First up on the Bee Book Buzz, meet author Ann Malaspina. Her wonderful new picture book is one to buzz about, especially in 2012 for the upcoming Summer Olympics.
Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper (Albert Whitman & Co., 2012) illustrated by Eric Velasquez
When Alice Coachman was growing up in Albany, Georgia, there was no field where an African-American girl could do the high jump. So she made her own crossbar with sticks and rags. She went on to win national medals with Tuskegee Institute's famous Golden Tigerettes track and field team. At the Summer Olympics in London in 1948, high flying Alice became the first black woman in the world to win the Olympic gold.
If you were a bee, which would you be and why?
a) Queen (Hive revolves around her. She lays hundreds of eggs a day for two to three years)
b) Drone (impregnates queen and dies)
c) Worker bee (works non-stop building hives, pollinating, gathering nectar, making honey, feeding baby bees. Lives about 6 weeks and dies)
Ann: I never knew bees had such tough lives. I think I'll stick with being a human.
Same question for your main character? Queen, drone, or worker?
I do know Alice trained really hard, year after year, to become the top female high jumper in the world. So in a way she was both a worker and a queen bee.
Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat.
Did you eat your vegetables when you were growing up?
Yes, I did. Believe it or not, I miss my mother's lima beans. Where have lima beans gone?
What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
A ripe avocado, which I'm pretty sure is a fruit, though it seems like a vegetable!
What's Alice’s favorite fruit or vegetable?
Alice always sucked on a lemon slice before she competed in the high jump. She felt the lemon juice gave her energy and good luck.
Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower?
My favorite flower is a tulip. The street where I spent some of my childhood was Tulip Lane. I always try to plant a few more tulips in my yard every fall.
Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try?
Well, my husband just put three candles on the cake. I don't know what that means, but I did blow them all out.
How old is Alice in your story?
Touch the Sky follows Alice's life from when she was a young girl in Albany, Georgia, to an Olympic competitor in her twenties
My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment.
What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?
My next book is about Susan B. Anthony, and learning about her life made me realize how important it is to join in the political process and vote in even the smallest local elections.
Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar?
Honey, especially on my mom's baklava.