Hi and welcome to the Books Between Podcast! I believe that books can change your life for the better. I know because books did that for me.
And I want to help you connect kids with those amazing, life-shaping books and bring you inspiring (and fun!) conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. Every other Monday, I bring you book talks, interviews, and ideas for getting great books into the hands of kids between 8-12.
I am Corrina Allen – a mom of an eight and ten year old, a 5th grade teacher, and excited about two things this week! First, the Winter Olympics. And second – today’s announcement of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards including t
he Caldecott, the Newbery, The Coretta Scott King, and lots more! I am so excited for those authors and illustrators who will be getting those early morning phone calls. I’ll be streaming it with my class and can’t wait to chat more with you about it!
This is Episode #43 and today I’m talking about some fails, some wins, and bringing you a conversation with author Anna Meriano about her debut novel (and the MG at Heart January Book Club pick) Love, Sugar, Magic!
But first I have some exciting news to share with you — I’m joining the fabulous team at MGBookvillage.org! MGBookVillage has become THE place for all things middle grade, and I’m so thrilled to be working with Annaliese Avery, Jarrett Lerner, and Kathie MacIsaac who’ve done such an incredible job developing a home for lovers of middle grade that I can’t imagine we ever made do without it!
MGBookVillage has it all; a book-release calendar, a Kids’ Corner, a monthly book club (MG at Heart), an all-day twitter chat on Mondays (#MGBookathon)—and so, so much more.
And from now on it will be the new home of the Books Between podcast and where you can find all our transcripts.
Three Fails & One Win
And now a new segment I am calling three fails and a win. So – I am going to share with you three failures. And then one thing that went well recently. I think we all have the tendency to share our achievements and hide our failures, only revealing things that put us in a positive light. Inadvertently, it can lead to people feeling like they aren’t living up to all the amazingness they see on Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest, and next door. It’s an unrealistic view of teaching and parenting and it makes it seem like there are just these amazing rockstar kidlit advocates who have success after success. Nah! In the interest of acknowledging that the most learning happens through our mistakes, I’ll share three of mine with you today. And then I share something good that happened.
Last summer I had an great conversation with Jillian Heise about #ClassroomBookADay and was so inspired to give it a try this year. (If you want to hear that conversation about the power of reading one picture book a day with your students, check out episode 30). So, at the beginning of the year I made this GIANT public display of 280 blank polaroid-style frames – all waiting for me to post colorful pictures of the books we are reading. And I have! Up until about like 40. Now – we have STILL been reading those picture books. Mostly. We’ve missed a few days here and there, but – ugh that display has embarrassingly just… stalled. And I want to catch up but now I can’t quite remember the order of the titles we’ve read or even the names of them all. And in fact, one of my eagle-eyed gals noticed that we have Not Quite Narwhal on there twice. Not my best moment of this year.
So last summer, I secretly pre-ordered a certain book for my daughter. I will withhold the name because it doesn’t really matter but I’ll just say that it was the next title in a fun graphic novel series that my 8 year-old daughter LOVES. She’s picky with her reading, so when she finds something she likes, I RUN to the ball. Well, I thought I was getting the Best Mom Ever award when a few weeks ago the book arrived on our stoop Tuesday afternoon and I gleefully called her into the kitchen as I whipped the book from around my back and held it out to her with a GIANT grin on my face! TA-DA!! And she….backed out of the room cringing. And then told me she’s just not into those books as much anymore. Okay then – mom win turned into major mom fail.
This is the one I refer to as The Armadillo Book Debacle. So, a couple weeks ago my daughter comes home upset because she’s going to have to pay $15 to replace a missing library book. Well – High Alert in the Allen household! We tear apart the house looking for it. All the bedrooms, under the couch cushions. I look at school. I call the grandparents! Nowhere is this darn Armadillo book. And my husband and daughter start to think they saw it go in the backpack and back to school. And mistakes happen, so we email the librarian and explain that we think it was returned and could she look? And I just want to say – she was extraordinarily nice about it! And so – she’s looking all over the school for it.
Yeah, you know where this is going don’t you? A couple months ago we had a party at our house. And, like happens, there comes a point when you have cleaned and scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed and people are just about to arrive! So you switch from cleaning mode to hiding mode. You know, there’s that one dirty casserole dish in the sink so you shove it in the oven. And there’s a stack of random papers and mail and books that you haul down into the basement. Including an Armadillo book that ended up tucked away in a corner of our basement for two months. My fault. Awkward email back to the librarian.
