DMPL Podcast: Sarvinder Naberhaus


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It all started when she was eight years old. "I remember standing on the front lawn of our house in Ames," says Sarvinder Naberhaus. She was singing a song she had written for her neighbors. "It was called 'Round Love," she says. The lyrics included round love, square love, everywhere love love. "It was the '60s, you have to remember," she says with a laugh.

Some five decades later, Naberhaus, who lives in Ames, used her songwriting skills to create children's books. She's now the author of three published books, including Blue Sky White Stars, a book that was published in 2017 to wide acclaim. The book compares aspects of the American flag to aspects of the American experience, drawing on history and featuring striking diversity. Blue Sky White Stars was named one of the ten best children's books of the year by Time, received a Crystal Kite Award, and was honored as a Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association. Last year, it was part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, where it was mailed for free to tens of thousands of children across the country. The paperback, bilingual version of Blue Sky White Stars was published this week.

Naberhaus' favorite analogy in the book is comparing the "well worn" face of Abraham Lincoln with a "well worn" war-torn flag. "I imagined every wrinkle on his face was a soldier that died, a decision that had to be made, a battle that was lost," she says. "They carved his face. It was a well worn face."

During the podcast, Naberhaus talks about moving with her family from India to Ames when she was four years old. She also discusses her sparse writing style, why she sometimes has to take frantic notes on her phone, and the "rules" that she broke while working with renowned illustrator Kadir Nelson on the book.