Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

An Inside Look #185 (Author INTERVIEW)

  An Inside Look with Margaret Finnegan

(Author of We Could Be Heroes)

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
 (Summer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*Season #NINE (Fall 2020)

*Season #TEN (Winter/Spring 2021)

*I'm excited to be back for season #ELEVEN 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 SEVENTH interview in which I'm calling Season #ELEVEN.  

*Thank you to Margaret Finnegan for being the One-Hundred Eighty-Fifth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.

We Could Be Heroes

by Margaret Finnegan

(February 23, 2021)


How did you come to know Hank and Masie?
In a general sense, I knew I wanted to write a story about a boy with autism and a girl with epilepsy because I have a daughter with both of those conditions, and I wanted her to see something of her experience on the page. But Hank and Maisie are much more than their disabilities, and I didn’t really come to know them until I wrote—and rewrote—their story. In doing that, I began to hear their unique voices, and those voices became more distinct as I thought about their motivations and desires. That’s how we always learn, right? Through writing and rewriting?

What do you think are their most admirable qualities?
I think Hank’s most admirable quality is that he feels things very deeply, and like so many of our gifts, that’s a double-edge sword. It allows him to challenge himself and try to help others, but it also causes him to feel overwhelmed, and—paradoxically—it can make it seem like he only cares about himself.


I think Masie’s most admirable quality is her determination. She is determined to save Booler at any cost. Like Hank, though, that wonderful quality also causes her to make some poor choices, but her motivation is always pure, and I love that about her.

Is there anything you wish they would have changed or done differently in their story?
I wish they would have done almost everything differently because they really blow it again and again. But I also love that they make mistakes and try. They’re kids. They don’t have all the answers, and they don’t even know the questions to ask sometimes. But they want to help, and they believe they can help. In that respect, I wish I were more like them and that I had so much confidence in my ability to stand up for what’s right.

What do you think Hank and Maisie can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what they went through?
I think Hank and Maisie offer a roadmap of what NOT to do. Don’t steal a dog. Don’t burn down a bathroom. But learn from Hank and Maisie. Ask questions—lots of questions—and make sure you have your information right. Take responsibility when you make mistakes and forgive when you’ve been wronged. 


But Hank and Maisie also offer a roadmap of what to do. They remind us that sometimes we need to take a leap of faith and believe in each other as well as ourselves and our potential. We could all be heroes.

How did you research these two characters and the circumstances they found themselves in?
I didn’t have to do a lot of research because I know a lot about autism and epilepsy from my family’s experience. And that was a good thing because I think it’s only recently that researchers are coming to understand what parents have long known: People with autism have deep reserves of empathy—so deep that, in some cases, it can be painfully overwhelming. I did have to research a bit about rocks! That was just a delight, and I was grateful for the Internet.

Do you and Hank and Maisie share any similarities?
I love this question. I think all three of us really value acceptance and love dogs.

What was the hardest scene to write about them?
The scene where Maisie experiences a seizure in front of Hank was hard. Seizures have been a constant part of my family’s experience for a long time now, and they aren’t fun to revisit in real life or on the page. But about three million people in the US have seizures. One third of them will struggle to find a way to keep them at bay. We need to see resilient, fun, and lively kids like Maisie who also have chronic health conditions. People with those conditions need to see them, but just as importantly, people without those conditions need to see them.

Who do you think were their biggest supporters and why?
Hank and Masie are lucky to have very supportive families. But they are actually awash in people and animals who care about them. I want to mention just one: Ms. Vera, their teacher. She can seem prickly, but she is always pushing them to never accept less and to never see themselves as capable of less. Every child needs a teacher like Ms. Vera.

Why do you think some young people are able to establish friendships with others who are different from themselves, while others can’t and exclude those who are different?
Wow. That is a powerful question. And now I’m going to have to try to stay off my soapbox. I think many adults have biases against people with disabilities. I think many kids absorb those lessons. I also think that, in some communities, kids are taught early that they should try to figure out how they measure up to their peers, and because some disabilities present physically, that becomes a way of measuring. Finally, I think many people fear what they don’t know, and they often don’t understand why a peer might seem physically, cognitively, and emotionally different from themselves, and that scares them.


