Author Spotlight

Reminder: Apply to Host the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture!

ALSC and the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Committee are proud to announce the opening of the application to host the 2016 event featuring award-winning children’s book author and pioneering literacy advocate Pat Mora. Host site application forms can be downloaded at the Arbuthnot site. Applications are due May 15, 2015. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials. The lecture traditionally is held in April or early May. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Mora grew up bilingual and bicultural. With degrees in English and speech, she was a teacher and university administrator before writing children’s books. Known for her lyrical style, Mora’s poetry and prose have won numerous awards, including a 2005 Belpré Honor Medal for text for “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale of a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, and illustrated by Raul Colón….

Author Spotlight

Researching and Writing

I am alone. It is quiet, but I am happy because this is when I do my best writing. I compose my rough drafts for non-fiction science books and articles (and now, blogs) the old-fashioned way. My words meet a pad of paper and a pen before any keyboard or computer. I also write at my local public library where I can be by myself and it definitely is quiet. Although I conduct much of my research on-line, I do a great deal of exploring in the presence of books at the library. Reviewing what already has been published is essential for gathering inspiration and information. Just as researching what information exists is necessary to my writing process, so is going out into the field. My favorite part of this job is field research for my writing. I have been fortunate to travel to different parts of the world–Europe, Africa,…

Author Spotlight

Kids Need Monstrous Words

“Procrastination,” “negotiation,” “dramatically,” “in-lieu”; these are words that you would probably not expect to appear in a picture book. Which, in my opinion, is unfortunate. I am a picture book author, (Monster & Me™ series published by Mighty Media Press) and one of the reasons I like to write is to introduce new and interesting words to kids. Vocabulary is so important in the art of communication, so why do we as parents, writers and educators insist that children can’t fathom a monstrous word? When my first child was born I fell into the same idea that a young child would never be able to understand a big word. It wasn’t until my son was three and I needed to take him for a physical. Blood needed to be taken and I figured this was going to be a horror show of screaming and fear. I don’t like needles so…

Author Spotlight

Interview with Author E.K. Johnston

E.K. Johnston has set her fictional world on fire in THE STORY OF OWEN: DRAGON SLAYER OF TRONDHEIM.  Receiving recognition as a finalist for the 2015 William C. Morris Award, the author discusses the relationship between libraries and young readers.  She gives us a glimpse into her latest novel, PRAIRIE FIRE, scheduled to be released next month. I received a complimentary copy of THE STORY OF OWEN before participating in this interview as part of a blog tour.    THE STORY OF OWEN has broad appeal for readers with varying interests. How do you briefly summarize this book for the audience not familiar with these characters and their adventures?   I usually tell people that THE STORY OF OWEN is about a dragon slayer from Southwestern Ontario, who moves from Hamilton to a small town called Trondheim, and has to adjust to slaying dragons in a rural environment. You know, passing algebra. Getting…

Author Spotlight

Checklist for a Successful Skype with an Author

As an author, I love that moment when I hit the “answer video call” button on my computer, and the smiling, wide-eyed faces of readers in Alabama or California or Montana pop onto my screen. Skyping with readers is a remarkably rewarding experience. I am, after all, Skyping right at my desk, and that means the readers get a personal peek into my writing world. I can grab my latest draft and hold it up to the camera to point out a specific line, or let the audience see the messiness of my writer’s notebook, or grab my guitar and sing a song that I’ve just written. Nothing beats a “live” visit, but Skyping with an author is a great alternative for two reasons: it’s cheaper and it provides an opportunity that is often intimate. Surprise guests, such as the author’s dog, or cat, or spouse can make a cameo…

Author Spotlight

Riddles: Not Just Child’s Play

Lately I am often approached by unfamiliar ten-year-olds who have a singular purpose. I recognize their expression every time; it begins with a friendly smile, followed by a look of cunning, then a question: “Can I tell you a riddle?” “Okay, what’s your riddle?” I reply. And out comes the challenge: “What has four eyes but cannot see?” or “What has a mouth but doesn’t eat, a bed but doesn’t sleep, and runs but never walks?” Or perhaps it’s this one: “What does the poor have, the rich lack, and if you eat it you’ll die?” It all began during my recent book tour. At the first school event, I threw in a few riddles because there are riddles in my novel. I really didn’t expect much of a reaction, but the enthusiasm from students was obvious. Kids love riddles. Faced with this eureka moment, I suggested a riddle-making session,…

Author Spotlight

Interview with Author Dori Hillestad Butler

    Ghosts add spooky suspense in this new mystery series, The Haunted Library, written by Edgar Award author Dori Hillestad Butler and illustrated by Aurore Damant.  In this interview, Dori Hillestad Butler shares the role libraries have played in shaping her work and the background behind these haunting books for young readers.  I received a complimentary copy of the first two books in this series before this interview.          As children’s librarians, we often share just a little bit of detail about books with audiences to get them interested in checking out material.  What information would you share with children interested in learning more about The Haunted Library series?              It’s a series about a ghost boy named Kaz and a “solid” girl named Claire who work together to solve ghostly mysteries. Each book is a stand-alone mystery, but as the series goes on Kaz and Claire are also trying to find Kaz’s missing family. Kaz was separated from his family when their…