Date published: July 1, 2010
IN 2004, I BROUGHT my son home from Kazakhstan, where I'd adopted him. I'd gone deeply into debt to adopt him, and I saw no way out of that debt. I remember driving with my boyfriend one day and seeing a man on a corner waving a sign - does that happen everywhere? Here in Los Angeles, companies hire someone to stand on a corner waving a sign with the name of the company on it. Anyway, my boyfriend laughed and said, "That's going to be you pretty soon." I wasn't getting any sleep, I was worried all die time, it seemed as though nobody had read my first children's book, and pretty soon I was going to be standing on a corner waving a sign.
One Sunday night I went to sleep, with my son and my dog on the bed, and when I woke up the next morning at 4:26 a.m. it was because I had won the Newbery. I quite literally had nothing to wear but sweatpants, so a friend and I went shopping for something to wear on the Today show. Then my brother came by to pick up my dog for a couple of days, and my boyfriend, my son, and I drove to the airport to catch our flight, which we missed. On the next flight, the plane's landing was so turbulent I remember thinking, I've won the Newbery and now I'm going to die in a plane crash. The entire year was a little turbulent, actually.
The next year when the dust had settled, I was getting sleep, I wasn't worried anymore, people had read my book, I was able to write more, and I wasn't going to be standing on a corner waving a sign - at least not for the foreseeable future. And all of that, really, was the next best thing about winning.
2005 Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira (Atheneum/Simon).