Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jean Alicia Elster

Facebook author page–
Twitter– @j_a_elster

1. When you were my age, did you like to read? As a youngster, I loved to read!
2. What was your favorite story? My favorite book was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

3. How do you get your ideas? The ideas for my two most recently published books, Who’s Jim Hines? and The Colored Car, came from real events in my family’s history in the city of Detroit during the 1930s. As a young person growing up, I heard the core of many of these tales during family gatherings. Of course, for my books, I fictionalize, expand and embellish these core bits of family lore.

4. Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Writing is a very complex and exacting activity: taking a thought in your mind and writing words that allow the reader to share that thought. So in that sense, writing a book is not an easy endeavor. However, I love the process of writing and I love the end result (creating a book!), so it is not hard for me to write my books.

5. Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? I do not have a favorite among my many books–they are all very special to me.

6. What author do you really like right now? An author that I am enjoying right now is Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author.

 7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? My advice to any young person who wants to be an author is to read, read, READ as much as they can. They should read different genres of literature, and they should read authors of different nationalities. They should immerse their lives in words.


Posted in Book Review, Graphic Novels

Meet the Author: Nick Tapalansky


img_3116Author website/social media:
Tell me a little about yourself: Author. Attempted Social Media Hermit. Sushi Lover. Reader of All the Things.

When you were my age, did you like to read? Oh, like isn’t a strong enough word. I loved to read. I usually had stacks of books beside my bed, on the bookshelf in my room, in my backpack… Not so different from me today, actually! (Bridget note: sounds like me!)

What was your favorite story? This is a tough one. Some real hard hitting journalism, Bridget! It’d be almost impossible for me to settle on a single story, but I absolutely loved Bunnicula, The Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and Return to the Howliday Inn by James Howe. I read them so many times I wore my copies out. Same with Skinnybones and Almost Starring Skinny Bones by Barbara Park and Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Oh! And The Phantom Tollbooth by Jules Feiffer! Can’t forget my buddy Milo and his amazing adventure.

And I came to it when I was a bit older than you, but Jeff Smith’s Bone changed the way I understood comics and graphic storytelling and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can tell I’m old because I had to read it in the original black and white which, to this day, is still my favorite way to read it (despite thinking that Steve Hamaker’s color work on it is absolutely fantastic).

See what I mean? And we’re just scratching the surface here. I could talk about this for days.

How do you get your ideas? Like where did idea for unattached shadow come from? It changes from book to book, honestly. Sometimes it’s two unrelated ideas coming together in unexpected ways, sometimes it’s just inspiration that seems to come out of nowhere. The basic concept for Cast No Shadow, a boy with no shadow falling in love with a ghost, was definitely something that sort of came out of nowhere (although I’ll confess that the unattached shadow was certainly inspired a bit by Peter Pan, another favorite of mine).


Is it hard to write a book? Yeah, each story is its own unique challenge, but in all the best ways. The hardest part across any story I write is just getting through a first draft because, halfway through, I’ll have a new idea for an earlier scene I want to add or change. The trick is to just finish a story, beginning to end, so you have a whole something to go back and fix. Editing and rewriting is always so much easier, and often more fun, because there’s a world and a cast of characters already moving around doing their thing and, rather than discovering and meeting them for the first time, I get to play with them instead.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written? This is a hard one! I love them all, honestly, but the one I love most is usually whichever I’m currently writing. I actually have two more already finished and being illustrated for release next year (I think you might like Samantha Loring and the Impossible World, which is being published by Top Shelf – I’ll be sure to send a copy over when it’s done! Bridget note: YES!) and I’m deep in the planning stages for two more. It’s those two super-secret projects that I’m most excited about right now.

Why do you think graphic novels are important for kids? They’re great gateway books for readers of all levels, and can often be less intimidating for folks who might be scared to pick up a really dense book with no illustrations. It also demonstrates multiple ways to tell a story, which I think is inspiring to anyone interested in spinning yarns of their own.

What author do you really like right now? It’s hard to choose just one! I’m in the middle of When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Wilson, which I’m really enjoying, and recently read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle for the first time, which was unique, coming to it as an adult with no nostalgia for it.

