Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

An Inside Look #90 (Author INTERVIEW)



Inside Look with Laurie Morrison
(Author of Up for Air)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to the blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017/2018.  


*The next season (season #FOUR) of interviews took place during the summer and fall of 2018.  With each interview I became more and more impressed with the authors I was having interactions with.  


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

*This is the Nineteenth interview of what I'm calling Season #FIVE.

*Thank you to Laurie Morrison for being the Ninetieth author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  


*Here are links to the first Eighty-Nine interviews…


SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

























SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)






















SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)












*Laurie Morrison was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post her responses here on the blog.  

*Thank you Laurie for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.



Up for Air

by Laurie Morrison (May 7, 2019)




How did you come to know Annabelle?
Annabelle started out as a secondary character in a young adult novel that I 
finished in 2013. She was the main character’s younger stepsister, and 
initially I created her as a person who would really push my main character’s buttons! But I loved the relationship that the two stepsisters developed in that 
manuscript and loved Annabelle so much that when that other book didn’t 
sell, I ultimately decided to explore Annabelle’s story.


What do you think is Annabelle's most admirable quality?
I really admire Annabelle’s resilience. She feels disappointments deeply, but she doesn’t let them stop her.


Is there anything you wish Annabelle would have changed or done differently in her story?
Annabelle makes some big mistakes, but those mistakes are important to her growth. In Up for Air, I set out to write about a vulnerable, relatable character who would mess up and feel embarrassed but live through that embarrassment and learn from it. In my mind, Annabelle is strong and lovable and human precisely because she doesn’t get everything right, but she tries very hard and doesn’t allow her mistakes to define her. So even though she might do some things that make readers cringe, I wouldn’t change any of them!


What do you think Annabelle can offer to other children that are 
experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
Annabelle has some learning challenges and she struggles in school. By the end of the book, she figures out that she is smart in her own unique ways. I think kids who read the book can learn from Annabelle that there are different ways to be smart, and there are different ways to be strong.


It was also very important to me to write about a 13-year-old girl who is dealing with some of the social pressures that many middle schoolers confront, especially if they have older friends and especially as their bodies develop and they might begin to attract a certain kind of attention for the way they 
look. When I taught middle schoolers, I had a hard time finding books that explored these kinds of pressures, even though many kids were dealing with them. So I think middle schoolers might appreciate reading about a girl who is an early developer and who gets attention from an older boy that 
sometimes feels thrilling and sometimes feels like more than she’s ready to handle.


How did you research Annabelle and the circumstances she found 
herself in?
After having taught middle school for a long time, I understood Annabelle’s friendships and her learning challenges pretty well, and I also understood what it was like to be an athlete, since I played sports as a kid and teen. I had to do some research about swimming, though, because swimming wasn’t my big sport, and I had some expert readers look at the swimming elements of my book to make sure they were believable and authentic. The book is set on a fictionalized island off the coast of Massachusetts, and while I have traveled to similar islands, I also did some online research about the habitat and about white sharks, which are mentioned throughout the book.


Do you and Annabelle share any similarities?
Annabelle and I are pretty different on the outside, but most of the emotions she feels in the book are things I have felt. We are both conscientious and sensitive, and we both feel shame when we mess up but really try to pick ourselves up and bounce back after things go wrong.


What was the hardest scene to write about Annabelle?
I don’t want to give too much away because this happens very late in the novel, but the most difficult scene was one that takes place at a coffee shop in Boston and involves Annabelle’s dad, whom she hasn’t seen in a long time when the book opens. I had to revise it a lot to make sure that the characters behaved in a way that readers found logical and to make sure that the emotional impact came across in the way I wanted it to.


Who do you think was Annabelle's biggest supporter and why?
Annabelle is lucky to have several characters who support her...even though she doesn’t always realize that. I think she feels like her stepdad, Mitch, is her biggest supporter for most of the book, but her mom adores her and is trying so hard to be a support, as well, and is her biggest supporter behind-the-scenes.


