Monday, October 16, 2017

5 Questions with Mira Bartók author of The Wonderling

"Be brave! And don't forget: Never lose hope!"

Number 13 is a one-eared fox groundling--part animal, part human--who has been living a life of serving and suffering at Miss Carbunkle's Home for Misbegotten Creatures for longer than he can remember. Despite having only one ear, he can hear beyond walls and begins to understand creatures others cannot. A new friend, a flightless bird groundling named Trinket, gives him a proper name--Arthur. Together they escape and embark on an epic adventure in the world beyond Miss Carbunkle's.

Bartók's richly imagined fantasy is a delight to read aloud, and her soft, sepia colored illustrations throughout add a classic feel to Arthur's captivating story filled with music, mystery, magic and wonder.

Today author Mira Bartók stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 
Be sure to keep scrolling after the interview to enter a giveaway for a copy of The Wonderling!

Welcome, Mira Bartók, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

1. Where did the rich and unique world of The Wonderling get its start?

Like most everything I do, it began with a drawing. I drew a quick sketch of a one-eared creature about two and a half years ago. And at the time I was also re-reading a lot of Dickens. So those two things sort of merged in my brain I suppose.

2. Music... is the highest art form of all. It crosses all boundaries, all cultures, all ages.

3. What surprised you while writing/creating The Wonderling?

How much easier it was to write a novel than to illustrate one! Not that it was EASY, but illustrating it was a lot more difficult, that’s for sure!

4. I hope readers of The Wonderling... will not be able to put it down!

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book that has been important in your life?

One book that has been so important in my life has been Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. I think it is one of the most profoundly beautiful books of our time. Without words, Shaun has managed to create a story about immigration that is intensely moving, harrowing, but ultimately uplifting. It’s a work of pure genius, and I keep it on my nightstand because I can’t bear to have it far away.

Thank you, Mira Bartók!

Visit Mira Bartók's Webpage:

Read an excerpt of The Wonderling:

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About Mira Bartók:
Mira Bartók is an artist and writer, and the creator of The Wonderling: Songcatcher, the first book in an illustrated middle-grade fantasy series. As luck would have it, The Wonderling will also be a movie, directed by award-winning British director, Stephen Daldry (The Crown, Billy Elliot, The Reader,etc.), and produced by Working Title Films and Fox2000. (You can read more about the crazy book to movie deal HERE and HERE). She is also the author of The Memory Palace, a New York Times bestselling memoir and winner of theNational Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She has written numerous books on ancient and indigenous cultures for children (The Ancient and Living Stencil Series), and her writing for adults has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, noted in The Best American Essays series and has appeared in many literary journals, magazines and anthologies. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her musician/producer husband Doug Plavin and their little bat-eared dog Sadie.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

5 with Jennifer Maschari author of Things That Surprise You

Things That Surprise You begins the summer before middle school for Emily Murphy. Things with Emily's best friend Hazel have been changing ever since Hazel joined the field hockey team, things with her family have been evolving after her parents' divorce, and things with her sister have been the most difficult of all. Emily's sister Mina has been living at a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia.

Things That Surprise You perfectly captures the feelings of a sibling just outside the epicenter of a family emergency who is trying not to add to the damage by quietly internalizing emotional aftershocks. This tenderly crafted and poetically written story filled with truth and hope will leave Emily Murphy firmly nestled in your heart.

Today author Jennifer Maschiari stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 

Be sure to keep scrolling after the interview to enter 2 fabulous giveaways!

Published: August 22, 2017

Welcome, Jennifer, thank you for visiting LibLaura5!
Thank you so much, Laura! I’m so happy to be here.

1. When did you know that you wanted to tell this story and to tell it from Emily’s perspective?
As I was finishing up edits on my first book, THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE, I knew I wanted to write my next book about a girl who was having difficulty with changes in her life. I also wanted to write a sister story. Originally, though, I set the book at a camp and called it BEST SUMMER EVER. The idea and story underwent a lot of revision and rethinking and many, many drafts. But Emily’s character and voice were there from the very beginning.

2. Eating disorders... are important for kids to know about. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetimes.. It is likely that kids will know someone in their real lives impacted by an eating disorder.

3. Emily’s teacher Ms. Arnold is a wonderfully memorable supporting character. Were there real people or experiences that played a part in shaping her in the story?
Oh, I’m so glad that you love Ms. Arnold! I can remember a few really influential, wonderful teachers from my childhood who encouraged me and really made that extra effort to get to know me and what was going on in my life. I wanted Emily to have a special teacher like this - who sees that she is struggling and who meets that with kindness and support. In addition to being an author, I’m a teacher, too! I teach 7th and 8th grade science now, but for a time, I was a fifth grade language arts teacher. I loved reading along with my students and suggesting books, just like Ms. Arnold. She’s far more stylish than I am though!

4. I hope readers of Things That Surprise You... see themselves in the story! Middle school can be SUCH a hard time for kids. I hope I’ve captured the awkwardness and the rough patches but also some of the bright spots, too (like making friends who really get you and being true to who you are).

