Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Independent Voice Celebrates Cynthia Smith

Tell us about you.
I have been a teacher and para-educator for over 30 years, most of which were spent in classrooms where students were just beginning to think for themselves and about themselves.  The book is written for ages 9-13, the time when youth questions everything.  Adolescence is starting and many children feel insecure about themselves, their relationships with peers, or even their own families and homelife.  These insecurities manifest themselves in various behaviors; some children withdraw into themselves, while some overcompensate for their fears by bullying others.  I have witnessed that when bullying begins, even if innocently meant with only an off-handed word or two, prejudice often follows not far behind.  I wrote this novel hoping to illustrate to children that bullying and intolerance toward race, religion, or the physically challenged have no place in our world.  Certainly, with tools such as the internet, facebook, twitter, etc., the world is becoming smaller in many ways, and so the ill-effects of prejudice are felt even more strongly today than in the past.  I believe that my book inspires readers to see that what matters is the "core" of each person, and that acceptance of others and their differences truly means enriching themselves.  I further believe that more must be done to inhibit bullying; not doing so only enables the passing of prejudice from one generation to the next.

Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author:
1.I'd rather eat pasta and great breads than sweets.
2.The idea for my book came to me in a very vivid dream 6 years ago.
3.I have travelled to 17 different countries, 4 continents,and the Caribbean.
4.Marketing my book is one of the hardest tasks I have ever undertaken in my life.
5.I love teaching English to adult ESL students from all over the world at a private academy.

Favorite Authors
Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) and Ahrundati Roy (The God of Small Things) 

Where to connect online

Tell us about your book
Name : Nettie Parker's Backyard
Genre : Historical-fiction mystery, ages 9-13 Length : 180 pgs.
Formats Available : paperback and ebook


The story is about a magical, wonderful, African-American Gullah woman and the strange signs she receives, which guide her to care for eight Jewish child refugees in WWII London.  The special bonds they form are so strong, nothing can break them:  neither time nor distance, proving love is the greatest force of all in a surprise twist ending.  Current and inspiring themes of anti-bullying and tolerance are woven throughout the text.  Of course, the Holocaust and Europe during the war years of 1939-1945 are key topics, but other topics such as the role African-American soldiers played in WWII, the Tuskegee Airmen, the London Blitzkrieg, Kristallnacht, and the Kindertransport are also discussed.  Similarly, the development of slavery in the 1500's, the Middle Passage, slave ships, and prejudice in our own country through the 1960's are also touched upon.  It is quite a mixture of history, cultures, races and religions; however, it all works, inspiring my readers to see that what really matters is the "core" of each person, and that acceptance of others and their differences truly means enriching themselves.  Historical lessons about African-American slavery and WWII are presented in a unique, interesting, and somewhat mystical tale.  The book is written via flash-back style in which my child narrator, Halley, interviews her mentor, Nettie, for a school project.

Where to buy