Why do you think some young people abandon their “true” friends and what they know to be right for other “friends” that don’t have the person’s best interest at heart?
I think it’s so hard to know what a “true” friend is, particularly because friendships change as we change, and even great friendships go through rough spots. Young people are growing up and figuring out who they want to be, so sometimes friendships that were a good fit stop working so well. That happens to Annabelle with one of her close friends. And sometimes, as kids are figuring out who they want to be, they try on new identities and try out new friendships with people who don’t care about them as much as they would hope. In Up for Air, Annabelle temporarily takes a friend for granted because she gets caught up in the excitement of getting attention from older teens and becoming someone more confident and powerful, and I think that’s the kind of thing that sometimes happens in middle school.


What do you think Annabelle is doing as the present time?
I think Annabelle finishes eighth grade at her school, Gray Island Academy, and is brave and assertive about getting the learning accommodations she needs, but I don’t think the year is easy for her. When the year ends, I think she and her mom and stepdad decide that the school isn’t the right place for her to stay for high school, and that’s okay. She and her summer swim team have a very successful season the next summer and make it to the Labor Day Invitational, and her dad comes to see her swim!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/20/19)



Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...
                
Books I Read this Past Week…


Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

*Middle-Grade Novel (3 STARS out of 5 Stars)









Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week


the beautiful land by alan averill

*My Novel Published for Adults (A friend of mine wrote this book)









Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

*My Novel Published for Adults









Internment by  Samira Ahmed

*My Young-Adult Novel (Audio)



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #266 (Reading JOY)

Wonder Wednesday - Capturing a MOMENT

*I took out my iPhone last week and wandered the room during our independent reading time.

*This little video clip brought me such joy and contentment.

*These are the moments that I cherish in my teaching career.





Monday, May 13, 2019

The Star Shepherd by Dan Haring & Marcy Kate Connolly

How I Heard About It:  This novel came to me via the publisher.  I knew nothing of the story so I was excited to dig in and see who and what the Star Shepherd was all about.  


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  *Kyro is an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his father and his dog.

2.  *His father is a "star shepherd" in the village of Drenn.  He has spent years rescuing stars when they fall to Earth.  He repairs and returns them to the night sky.  




3.  *There is usually one to two stars that fall.  Kyro and his father begin to notice that more and more  stars are falling.  They aren't quite sure why this is happening, but Kyro's father is determined to find out why.

4.  *His father heads out on a journey to report this "happening" leaving Kyro to fend for himself.  

5.  *When his father doesn't return, Kyro and his only friend Andra, venture out into the "world" to find out what happened to his father and why the stars are crashing down to Earth.  


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *If you follow this blog, you know I'm not the biggest fan of fantasy.  I will say I went into the story with an open mind.

2.  *I enjoyed the beginning of the story.  I was curious and fascinated by the life that Kyro and his father lived.

3.  *Once more and more stars began to fall and Kyro's father "disappeared", I lost a bit of interest in the story.

4.  *As Kyro and Andra ventured out and encountered more and more obstacles and adventures, I found myself a bit confused and not overly invested in the story.  Toward the end I did some skimming and scanning.


Who Should Read It:   I do think this book has a definite audience.  I think if a middle-grade reader is interested in fantasy, mystery, and "stars"; then this would be the book for them.  Readers in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade would be perfect.  Happy Reading!  


Rating:    3 STARS out of 5 Stars!

An Inside Look #89 (Author INTERVIEW)


Inside Look with Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(Author of One for the Murphys)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to the blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017/2018.  


*The next season (season #FOUR) of interviews took place during the summer and fall of 2018.  With each interview I became more and more impressed with the authors I was having interactions with.  


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

*This is the Eighteenth interview of what I'm calling Season #FIVE.

