Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

An Inside Look #8 (Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper)

An Inside Look - With Abby Cooper
Author of Sticks and Stones

*Another summer Monday, means another "inside look" with an author.

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

*I have had such fun connecting with authors and "picking" their brains.

*Here are the links to my first seven interviews...

Interview #1 with Elly Swartz (Author of Finding Perfect)

Interview #2 with Jeff Zentner (Author of The Serpent King)

Interview #3 with Nora Raleigh Baskin (Author of Nine, Ten, A September 11 Story)

Interview #4 with Cammie McGovern (Author of Just My Luck)

Interview #5 with Kate Messner (Author of The Seventh Wish)

Interview #6 with Paul Griffin (Author of When Friendship Followed Me Home)

Interview #7 with K.A. Holt (Author of House Arrest)

*This was a novel that I was quite excited to read.  There was lots of Twitter "chat" about this one.

*I was lucky enough to meet Abby at #NerdCampMI.  We were there the day the book was released.

*The bad news was I didn't get a copy of the book because they didn't have anymore.  The good news is that so many people wanted the book that they sold out.

*After returning from camp, I got a copy of the book and got started reading this unique and incredible story.

*Another awesome thing is that Abby lives in St. Paul, MN where I also live.  We are hoping to connect after I share this story with my fourth grade class.

*Here are Abby's thoughts about her book and her main character...

Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper (Released July 12, 2016)

How did you come to know Elyse?  
The character was brewing in my head for a long time before I started writing. I sort of heard her voice, in a way, telling me her story. After some time piecing together her experiences and background, I was able to get a clear sense of who she was. 

What do you think is Elyse's most admirable quality?
I think it's admirable that Elyse maintains a sense of humor despite various tough situations and circumstances. Even when she's upset, she's always able to find something to laugh about.

Is there anything you wish Elyse would have changed or done differently in her story?
Elyse makes a lot of mistakes and bad choices, but she needs to do that (as do we all!) in order to learn and grow. There are definitely scenes where I feel for her, but I wouldn't change a thing.

What do you think Elyse can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?  
I hope that Elyse will reassure kids who struggle with bullying and/or self-esteem issues that they are not alone, and that they can and will get through it and come out on the other side.

How did you research Elyse and the circumstances she found herself in?
The initial idea for this character and this book came from working in a school library, where I observed tons of kids and conversations every day. I once had a student tell me she was "too dumb" to check out a certain book, and my heart broke into a million pieces. From that experience, I knew I needed to write my story. I don't know that I really researched as much as I observed, listened, and tried to be the best librarian/supporter/friend I could be. 

Do you and Elyse share any similarities?  
I definitely put little snippets of myself in each main character I write! Like Elyse, I can be pretty introverted, and I'd usually rather hang out with a book than with a bunch of people. I'm also a huge fan of chocolate cupcakes, grilled cheese, string cheese . . . all the cheese, really. Mmm, cheese.

What was the hardest scene to write about Elyse?
The soccer field scene toward the beginning was pretty tough to write. In this scene, Elyse is thinking about her former friends and wondering what happened and why they don't want to hang out with her anymore. I think it was hard to write because I've been through similar situations in my life and I know how much that stings, and how confusing it can be to still miss your friend even when it's clear that your friend doesn't miss you.  

Who do you think was Elyse's biggest supporter and why?
That's tough - I think a lot of characters in the book support Elyse in their own ways, and I can't really say any type of support is bigger or better than any other. I will say that Elyse is very lucky to have the support she does, even if she doesn't always recognize it.

Why do you think young people/children say such mean things to each other during the elementary & middle-school years?    
I think there's a lot of insecurity at that age, and it's a lot easier to put others down instead of taking a serious look at yourself. I want kids to understand that it's okay not to feel 100% amazing about yourself all the time, but you can still know that you're good overall, and hurting someone else's feelings is not the way to make yourself feel better.

What do you think Elyse is doing as this present time?  

Well, right now it's about 8:30 AM on a nice summer morning, so I'm guessing Elyse is sound asleep, dreaming of nice words, nice people, and super chocolatey cupcakes. :) 

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