Megan Bostic Interview

never eighteen

One more Charlotte interview as we count the ballots!  Mrs. Ada’s students in Philadelphia, NY wrote Megan Bostic, and she answered these questions about Never Eighteen.  Thanks to the students and Ms. Bostic for the thoughtful interview!

Why do so many of the characters in your book have such extreme problems / mental issues?

Think about how many people you know in life. The people in your school, your sports teams, friends, family, coworkers, the barista at the local Starbucks, the grocery store clerk, etc. That’s quite a lot of people. How many of those people do you think may be suffering from some of the issues the characters in the book are suffering? A couple? A few? A handful? Half?  Surely, you know divorced parents? A gay teenager? One who drinks too much maybe? One who lets their boyfriend or girlfriend treat them with disrespect?

So many people are fighting battles you don’t even know about. Austin only talks to a handful of people, some of them struggling more than others. I have known every single person I wrote about in that book, most of them when I was in high school. So it’s not that they have extreme problems and mental issues, it’s just that they have problems, period, like so many others do.

What year does this book take place?

I don’t specifically choose a year, but let’s say it’s contemporary. Within the last five years.

Why did you choose to write this book / about this subject matter?

In November 2001, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. By February, they told her there was nothing more they could do for her. They gave her 6 months to a year to live. I quit my job and my husband and I took her in and cared for her in her last days with the help of hospice. That experience showed me firsthand the effects of the disease, how ravaging it can be, how fast it can take you without treatment. After my mother-in-law moved in, she only lasted just over 3 weeks.

It also makes you think about your own mortality. If I only had 6 months to year, or even just 3 weeks, how would I want to spend it? However, I see that question below, so I’ll answer it there. J

You included a lot of reference to specific bands and songs in the book, do you listen to music while you write?

To be honest, I am greatly inspired by music, especially indie and alternative, but I find it hard to concentrate and write with any noise.

I love the Shins too! What’s your favorite band?

That is like asking, when it’s snowing, which snowflake is my favorite. J I’ll say this, indie and alternative are my favorite forms of music, though I love music from all genres and many decades. I will give a list of ten bands that have influenced me throughout my life.

The Beatles

The Police

The Cure

The Smiths

REM

The Beastie Boys

Death Cab for Cutie

Pearl Jam

Nirvana

The Killers

Coldplay

Fun

Okay, that’s twelve, but it’s too hard to choose! A few more and the Shins would have made that list. There are great new bands coming out every year too.

Why did you choose to keep Austin’s cancer a secret until the end of the book?

I think to give him an air of mystery, maybe. To make people wonder what would make a teenage boy want to do the things he’s doing – what could make him so wise beyond his years. It’s not too much of a mystery, the title of the book, the clues in the book, the reader pretty much figures it out, but as they’re reading I think they secretly hope cancer isn’t the answer. It has to be something else, because in the end, no one wants Austin to die.

Was it hard for you to get close to a character that you were going to have die? How emotionally affected were you by Austin’s death?

Writing Never Eighteen was difficult. The answer is yes – it was an emotionally draining write. After writing a demanding scene, I would have to take a break. Also, since it was a subject matter so personal for me, it made it even that much harder because I had to dig deep and recall memories that were painful to make it authentic.

Are there real people who inspired any of the characters in this book?

Yes. As I said before, almost everyone of Austin’s troubled friends/acquaintances are people I have known – in this case, Julianna, Allie, Scott, Trevor – maybe not their characteristics, but their circumstances for sure. Usually a character in each of my books contains bits and pieces of me as well. I’ll let you figure that one out yourself. J

This is almost a “bucket list” type of story. If you knew you were dying, is this how you would spend your last healthy days?

I would want to know that I made an impact, left some kind of mark, no matter how small it was, so to answer the question, yes, I would want to tell the people who are stuck in a rut, who are miserable with their lives to change them. What is stopping you from living the life you want to live?  To do the things you want to do? We only have one shot at life, we need to make it count.

I would also do some traveling and throw one hell of a farewell party!

Megan Bostic, April 2014

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Charlotte Award voting deadline April 30!

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Due to spring break in many schools we can extend the voting deadline a few days.  The last day we can accept votes is April 30.  If you are mailing votes please do so in time for the mail to be received by April 30.

Voting details are here:

http://www.nysreading.org/content/nysra-charlotte-award-2014-charlotte-ballot-update

 

2014 NYSRA Charlotte Award Nominees

 

GRADES PRE K-2/PRIMARY

Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders & Creepy Insiders.  Written by  Anthony D.Fredericks.   Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio .  Published in 2011 by Dawn Publications.

 

Because Amelia Smiled.  Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

Cloudette. Written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  Published in 2011 by Henry Holt.

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships.  Written by Catherine Thimmesh. Published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Goldilocks and Just One Bear. Written by Leigh Hodgkinson. Published in 2012 by Nosy Crow.