On the comics side, I’m always excited by anything David Petersen (Mouse Guard) and Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl) are doing in the all-ages world.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? I love this question, and as it happens I have a few go-to bits of advice that I still rely on myself every day (many of which were cribbed from Stephen King’s On Writing book, which I read at 16 and revisit at least once a year):

  • Read, read, read! Make time to read as often as possible.
  • Pay attention to the world around you. It’s often the little details you include in your work that engross readers because they either see them in their own day-to-day life or have actually lived those moments themselves.
  • It’s totally okay if your stories sound like someone else when you start writing. It takes a ton of time to find your own voice, and most everybody starts by imitating their favorite authors while they figure out the nuts and bolts of telling a story.
  • Always finish what you start. Remember that nobody gets it write on the first try and that rewriting is something almost every author does.
  • When you finish a first draft, set it aside for a few weeks and forget about it. Don’t jump into rewrites right away. When you’re far enough removed from the passion of writing it the first time, it’s easier to see the parts that don’t work and do the fun work of fixing it up.
  • Don’t get discouraged! You may work super hard on something only to reach the end and decide you don’t like it. That’s okay, because guess what? You don’t have to! You can just put it in a drawer and forget about it, never showing it to anybody. The important thing is finishing what you start. The more you finish, the better you become at your craft.
Posted in Book Review

Ultimate Space Atlas

Let’s go to space by rocketing through this atlas. This book shares facts, games and maps about space. One chapter is about the galaxies. One is called the Milky Way – that is a funny name.

I liked that this book was all about space. I am just getting into space so it was super cool. I haven’t done all the activities but the ones I have done are fun.

I think people who want to learn about space. People who just want to do activities would like it. I think grownups will like this book too. Probably Mark Hamill from Star Wars would like this.

And just for fun, I suggest you check Bad Lip Reads Star Wars songs. This one talks about galaxies

Posted in Author Meet Up, General

Special news flash

You can meet your favorite author. Just follow them on social media or write to them. I have found most respond so write!

You can also meet authors and illustrators at events. Check your libraries and book stores for events. I went to an event to meet three authors and saw another author I knew, so authors also support authors. There was another author at Salina Yoon’s library event!

On Saturday, when I met Marcie Colleen, some kids didn’t even realize they were with an author. They didn’t seem to believe it when I told them she was the author. For all you know your favorite kids author is standing next to you.

And if you connect with them, you might just give Jarret J. Krosoczka a ketchup and mustard high five, play mime with Salina Yoon, be on the radio with Guy Raz or get Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra’s before they are released.

So write to your authors and illustrators!

Posted in Book Review

The Secret of Nightingale Wood

By Lucy Strange

This story about a girl who moves to a new house and some strange things happen. Like the sunlight turning into her dead brother. And her mother getting sick and the doctor is very strange and mean. It doesn’t seem like things will get better until she meets a lady who lives in the forest in a small cabin named Moth.

I liked that the girl has to go on adventures to help while facing the doctor. It is a spooky book but not really really scary. Just kinda.

I think people who are looking for an adventure or spookiness would like this book.

Posted in General

Thank you

Yesterday I got a nice surprise from an author I had reviewed. Well, he wasn’t one of my author friends but now he is. I had only read that one book by him!

I love his compliment. It is so nice. This is one of the reasons I do what I do. It is hard sometimes when you are trying to do homework, be a kid, go to school, go to sleep and be a literary critic (ps. New favorite phrase). It is very nice to know it is appreciated.

Tomorrow I meet a favorite author and on Monday, Salina will be at my school! Big few days ahead.

Posted in Book Review

Sci Fi Jr High

By John Martin and Scott Seegert

Vordak let his minions out to write a new book and it isn’t about him (finally). Spoiler – this one is just as weird but in a good way.

Sci Fi Jr High is about Kelvin Klosmo who goes to a new school. There are many things that are weird about the new school. Everybody in the school thinks he is the smartest kid in the Galaxy when he barely knew a multiplication problem. Eventually he finds his place in the school.

I like that the evil villain turned into a stuffed bunny. I wonder if any of my stuffed animals are really a villain. I like adventures in Space because I think space is fun. I hope to go to space one day.

People who liked Vordak, stuffed animals and space would like this. Kids who are the new kid at school would also like this. Somebody who is having a bad day should read this too. They will laugh themselves to happiness.