Southwest Children's Literature

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Coyote School News

Author/Illustrator Interview with Joan Sandin:

Photo of Joan Sandin

Q: What inspired you to write Coyote School News?

A: Coyote School News is my most personal book to date. Even though I hated history class as a child, I've always loved historical things, as you can see by looking around my home. I incorporated people and places from my own childhood into this book. My best friend, Maria, told me many tales about her older brothers and sisters who all went to "cowpuncher" schools and lived on ranches. I was also inspired by the Little Cowpuncher newspapers I discovered while doing research. These newspapers were written by students.

Q: Why did you choose to write and illustrate children's books?

A: I always wanted to be artist, and I was always the kid who could draw. When my brother and I were very young, he wrote a story, which took place in a cave, and I illustrated it. (It only sold one copy, which my mother bought.) In college, I majored in art and in particular, print making. During my last two years of college, one of my teachers was an illustrator who encouraged me and helped me to develop my portfolio. The focus of my portfolio was drawing children. From there, it was natural for me to get involved with children's literature.

Q: Are you currently working on anything new?

A: Yes. It's the third book in a series and it's called At Home in a New Land. It's about a Scandinavian family settling and getting established in America. I'm also writing another book based upon my childhood in Tucson. It focuses on the monsoon rains.

Q: Do you feel that children's fiction is an essential element in developing children's literacy? Why?

A: Yes. For me, every book is new and different. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I feel it's very important for kids to have both well written and well illustrated books. They are excellent tools to teach children subjects such as history, language arts and writing.

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