What was the first thing that went through your head when you found out you had won the Newbery Medal?
It wasn't so much a thought that went through my head. It was more a wave that went through my body. Shock, gratitude and a great urge to jump up and down.
Who was the one person you couldn’t wait to tell about your award?
My husband was in the kitchen with me when I got the call so he was the first person I told. But then I most wanted to tell my mom and dad and sister. They were all very excited.
Do you have a favorite past Newbery winner?
There are so many good ones. I think I love the ones I read as a kid—A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins. But I also loved A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder.
What’s the best part of writing books aimed at a younger audience?
It's really fun that I have kids in the target audience. One of my daughters is in fourth grade and her teacher is reading the book out loud to the class. That is a thrill for me as a writer and as a mother. Also, I am fairly playful in my writing and I think kids enjoy that.
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
I love questions like this. Somebody asked recently if I could have lunch with one author living or dead, who would it be, and I said Mark Twain. So I suppose Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would the obvious choice for the desert island. That would be fun! (I know that's two people and you said only one but I figure they're kind of a package deal.)
Have you read or listened to past Newbery acceptance speeches? Are you excited (or worried!) about your own speech?
I have not read or heard any past Newbery acceptance speeches. It will be an incredible experience to actually give the Newbery acceptance speech in New Orleans this summer. The funny thing is, my daughter just asked me last week (the day before the Newbery Award was announced) where I'd like to go on vacation. I had no idea where the summer ALA meeting was being held and of course had no idea I would be invited to attend, but my answer to her was New Orleans!
The next big thrill for me will be going to Frontenac, Kansas, to celebrate the book with them. I think most people who have read the book know that Manifest is based on the real southeast Kansas town of Frontenac and I look forward to sharing this excitement with them.
Author photo by Annmarie Algya.