Andrea Davis Pinkney I fell into bookmaking completely by accident. After graduating from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, where I majored in journalism, I pursued my one big career dream, which was to work at a high-profile magazine. Fortunately, that dream came true ― and it led me to children’s publishing!
Soon after my last day of college, I went straight to midtown Manhattan, and got a job in the editorial offices of Mechanix Illustrated magazine. It didn’t matter to me that the magazine was all-things-automotive. In my mind, I’d “made it”. I was working in publishing and living in New York. There was an unexpected bonus to the job. I met my husband, children’s book illustrator Brian Pinkney, who worked in the art department of Field & Stream magazine, across the hall.
Learning to generate new ideas constantly, and looking for ways to pitch and position these ideas […] would help me become a book editor.
One day, on the free book shelf at S&S, I spotted a treasure—The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. It was a Newbery Medal Winner. It was published by my imprint, Atheneum. And it was by Elaine Konigsburg, the amazing author of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. How could it be that I’d never read it? So I took the book home and the next afternoon I found myself completely absorbed in the novel.
When I started reading The View from Saturday, I didn’t think that I was going to be grappling with issues of diversity or my relationship with diversity in books. I was simply enjoying a sunny afternoon spent on my couch enjoying a great book. It was perfect.
I’d often heard books described as “Mirrors or Windows”—the idea that books can either show you a reflection of your own experience or give you a view into a culture different from your own. Mitali Perkins had spoken quite eloquently about this at the 2010 BEA Children’s Breakfast. But what I hadn’t really ever thought about was that I’d never read a “mirror” book. For me, at least.