Matthew J. Kirby
To: The Women's National Book Association/LA Chapter
and the Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation
I would like to thank the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association and the judges of this year’s Judy Lopez Memorial Award for this honor, and to congratulate Kate Klise, as well as Rita Garcia-Williams, Lewis Buzbee, and Jewell Parker Rhodes. It is humbling to find myself named among such gifted writers, and to see The Clockwork Three beside such wonderful books. I only wish that I could be there in person to offer my gratitude, and to celebrate another year of outstanding children’s literature.
People often ask me why I write for children. I find the answer to that question easy to understand, but difficult to articulate. In addition to being a children’s book writer, I am a school psychologist, and I love my job. On a daily basis I have the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of the children I work with, and to be reminded of the wonder and magic that exist all around us. Unlike many adults, children seldom think they have it all figured out. They are actively and earnestly engaged in the exploration and understanding their world, whether it be diving down rabbit holes or exploring old wardrobes. Children want to see what’s waiting around the bend on the deep forest road, and when I write for children, I do too.
That is why I believe that anyone who writes for children owes it to them to be uncompromisingly honest. I have had several complaints from adults about the content of The Clockwork Three. They feel it is too dark, that the character’s lives and stories are too desperate. But another thing I have learned from my work in the schools is that children are aware of and can handle much more than we give often them credit for. They are resilient. They are strong. I have never had a single child complain about the content of The Clockwork Three. Quite the opposite. I have had numerous letters from young readers telling me how inspiring they found the bravery shown by the three main characters in facing their challenges and fears.
That is why I write for children. I do not write with an intended message. I do not wish to preach or to teach. I write to ask questions, and let my readers find their own answers as I find mine. I write to inspire. And I write to be inspired.
Thank you for all you do to promote children’s literature and literacy.
Matthew J. Kirby