*Thank you to Lynda Mullaly Hunt for being the Eighty-Ninth author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  


*Here are links to the first Eighty-EIGHT interviews…


SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

























SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)






















SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)












*Lynda Mullaly Hunt was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post her responses here on the blog.  

*Thank you Lynda for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.



One for the Murphys

by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (May 16, 2013)



 How did you come to know Carley?
I have always known Carley. In my younger days, I knew the self-protected, angry Carley who played with letters to keep calm. And later, I know the Carley who has learned that letting people in is a good gamble to take. Sure, you’ll be hurt sometimes but we can handle disappointments; they are way better than a life without connections.


What do you think is Carley's most admirable quality?
Carley is resilient.  Sometimes readers will ask me if her mother changes when they got back to Vegas. They are usually surprised when I tell them that Carley’s mom is exactly the same. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Carley is different. She’s learned enough from the Murphys to make a happy life for herself – regardless of the situation that she is in.


Is there anything you wish Carley would have changed or done differently in her story?
Ha! Well, I guess she could have lightened up a bit earlier.  No, Carley’s story is written as it should be, I think. Sometimes, I’ll feel sad about what she’s been through but then I remember…she doesn’t actually exist. Nor do the Murphys nor Toni. Which also makes me sad… (Writers. *eye roll* )


What do you think Carley can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?  
My hope in writing One for the Murphys was always that kids who met her would see that they can make any life for themselves as adults that they want. I think sometimes kids who are dealt difficult hands feel like they must stay in that life forever. That it’s their lot in life. But that isn’t so. And, although starting off with difficult things to endure is tough, slaying these challenges can often lead to very strong adults – if we look at these hurdles through the right lens.


How did you research Carley and the circumstances she found himself in?
Well, I did not have to research Carley’s emotional journey. I was a hard kid to reach. I had formidable walls. So, in terms of that, there wasn’t anything to do but sit with Lynda at 12 and 13 and 15…
The only part of the book I had to research was the piece with Mrs. MacAvoy, the social worker. I knew that it was unlikely that a foster child could be in a home for that long without visits from a social worker. Wearing my teacher and mom “hats,” this absence was a concern. But my author hat knew that introducing a social worker who would make regular visits would interfere with her bonding with Julie Murphy. To get around this concern, I could have made Mrs. MacAvoy adversarial, but I didn’t want to do that. 
So, I took a social worker in CT (where the book takes place) out to dinner (after he read the manuscript) and asked if the social worker’s absence was plausible. Not desired, necessarily. But was it plausible? He told me that every day presents social workers with unexpected challenges – fires to put out. And if he had to skip any home visit he’d skip the Murphy home because he would know that Carley would be okay there. So, yes. It was plausible.


Do you and Carley share any similarities?  
Well…I do love Converse. In terms of other stuff, I think I’ve covered it.


What was the hardest scene to write about Carley?
SPOILER: Definitely the last chapter. I was so sad afterward that I didn’t write for a few weeks. And when I went back to it, I wrote the opposite scene. The scene I wanted and the scene so many readers wanted. But it wasn’t authentic. It just didn’t ring true and being honest in storytelling is always my top priority.


Who do you think was Carley's biggest supporter and why?
Well, the story has several people who support Carley and her journey in learning to accept that support. If I had to choose, though, it would have to be Julie Murphy who shows Carley that she can claim any life for herself that she chooses. She also changes Carley’s perspective of herself. That is quite an achievement indeed. 


Why do you think some families are meant to be foster families and LOVE foster children just as much as their natural born children?
I think there are some people who have bigger hearts than most of us. Teachers, nurses, and foster parents all fall into this category.


What do you think Carley is doing as the present time? 
I think Carley is a young fifth grade teacher. She fiercely loves her students. And they love her. And later today, she will text Toni in New York and tell her a great story about a kid in her class. And Toni will respond, “Wow, Connors. Do those kids know actually what a sap you are?”


And Carley will smile.