Stories build understanding.
Understanding builds neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods build a strong city.
Support the sharing of stories of Maine’s “new arrivals” and the cultural fabric of the City of Portland.
Peaks Island children’s book author/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien has made an important contribution to the upcoming city-wide read of books supported by the Maine Humanities Council called “I’m Your Neighbor, Portland.” When she’s not crossing the globe by plane to visit fans, crossing the harbor by ferry or the island by bicycle to go home, she’s adding to her impressive list of children’s book publications.
Mostly recently, Anne has authored “A Path of Stars” (Charlesbridge Publishing), the story of a Cambodian immigrant grandmother, Lok Yeay, who tells her granddaughter about her homeland and how her family would sit in their yard and watch the stars that glowed like fireflies. To write a picture book that captured the Cambodian American experience here in Maine, Anne explains,
“I started by reading every survivor memoir I could find, until the outline of life in Cambodia before 1975, the Killing Fields, the escape, and life in a new land became familiar. I talked with several scholars about trauma survival and the sociology of Cambodian Americans. Most significantly, I listened to my friends Veasna and Peng Kem, who spent hours sharing their own memories with me. Many of the details in this story come from their accounts, or were inspired by them.”
A Path of Stars has been named a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013 by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC); it has also been named an Honor Picture Book of the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature 2013 based upon its literary and artistic merit, as selected by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association.
Anne illustrated another one of the nine books chosen for this city-wide read: Moon Watchers, an inside view of daily life in a modern Muslim family during Ramadan. A launch event for the city-wide read of books set in Maine’s new arrival communities will occur on May 25th from 3-6 p.m. at the Portland Public Library.