Interview With Deborah Wiles

Deborah WilesBefore we start, I apologize. I would not have posted A Warning (But a Good One) if I had known how long it would be until I actually posted the interview with Deborah Wiles, author of Countdown and other great books. Thank you for being so patient.

What characters in Countdown did you have a lot of fun creating and writing about? I had fun creating all of them. Franny is a lot like me, so she was especially fun, as was Margie, because she’s a character with “bite.”

Like Franny in the book, did you ever compose a letter to Chairman Khrushchev? I composed letters to President Kennedy and to Khrushchev, all the time. They were in my head, and usually at night, in bed.

Countdown is the first in a trilogy. Why did you decide to write one when you haven’t before? I wanted to write about the sixties, and I needed more than one book. My three novels that take place in Mississippi form a connected trilogy as well.

What did you do when you had writer’s block or weren’t in the mood to write? I remembered I had a deadline, and I went back to work! I do something physical when I need a break or have trouble moving ahead.

What were the problems you ran into while writing the book? I often didn’t know what happened next and went down wrong pathways and had to back up and begin again, but eventually I figured it out.

What made you decide to write for children? I always say I write for ten-year-old me, and that’s why I write for young readers.

Where did you get your materials for the scrapbook part of the book? Was it fun? The scrapbooks were lots of fun to create. The material came from many different places: songs from the sixties, newspaper articles, photo archives, movies, magazines, and more.

Hope you enjoyed hearing from this great writer just as much as I did! Visit Deborah Wiles online and get to know her other books.

Tortilla Sun

So many books, so many undiscovered masterpieces. Tortilla Sun, by Jennifer Cervantes, is just such a masterpiece. Meet Isadora, nicknamed Izzy, a 12 year old with only her mother in the world. Her dad died before she was born. Then Mom goes to Costa Rica to do research for her PhD. As for Izzy, she is sent to New Mexico to live with a grandmother she hasn’t seen since she was six. Besides that, there’s the strange baseball she found that used to be her father’s, with the words “Because…magic.” Izzy knows the baseball means something, but Mom sure isn’t yielding any information. Hopefully, living with Nana and the other people in the village will reveal some answers to Izzy’s many questions. The village, as our heroine soon discovers, is filled with magic, enchantment, and new friends. Along with Mateo and Maggie, she starts to learn more about her family and the past previously unknown to her. She also learns some valuable lessons along the way, and I’m talking more than just how to make tortillas. This book was near impossible to put down, and I found myself wishing I could jump in and see the magic for myself. A great book for anyone. So go to the library and check for it!

The Year of the Dog

Here is another book by the talented Grace Lin. Some of you may remember I’ve reviewed one of her books before. This book tells the story of Pacy/Grace Lin. (Sound familiar?) Partially fiction, partially not, The Year of the Dog chronicles the adventures of Pacy and her new best friend, Melody. It’s the Year of the Dog, and Pacy is supposed to find herself and discover her special talent. But she hasn’t been having much luck. Kids in the middle grades will like this kind of humorous, kind of touching, and overall great book. It even has little doodles! So why don’t you go check for it at your local library? And if you like it, take a look at the sequel, The Year of the Rat.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

This book by Wendelin Van Draanen is a must for any reader of mysteries. And if you’re not sure if you’re a snoop fan or not, try it. I am so glad I discovered the tales of Sammy Keyes. This is the first in the series, a gripping, not-to-be-missed read. Sammy Keyes is living (illegally, if you must know) in the Senior Highrise with her grams, since her mother decided to take off for Hollywood. One day, while idly staring out of Grams big ol’ binoculars, Sammy happens to catch sight of something very interesting going on across the street, at the Heavenly Hotel. There, dressed authentically in black, is a guy stuffing big wads of bills into a bag. So she’s caught a thief red-handed, right? There’s just one thing. The thief sees her, too. And skedaddles. Well, now Sammy is on a mission-she’s gonna find the hotel thief and turn him in. And with her natural talents at trouble-making and sneakiness, this shouldn’t be too hard. Like I said, gripping. Good story. A you-better-at-least-look-at-this kind of thing. Get my drift?

