Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, November 23, 2020

An Inside Look #154 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Lauren Wolk
(Author of Echo Mountain)

*Welcome to my favorite feature of my blog.  

*Season #ONE (June of 2016 to March of 2017)

*Season #TWO (Summer of 2017)

*Season #THREE (School Year 2017/2018)

Season #FOUR
ummer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*I'm excited to be back for season #NINE with brand new interviews/authors.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the TWELFTH interview in which I'm calling Season #NINE.  

*Thank you to Lauren Wolk for being the One-Hundred Fifty-Fourth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.

*Here is my Review of the Novel..

Echo Mountain

by Lauren Wolk

(April 21, 2020)

How did you come to know Ellie?
Like all my protagonists, Ellie is a combination of people I’ve known, myself, and my imagination. But she, among them, is the most like me for two reasons. One, I am a fairly empathetic person. I am incredibly sensitive, which is both a blessing and a curse. I often wish I had more control over my emotions and how I react to the emotions of others, but empathy may be the single most important way for human beings to help one another, in ways both big and small, and live in peace, and I wanted to honor that. So I created, in Ellie, a girl who is closely connected to her world and those living in it. Related to that empathy is her desire to heal those who are sick or hurt. I share that quality with Ellie. I’ve always been interested in cures, solutions, answers. Finding what’s lost. Fixing what’s broken. Some of that comes from a genuine desire to help others, but some of it comes from a deep longing to be useful, valuable, respected. In short, I came to know Ellie by knowing myself.

What do you think is Ellie’s most admirable quality?
Her bravery. It takes a lot of courage to be who she is, especially when others disapprove. She takes a lot of risks – and risks making mistakes – but always for a cause. I admire that greatly and wish I had as much courage as she does.

Is there anything you wish she would have changed or done differently in her story?
No, I respect all of her decisions. Even when she makes mistakes or has regrets, she’s learning. Growing. Becoming stronger.

What do you think Ellie can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through? 
I remember so clearly how it felt to be Ellie’s age. Of course not all children are the same. Their lives are very different. And the world today is very different from the one in which I came of age. But some things are universal. Emotions, for instance. So I believe that the confusion I felt at that age is the same confusion felt by so many young people today. Fear. Frustration. But hope, too. And the desire to make a difference. I hope Ellie can show young readers that making positive change in their own lives can lead to positive change in the lives of others and in the broader world. Doing the right thing is rarely easy, but it’s always worth the effort.

How did you research Ellie and the circumstances she found herself in?
I tend to do very little research, especially before I begin to write. I always start with setting. A place I know well. And I read about the time: in this case, the Great Depression. But only enough to make sure the details are accurate. Only enough to answer my own questions. That way, the story drives the research instead of the other way around. For Echo Mountain, most of my “research” consisted of camping on a mountainside in Maine where my mother has some land. Years of camping there inspired the book and gave me most of what I needed to begin. When Ellie revealed that she was a healer – and when Cate entered the picture – I did a fair bit of research to learn what people in those days knew about medicine and healing, especially while living in the wilderness. Otherwise, I relied on what I know about human nature and mother nature.

What was the hardest scene to write about her?
I often find endings difficult, partly because I want to get them just right but also because I become very emotional as I write them. I love my characters, so it’s terribly hard to say goodbye to them. But I also struggled a bit with the scenes in which Ellie dreams of her father’s accident and wrestles with both her remorse and the bitterness she feels when she’s unfairly blamed. She’s a complicated girl, so writing about her feelings was tricky. I always want to show the reader more than I tell. I never want to be sentimental. Achieving a balance of many things is challenging, but it’s very fulfilling.

Who do you think was her biggest supporter and why?
Ellie has several supporters. Her little brother Samuel, for one, though his obvious love and loyalty rank lower than the understanding she craves. Cate, of course: a kindred spirit who both teaches Ellie and learns from her. Larkin, the boy who respects her strength and courage. They all support her in different ways. And of course her father, Ellie’s partner as they forge a new life in the wilderness and embrace a chance to reinvent themselves. But it’s Ellie’s mother who supports her the most by coming to trust Ellie’s instincts, following her lead, putting aside her own bitterness and regret, and opening her heart to hope and possibility.

Why do you think young people, like Ellie, are able to find the strength to accomplish adult “tasks” when some adults can’t seem to manage those things? 
Ironically, though many young people feel powerless, they are also more hopeful and resilient than a lot of adults who’ve been defeated too often, become cynical, or are just worn out with responsibility and worry and work. Even empathetic kids who worry about their families and friends and carry considerable burdens have the gifts of youth: high energy, creativity, the desire to explore and experiment and take risks. Those qualities make them more powerful than they realize. They need encouragement to put that power to work, get involved, raise their voices, and make change.

