When I was nine years old, a family friend who was an artist received a commission to illustrate a book for celebrated children’s author Jacqueline Woodson. My parents had met the artist when he had his first show in Philadelphia and remained friends with him over time. After I was born, he started illustrating children’s books and eventually he asked me if I wanted to be the model for one of the main characters, Annie, in Woodson’s book The Other Side. My mother (who was also illustrated in the book) and I spent an afternoon at a horse farm in rural New Jersey with the other girls pictured in the book, climbing over fences, jumping rope, and splashing through mud puddles.
The book is about the friendship between two young girls in the segregated south. When the book was published a year later, I participated in a reading at a local bookstore with the illustrator and the other young girl featured in the book. Over the years, I have enjoyed watching the awards and acclaim the book has received. Imagine my surprise when, one day, I saw it featured in the Children’s Section of Bowdoin’s Hawthorne and Longfellow Library.