The Girl Who Saw Lions

I just finished this book, yesterday in fact, and decided it would be best if I wrote a review for it while it was still fresh in my mind. The Girl Who Saw Lions, by Berlie Doherty, is a very good book, especially for kids around 8 or 9. Meet Abela, a young girl living in Tanzania, Africa. When Abela loses her beloved mother, father, and sister, she is left with her caring grandmother. But then her bully of an uncle returns to his homeland with his English bride, and things get a little different. Up in England, Rosa is a very happy girl with a happy¬† life; she has a good mother, goes ice skating once a week, and is just plain comfortable with it all. Then her mother wants to adopt a Tanzanian child, and her life changes also. Abela is swept up in Uncle Thomas’ plots, Rosa is swept up in a strange world of visiting agents and questions. This book is interesting, well written, and a little young for me, but it would probably have been even more of a favorite a couple years ago.

Author Tidbits: Clare Vanderpool

For those of you who have forgotten, Clare Vanderpool is the fabulous author of the 2011 Newbery Medal book, Moon Over Manifest. Since I’ve already written a post on the award-winning book, who says I can’t write one about the award-winning author? So let’s get started.

Clare Vanderpool lives four blocks from where she grew up, and within walking distance of several VERY important places (relatives, bookstores, etc.). When she was younger, she found herself reading in many odd places: The bathroom, dressing rooms, school (don’t tell!). She claims she did get her degree in English, but also learned tons from looking out the window during car trips, listening to family stories, and playing pretend. Don’t we all? Clare has a happy family with a husband and four kids. If you go to her website, you will find they are all greatly talented. Aside from writing, Clare likes to spend time with friends and family, browse bookstores (I share that joy), and watch re-runs of Monk.

A Pot O’Gold

LOVE this book. I’m all for learning more about my heritage and the places I come from. One of those places is Ireland, the world of Leprechauns, Fairies, and a country that (as I’m told) loves its words. For anyone interested in Ireland’s culture, whether you’re Irish or not, this is a book that it wouldn’t hurt to read. Even if you’re not interested, would it be so bad as to give it a try? Okay, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. First things first. This book by Kathleen Krull is a treasury of Irish folktales, songs, poetry, and blarney. It’s separated into different subjects, such as Food and Music. From the tale Bewitched Butter to song Cockles and Mussels, I’m fairly certain you will enjoy this book. The words are also accompanied by lovely pictures, as a plus. So, why don’t you break out your library card and do yourself a favor?

Twenty-Minute Tales

I still read this book, which I got in 2007. It’s fanciful, magical, and just entertaining. Enid Blyton has been called the Queen of Story Tellers, as I’m told, and she deserves the title. From Feefo the Pixie Dog to The Tale of Sammy Skittle to The Enchanted Cushion, every story is sure to please. Kids will laugh at the ridiculous Hoodle Bird that must have some gooseberry jam, and marvel at the horrible Mr. Slick. Filled with tales of pixie’s and magic, blue cats and candy, this is a good book for whoever is a fairy tale fan. I’m sure it would be a great hit being read to your children at night. They’ll go to sleep with pleasant thoughts in their minds, if you read to the happy endings. Enid Blyton had very good imagination, and an eye for good language. if you go to the library or bookstore right now, you won’t be sorry.

Around the World in 80 Tales

I saw this book in my parents’ bookstore and immediately wanted it. Folktales from across the globe! If anything sounded interesting, that did. And, come my birthday, that’s what I found in a package. Around the World in 80 Tales, by Saviour Pirotta. Stories from China, Brazil, and other places you may have never heard of! I read some of these tales to a three-year-old once, and he wanted more. When I asked him, “Do you want me to bring this book back?” he said yes! Whether you are eight or eighty, you will enjoy at least one of the stories in this book. I’m interested in other countries, and this is a good way to dip into other people’s lives from all over. You can see what kind of stories parents in South America might read to their children! Or Asia, Africa, or Europe. So look online or somewhere else for Around the World in 80 Tales.

The Ghost, The White House, and Me

In the patriotic spirit of it being the day after President’s Day, I’ve an especially patriotic book to review. It’s written by Judith St. George. Let’s get started, shall we? Ahem.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to live in the White House? Sure would, right? Well, that’s what KayKay and Anne Granger thought, until their mom got elected as president of the U.S. Now they hardly ever see her; she’s so busy. Well, soon they realize something pretty intriguing: The White House might be haunted, by none other than Honest Abe, the sixteenth president of the United States. And KayKay intends to figure out if there’s any truth to it. And she drags her little sister Anne into it as well. It’s funny, interesting, and a mystery. Read it even if it’s not President’s Day.