What do you think Ellie is doing as the present time?
If Ellie were here right now (and she’d be 98 years old if she were), I believe she’d be wearing a mask and keeping her distance, but she’d have a sign in her yard. She’d be making proclamations. She’d be taking a stand. And she would most definitely be voting.

*Here are links to the One Hundred Fifty-Three interviews...

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

SEASON #SEVEN (Fall 2019)

SEASON #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

Interview #121 with Melissa Savage (Author of Nessie Quest)

Interview #122 with Tamara Bundy (Author of Pixie Pushes On)

Interview #123 with Lindsay Lackey (Author of All the Impossible Things)

Interview #124 with Tae Keller (Author of When You Trap a Tiger)

Interview #125 with Jamie Sumner (Author of Roll With It)

Interview #126 with Hena Khan (Author of More to the Story)

Interview #127 with Phil Bildner (Author of A High-Five for Glenn Burke)

Interview #128 with Leslie Connor (Author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs)

Interview#129 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Queen Bee and Me)

Interview #130 with Jody J. Little (Author of Worse Than Weird)

Interview #131 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Things You Can't Say)

Interview #132 with Kaela Noel (Author of Coo)

Interview #133 with Rebecca Stead (Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

Interview #134 with Gae Polisner (Author of Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me)

Interview #135 with Emily Blejwas (Author of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened)

Interview #136 with Joy McCullough (Author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

Interview #137 with Kim Baker (Author of the Water Bears)

Interview #138 with Erin Entrada Kelly (Author of We Dream of Space)

Interview #139 with Jess Redman (Author of Quintessence)

Interview #140 with Melanie Conklin (Author of Every Missing Piece)

Interview #141 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Brave Like That)

SEASON #NINE (Fall 2020)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/23/20)



Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week...

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

*My Young-Adult Novel

The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

*My Middle-Grade Novel

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

Books I Read this Past Week...

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

*Novel Published for Adults (3 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

How I Heard About It:
*I am a member of the BBC (Boy's Book Club) which is a group of male teachers that I have the honor of working with.  We have been working together since 2000.  This was our latest selection by a member of our book club.

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
*The novel contains two stories within the pages.  

*The first takes place in the past, where Maureen is trying to make a new start in Opal Beach.

*The second takes place in the present, when Allison escapes to the same town to escape her past and try to begin anew.  

*Maureen disappeared years earlier, and now Allison finds herself in the middle of the mystery.

*As the story unfolds and develops, Maureen and Allison's stories merge upon each other in a dramatic conclusion.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
*I knew nothing of the novel so I was curious to start reading.  

*When I first began, I had positive thoughts and reactions to the story.

*The more I read, the less I became interested in the overall plot.

*The mystery was interesting enough, but nothing that different from other mysterious written for adults.

*The reading was easy and I look forward to discussion with my fellow BBC readers.  

Who Should Read It:
*If you like a light page-turner with a mystery, then this would be the novel for you.  Nothing earth shattering, but an overall enjoyable experience.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:   3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata

How I Heard About It:
*A book that had been sitting in my TBR pile for quite some time.  In between other novels I was reading, I spent a couple of reading sessions with Saucy and the little pig's adventures.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
*Becca has an unusual family being the only girl in a set of quadruplets.

*Each brother has his own interest and Becca would like to find her pasion.

*When the family finds a young sick piglet, Becca believes she has found her calling.

*After some pleading, she convinces her parents to let her keep the new "pet".

*As the piglet grows, so do the issues of raising such an animal and the effects it has on the family.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
*A sweet story about a young girl trying to place her place within her large family and the larger world.

*It was enjoyable to read about how the family tried to keep the piglet in their family for as long as possible.  

*I enjoyed reading about how the siblings and their interactions with each other.  

*Overall, not a whole lot happens within the plot, but young readers will enjoy the animal story.

*Saucy will be a little animal that will have a positive impact on readers.  

Who Should Read It:
*I think the story could be used with readers in grades two and above.  The story would make for a fun class read aloud.  I know of animal lovers in my classroom that will completely enjoy the story of Becca, Saucy, and their friendship.  Happy Reading! 

Rating:   3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #354 (Breakfast with Books #TWO)

Wonder Wednesday - Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner

*On Friday, November 13th we had our second "Breakfast with Books" book club.  

*This year we are going "live" on Zoom, but moving ahead we are.

*For the bookclub, my readers had the chance to read Enginerds and/or Revenge of the Enginerds.  

*On the morning of November 13th, we gathered on Zoom to chat with author Jarrett Lerner.  Each child got to share a comment and/or ask a question.

*We had such fun talking with Jarrett and all things "nerds".

*Much thanks to Jarrett for for not only writing these two amazing stories, but for giving us his time to interact with the young readers.