‘The Skin I’m In’ turns 20 (Oct. 24)

DEBBIE NORRELL

I am a big fan of Sharon Flake, the author of “The Skin I’m In.” I have known her for quite some time, I’m not sure for how long but it has been a while. When I found that she was a published author I was so impressed. The main reason I was impressed is she is not a self-published author, she has an agent and her books are published by Disney.
To me that is huge. But the real reason I like Flake is she can really write and I respect good writers. Her first book, “The Skin I’m In,” is one of my favorites. The 20th anniversary of the book was celebrated at Barnes and Noble with a launch party on Oct. 20; I made sure I was there. A standing room only crowd was in attendance. A good friend and former co-worker, Audrey Murrell, introduced Flake to the crowd. But I don’t think there was anyone there who was a stranger. Sharon’s former co-workers came, Carlton Heywood, a librarian in Pittsburgh Public Schools was there, Flake said he has been a great support system and made some great suggestions regarding her books. There was a reading of a portion of the book by young people about the age of the characters in the book and if you were lucky you got a salted caramel drink and a special cookie. Needless to say I was lucky.
The book is the winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent and many other awards. In ‘The Skin I’m In,” Maleeka suffers every day from the taunts of the other kids in her class. If they’re not getting at her about her homemade clothes or her good grades, it’s about her dark skin. When a new teacher, whose face is blotched with a startling white patch, starts at her school, Maleeka can see there is bound to be trouble for her, too. But the new teacher’s attitude surprises Maleeka. Miss Saunders loves the skin she’s in. Can Meleeka learn to do the same?
The inspiration for the main character in the book was Sharon’s daughter, Brittany Banks, and Banks celebrated her birthday on Oct. 20 at the book signing. If you missed this book signing there will be a few more locally. Let me remind you the books are actually written for a younger market but I have enjoyed each one so please be open-minded.
On Nov. 28 at 6 p.m., enjoy “Reflections of Our Complexions: An evening with Sharon Flake” at the Homewood Library. This is free and open to the public. On Dec. 2, Sharon Flake will be a featured speaker at the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures at 2:30, tickets are required. On Feb. 27, at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, there will be student discussions and a Battle of the Books Sharon G. Flake Edition, and on March 1 the Sharon G. Flake national writing contest starts. Go to http://www.sharongflake.com to find out more. She has a great collection of books, find one and enjoy.
(Email Debbie at debbienorrell@aol.com.)
 
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