Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

An Inside Look #133 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Rebecca Stead
(Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

*The first season of interviews ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*Season #two ran during the summer of 2017.  

*Season #three ran during the school year of 2017-2018.  

*The fourth season ran during the summer/fall of 2018.

*Season #five ran during the 2018/2019 school year. 

*During summer 2019, the sixth season ran.  

*The seventh season of interviews ran during the fall of 2019.  

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

*Thank you to Rebecca Stead for being the One-Hundred Thirty-Third author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.

*Here is my review of the Novel...

The List of Things that Will Not Change

by Rebecca Stead

(April 7, 2020)

How did you come to know Bea?
          I came to know Bea the same way I get to know all of my characters – by writing scenes. I don’t plan ahead, so the writing itself is the process by which the character is created. I just scribble, longhand, in a notebook, and by the time I have a first draft, I know my main character. But I don’t yet have a book. That happens during revision.

What do you think is her most admirable quality?
         I think she has a lot of nice qualities – empathy and self-awareness are two of my favorites.

Is there anything you wish she would have changed or done differently in her story? 
                    No, but I hope that the book’s readers will be asking themselves questions like this one.  

What do you think Bea can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
 I don’t try to offer something – an idea or a message - directly to children. What I try to do is create a reading experience that allows them to have their own ideas, opinions, and moments of recognition. When I was a kid, reading was a key to understanding other people’s internal experience, and my own. That private “me” – emotional and intellectual – felt like unknown territory at the time. Books helped me map that territory.  

How did you research Bea and the circumstances she found herself in?   
 Some aspects of the story came from (by which I guess I mean “started with”) my own life. And I did a little reading about oysters and colonial food. I often begin writing with a seed that is close to my experience, and then the story always grows in another direction, away from me. This is for the best, because it allows me to write from an honest place while finding the distance I need to best create my story.

Do you and Bea share any similarities?  
We have a good deal in common without being even close to the same people. We both have divorced and loving parents, big emotions, sister-envy, eczema, and gay dads. We’re both New Yorkers. But she likes oysters better than I do. 

What was the hardest scene to write about her?
 The wedding scene. In many ways (but not every way), it’s the climax of the story. The challenge was not to overdramatize, to discover the meaning of that day for Bea.  

Who do you think was her biggest supporter and why?
 Bea is a lucky kid - almost everyone in her life supports her quite beautifully. I can’t even single out one person. This story was, in part, inspired by something I once heard the writer Vera B. Williams say about making books where the child is the center of her universe. Something in me grabbed on to the idea of writing a book like that. (Not that this makes life entirely easy for Bea. Childhood is more complicated than that.)

Why do you think some divorced adults can’t work together in the best interest of their child, while other adults are able to put aside their personal differences for the sake of the young person, like Bea, and do what is BEST for the child?
Big question. I don’t know, but my guess is that it has to do with unhappiness, or a feeling of powerlessness.

What do you think Bea is doing as the present time?
I don’t know how uncommon this is, but I almost never think about my characters’ lives beyond the pages of their stories. I suppose if Bea were real, she would be in eighth grade, just being a kid, a daughter, a friend - and a sister.

*Here are links to the One Hundred Thirty-Two 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)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3/30/20)

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...

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

*Young-Adult Novel (3 STARS out of 5 Stars)

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

*Memoir (5 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!  by Sarah Kapit

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

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

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

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

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

*My Young-Adult Novel

Parked by Danielle Svetcov

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Friday, March 27, 2020

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit

How I Heard About It:
*I was excited when this middle-grade novel came my way because I had several friends who had given it pretty high marks.  Thank you to Dial Books for sending me a copy of the new book. 

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:

1.  *Meet Vivy.  She is eleven years old.  She is autistic.  She is also a baseball player.   

2.  *Well, at least she wants to be.  And it won't be easy.  

3.  *After receiving a writing assignment at school, Vivy begins writing to a major league baseball player named V.J. Capello.  To her surprise, he begins to write back.

4.  *As Vivy nagivates the world of an all boys baseball team, she shares her feelings, experiences, and thoughts with V.J.  He in return begins to share his life with her.  

5.  *Vivy finds it isn't easy to be the only girl, let alone autistic girl, on a baseball team; both on and off the baseball diamond.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *Overall, I enjoyed the story of Vivy, V.J., and their correspondence with each other.  

2.  *I'm not a huge baseball fan, and some of the "details" of the game slowed me down in the reading, but I tried not to let that get in my way.

3.  *The strong element of the story was the relationship that developed between Vivy and V.J.  I so enjoyed the letters/emails between them.

4.  *Of course no middle-grade story would be complete without the "bully" and this novel didn't disappoint in this department.  

5.  *Don't worry, there is also a wonderful peer friend to Vivy who warmed my heart on more than one occasion. 

Who Should Read It:

*I believe all young readers will enjoy this story.  If you know of a kid who loves baseball, this may be the perfect story for them.  Readers in grades four, five, and six would be ideal for the book.  I'm happy I read it and I think you will be too.  Happy Reading! 

Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars