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Bangor Book Festival: Charlotte Agell

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Editor's Note: In celebration of the upcoming Bangor Book Festival, The Maine Edge will be featuring various works and authors leading up to the Festival on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

BRUNSWICK - Children's author Charlotte Agell has had quite an interesting life. Agell, who was born in Sweden, also lived in Hong Kong and Canada before making Maine her home of residence after attending Bowdoin College as an international student in the 70s. Her many experiences are often woven into her work, as is the case with "The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister," a chapter book released last summer.

"India has parts of myself in there," saidd Agell. "My closest friend growing up in Canada was a boy. And as a kid stepping up from 4th into 5th grade, the others always ask, 'Oh is that your boyfriend?'"

Besides dodging the "boyfriend questions," India, an adopted Chinese girl who resides in Wolfgang, Maine, must also tackle some tougher issues; controversial subjects that Agell did not shy away from writing about.

"India has gotten great reviews, but I've also been told she has a lot of issues. But I didn't want to take away the mom with breast cancer or her gay dad," she explained.

As Agell was writing "The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister," Equality Maine was working to pass same-sex marriage legislation. Agell was volunteering for the campaign at the time, working the phones in order to gather support. And assuming it would pass, she had already figured out how to incorporate this new milestone into the story.

"Richard and India's dad were going to get married, but I couldn't make it happen [when it was voted down,]" explained Agell.

Still a strong supporter for equal rights, Agell said that her readers don't get caught up on India's dad's homosexuality.

"It's not about that; it's about step-parent issues and why the most popular girl in class doesn't like you. Kids get that," she explained. "When I was doing a book club, I remember this girl spoke up and said, 'I love India because she's just like me.' And that's the whole point."

Unlike other authors, Agell also does all her own illustrations. "The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister" is her 12th book, and when Agell is not writing or drawing, she can be found teaching middle school students or enjoying the Maine outdoors.

To find out more on Charlotte Agell and her work, log onto www.charlotteagell.com.

Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2011 11:43

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