Brontë: An Interview with Author and Illustrator Manuela Santoni

Brontë, Manuela Santoni’s graphic telling of the lives of Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë, arrived in the United States earlier this month. This sweeping work of graphic biography, originally published in Italy and translated by Matteo Benassi, explores the sisters’ tumultuous family and literary awakenings. To celebrate the occasion of its stateside release, the Lerner Blog asked Santoni about bringing the Brontës to life.

Read More

Bionic Beasts Author Interview with Jolene Gutiérrez

By Carol Hinz, editorial director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books

I still recall how excited I was when I read Jolene Gutiérrez’s initial idea for the book Bionic Beasts. I don’t often see middle grade nonfiction that brings together engineering and biology in this way. Bionic Beasts highlights the innovation and problem-solving skills people around the globe are using to build prosthetic body parts for animals including a sea turtle, an elephant, and a goose. Jolene was kind enough to answer several questions about her book.

Read More

Q&A with Author Ginger Garrett

We spoke with Ginger Garrett about the inspiration for her new middle-grade novel, Name Tags and Other Sixth-Grade Disasters, which follows twelve-year-old Lizbeth’s quest to make friends, thwart nemeses, and figure out how to express herself through art in time to participate in a mandatory school talent show.

Were you stuck with labels you hated when you were a kid?

I had such a horrible overbite I couldn’t close my mouth all the way. Add that to my freckles and flat reddish hair, and I was a nerd of epic proportions. But that’s not what the kids called me. I would have liked Nerd, actually. They called me Monster. I felt such shame.

As you mentor kids, what have you noticed about the power of labels?

I’ve noticed that in middle school, every kid wants to identify with a group. They want to belong, so it’s natural to accept a label as part of belonging to that group.

I don’t want to discourage the kids I mentor from exploring their identities, but I’ve encouraged them to “leave room on their name tag.” Their whole identity cannot be wrapped up and expressed in one word. For example, they are more than a Jock. Or a Brain.

And most important, no one should ever get to write on their name tag except them. No one gets to decide who we are, except for us.

Art—and a special art teacher—plays such a redemptive role in this story. Are you an artist?

I can’t even draw a straight line. My mom once sent my brother and me to an art camp. He was very talented. We each made clay mice, and his turned out much better than mine. My mom put his mouse on display over her kitchen sink; somehow mine got thrown out. I seethed with jealousy for days until one night, I sneaked out of bed, grabbed his mouse, and snapped its little limbs right off. I only told my mom the truth about it a couple of years ago.

If you were to fill out a name tag right now, what would you write on it?

Goofball. Mom. Dogmom. Yournewbestfriend!! Writer.

Truthfully, there’s a little bit of Lizbeth in me. I really like people and think if we could just get rid of the rotten ones, the planet would be one big party. And then the Universe gently reminds me that on any given day, I might be one of the rotten ones!

Meet the Authors: Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich

By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books

It’s not every day that you meet someone who says, “How about publishing this manuscript about eating bugs?” That’s exactly what happened when I met Christy Mihaly at a writers’ conference in New York a couple of years ago. She and her writing partner Sue Heavenrich had a fantastic idea for a book on just that subject. Together we expanded the scope of the book to include invasive species, weeds, wild plants, and feral species. Complete with recipes and interviews with chefs and ordinary people who love getting creative with unusual sources of food. It turns out that much of the rest of the world is way ahead of the United States! Read More