Tuesday, May 12, 2020

THINK QUICK with Author Christy Mihaly

Hi Christy,  Free for You and Me is an engaging and informational text paired with colorful illustrations that make this book perfect for any kid who wants to learn about what it means to be free in our country. All of the THINK QUICK themes below appear in your book.  Let’s see which way you lean. Remember, THINK QUICK!I

On colorful diverse illustrations:
Collaborative or synergistic?

Both! Isn't Manu Montoya's art in Free for You and Me wonderful? My editor at Albert Whitman communicated with me about the book design team's illustration ideas, and shared preliminary art. How could we be inclusive when illustrating the founders? We collaborated to incorporate diversity in a fun "Hamiltonian" approach, so it's synergistic with the text. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

On Speech Bubbles:
Helpful or distracting?

Kids like speech bubbles. One young reader explained to me: "It lets me know who is saying what." In drafting and designing the book, I tried several approaches to convey the various stories I wanted to tell. The speech bubbles seemed to work best.

On Rhyme:
Easy or challenging?

Rhyming isn't hard (cat-hat-bat), but it can be a real challenge to ensure each line is well-crafted with the right meter and clearly conveys its meaning without awkward wording.

On Backmatter:
Enriching or boring?

Definitely not boring. I love back matter of all kinds—and often turn to the back first. In my prior picture book Hey, Hey, Hay! there's a glossary of haymaking terms and a recipe for haymaker's punch, or switchel. In Free for You and Me, we provided a glossary and a great deal of historical background information. There was so much material I wanted to include that I couldn't squeeze it all in! There's always good stuff in the back matter.

On Freedom:
Subjective or definable?

Of course, a feeling of freedom can be subjective, but it's important that we as a culture define the meaning of "free speech," "freedom of the press," and other freedoms – we need to know what we're talking about.

On the First Amendment:
Necessary or superfluous?

Interestingly, some founders believed the Bill of Rights (which includes the First Amendment) was unnecessary because the American system they had established limited the federal government's powers. They said the power resides in the people. But the new nation opted to add the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, to make these rights explicit.
And now, I'd say, the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment are indispensable.

On freedom of speech:
Exciting or dangerous?

How about: Formidable – which is kind of a mixture of these concepts. To exercise one's free speech can be exhilarating. It can also be dangerous. But it's so important to democracy; the greater danger is when we undermine freedom of speech.

On protests:
Helpful or rash?

People sometimes protest rashly, but expressing political views by peaceful protest is a constructive act. Protesting informs our elected representatives what we're thinking and what we want them to do. Protests may also let people know that others share their views; they may push public opinion to evolve. All this moves our political dialog forward.

On the United States of America:
Becoming stronger or becoming divisive?

Oh, boy, that's the question of our day, isn't it?
I hope that by bringing young Americans a deeper appreciation of our democratic structure, values, and heritage, we can help the country become stronger.

On books:

Well, much as I advocate freedom of choice in reading, I have to say – "Free for You and Me!"

Thank you Christy!!  

Christy Mihaly writes for young readers because she believes that our best hope for the future is raising kids who love to read. Her recent picture book, Free for You and Me: What our First Amendment Means, illustrated by Manu Montoya, celebrates the First Amendment with poems and stories. Christy co-authored the YA nonfiction Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought, with Sue Heavenrich in 2018. Her picture book Hey, Hey, Hay!(A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them) tells the story of how hay is made. Christy has published more than 20 nonfiction books on topics from free speech to food to fashion, as well as articles, stories, and poems. She lives in Vermont, where she loves walking her dog in the woods and playing the cello (though not simultaneously). Visit her website at www.christymihaly.com.


  1. Sharing, another book I need to put on my "buy list." Greatly excited for you, Chris.

  2. Such an important topic. Can't wait to read the book.

  3. This looks like an excellent book and timely. Congrats Christy and Manu.

  4. Great post, Ladies! And Free for You and Me is such a fantastic book that all elementary teachers need to have in their classroom!

  5. Free For You And Me makes a complex concept accessible to children. Well done Christy! And I agree with you about using speech bubbles. I'd love to know how you formatted your manuscript to use speech bubbles instead of "he said."

  6. awesome interview! Thanks for sharing Christy's thoughts and this wonderful new book.

  7. There she is! FREE FOR YOU AND ME is sure to support the school curriculum.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers to great questions.

    Suzy Leopold

  8. Looking forward to reading this! Such an important and timely topic!

  9. Such a great book! I look forward to reading it. Congratulations!