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The Importance of Challenging Yourself (and Snacks): 3 Questions with Nikki Grimes

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I was given the opportunity to ask children’s literature legend Nikki Grimes a few questions. This was a chance I jumped at.

Travis: What was it like winning the Wilder Award? What’s it been like since?

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Nikki Grimes: Earth-shaking. It took me a while to find my feet. It’s one award I never imagined winning. With the Wilder Medal came a sense of urgency about continuing to produce the best work possible so as to feel worthy of the honor. The Wilder gives me a little extra drive. This last year was wildly busy with travel and speaking engagements, and I found myself itching to get back to work. Now, finally, I have. It feels scary, as always, but it feels good to be working through a new literary puzzle, trying to figure out how to make all the pieces fit.

Travis: You’ve written books in so many different formats—has that been a conscious effort?

Nikki Grimes: The answer is both yes, and no. In general, I approach my work in an organic way, trying to listen for the voice, the tone, the format that feels right for the particular project I’m working on, and then I allow that to guide my choice. Occasionally, though, I choose a new format, right off the bat, because I want to challenge myself, I want to grow, I want to see how far I can push myself, creatively speaking.

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Garvey’s Choice, my novel in tanka, and One Last Word, my work in the golden shovel format, are two examples of that kind of exploration.

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Bronx Masquerade and Between the Lines pushed me in new directions, as well. To be honest, beyond my need for creative exploration, I’d switch formats occasionally anyway, simply because I bore easily!

Travis: What snack puts you in peak creativity mode?

Nikki Grimes: That’s easy! Dark chocolate, preferably with almonds.

Travis: Hard to beat that. Thanks for taking my questions, Nikki! 

Nikki Grimes latest book, Between the Lines, comes out on February 13th.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.