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book you read and loved lately?
One book - that’s tough! I have been reading a lot of fantastic books lately. I really enjoyed  Dee Romito’s NO PLACE LIKE HOME. It’s about a girl named Kenzie who is always on the road with her dad. For six weeks, she gets the chance to settle down into real middle school life. It was such a fun read, full of heart.

And if I could sneak in a second book, I also read ORPHAN ISLAND by Laurel Snyder (I loved her 5 questions on your blog!) and was mesmerized by it: the kids on the island, the island itself, the survival aspect. Some of the very best discussions I ever had with my students were about the end of THE GIVER. I think this book is going to invite that same rich conversation. There are so many questions to chew on.

Thank you, Jennifer!

Giveaway #1: Enter to win a copy of Things That Surprise You using the form below


Giveaway #2: Click here to enter to win the Grand Prize Crafty Unicorn Kit!

Visit Jennifer Maschari's Webpage:

Find Things That Surprise You on...

About Jennifer MaschariJennifer Maschari is a classroom teacher and the author of THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE and THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. She is hard at work on her next middle grade novel with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. Jennifer lives in Ohio with her husband and stinky (yet noble) English bulldogs, Oliver and Hank.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Episode 23 Drew Brockington - PCS Reads

Author-Illustrator Drew Brockington visits PCS Reads and shares about creating his Catstronauts graphic novel series. 

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode, or subscribe to PCS Reads through iTunes/Apple Podcasts.

Monday, August 14, 2017

5 with Kathy Strahs author of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook

"Give life a squeeze"

There is truly something special about the idea of a lemonade stand. It is an idea that has ignited excitement and action in kids for decades. The Lemonade Stand Cookbook is a the perfect guidebook including information on finances, advertising, following the law, safety, and of course lots of delicious recipes and creative crafts.

As author Kathy Strahs explains at the start of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook, there may be specific laws in your area to follow about Lemonade Stands. Regardless this collection of simple and enticing recipes with easy to follow instructions for drinks, treats, snacks and crafts stands out as one to share with young makers and bakers.

This cookbook includes pictures, anecdotes and testimonials from a diverse group of girls and boys ages 5-11. Even details like using a range of skin tones in the illustrated images for instruction steps are not overlooked. Young readers are sure to see themselves and find inspiration in The Lemonade Stand Cookbook.

Today author Kathy Strahs stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 

Welcome, Kathy, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

1. You have written multiple cookbooks for adults, what drew you to create one for young readers?
My own children, who are 7 and 9, inspired me to write this book. I observed how much fun (and learning) they were experiencing at their lemonade stands with friends from our cul-de-sac.  It was more than just kids selling lemonade. They were collaborating, strategizing, preparing drinks and food, shouting to attract customers. Most importantly, they were having a blast. As a cookbook author, a parent, and an entrepreneur I wanted to help kids everywhere have experiences like this.

2. Lemonade Stands... allow kids to get creative, raise money, and learn important life lessons – all while having a ton of fun.

3. What surprised you during the writing and creating of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook?

I was surprised by just how many lemons it takes to write a cookbook about lemonade stands!

4. I hope readers of The Lemonade Stand Cookbookare inspired to set up their own lemonade stand and experience the satisfaction of becoming a creative entrepreneur. I hope that it helps pave the way for them to confidently pursue their goals – whatever they may be – in the future.

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book that has been important in your life?
One of my favorite books is actually a cooking reference book, called The Flavor Bible. It’s a big, thick book that lists a whole bunch of different ingredients along with the flavors that pair well with them, according to well-known chefs and others with great palates. For example, under “chocolate” it recommends bananas, cinnamon, and mint as excellent complementary flavors. As someone who loves to cook, it’s been an incredible resource when I’m creating new dishes.

Thank you, Kathy!

Visit The Lemonade Stand Cookbook Website:

Find The Lemonade Stand Cookbook on...

Author Kathy Strahs:

KATHY STRAHS is the author and publisher of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook. She founded Burnt Cheese Press in 2015. A former marketer with a Stanford MBA, Kathy entered the food world first as a blogger (Panini HappyCooking On the Side and Sunny Days Good Food) and later as a cookbook author (The 8x8 Cookbook and The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook). The 8x8 Cookbook earned the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book - Nonfiction at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards in 2016.Kathy has been named one of the top Mom Food Bloggers by several times. She is also a frequent cooking contest judge, including the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles and the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.Kathy is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Francisco Professional Food Society, IBPA, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA). Kathy, her husband Michael, and their two children live in the Silicon Valley.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Episode 22 - Erin Soderberg - PCS Reads

Author Erin Soderberg visits PCS Reads and shares about writing under multiple author names and her Puppy Pirates series

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode, or subscribe to PCS Reads through iTunes/Apple Podcasts.

Monday, July 24, 2017

5 with Fracaswell Hyman author of Mango Delight

"I was feeling something I had never felt before,
a feeling I think I could call absolute triumph."