And…. a WIN!
I have to end on a positive note. So I have this student who I love but he was tough nut to crack when trying to find a book that would hold his interest. In September, I discovered he had liked The One and Only Ivan, so I handed him my ARC of Wishtree weeks before it came out. Nope. I piled book after book after book on his desk – asking him questions about what he liked – to no avail. It seemed like he was going to be one of those kids that you just hope the next person can help them find books they’ll love because it just didn’t click with you. But, then – I found out that he LOVES wrestling – like WWE wrestling. And a friend on #mglitchat recommended these Choose Your Own Adventure style WWE wrestling books. I order them on Amazon Prime and two days later, I slid one across his desk and his eyes just lit up! I even caught him reading it as he walked to the bus! Heread those books back and forth cover to cover for weeks. And now – he’s on to the second Tapper Twins book and on a roll and YES!!! (I’ll link to those wrestling books in the show notes if you want to check them out. As far as I can tell there are only two of them – Race to the Rumble and then Night of Champions. Both are by Tracey West)
So, maybe my hallway display has stalled out, and I got overzealous with my child, and I embarrassed myself with the school librarian, but I helped that one kid get himself on his way.
Anna Meriano – Interview Outline
This week I had the opportunity to have a fantastic conversation with two authors debuting middle grade novels in 2018. Joining me today is Amanda Rawson Hill. She is the author of the upcoming book Three Rules of Everyday Magic and one of the
organizers of the MG at Heart Book Club. Her and I hopped on Skype to chat with Anna Meriano about her debut novel (and the January MG at Heart Book Club pic), Love Sugar Magic.
Take a listen…..
Love, Sugar, Magic
CA: Your first middle grade novel, Love Sugar Magic, debuted last month. For those listeners who haven’t yet read the book – can you tell what the story is about?
CA: One of things I loved about this book was that passing down of family recipes from mother to daughter generation to generation. So – did I hear that you aren’t actually much of a baker?
CA: Where did the recipes come from?
CA: In your novel, each sister has a special power, depending on her birth order. First born daughters have the gift of influence, second born daughters have the talent of manifestation, and the third borns have the gift of communicating with the dead. Which gift would YOU want to have?
ARH: I wanted to get some insight into how you wrote a big family so well…
Your Writing Life
CA: How long ago did you start writing Love, Sugar, Magic?
ARH: You’ve talked a lot about how you worked with Cake Literary, a book packager. I was wondering what the experience of doing that from the beginning with someone else was like compared to when you’re writing a book all on your own. And how did it affect your creative process?
CA: What is Cake Literary and what is a book packager?
CA: How did you end up connecting to Leo?
JL: I’d be interested to hear about Anna’s experience with her debut group. The Electric Eighteens seem like such a positive and supportive bunch, and they’re so active in promoting one another. I’d love to hear what Anna got out of being a part of such a group — both in practical terms of promotion and things, and emotionally and psychologically, too, since the debut experience can be so confusing and exciting and overwhelming and joyful and terrifying and a million other things, too!
CA: The more I chat with authors about their process, the more I want to share with my students the idea that what they see as a finished story is the very tip of a gigantic iceburg of planning and writing and revising that never sees the light of day. What below-the-surface part of your writing process do you really enjoy? And what parts are challenging?
Your Reading Life
CA: Something that I think about a lot is how sometimes it only takes ONE person to really influence a child’s reading life – either in a positive way or sometimes in a negative way. Was there someone in your life who impacted you as a reader?
C: What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?
Anna on Twitter
Cake Literary website – http://www.cakeliterary.com
Electric Eighteen Debut Group website – https://electriceighteens.com
Anna’s Nerdy Book Club Post is here
Books & Authors We Chatted About:
The First Rule of Punk (Celia C. Perez)
Goosebumps (R.L. Stine)
Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Watterson)
The Inquisitor’s Tale (Adam Gidwitz)
The Gauntlet (Karuna Riazi)
Betty Before X (by Ilyasah Shavbazz & Renee Watson)
Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.
Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher. Or even better – tell a friend about us!
Thanks and see you soon! Bye!