But some kids, for a variety of reasons, have deeply compassionate souls and are wildly accepting of everyone. They are my heroes.

What do you think they are doing as the present time?
Let me see. Well, I think Hank had a really hard time when he got his puppy because that was a big change in his life, but now he loves his dog and can’t imagine living without it. And I think Maisie is plotting to rule the world. I’m rooting for her. 

*Here are links to the One Hundred Eighty-Four 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)

SEASON #TEN (Winter/Spring 2021)

Interview #158 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The In-Between)

Interview #159 with John David Anderson (Author of One Last Shot) 

Interview #160 with Tracy Holczer (Author of Brave in the Woods)

Interview #161 with James Bird (Author of The Brave) 

Interview #162 with Marcella Pixley (Author of Trowbridge Road)

Interview #163 with Barbara O'Connor (Author of Halfway to Harmony)

Interview #164 with Alan Gratz (Author of Ground Zero) 

Interview #165 with Lisa Fipps (Author of Starfish)

Interview #166 with Ann Braden (Author of Flight of the Puffin)

Interview #167 with Kimberly Willis Holt (Author of The Ambassador of NoWhere Texas) 

Interview #168 with Elana K. Arnold (Author of The House That Wasn't There) 

Interview #169 with Erin Soderberg (Author of The Great Peach Experiment)

Interview #170 with Donna Gephart (Author of Abby, Tried, and True)

Interview #171 with M. Evan Wolkenstein (Author of Turtle Boy)

Interview #172 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Bea is for Blended)

Interview #173 with Jess Redman (Author of The Adventure is Now)

Interview #174 with David Levithan (Author of The Mysterious Disappearance of Aiden)

Interview #175 with Chris Grabenstein (Author of The Smartest Kid in the Universe)

Interview #176 with Ali Standish (Author of The Mending Summer)

Interview #177 with Holly Goldberg Sloan (Author of The Elephant in the Room)

Interview #178 with Jeff Zentner (Author of In the Wild Light)

SEASON #ELEVEN (Fall 2021)

Interview #179 with Katherine Applegate (Author of Willow) 

Interview #180 with Padma Venkatraman (Author of Born Behind Bars)

Interview #181 with R.J. Palacio (Author of Pony)

Interview #182 with Kyle Lukoff (Author of Too Bright to See)

Interview #183 with Barbara Dee (Author of Violets are Blue)

Interview #184 with Anne Ursu (Author of The Troubled Girls of Dragonmir Academy)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10/18/21)


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... 

Whiskey When We're Dry
 by John Larison

*My Novel Published for Adults

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

*My Novel Published for Adults (Audio)

Books I Read this Past Week...

The World Played Chess
 by Robert Dugoni

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

Worst-Case Collin
 by Rebecca Caprara 

*Middle-Grade Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Rock, Paper, Scissors 
by Alice Feeney

*Novel Published for Adults (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni

How I Heard About It:
*One of my favorite novels published for adults is The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.  If you haven't read it, you really must.  When I found out Robert Dugoni had written a new novel, I was thrilled and excited to read.  And the cover was unreal and so engaging.  I couldn't wait to read.

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
*The year is 1979 and Vincent has graduated from high school and looking forward to his last summer before college.

*The year is 1967 and William is a young man who finds himself in the middle of the Vietnam War.  

*William kept a journal during his time during one of the most horrific events in our country's history.

*When Vincent and William meet on a construction crew, both of their lives will be forever changed.

*Years later, the lessons Vincent learned from William are passed to his own high-school son who is experiencing this own growing pains.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
*I absolutely loved this story.

*Robert Dugoni has such a talent for weaving a story together that is both captivating and enthralling.  

*The characters of Vincent and William were authentic, thoughtful, and honest.  

*As I neared the end of the story when many events came "together", I found myself quite emotional.  Now that is good writing.  

*As much as I recommend, the Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell to fellow readers, I will now be adding this title to the recommendation list.

Who Should Read It:
*I can't imagine one reader not enjoying the story.  I can see high-school, college, and adult readers all being swept away by Robert's writing and story telling.  This is a story the reader will not soon forget.  Happy Reading!  

  5 STARS out of 5 Stars