SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University will host Clare Vanderpool, a Newbery Award-winning author, for a public presentation on children’s literature and creative writing, Thursday, April 26, from 7-8 p.m.
The lecture, reception and book signing are free and open to the public. The events will be held in the AG Theological Seminary at Evangel, on the north end of campus, near the corner of Glenstone and Division.
In 2011, Vanderpool’s children’s book Moon Over Manifest won the Newbery Medal, which recognizes the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
In 2014, her book Navigating Early won a Printz Honor, which recognizes literary excellence in young adult literature.
*** MEDIA NOTE — In addition to her public appearance, Vanderpool will conduct two master class sessions for Evangel students on Friday, April 27. The first session at noon will focus on children and young adult literature. The second session at 3:00 p.m. will focus on creative writing. Both master class sessions will be held in Trask Hall, room 102.
Her journey includes an Evangel professor
Vanderpool’s journey with creative writing began as soon as she knew how to use a pencil, but it wasn’t until after her first child was born that she began to seriously pursue the crafting of narratives.
Dr. Diane Awbrey, professor of English at Evangel, is a long-time friend of Vanderpool’s.
Awbrey assisted by reading and commenting on Moon Over Manifest and Navigating Early and was featured in the acknowledgments of Vanderpool’s Newbery winner Moon Over Manifest.
“Clare and I have been friends since the mid-1990s when we both were members of the Milton Center, a creative writing and reading group in Wichita, Kansas,” said Awbrey.
“Clare’s priorities are faith, family and fabulous story-telling. She integrates these aspects of her life with charm and discipline. However, Clare is first a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. Her natural gift for developing characters, observing details and weaving a good plot has won her the nation’s highest awards, but I think she would just as soon be remembered for raising four faithful, happy children or taking care of her aging parents with compassion,” she said.
In her Newbery Medal speech, Vanderpool identified herself as a mom, writer and resident of Kansas. Her love for her home and family led to the development of Moon Over Manifest, but it didn’t come easy.
Vanderpool said, “This [Moon Over Manifest] is my first published book, but it is not my first attempt at putting pen to paper. I started writing, really writing, with intent and purpose, when my first child was born. During those years, I did what a writer does. I changed diapers and I wrote. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I wrote. I read and I wrote. I listened to what others had to say about writing and I wrote. I try to approach my writing the same way I approach everything else in my life. Work hard at it and have fun with it. Enjoy the experience.”
Vanderpool works to share her own experience at sessions such as the ones that she will lead at Evangel.
Awbrey said, “As a writer and creative person, Clare is a natural fit to speak at Evangel because she lives the integration of faith, learning, and life every day. She juggles her creative impulse, homemaking duties, a public image and personal relationships. Our students can benefit from her perspective.”
A look at her books
Vanderpool’s books are both historical fiction, and they take place around World War II.
Moon Over Manifest is set in a Kansas town that was largely populated by European immigrants.
Navigating Early takes place in Maine and has a protagonist who is autistic. The book is unique in that it features a protagonist with special needs and also utilizes math concepts in the storytelling.
“Clare is an extraordinary storyteller whose tales align with the Newbery Medal’s recognition of distinguished children’s literature,” said LaDonna Friesen, assistant professor of English at Evangel University.
“Both of Vanderpool’s books are not typical stories. She weaves diverse, intriguing characters into narratives that diverge and come together to offer profound moments of understanding, pain, and healing. She provokes readers to consider how history affects who we are now, and that the history we are making now—through relationships, knowledge and decisions—affects tomorrow,” said Friesen.
Awbrey added, “Although Clare’s work has earned national attention, the value of her books for our community is that they deal, at least partially, with the role that ‘place’ has in the development of the human spirit. In both stories, the children’s search for identity is deeply grounded in places and people. I think that anyone who loves a good story told well will be rewarded by Clare’s visit.”
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 17 master’s and doctoral degrees.