We had a special treat at the BookPage office this week: YA authors Jen Calonita (author of Belles), Elizabeth Eulberg (author of Take a Bow) and Jackson Pearce (author of Purity) dropped by to say hello!
The authors were so much fun to talk to (as you can tell from the video!) and I am excited about reading all three of their novels. Here are quick plot descriptions:
Belles is about a teen girl who is forced out of her comfort zone when she moves in with preppy relatives. Take a Bow takes place at an elite performing arts high school (we interviewed Eulberg about it for Children's Corner!). Purity is about a teen girl who struggles with honoring her mother’s dying wishes while still remaining true to herself (we interviewed Pearce about her "Little Red Riding Hood" re-telling a couple of years ago).
Just for fun, I'll ask you a few of the questions I asked the authors: What book were you obsessed with when you were a teen? If you could be friends with any book character . . . who would it be?
My answers are a) A Ring of Endless Light and b) Hermione Granger. Duh!
It's been a big year for fans of Maggie Stiefvater. The final book in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Forever, came out in July . . . and just last week she released a new stand-alone book, The Scorpio Races. This novel is about a couple of teens who risk their lives in dangerous horse races on cliffs.
Trisha and I had the opportunity to meet Maggie at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans this year. Trisha talked to her about leaving her characters from the world of Shiver behind, and Maggie told us a bit about her research for The Scorpio Races.
Best part of the interview: When Maggie tells us how she had the opportunity to have a romantic day of sightseeing with her husband while she was on tour in Paris—and instead she whisked him off to go look at cliffs as research for the new book.
I linked to this video back in July, but I wanted to share it again in case any of you need reminding about The Scorpio Races. Other news: Today on Publishers Marketplace it was announced that Warner Brothers has bought the film rights to the novel.
Here's the interview from ALA:
Just for fun, check out this awesome stop-motion trailer that Maggie created for The Scorpio Races:
Have you read, or will you read, The Scorpio Races? We'll let you know if we hear any more details about the movie . . .
Zarr's first novel, Story of a Girl, was a National Book Award finalist, and her third novel, Once Was Lost, was described in BookPage as "part realistic fiction, part mystery, part religious story and all together one gentle, smart read that features believable characters, flaws and all."
I like Zarr's work because no matter how many dystopian/post-apocalyptic/paranormal YA books I read—my heart will always be with realistic contemporary stories filled which characters in a world that I recognize.*
How to Save a Life is the story of two teens, Jill and Mandy. Jill's father recently died and her mother plans to adopt a baby, and Mandy is pregnant, and wants a better life for her child than what she is able to give.
This summer at the American Library Association's conference in New Orleans, Zarr dropped by the BookPage booth to talk about the process of writing a dual narrative, why this book was a joy to write and why she writes for teens. Check it out:
Do you have any favorite authors who have books coming out this month? Today?
*I enjoy the paranormal stuff, too, but even as a kid I liked realistic stories the best. Prime example: Madeleine L'Engle is my favorite author of all time . . . but I always preferred the Chronos framework to the Kairos books. Bonus points of that means anything to you! What are your preferences re: contemporary realism vs. paranormal?
If you're a die-hard reader of BookPage, you probably already know that each issue includes a hand-illustrated Q&A with a children's author-illustrator. In the past, we've featured some of the best in the biz, from Mo Willems to Jerry Pinkney to David Ezra Stein.
In September, we're featuring Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (a zany story about a misfit sixth grader and his Yoda finger puppet) and, most recently, Darth Paper Strikes Back. Instead of doing regular ole illustrations, though, Angleberger answered our questions with origami! You can preview the origami above, and see the whole thing on BookPage.com. Fun fact: Angleberger's wife, Cece Bell, has also completed a Meet the Illustrator Q&A for BookPage—in which she drew a picture of her husband!
If you like Angleberger's humor, you have to watch this interview he did with our own Trisha Ping. I held the camera, and I was cracking up the whole time . . . I love that Angleberger staged an Origami Yoda vs. Darth Paper showdown for BookPage readers! Check it out:
Have you (or your kids) discovered Origami Yoda? If you live in the Nashville area, you should come meet Angleberger in person at the Southern Festival of Books the weekend of October 14.
I met Jonathan Auxier at the American Library Association's conference in New Orleans this summer, where he told me (and a couple other BookPage editors) about his debut novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. In the story, Peter Nimble is a blind orphan who is the greatest thief in the world.
When we got back from New Orleans, we checked out the book—and our children's editor liked it so much, she included a review in our September issue, and an interview with Auxier in the August 10 issue of our children's e-newsletter. (Head's up: A new issue is coming out tomorrow, so sign up now if you haven't already!)
Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Kevin Delecki, a Library Manager in Ohio who has also served on the Caldecott Book Award Committee.
Kevin Delecki: Tells us about the world Peter Nimble finds himself in after discovering the Fantastic Eyes.
Jonathan Auxier: Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes takes place in a moment of history when the lines between magic and science were being blurred. Strange, exotic lands were being discovered and becoming known—but with that comes a loss of mystery. The central metaphor in the book is that of a half-finished map: the moment a new island or country gets charted by cartographers, it becomes reduced in some indefinable way . . . and that's sad. In the story, I wanted to take that map metaphor and make it literal. So when Peter Nimble sets out for uncharted waters, he finds himself in a place where the rules of logic and science still don't apply—a place where the impossible is still possible.
What children's books have been capturing your imagination lately? Will you read Peter Nimble? It's on sale now.
