It’s been 20 years since Cynthia Rylant’s beloved middle grade novel Gooseberry Park introduced the world to Stumpy the squirrel and her quirky, clever, community-minded friends. Now, the furry and feathered bunch is back in Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan, and readers will delight in discovering that the Gooseberrians are as adorable, smart and resourceful as ever.
Susan Vaught is the author of several books for teens, including Trigger and Freaks Like Us, and is a neuropsychologist at a state psychiatric facility. Her novels often include fascinating ties to mental illness, but her first middle grade book, Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy, reveals a hilarious new side to the author. We needed to know more about Footer and her family, so we contacted the author, who lives on a farm in rural Kentucky.
There's a moment in Kwame Alexander's middle grade novel, The Crossover, when protagonist Josh Bell's father is telling him all about jazz musician Horace Silver: "Josh, this cat is the real deal. / Listen to that piano, fast and free, / Just like you and JB on the court." Alexander's poetry is the real deal, and its action, energy and heart earned it the 2015 Newbery Medal as well as a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Alexander told us all about what it's like to win the prestigious Newbery.
Thanks to a smart-alecky student who sat in the back row of her classroom, Sharon M. Draper went from teacher to award-winning writer. Of course, there were other factors: a lifelong love of reading, plus years of hard work and outstanding scholarship, for starters.
Martine Leavitt has a super-cool dad—a smart, rugged man named James Webster who, throughout his life, has gone on countless hikes into mountain ranges and national parks in his native Canada, where he immersed himself in and learned about nature. He also took pages and pages of notes, and countless photographs of the flora and fauna he encountered.
After Jacqueline Woodson spoke to an eager audience at the 2014 Southern Festival of Books, BookPage chatted with the award-winning author about her new memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, her love of words and her complex relationships with music, the South and so much more.
Author-illustrator Cece Bell has been making picture books for more than 10 years. This year she’s trying something new, as she recounts her childhood experiences with hearing loss in the touching graphic memoir El Deafo.
Lisa Graff has written several books for middle grade readers, including the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots. Graff has an uncanny ability to give a simple story an intensity that makes you want to keep turning the pages. In her latest offering, Absolutely Almost, 11-year-old Albie is struggling with the idea that he should be “better” than he is: better at math, better at spelling, better at being cool. We asked Graff a few questions about Albie, about writing, and about fitting in.
Inspired by the author’s own childhood in Mississippi in the ’60s, Revolution is an unforgettable story of big changes—for a nation and for the two young characters at the heart of this book.
Before she became a Newbery Honor-winning author, Margi Preus spent 25 years as the artistic director of Duluth’s Colder by the Lake Comedy Theatre, where she wrote, produced and directed sketches, operas, plays and adaptations. So why the switch to children’s books? “I had kids!” she says with a laugh.