The Balkin Buddies Blog Catherine Balkin's Facebook



I am a native of the deep south, born and raised on land haunted by ghosts: Cherokee and Creek natives, African slaves, soldiers of the Civil War, and soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement.  It's not unusual to unearth stone arrow points or lead minie balls from my flower beds. Sherman's army set camp before the battle of Atlanta on the spot where my children's swing set stands. A few miles away, the quiet sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church echoes with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. The ghosts speak and I listen because there is nothing I enjoy more than digging up the stories of the past and showing children the relevance those tales have to us now. History goes beyond textbooks. I want children to value history, understand that it is inclusive and interesting, and realize it is about ordinary people who did extraordinary things.


I began writing professionally in 1994, but I've been telling stories since I was very young. My mother noted in my baby-book when I was four years old that "Kimmie tells fairy stories as well as an adult." I started writing my stories down in elementary school and still have four little notepaper books I wrote and illustrated for my sister when she was sick in bed—I was in third grade. But I'd already made plans to be a scientist after viewing algae through a microscope in second grade. I received my bachelor's degree in Biology from Agnes Scott College, as well as a master's degree from Georgia State University, but I secretly wanted to write someday.


The early death of a close friend who had planned to be a writer someday pushed me to go ahead and take a chance on my dream. I dedicated my first book, The Terrible Wonderful Tellin' at Hog Hammock, to her and to my grandmother who was a wonderful Southern storyteller in the purest sense. In fact, her stories inspired me to write my second book, In the Time of the Drums, which went on to win a number of awards including ALA 's Coretta Scott King Award. Other books have followed, and others are yet to come.


Never wait for dreams to come true; work towards making them happen!