Seventh grader Mango Delight enjoys track, Beyonce and hanging with her best friend, Brooklyn. An unexpected win for her on the track team seems to make her best friend jealous. Then Brooklyn gets an expensive new phone, and Mango feels a strange distance growing between them. When Mango accidentally breaks her friend's new phone, she suddenly finds herself the target of Brooklyn's plans for revenge.

Hoping she will embarrass herself, Brooklyn secretly signs Mango up to audition for the school musical--something totally out of Mango's comfort zone. Instead of embarrassing herself, she lands the lead. This puts her on a path to figure out what kinds of friends she really wants in her life, and what kind of friend she wants to be.

Mango Delight is filled with realistic, complex, diverse characters. Readers will be drawn in by the drama of Mango's situation and find themselves rooting for her to be confident in who she is.

Today author Fracaswell Hyman stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 
Be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of Mango Delight below the interview.

Welcome, Fracaswell Hyman, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

  1. You come from a background of writing, directing and producing both for theater and television. This is your first novel for kids. What brought you to write Mango Delight?

I have a ten year old daughter, and I like to read what she is assigned to read in school, so that we can talk about the books and I can help her become a better reader. Through third, fourth and fifth grades, I noticed two things;
#1 – On average, only one out of four books assigned were about girls. Most of the books assigned were adventure stories about a boy and his dog, his horse, his survival skills or his sports dreams. In my experience writing for children’s television the prevailing “wisdom” was that ‘boys won’t watch what girls watch, but girls will watch what boys watch, therefore write for boys.’  I believe the same philosophy goes for  companies that publish books and has a lot to do with which books are chosen as a part of school curriculum. As the parent of a girl, I think that is unfair that girls have less opportunity to read about themselves, and it puts our boys at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding girls and women.
#2 – Very few, if any, books about African-Americans were assigned at all. If they were, they were about fleeing slavery, the civil rights movement, or some incident dealing with race. I wanted to write a book where a girl of color was at the center of the story, a book that was contemporary and a book that was about the kind of issues that I see my daughter and her friends facing today. I wanted to write a book that represented the diverse group of friends my daughter has, a book that invited boys, girls and readers of all ethnicities to experience, identify and enjoy the story.

  1. I hope readers of Mango Delight... like and identify with Mango. I hope they find her funny, confounding, emotional, thoughtful and real. I’d like the reader to begin to think deeper about the kind of friends they want to have and the kind of friend they want to be. Hopefully, the reader will reflect on the things that they do and say and how those actions affect others.

  1. Food is almost a background character in Mango Delight. I will definitely be trying to make grilled cheese ‘Mango style’ in the future. Where does your food inspiration come from?

I grew up in New York City, a literal melting pot when it comes to food. I was bussed out of my predominantly African-American neighborhood for school and because of that, I had friends of all ethnicities. One of the most vivid ways to explore our cultures was through food. Food that tastes good, whether Asian, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Polish, Italian or Iranian welcomes you into another culture and broadens your ability to appreciate and identify with that culture. Mango is Jamaican-American and the food her family eats represent the mixture of Jamaican and African-American culture. Mango’s father is a chef and because of that her palate is a bit more sophisticated than the average middle schooler and she is encouraged to experiment and create her own recipes. I hope the readers feel empowered to try different foods and create their own unique recipes.

  1. Arts education for kids... is essential. The arts stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain where imagination, intuition, rhythm, feelings and visualization live. In schools today, especially areas that rely solely on government funding, the first thing cut out of the budget is the arts curriculum. I am convinced that that does a huge disservice to our kids. Yes, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are important, but without the arts how do we teach our children to take the leaps necessary to innovate? So, as I parent, I look for schools that add the “A” that turns STEM into STEAM, because the arts are what give our country the advantage when it comes to the ingenuity that has made America the world’s leader in innovation.

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. 

What is one book you read and loved lately?
Trevor Noah’s, Born A Crime, is an amazing look at what life was like in South Africa for a mixed race boy. It exposes the idiocy of the racism, sexism and patriarchy of a  society built on the ability of one people’s misuse of force and laws to subjugate the “other”. Trevor Noah’s childhood experiences are harrowing, heartbreaking and, because he is such a brilliant entertainer,  astonishingly hilarious. Also, harking back to the whole idea of experiencing a culture through food, when I go to South Africa I am looking forward to eating a goat head, eyeballs and all.  

What is one book that has been important in your life?
The Learning Tree, by writer/photographer/director/journalist Gordon Parks had a huge impact on me as a boy. It was released in 1963, but I didn’t read it until I was about ten or eleven years old. I was compelled to pick up the paperback book at the library, because it had a boy who looked like me on the cover. It was the first book I was exposed to that was about the coming of age of an American boy who’s skin and hair were like to mine. The book is still important to me, not because of the specifics of the story, but because of how it made me feel to read a book about a character who looked like me. It was a validation to see that the life and experiences of a boy like me was acknowledged in print just like The Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and all the other favorite characters I read about as a child. I think about that feeling when I sit down to write and I hope every child has the chance to read books that validate who they are, where they come from and what they can become.

Thank you so much for visiting, Fracaswell Hyman!

Visit Fracaswell Hyman's Website:

Mango Delight Discussion Guide

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