Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins has written ten novels for young readers, including Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years) and Bamboo People (an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults). Her newest novel, Tiger Boy, won the Charlotte Huck Honor Award and the South Asia Book Award.

She has been honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and selected as a “Literary Light for Children” by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

Mitali was born in Kolkata, India, before immigrating to the Bay Area with her family. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the East Bay where she is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Read more about Mitali Perkins.


Venue: Upper Elementary or Middle School Classrooms, Libraries, or Assemblies
Using a personal, humorous slide show, Mitali shares candidly about her experience of growing up and writing “between cultures,” introducing some of the richness of Bengali culture throughout the talk. Students are encouraged to participate, and the author’s conversational style sparks lively responses. Read some wonderful letters from kids responding to “Life Between Cultures.”

Venue: Middle and High School Large Group Assemblies
During the teen years, one thing’s for sure: your life story gets much more interesting. Of course, that might mean your heart ends up a bit scorched in places. Good stories have the power to heal those burns. In this personal, engaging presentation, students reflect on the power of stories as they listen to funny and poignant memories from Mitali’s teen years.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD: Weaving the Magic Carpet of Place
Venue: Workshop for Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School, or Adult Writers
Writing well about place intensifies plot and brings characters to life. In this workshop, students consider how good writing engages all five senses, underlines a literary theme, and takes readers on journeys to other places. A directed exercise allows participants to apply and demonstrate what they’ve gained from the workshop. Read samples of great writing produced by eighth-graders during the workshop, and enthusiastic student responses to the presentation.

Venue: Workshop for Elementary, Middle School, High School, or Adult Writers
Using modern-day examples of a hero’s journey as well as a memory from her own life, Mitali uses slides, stories, and revision examples to inspire students to dig deep, tap into all five senses, and craft an unforgettable personal narrative of a childhood memory.

Venue: Elementary Classrooms
During this one-hour session, students learn about the author’s Bengali heritage as featured in the novel Rickshaw Girl, and how the lives of girls in Bangladesh are changing for the better. They participate in an alpana art lesson prepared by the author’s mother, Madhusree Bose, a California Teacher of the Year and expert alpana painter. Teachers may prepare for the visit by using this discussion/study guide.

VIRTUAL AUTHOR VISIT: Ask Mitali Anything!
Venue: Yours, via my Mac
Classrooms or groups can chat with Mitali via Skype about writing in general, any of her books, life between cultures, or any other topic under the sun. She sits in front of her web cam with a cup of tea, you’re gathered in your venue, and the discussion flows from there.

TRAVELING COMPANIONS: Exploring the Powerful Relationship Between Mothers and Daughters
Venue: Mother-Daughter Book Clubs
In an informal, intimate setting, participants explore “traveler’s tips” for mothers and daughters who want to journey together through the years. If the group chooses to read one of Mitali’s books before the event, discussion and sharing may circle around the novel.


IT’S JUST FICTION: Global Books as Windows and Mirrors
Venue: Keynote
In a challenging, inspiring talk for librarians, booksellers, parents, and/or educators, Mitali explores how and why stories empower kids to cross borders, widen hearts and imaginations, and build bridges between cultures. First presented at BookExpo America.

UNDER THE WATERLINE: Ten Tips on Reading and Writing about Race, Culture, and Power
Venue: Keynote or Workshop
The author shares insights into discerning messages about race, culture, and power in fiction. Helpful for authors, readers, and educators evaluating books for young readers.

DIALOGUE: Crafting Conversation in Fiction for Young Readers
Venue: Workshop or Seminar
Writing excellent dialogue is crucial when your audience is young readers, who are finely attuned to the way both adults and their peers converse with each other. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants practice writing lively conversation and learn to avoid seven common dialogue busters.

PAJAMA PROMOTION: Using Social Media to Generate Buzz About Your Books
Venue: Workshop or Seminar
Pajama Promotion introduces the basics of online book promotion for authors without big publicity budgets. This could cover a range of topics, depending on the audience’s need—how to spruce up your site, write a good blog, use social networks, partner with bookstores big and small, plan a blog tour, and/or exploit the power of film, all from the comfort of your preferred writing nook. Gained: time to write, a reputation as a savvy promoter, buzz about your books. Lost: a fear of being overwhelmed by the Big Wired Unknown.

BOOKS BETWEEN CULTURES: How Stories Help Kids Keep Their Balance
Venue: Workshop or Plenary for Educators, High School
What are the tensions facing kids growing up on the margins of race and culture? How does pop culture squeeze against them? What can stories offer and why? What questions should we ask about books as teachers, parents, and librarians when it comes to race and culture? Get equipped and inspired. This popular talk was presented at the American Association of School Librarian’s National Convention, the Public Library Association’s National Convention, YALSA’s Teen Lit Symposium, and the American Library Association’s Annual Convention, among others.

RISKY BUSINESS: Not Your Grandmother’s Publishing Industry
Venue: Plenary or Seminar
“How can I brand myself?”
“How can I promote myself and my work?”
“How can I write or illustrate an award-winning bestseller?”
Today’s publishing world is changing so fast, our heads spin with questions like these. Mitali Perkins leads writers through a session showing them that these really aren’t the right questions to ask, and why and how a vision statement is crucial to surviving–and succeeding–as a writer.

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Availability and Honorariums