Keep Calm & Scary On

Today’s #middlegrademonday brings you an interview with author Cynthia Reeg.

3 Questions about From the Grave

What three words would you use to describe your book?

Horror, humor, heart

Your previous books are such different genres, how did you step into the fantasy/monster writing genre?

I have many writerly interests from picture books to middle grade, from poetry to short stories, from fiction to nonfiction. I love luring readers in with action, adventure, and quirky characters. As a former school librarian, I know that students can never get enough spooky stories. So a monsterly MG seemed a perfect fit for both me and my readers.

There are a lot of interesting monster names and words in the book, how did you come up with the vocabulary for this book?

I say I create magic one word at a time, and I truly mean it! Words are my delight. Again, in my experience with young readers, I know how much they delight in words too. For my monster world, I wanted words that appealed to the five senses; creepy and kooky. Words that were fun to read out loud. I would make lists of vocabulary words. Often, I’d play with a word to make it a monster word–like taking the name “Gilbert” and making it into “Ghoulbert” for the main character’s brother. Or switching the word “cafeteria” to “barfeteria,” or “horrorcane” for “hurricane.”  



3 Questions about You

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

I was a librarian before I started writing seriously for children, and I loved doing that. If I couldn’t work in a library, I would work in a bookstore. I can’t imagine a life without books or without sharing books with others.

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

I am a great fan of Kate Di Camillo. When I read her book, “Because of Winn Dixie,” I thought it was a perfect combination of heart, interesting characters, and compelling story. It’s a book that leaves a sweet spot in your heart. I hope I can write some books like that.



What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?

Hot Fudge sauce. I do need a little chocolate on a fairly regular basis to keep the words coming! 🙂

To learn more Cynthia Reeg checkout her website or follow her on twitter & instagram

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TOTAL. DANCE. ANARCHY.

img_26233 Questions about My 7th Grade Life in Tights

What three words would you use to describe your book?

Ooh, this is tough. Okay, three words I’d go with are:

Dancing, football, friends.

Or maybe I should go with:

TOTAL. DANCE. ANARCHY.

I’m not sure…like I said, this is a tough one!

 

What would Dillon’s favorite “So You Think You Can Dance” performance or contestant be? (We assume you watched the show?)

I love that show! My all-time favorite contestant has to be Fik-shun because of how surprisingly versatile he was. My favorite performance, though, is “Fix You” with Robert and Allison. That routine is so gorgeous and heart-wrenching. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

Although you’ve said Dillon was similar to you, which character was the most fun to create?

Definitely Sarah! I really enjoyed taking the stereotypical “mean girl” and figuring out her backstory. She has so many secrets and reasons for acting the way she does and I can’t help but root for her.

 

3 Questions about You

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

I would love to be an explorer because traveling is something I can’t get enough of. And if I couldn’t do that then perhaps I’d be a librarian. Who’s also a ninja crime-fighting superhero. With an adorable doggy sidekick.

 

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

Hands down, Bridge to Terabithia. That book is the one I read when I need reminding how to craft complex characters and beautiful descriptive language.

 

What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?

We just had friends over so my fridge is pretty empty. However, it’s rare to look in my freezer and not find a pizza in there. Pizza’s my go-to comfort food and my life wouldn’t be complete without it.

 

To learn more Brooks Benjamin checkout his website or follow him on twitter & instagram

Meet Lou Lou & Pea

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3 Questions about Lou Lou and Pea and The Mural Mystery

What three words would you use to describe your book?

Friendship, Whimsical, Multicultural

Lou Lou and Pea are such good friends, was their relationship modeled after one of yours? Which character are you most like?

Lou Lou and Pea’s friendship isn’t modeled after one particular relationship in my life, but it is a mash-up of many. I have been fortunate to have many wonderful and supportive friends, both as a child and an adult.  These friendships are some of my most valuable relationships so it seemed natural for them to inspire the book!

I’m similar in many ways to both Lou Lou and Pea. I actually made a little character chart* to determine which friend readers are most like and I ended up with a tie.

*Want to see which character you are more like? See chart below

Did you have the ending in mind when you wrote the book? Was there consideration to not have the mystery and have a book that taught us about the culture and traditions in the town?

I didn’t know the ending until I was very close to finishing my initial draft. I always intended this particular book to be a mystery. However, the second Lou Lou and Pea book, LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA is not a mystery (though it has mysterious elements) and focuses a lot on the culture and traditions of El Corazón.

