from 2018 to 19. This past May, she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, “the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books.” She has also won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature, the Margaret A. Edwards Award “for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature,” and the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (then known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) for ” a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Her 2014 Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award as well as Newbery and Sibert Honors, and her 2005 Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, won a Caldecott Honor.  (For the entire list of her accolades and books, see her website.)

One of her earlier books, the Coretta Scott King Honor book From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), is about a Black boy whose single mother starts dating a White woman—although not all of her books include queer parents. When I posted about her last May, I shared some quotes from her about her real life and being part of a two-mom family.

At least two other queer moms, to my knowledge, have won MacArthur Awards. Mary Bonauto, a leading attorney in the fight for marriage equality, won one in 2014, and quantum astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala won one in 2010. That shouldn’t make the rest of us feel bad if we haven’t yet changed the world—sometimes, being a parent is enough in and of itself. Still, I always find it inspiring to know that I have at least one thing in common with these cool folks. I hope they inspire you, too.


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Carmella reviews Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson – The Lesbrary

Carmella reviews Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson – The Lesbrary

Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors growing up. Something about her battalions of weird, bookish, tomboy protagonists and their intense friendships with other girls really appealed to me.

Looking back on her extensive oeuvre as a fully-realised lesbian adult, I began to see what that connection may have been, and I always wished that Wilson had written an explicitly sapphic character somewhere in her over-100-book career. Then came the news, earlier this year, that not only was Wilson finally going to write a book about two girls falling in love… but that she herself was in a long-term relationship with another woman! I was delighted (to say the least), and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Love Frankie.

When explaining why she hasn’t written a gay protagonist before, Jacqueline Wilson said that she writes about children with problems, and she doesn’t see “any problem whatsoever with being gay”. This is true for Love Frankie, where the protagonist’s sexuality isn’t nearly as big a deal as everything else going on in her life.

Frankie is nearly fourteen, and having a rough time of it. Her mum is chronically ill with MS, finances are tight, she’s worried about her two sisters, and their dad’s no help: he’s left them to live with his new girlfriend. Even her best friend Sammy is a source of stress now he’s decided he wants to be her boyfriend.

Wilson is always strong at writing touching, troubled families. Frankie’s dynamic with her mum and sisters is so warm and true to life. I particularly liked the youngest sister, Rowena, with her obsession for collecting Sylvanian Families – I remember a lot of children like that from my own school years! The issues of illness and divorce are treated sensitively and carefully pitched towards younger readers.

Outside of her fraught home life, Frankie’s being picked on by a group of girls at school. But then their ringleader – the pretty, cool, wealthy Sally – turns out to be not-that-bad-actually and goes from sworn enemy to close friend.

As Jacqueline Wilson novels go, so far, so typical. Then Frankie starts to like Sally as more than a friend.

This central relationship rings true as an account of first love – exciting, intense, giddy, and confusing. However, Sally isn’t particularly likeable as a love interest. She’s hot-and-cold, teasing, and sometimes cruel. I would ask what Frankie sees in her, but who hasn’t had a crush on a popular ‘mean girl’ before?

Although I enjoyed reading this novel as an adult, I know that I would have loved it as a younger teen. I’m so pleased for all the girls who will get to read this at the same age as Frankie and see themselves reflected in the pages.