Posted in Meet the authors

Heather Kassner

Website: http://www.heatherkassner.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherKassner 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather1ee/

1.  When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

Yes! I’ve always loved reading. In fact, I used to beg my parents for books constantly. Sometimes we’d go to the bookstore, and I’d pore over the shelves trying to decide which one book I wanted most of all. And at least once a week, we’d go to the library, and I’d grab a huge stack of books to take home and devour. 

2.  What is a book that made an impact on you?

Grimm’s fairytales made a huge impact on me. My gram read me these stories when I was a kid, and I think they brought out my love of reading (and writing). I would fall asleep listening to my gram’s voice, and these tales made my imagination run wild with stories of my own.

3.  Is it hard to come up with book ideas? 

Coming up with book is probably my favorite part of writing, likely because I enjoy daydreaming so much. I love the possibility of starting a new story and getting to know the characters and building the atmosphere of the world. Asking what if, what if, what if… 

For The Bone Garden (2019), the story stemmed from the very first line, and then I had to find out what happened next. For The Forest of Stars (2020), the idea came to me while I was writing a completely different book, which included a fairytale about a girl who could float among the stars—and I thought that little story would be so much fun to write! For The Plentiful Darkness (2021), the idea sparked from a dream I had one night about a magician and a dark, dark world.

Sometimes the hardest thing for me is choosing which story to tell and then sticking with it until it’s finished. All my other ideas keep tumbling around in my head and want to be put on paper too, instead of waiting patiently. 

4.  How do you find a balance between spooky and scary?

When I sit down to write, I try to find that place where dark and light, spooky and hopeful tangle together. I want my readers to walk along with my characters, wondering what’s around the corner and then not being too afraid to turn the page and find out. To me, spooky means readers might be wary of the shadows, but they’re brave enough to poke at them, while scary makes you want to cover your eyes and hide! 

5.  Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

One of my favorite middle grade reads is Just South of Home by Karen Strong, whose book debuted in 2019. It’s full of ghosts, and red velvet cake, and lots and lots of heart. It’s also one of those stories that’s not necessarily super scary but is definitely spooky (I mentioned ghosts, right?)!

6.  What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

* Read a lot

* Jot down your ideas as soon as you have them so the seed of the story doesn’t slip away

* Finish what you start

* Get lost in your own stories and have FUN!

7.  As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes, it’s so wonderful to hear from readers! Firstly, because it always makes me happy knowing that someone enjoyed my book. But more importantly, because I write for kids and I want them to be happy. If my words make readers shiver at a spooky scene or feel hopeful or brave or laugh out loud, then all the work that went into writing the story is worth it.

8.  If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

Oh, this is a tough choice. The Wizard of Oz has always been a favorite of mine, so I would definitely love to portal into that world, stroll down the yellow brick road, and find an adventure (and some new friends!) in the Emerald City. (Instead of Toto, I’d have to bring my cats, of course—Elly and Ava!) 

If I were to step into one of my own books, I’d choose The Forest of Stars. Deep in the Spark Woods sits a carnival that opens its gates at night and holds all manner of magic, marvels, and mystiques—including a girl whose feet never touch the ground, a shadow spinner, and a misfortune teller.

Posted in Book Review

Loulou Brown loves to read

By Deborah Bernard

Illustrations by Mark Brayer

Book Source: free, provided for review
Book Status: Available

1. The girl, Loulou, can’t find a quiet place to read.

2. Loulou goes to the library to read, and she does something you wouldn’t think to do if you were Loulou…..

3. What she does is the solution to her problem of not having a quiet place to read.

4. The book is just realllllllllllly good.

5. I think the moral of the story is that reading is no fun without friends reading with you.

With next month being reading month, this would be a good book to share in a class or library.

Posted in Book Review

Together Things

By Michelle Vasiliu and Gwynneth Jones

Book Source: provided for review purposes

Book Status: Available

This is a picture book about a kid and their dad. Their dad is sick and it explains what kind of help he needs.

1. This book would be a good book for kids who’s parent is sick, especially with mental illness.

2. This book would work pretty well for kids in therapy. It explains how you can approach things differently.

3. It’s just a really nice book about a tough topic.

Posted in Book Review

TAKEDOWN

By Laura Shovan

Book Source: Gifted by Laura to me

Book Status: Available

1. This is about a girl playing a sport considered a “boy sport”.

2. She has to deal with a lot of not nice behavior from adults and kids.

3. It is a book about perseverance.

4. It could be a book to start an interesting debate with middle graders. They could have strong opinions on if there are boy/girl roles.

5. This would be a good book for kids who are doing things not usual for kids. Things like track cycling.

Posted in Meet the authors

Sue Macy

Twitter: @suemacy1

Instagram: @suemacy1

Facebook: sue.macy.56

Website: suemacy.com

1. Why did you decide to write a series about women in multiple sports across decades? 

Although there was pretty much nothing written about women’s sports history when I was growing up, once I started researching I found out there was a huge story to tell. I’ve written a number of books on specific athletes and leagues, but I was interested in looking at women’s history through the lens of sports: how did physical fitness and athletic competition impact women’s lives at different times? I started with the bicycle in the 1890s because that was the first time women took part in a fitness activity in large numbers. I moved on to the automobile from 1900 through World War I because there was so much controversy about women driving and racing cars at the time. And I knew that the 1920s marked a crucial decade in the history of women in sports, one where women’s achievements led to a powerful backlash and questions about the very definition of femininity.

