Linda Urban, author of Mabel and Sam at Home, shares her ideas of what being a strong girl means.
“A strong girl trusts her gut.”
What is your favorite book about a strong girl and why?
I can think of dozens of books about strong girls who battle evil and overcome obstacles and stand up to injustice and I love those books so much. I also find myself respecting something smaller and quieter, like the young girl in Jane Yolen’s OWL MOON. The strength that I see in that story might not be obvious to everyone, but to me there is something so powerful about the willingness to hope and to be so quietly open to possibility. Sometimes there’s an owl and sometimes there isn’t. No guarantees. But you go out into the bitter cold. You hold your breath. You listen.
What is it about the main character of your story that inspires you?
Mabel and Sam share the spotlight — and maybe that’s what inspires me most. They’re like little kid improv artists, each bouncing ideas off the other, each allowing the other’s imagination to fuel their own. My favorite environments are those where people respect and protect each other’s creative and emotional risk taking. Mabel and Sam are like my daughter and son in this way, and I’m inspired by them every day.
What is the best piece of advice you were given as a girl?
Recently, illustrator Marla Frazee gave my daughter some advice that I wish someone had given me when I was a girl. Marla told my daughter: Do the art you love to do in the way you love to do it. Other people will tell you to change your style or that some other subject matter is more marketable. Ignore them. The art you love to do and the way you have of doing it is what makes your work special, and eventually you’ll be recognized for that. Plus, you’ll have a lot more fun.
What’s your superpower, or what’s your Patronus?
I am very good at reading aloud. Also, I have nice handwriting. The handwriting is not a superpower, I suppose, but the reading aloud can be. Few things can make another person feel better than having someone take the time to read to them. It is such a beautiful way of being present for each other.