Interview with Pauline David-Sax

Today’s #ChatwithThePBLady is with Pauline David-Sax 🥳🎉 We talked about her book EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE. Illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow.

📚 If you could relive any age, what age would you choose? 

I’m very happy at the age I am! But if I were going to revisit a prior age, I’d choose second grade. I had a really wonderful teacher named Mrs. Dinan. I remember several times when she’d let a few of us stay indoors during recess and play dress-up with costume pieces she had in her classroom closet. I remember that time very fondly.

📚 Tell me about one of your hero’s. 

My great-aunt Gizella Salomon, who passed away in 1998, received a law degree in 1958 and helped blaze the trail for other women attorneys in Houston, TX at that time. She was a devoted friend and family member and at the same time, she had strong opinions and stood up for what she believed in.

📚What song have you been playing on repeat recently? 

I recently saw the musical Hadestown, which I loved, and that entire soundtrack has been a recent favorite. 

📚 Do you prefer coffee or tea? 

Tough question! I am a huge fan of both. Earl Grey tea in the morning, with some iced coffee in the afternoon if I’m feeling sleepy.

📚 Let’s talk about your book EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE. This book features a lovely and unique combination of books and motorcyclists. Can you tell us more about the book and the inspiration behind it? 

This book was inspired by the members of Sirens MC, NYC’s oldest all-women’s motorcycle club. I first learned about the club because my friend’s sister and sister-in-law are members. I thought it was so cool that my friend’s kids were growing up with two motorcycling aunts as role models and I decided I wanted to write a picture book that brought these amazing women into the lives of more kids.

I interviewed several members of the Sirens as I prepared to write this book. One of the things that struck me was how diverse the group is (in terms of race, gender expression, body size, background, etc.). There’s a saying in the group: You don’t know someone’s a Siren until you see the patch on their back. The members of the group call themselves sisters, yet if you saw them walking down the street you might not guess they had anything in common with one another. That’s what gave me the idea for the story I tell in this book. Nicky’s a shy kid who thinks Maggie, the motorcyclist she knows from her mom’s cafe, is a loner just like her. But when Nicky meets Maggie’s “motorcycle sisters” she realizes that it’s possible to find community, it might just not look like you first expect. 

📚 How would you describe the character development of the main character? What challenges does she face and over come? 

At the beginning of the story Nicky identifies as a loner and assumes she doesn’t have anything in common with any of the other kids at school. That’s why she spends recess helping out in the school library. But by the end she learns (thanks to Maggie and her motorcycle sisters) to be more open to finding community. 

📚 Can you tell us in your own words why this book is so inspiring? 

There are two things I hope will be inspiring about this book. The first is the representation of the women motorcyclists. Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, the illustrator, did such a phenomenal job drawing a beautiful and diverse group of women, and I hope kids will feel inspired seeing all of them within these pages. The other thing I hope will be inspiring is the idea that there’s a community out there for everyone—you just have to find it.

📚 What advice would you give to a child who feels like they don’t belong? How can your book help and comfort them?

It’s such a hard feeling—and one I’ve definitely had myself. So first and foremost I’d just offer to sit and listen. And then I’d hope that my book and stories like it can show them the value of being open to connection, even with people who might seem at first like they’re totally different. Nicky doesn’t have to change to find a friend at the end—she just has to be open to looking past the surface.

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