Kelly Yang

Mirrors and Windows

Meadow Pond fifth graders know that books can be mirrors and windows. On March 6, they met an author whose book contains both of those aspects: Kelly Yang, author of the bestselling Front Desk series which has won some of the biggest awards in children’s literature.

The virtual visit was sponsored by the Meadow Pond Elementary PTO and the 5th Grade Steering Committee as part of the school’s celebration of PARP (Pick a Reading Partner). Yang’s first book, “Front Desk,” was an all-grade read earlier in the year.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t have a book like ‘Front Desk’—a book about a nine-year-old girl who lives in a motel and manages its front desk while her parents clean the rooms,” Yang said to the students. “I didn’t have any mirrors.”

Sharing her journey and writing tips

“Front Desk” was her first book. She wrote it for her three children. She had become so good at hiding the truth about how she grew up that they didn’t know a thing about her childhood.

The students’ questions delved into the gray area of autobiographical fiction. Which characters were real people? Yang spoke about creating composite characters—taking aspects of a few people and treating them as one.

“All of my ideas for characters come from people I’ve known in real life,” she said. “It’s important to have complex characters. I was huge and brave at the motel, but fearful and insecure at school.”