When Grove Street gets its first black family, Winnie is a welcoming party of one.
Iggie’s House was my first long book. I wrote it week by week, a chapter at a time, while taking a writing course at NYU. This was in the late 1960’s, about five years after I’d graduated from college. By then I was married with two young children and I’d written a couple of picture books, one of which would become my first published book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. But I quickly decided that since I loved reading novels, I’d try to write a novel myself. I’d always been fascinated by real people in the real world and that’s the kind of story I set out to tell.
The late sixties was a turbulent time in America. Racial tensions were high, especially following the assassination of Martin Luther King. The ongoing fight for racial equality affected all of us, one way or another. At the time, I was almost as naive as Winnie is in this book, wanting to make the world a better place, but not knowing how. When Winnie refers to the riots in Detroit and asks the Garber kids if their father was involved, the Garbers are offended and who can blame them? I actually had neighbors in the New Jersey suburb where I was living at the time, who talked about arming themselves in case the riots in Newark spilled over to our street, one that was as white as Grove Street, where Winnie lives.
This book would never have been published if I hadn’t met Dick Jackson, the best editor any new writer could possibly wish for. I read about him in Writer’s Digest, a magazine for new writers, and sent him my manuscript. He was interested enough to spend a morning talking with me about my story and characters, asking me questions that sent me home thinking. Though he wasn’t making any promises, he did say he would read my manuscript again after I’d revised it. I rewrote the book quickly, really getting into the story, and the day Dick called to say he would like to publish it was among the happiest of my life. It was certainly a day that changed my life forever. Thanks to Dick’s initial support and encouragement I’ve been writing ever since.
I had the title from the beginning.
This book is dedicated to Lee Wyndham, my writing teacher at the School of Continuing Education at NYU, who created a safe place for her students’ to try their wings.
“The young heroine is a peppery tomboy with a mind of her own.”
–School Library Journal
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