Tim Wynne-Jones (author of the Rex Zero series) has a new book out this week. Called Blink & Caution, it's about a couple of teen runaways who get drawn into a dangerous crime—and fall into an unconventional romantic relationship.
Our reviewer Heather Seggel liked the book so much that we decided to interview Wynne-Jones for the latest issue of Reading Corner. The questions in the interview range from serious to silly, but here's my favorite:
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Probably Hamlet. I'd make him do all the work. It would be good therapy for him—no time to stand around soliloquizing. Is that even a word? Anyway, Hamlet. I just hope the island would be somewhere tropical and not in the North Sea. Who wants to hang with a melancholy Dane when it's cold and rainy all the time?
I know many of our adult readers enjoy YA books—will you check out Blink & Caution?
Most of you know that BookPage produces a bimonthly e-newsletter about kids and teen books. But did you know that in that newsletter we give away BIG prizes?
In tomorrow's edition of Reading Corner, we're giving away the complete works of Liz Kessler . . . signed! Kessler dropped by BookPage's office a few weeks ago when she was in town for school and bookstore visits. I interviewed her for our YouTube channel and asked the author to sign all of her books—which include four titles in the New York Times-bestselling Emily Windsnap series and three in the Philippa Fisher series.
Kessler's newest book, Philippa Fisher and the Fairy's Promise, comes out today. You can learn all about it in tomorrow's Reading Corner and of course enter to win the books. Good luck!
If you could interview any children's/teen author, who would it be?
A couple of months ago I posted about the Baby-sitters Club prequel, and it was so much fun to read the comments. (“Oh my gosh, YES, I am excited,” wrote one reader. Another confessed to owning 100+ BSC books.)
Well, now I am happy to say (brag) that I spoke with Ann M. Martin herself on Tuesday. The BSC prequel, The Summer Before, will be available in stores two weeks from today, and on that date my interview will also be posted on BookPage.com.
Until then, I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:
The Baby-sitters Club. I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together. “Us” is Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and me—Kristy Thomas. But that was at the beginning of seventh grade, after the summer in which my friendship with Claudia nearly fell apart, Mary Anne began to find out who she was, Claudia experienced her first love, and an unhappy girl left New York City and moved to our town. It was quite a summer.
On January 18, Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me, a middle-grade novel that’s part mystery, part touching family comedy. The plot centers on Miranda, a sixth grade New Yorker who saves her friend’s life; preps her mom to appear on a game show; and holds down a part-time job at the neighborhood sandwich shop. Fans of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time will love this book; Miranda carries it around, and time travel figures into the story.
Because we couldn’t imagine the excitement Stead felt upon learning of the award, we contacted her for an e-mail Q&A. Below, she describes the moment of receiving a call from the Newbery committee, growing up in New York City and why she writes for kids.
Describe the moment when you were awarded the Newbery Medal.
I was standing in the kitchen of my apartment. [Chair of the Newbery committee] Katie O’Dell introduced herself on the phone and then said something like, “I’m about to tell you something that will change your life.” I think that’s when my feet fused to the floor. She had the whole committee on speaker phone, and there was this wonderful cheer. I couldn’t seem to move. I remember Katie saying, “it’s okay, you don’t have to talk.” But I hope I managed to tell them how grateful I felt—still feel.
What were your favorite books to read as a child and teenager?
I loved all kinds of fiction. I read books by Edward Eager, Madeleine L’Engle, E.L. Konigsburg, Judy Blume, Norma Klein, Bette Greene, Paula Danziger, Anne McCaffrey, Louise Meriwether, Robert Heinlein and Louise Fitzhugh. I also loved Grimm’s Fairy Tales, D’Aulaire’s Myths and Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-kind Family books.
What do your children read today?
My sons read a lot of fantasy, including Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books. But they also love the Hank Zipzer books, Hillary McKay’s Casson Family novels, Judy Blume’s Fudge books, and many others.
When did you first read A Wrinkle in Time? At what point did you decide to feature the novel in your own book?
I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was 11 or 12. My main character, Miranda, was carrying the book around from day one, but I wasn’t sure for a long time that it would be part of my final story. Wendy [Lamb] and I talked about that, and decided that I would try to deepen the connection between the two books. If it seemed to work, wonderful. If not, I would have to take Wrinkle out.
What’s the best part of writing books aimed at a younger audience?
Middle-grade kids are blossoming intellectually, and they’re less jaded than adults. I think they’re more open to big ideas. Also, kids generally root for a story to succeed, and they’re willing to do what I call “the reader’s work.” I find it much easier to write knowing that I have them for partners.
What were your favorite things to do as a kid growing up in New York City?
Eat Chinese food, see plays, go skateboarding, eat pizza, go ice skating and read. We used to have great block parties in New York City, and I loved those too. I also watched a heck of a lot of television.
Miranda’s mother appears on “The $20,000 Pyramid.” If you could go on any game show, which would it be?
I would be terrified to be on any game show, because I don’t like being put on the spot. But if I had to go on one, it would absolutely be Pyramid.
Do you identify with any specific character in When You Reach Me?
Miranda. Her brain works the way my brain worked at her age.
Have you read or listened to past Newbery acceptance speeches? Are you excited (or worried!) about your own speech?
I’ve read a couple of past speeches in The Horn Book, but that was before I ever dreamed I might be writing a speech myself. I’m excited. And worried.
I’m working on another novel for children. It’s unrelated to either of my first two books, and it’s coming together pretty slowly. I have a feeing that lots of people will write three books before I finish this one.
And a question for readers: What's your favorite Newbery winner?