2a. Which female athletes inspire you? Is there a time period you most admire?

I am most inspired by female athletes who excel on the field but also use their position as role models to try and improve things for other women. People like Megan Rapinoe and the members of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team, Serena and Venus Williams, and the U.S. gymnasts who testified against Dr. Larry Nassar. Their fights for pay equity and against abuse are helping to improve conditions for women athletes in the U.S. and around the world. 

2b. Is there a time period you most admire?

There are two decades in the 20th century when women took their participation in sports to the next level, the 1920s and the 1990s. I got to explore the 1920s in depth in Breaking Through. It was the first time women athletes became international sports stars and had their achievements reported on the sports pages. There were so many outstanding athletes, but, as I discuss in the book, there were also a lot of critics who felt it was inappropriate for women to passionately compete in sports. Because of these critics women were discouraged from competing for much of the 20th century, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that women broke out bigtime. At the 1996 Summer Olympics, American women’s teams won gold in basketball, softball, soccer, and team gymnastics. Soon after, two professional women’s basketball leagues started, as did pro leagues in other sports. The 1990s sowed the seeds for the exciting women’s sports landscape that we have today.

3. How did you get into sports?

I was an athletic kid in an athletic family. My dad always played softball with all the neighborhood kids when I was growing up, and at sleepover camp I played softball and volleyball and swam. Our family also watched sports a lot—baseball, tennis, football, the Olympics. When the Olympics were on, I was amazed that there were suddenly talented female athletes on my TV screen. They became my heroes and role models.

4. How did you get into writing?

When I was in elementary school—4th grade, I think—I wrote a short story about a bird that perched on the window of an old lady’s apartment and visited with her. My teacher loved the story and her praise made me feel so empowered. From that moment on, I knew that writing was my superpower. In junior high I started focusing on journalism, researching and reporting on stories related to my school. I eventually was editor in chief of my junior high and high school newspapers and my destiny as a nonfiction author was pretty much set.

5. What advice do you have for someone interested in sports writing?

Read the sports pages. I learned so much reading reports of baseball games, especially the language and the rhythm of sports reporting. The language of sports is full of verbs. People smash hits, tackle opponents, stride across the field. The rhythm changes depending on the sport. It could be slow and deliberate, as in golf, or fast and frantic, as in basketball. You should take notice when you read sports articles. And that brings me to the second bit of advice: Write! If you watch a baseball or basketball game, try writing your own article reporting on what happened. It’s not easy—you have to think of the game as a whole and decide what the defining moments were, while still reporting on the flow of the action—but it will help you get comfortable with the language and pace.

6. Girls drop out of sports earlier and more often than boys do. What are some ways you think we could keep more girls involved in sports?

I think girls need female sports role models, and fortunately, there are increasing numbers of them. The more coverage women’s sports gets, the easier it will be for girls to see athletes who look like them competing on elite levels. And if they see them, they can imagine being them. It’s also important that school guidance counselors share information with girls about scholarship opportunities for female athletes. The possibility of winning a scholarship and competing in college is one more incentive to stick with a sport.

7. What other books do you recommend on women/girls and sports?

Kathleen Krull’s picture book about Wilma Rudolph, Wilma Unlimited (illustrated by David Diaz), is one that I look at often. I think it’s the perfect picture book sports biography. Karen Blumenthal’s nonfiction book about Title IX, Let Me Play, is important because all female athletes should be familiar with the law that opened up school sports to women. I would also recommend a book I edited called Girls Got Game, which is an anthology of short stories and poems by wonderful female writers centered on girls who play sports. It’s out of print, though, so check your libraries for it.

Posted in Book Review

Breaking Through

By Sue Macy

Book Source: Provided by Media Masters Publicity for review

Book Status: available

1. Sports were used to equalize women and men.

2. In the epilogue, it talks about how women are still pushing in sports.

3. It talks about how media got more women involved in sports.

4. It also has timelines at the end of each chapter, but not telling the main story, but what major things happened during those years.

5. It gives me a sense of how active women were and still are. Women are not always portrayed as active but they definitely are. Today is Women and Girls in Sports Day so the perfect day to remember sports are for girls and women.

Posted in Book Review

Wheels of Change

By Sue Macy

Book Source: purchased

Book Status: available

I was asked to review the third book in Sue Macy’s series about women and sports (that review comes later this week). While reading about Sue, I saw the title of the second book (this) and had to have it. I mean women + bicycles = heck yeah! I want that book!

1. It’s about how the bicycle made a lot of progress in women’s rights!

2. It tells about how women were both advocates about bikes, but also how they were also hating the bike and think that it made women demons!!!

3. It tells how the bicycle innovated how women go places, and how it changed restrictions with women and men.

4. It shows how the bicycle changed over time to accommodate women, and how women changed over time to accommodate the bike.

5. It made me think about bikes differently, and made me proud to be a woman cyclist!!!!!!!