 

3 Questions about You

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

I’d want to be a professional figure skater because they have such beautiful, sparkly costumes and they’re so talented, graceful, and strong! Unfortunately, I’m incredibly uncoordinated and I don’t do well in the cold.

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

I have a special place in my heart for the Ramona Quimby books. I recently found my copies of The Ramona Quimby Diary (yes, I have two copies) from first and second grades and reading through them was hilarious.

What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?

Sriracha. I’m a little bit fiery, but I can be a good complement for others, and I like to wear red.

 

Character Comparison Chart – Created by author Jill Diamond

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To learn more about Jill Diamond checkout her website or follow her on twitter

Abby Cooper Talks About Her Babies

 

3 ?s about Sticks & Stones
What three words would you use to describe Sticks and Stones?

Quirky, magical fun!

How did you come up with the disease cognadjivisibilitis?

It took a lot of thinking and a LOT of revision! I knew I wanted to explore what it would be like if a character had words on her body. But that can’t just randomly happen – there needs to be some sort of explanation. I thought a skin disorder seemed like the most natural cause. From there, I brainstormed the longest, most complicated-sounding name I could think of (because most real disorders have them), came up with symptoms, causes, treatments, etc., and cognadjivisibilitis was born.

What do you want readers to leave your book thinking?

I wrote this book to remind readers how important it is to be kind to others, and how important it is to be kind to themselves. Developing positive self-esteem can be a major challenge for kids (and grown-ups!) I hope Sticks & Stones helps readers appreciate all the wonderful, unique qualities that make them who they are.

 

3 ?s about You

If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?

I was a school librarian before I was an author, and that was the best job in the world (besides this one, of course!) I would happily do any job that allowed me to work with kids and books. I would also love to be a professional cupcake baker, though that’s more of a fantasy as I have very few kitchen-related skills. (Maybe I could be a professional cupcake taste-tester instead. Is that a thing?)

What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?

Frindle by Andrew Clements is my all-time favorite book, and it has been ever since my third grade teacher, Mrs. Huntley, read it to my class. There was just something about it, and whatever that something was, it inspired me to read like I had never read before. It’s interesting, because I’ve gone back to re-read it several times over the years, and each time I discover something new or take away something different. I love that books can do that.

What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?

I’m kind of a dessert-o-holic. It’s bad. And yet so good. I currently have a giant Ziploc in my fridge filled with cookies, brownies, fudge, so on and so forth. Besides the fact that I’m obsessed with dessert,  I guess this would also tell you that I am strange (in a good way, obviously) and like to think outside the box. I’m pretty sure most people don’t keep these things in the fridge. I’ve arbitrarily decided that doing so will somehow make them last longer, even though desserts never last long around here regardless of where they’re stored.

BONUS ?: What can fans of Sticks & Stones expect from Bubbles?

Bubbles is similar to Sticks & Stones in that it falls in the magical realism genre; it’s a realistic novel except for one magical element, something you typically wouldn’t see happening in our world. In Bubbles, you’ll find another tween girl experiencing something very unusual. Like Elyse in Sticks & Stones, Sophie must navigate her magical challenge and the ways it impacts her relationships. I hope readers will enjoy Bubbles as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Get your copy of Abby’s book Bubbles next week, release date: July 3rd

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Photo credit: Abby Cooper

 

Follow Abby Cooper on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Also, check out her website to learn more about her.

#storymamassummerselections

Check out our @storymamas Instagram and Twitter feeds for more information about the books we chose this week!

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Burnett

Double Take! A New Look At Opposites by Susan Hood

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Hiding Phil by Eric Barclay

#authorsaturday Mo Willems

Moo Moo, Monsters & Middle Grade Books!

This is the week in review! Check out @storymamas on Instagram and Twitter to learn more about our picks this week! week 3 story mamas review

Fish in a Tree

Moo Moo in a Tutu
Wolfe the Bunny
The Lion Inside
My Teacher is a Monster
Tek- The Modern Cave Boy
#authorsaturday Elise Gravel

Week in Review

#storymamasbookaday #authorsaturday

Here are the books we recommended this week. Also, follow us on Instagram and/or Twitter @storymamas to find out why we loved these books!

week 2 blog storymamas

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – Philip C. Stead

https://instagram.com/p/BUE5elaBqwv/

Pass It On Sophy Henn
Zoe’s Rescue School – The Puzzled Penguin
Counting Crows – Kathi Appelt
The Donut Chef – Bob Staake
Happy Dreamer – Peter Reynolds
# authorsaturday – Jennifer L. Holm