Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Midweek Musing— Elizabeth O. Dulemba and Someone Who Won't Take "No" for an Answer

My guest for Midweek Musings this week is Elizabeth O. Dulemba, author and/or illustrator of many picture books for children.  She has just published her debut novel, a historical fiction mid-grade book, A Bird on Water Street.  

Response to the book has been terrific—it has already picked up three awards:  a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Okra Pick, a Gold Mom's Choice Award, and it is THE 2014 National Book Festival featured title for Georgia!  

Elizabeth, who goes by e, has generously offered one signed and dedicated copy of A Bird on Water Street as a giveaway prize in connection with her Midweek Musing here.  You can enter the giveaway and read more about e after her answer.

BL:  So, e, welcome to Getting Into Character.  Who would you describe as your favorite character in childrens literature?

e:  Gosh—its hard to choose just one character that I love the most in childrens lit! And what an interesting exercise you set me upon. In looking through my picture book collection (I limited my choice to one genre), I realized most picture books are story-based rather than character-based. 

Of course, the ones that are character based are especially strong and we all heard of them: Skippyjon Jones, Pigeon, Olivia, Fancy Nancy, Mrs. Biddlebox. In fact, oftentimes, the books with strong characters are named after the characters. That's an interesting thing to keep in mind as I write. Hm! 

But you asked me to choose just one, which is a nearly impossible task. So Ill talk about one that I'm enchanted by right now

That would be Lucy from Peter Browns YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND. Lucy sets out with a goal, and nothing will get in her way. In trying to make a friend, she forces the matter, making for some extremely awkward situations instead. Its when she finally stops trying so hard that luck comes her way in the form of a friendly flamingo. 

I can so relate to Lucy. Ive always been goal-oriented and ambitious. Im a go-getter, I make things happen! And it works for me. But I've always thought it would be nice to be the sort of person who sits back and lets things come to them. I consider those to be the cool kids. I am not cool. I worry—what if they never come!? Im not one to wait. Its why I work as hard as I do and reach out as much as I do. I dont have any regrets, as I think my way is a valid approach to life. But it is nice when Flamingos surprise me sometimes, like with Lucy. I get her.

BL: Ive sometimes wished I had Lucys unbridled enthusiasm myself.  She's a real force of nature!  Thanks for stopping by, e.


When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing?
A Bird on Water Street is a coming of age story about Jack, the son of a miner growing up in a Southern Appalachian town environmentally devastated by a century of poor copper-mining practices. After a tragic accident and a massive company layoff, the miners go on strike. When nature begins to flourish as a result, Jack fights to protect it, but the cost could be the ruin of everything he loves.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba is an award-winning childrens book author/illustrator with two dozen titles to her credit. She is Illustrator Coordinator for the SCBWI Southern region, a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, and a Visiting Associate Professor at Hollins University in the MFA in Childrens Book Writing and Illustrating program. A BIRD ON WATER STREET is her first novel (Spring 2014, Little Pickle Press). Learn more at

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