Last weekend we went to see “Good People”, David Lindsay-Abaire’s very smart, character-driven play about class and roots and whether we can ever shake them. It’s set in Boston and both main characters are Southies, which in Boston is synonomous for tough as nails and proud of it. Think Dennis Lehane. Think Tea Party–the real tea party.
“You Messed With the Wrong City” was the message Boston sent after the bombing. Heartening as that sounds, it didn’t really jibe with the gentle place we’d visited just a week before. That city was full of earnest young people like our daughter, studying hard to learn how to heal and prevent illness and suffering. It was folk singers in the T-stations, and the creaky, comic T itself, which made me feel like I was on a ride at an old amusement park, and hilly brick streets with windowboxes brimming with spring flowers, and a brisk wind off the river that sent shivers through me to think how cold and beautiful winter must be there.
And it was Candlewick, whose offices are as sweet and humble as they come, and where I never thought to take a single picture, so just imagine a low- slung, butter-colored building, with skylights and stuffed animals and stacks of books wherever you turn, and conference rooms named after books. (We met in Waldo.)
The kids books Candlewick publishes never deny the darkness or destruction loose in the world. But they meet those forces head on, with characters and stories full of grace, determination, hope, compassion, the will to connect and to right wrong. “Never look away” is the first responsibility of a writer. Candlewick embraces that.
Maybe this is, after all, the definition of tough as nails. Tonight I’m speaking at a Young Authors celebration, and the first thing I plan to do is congratulate each of them for making something shining and new and one-of-a-kind. For being creators.