|Dee Romito, photo by Nathan Romito
Dee Romito is the author of the new children's picture book Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her other books include The BFF Bucket List and Best. Night. Ever.. She is a former elementary school teacher, and she lives in Buffalo, New York.
Q: How did you learn about Georgia Gilmore, and at what point did you decide to write a picture book about her?
A: I was reading about the Montgomery Bus Boycott with my kids on MLK, Jr. Day and I came across a couple lines about Georgia. I was immediately fascinated by her and started researching to find out more. The more I found, the more amazed I was, and I wanted everyone to know about this incredible woman.
Q: What kind of research did you do for the book, and did you learn anything that particularly surprised you?
A: I read old newspaper articles, interviews, online articles, books that included parts of her story … I even did some research at the Library of Congress. The idea that this part of the story isn’t widely known surprised me from the beginning.
But also, there were things I couldn’t include in the picture book that really showed Georgia’s strong, tough personality. She had some interesting nicknames for her friends and didn’t put up with people treating her or her family poorly.
Q: What do you think Laura Freeman's illustrations add to the book?
A: Laura is amazing! This story came to life because of Laura’s beautiful illustrations. And the way she added just the right touches made it even more special.
I love how the secret helpers are shown walking past a doorway and that she simply added a protest sign at the end that showed what came next for Georgia. This story is what it is because of Georgia Gilmore and Laura Freeman.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from Georgia Gilmore's story?
A: I hope this story sticks with them. Georgia has earned her spot in American history and is a true inspiration. Most of all, I hope kids (and adults) are reminded that everyone can make a difference, and that sometimes it’s the smallest acts that make the biggest impact.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m always working on a bunch of different things. I read nonfiction biography picture books all the time and am always looking for, or working on, the next one. But right now my focus is on my upcoming chapter book series, Fort Builders, Inc., which comes out from Aladdin in 2020.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Check out the author’s note in the back of Pies from Nowhere to learn more about Georgia. And you can find links to more information (including video interviews) on my website. There’s also a recipe for Georgia’s homemade pound cake in the back of the book. It’s even better the next day after you let it sit.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb