My Ex-Imaginary Friend: An Interview with author Jimmy Matejek-Morris

In the middle-grade novel My Ex-Imaginary Friend, eleven-year old Jack thought he’d outgrown his imaginary friend, George. But when his family hits a crisis, Jack decides that George may hold the key to putting his life back together. Meanwhile, the imaginary George—half-walrus, half-human, all magic—has a problem of his own: with nobody to believe in him, he is slowly disappearing. This humorous and heartrending adventure is about being there for friends in need, believing in yourself as well as others, and redefining what “growing up” looks like.

Today we welcome Jimmy Matejek-Morris, author extraordinaire of My Ex-Imaginary Friend, to answer a few questions. Read on to discover Jimmy’s inspiration for the story, thoughts on imaginary friends, and most challenging moments of writing the novel.

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#MeToo and You: An Interview with Author Halley Bondy

The #MeToo movement has changed the way many people view the world, but how well do tweens understand it? #MeToo and You: Everything You Need to Know about Consent, Boundaries, and More explores the nuances of emotions, comfort, and discomfort in sexually charged and emotionally abusive situations. Tween readers will learn about consent, harassment, abuse, and healthy boundaries in all types of relationships.

Today author Halley Bondy joins us to answer a few questions!

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Q&A with Dan Jolley and Jacques Khouri, Creators of Mega-Dogs of New Kansas

We’re thrilled to introduce author Dan Jolley and cartoonist Jacques Khouri, the brilliant team behind the middle-grade graphic novel Mega-Dogs of New Kansas! This story follows Sienna Barlow as she struggles to connect with the other kids on a strange, faraway planet. She feels most at home while riding around on top of her mega-dog, Gus. So when an official threatens the mega-dog program, Sienna Barlow sneaks away with Gus and begins an adventure across New Kansas.

To get to know Dan and Jacques better, we’ve asked them about their start in the comic business and their approach to projects!

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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!