Ruth Forman is the author of the new children's board book Bloom. Her other books include Curls. A poet, she is a professor at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Q: What inspired you to write Bloom?
A: I wanted to continue the Curls series celebrating hair and skin color for children of color. Curls was intended to be the first in a series for young readers, celebrating identity and self-love around hair and skin color for children of color and for all children to enjoy.
With Bloom, I wanted young girls to be proud of their hair and see themselves as beautiful and unique in this human garden of ours like the flowers they see or discover.
Q: What do you think Talia Skyles’ illustrations add to the book?
A: Talia adds the inner beauty and dignity of these children. With her illustrations, their light, love, beauty, and joy shines through. You can look at each girl and know they are loved and naturally beautiful. I hope the little ones feel this as well about themselves when they look at the pages.
Q: What more do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: Joy. I want them to see themselves as something naturally and unmistakably beautiful in our world, like flowers. To see themselves, their hair, and the styles they wear reflected in a gorgeous natural way. And the magic joyfully playing in that reflection.
Q: How did you first get interested in creating children's picture books?
A: I always wanted to create children’s books even when I was a child.
I more seriously considered it years ago when Pat Mora suggested at a joint poetry reading that I should do children’s books because my poetry was visual.
It took a while for this journey to culminate, but my first children’s book was Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon with Children’s Book Press. I fell in love with doing children’s books then, and always hoped to do many more.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: More books for the Curls series! The next in the series, Ours, is scheduled to be out this August and celebrates skin color.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: With Bloom, I want young children to see themselves and others and know that they are special and naturally beautiful in this world, and for them to see this at the same time they start to read.
I hope to impart a sense that they belong and are loved in this world in a way that they inherently carry this feeling inside and do not even question – just like we do not question the beauty and variety of flowers. So that they can go on and do the wonderful things they were meant to do in this human garden of ours.
Georgia O’Keeffe stated, “…Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven't time – and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.” (O’Keeffe, 1939).
Here's to seeing – really seeing – to flowers, to beauty, to friends, and to the human garden.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb