An excerpt from Christopher Paul Curtis’s Afterword in his novel, THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE:
Even though Deza is a fictional character, many of her woes are based on the lives and struggles of very real children. A particularly rich and heartbreaking source was the collection of letters children sent to President Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
Authors are frequently asked what they want a particular book to accomplish. What I want The Mighty Miss Malone to do is, first, to provide an enjoyable read. Second, as with all of my books, I want this to be a springboard for young people to ask questions and do more research on some of the themes the book explores, in this case the Great Depression and poverty in general. And third, I hope that Deza can serve as a voice for the estimated fifteen million American children who are poor, who go to bed hungry and whose parents struggle to make a dignified living to feed and care for them. After writing that last sentence, I can’t help feeling this: the fact that in late 2011 I can write that there are fifteen million poor children in this country is, to quote the Mighty Miss Malone, “A tragedy, a true tragedy.”
-Christopher Paul Curtis
(Figures are from the National Poverty Center of the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy—2009 Poverty Thresholds.)