 

I Need My Own Country. Written by Rick Walton. Illustrated by Wes Hargis.  Published in 2012 by Bloomsbury.

 

Jangles: A Big Fish Story. Written by David Shannon.  Published in 2012 by Blue Sky Press.

 

Penguin and Pinecone. Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. Published in 2012 by Walker.

 

Spike the Mixed Up Monster. Written by Susan Hood. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster.

 

Who Has This Tail. Written by Laura Hulbert.  Illustrated by Erik Brooks.  Published in 2012 by Henry Holt.

 

GRADES 3-5/INTERMEDIATE

Ben Franklin His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z. Written by Alan Schroeder.  Illustrated by John O’Brien.  Published in 2011 by Holiday House.

 

Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond. Written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Published in 2012 by Walker.

 

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson. Written by Peggy Thomas. Illustrated by Laura Jacques. Published in 2011 by Calkins Creek.

 

Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller. Written by Doreen Rappaport.  Illustrated by Matt Tavares.  Published in 2012 by Disney/Hyperion.

           

Kizzy Ann Stamps. Written by Jeri Watts. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

May B:  A Novel. Written by Caroline Starr Rose. Published in 2012 by Schwartz and Wade.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds A Civil War Hero. Written by Marissa Moss.  Illustrated by John Hendrix.  Published in 2011 by Abrams.

 

Same Sun Here. Written by Silas House.  Illustrated by Neela Vaswani.  Published in 2011 by Candlewick Press.

 

A Storm Called Katrina. Written by Myron Uhlberg.  Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Published in 2011 by Peachtree.

 

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives. Written and illustrated by Gene Barretta. Published in 2012 by Henry Holt.

 

GRADES 6-8/MIDDLE SCHOOL

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur. Written by Tracey Fern. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Published in 2012 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Dogs of Winter. Written by Bobbie Pyron. Published in 2012 by Arthur Levine Books.

 

Gifts from the Gods:  Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology. Written by Lise Lunge-Larsen. Illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin.

 

Hidden. Written by Helen Frost. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Mighty Miss Malone. Written by Christopher Paul Curtis.  Published in 2012 by Random House.

A Monster Calls. Written by Patrick Ness.  Illustrated by Jim Kay.  Published in 211 by Candlewick Press.

 

My Brother’s Shadow. Written by Monika Schroeder. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Shadow. Written by Michael Morpurgo. Published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends.

 

Surviving the Hindenburg. Written by Larry Verstraete.  Illustrated by David Geister. Published in 2012 by Sleeping Bear Press.

 

Wonder. Written by R.J. Palacio.  Published in 2012 by Knopf.

 

GRADES 9-12/HIGH SCHOOL

Ashfall. Written by Mike Mullin. Published in 2011 by Tanglewood.

 

The Amazing Harry Kellar. Written by Gail Jarrow. Published in 2012 by Calkins Creek.

 

Cinder. Written by Marissa Meyer. Published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends.

 

Freaks Like Us. Written by Susan Vaught. Published in 2012 by Bloomsbury.

 

The Giant and How He Humbugged America. Written by Jim Murphy. Published in 2012 by Scholastic.

 

Ice: The Amazing History of the Ice Business.  Written by Laurence Pringle. Published in 2012 by Calkins Creek.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Written by Ransom Riggs.  Published in 2011 by Quirk Books.

Never Eighteen. Written by Megan Bostic. Published in 2012 by Graphia.

 

October Mourning. Written by Leslea Newman. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

Wolf Mark. Written by Joseph Bruchac. Published in 2011 by TU Books.

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Marissa Meyer Interview

Cinder

Mrs. Ada’s students at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY read Cinder and sent Ms. Marissa Meyer these questions.  Thank you to Ms. Meyer for answering and to the students for the thoughtful questions!

1. Other than Cinderella, are there other stories that inspired this novel?

For the most part, Cinder is strictly a Cinderella retelling. However, I looked into many different versions of Cinderella – from Grimm and Perrault to Disney, and even a Chinese tale called Ye Xian which many believe was the original Cinderella story. Also, because The Lunar Chronicles combines four fairy tales into one series, there are elements of the next four books that make slight appearances in Cinder. In one chapter you get a glimpse at the wolf army (inspired by Little Red Riding Hood), and you meet Cress (my Rapunzel character), and there is the wicked queen who is based on the villain from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

2. How much research did you conduct for the technological parts of the novel?

Tons! I read books on cyborgs and magazine articles on androids and artificial intelligence, I studied maglev trains and space travel and the potential for moon colonization, and on and on. This was a very research-heavy series. But I also found out early on in my research that there’s nothing I can dream up that scientists aren’t already working on – it’s AMAZING what we’re capable of now, and what they think we’ll be capable of in the future. So rather than limiting the story in terms of technology, my research really gave me the confidence to make the technology as impressive as I could.

3. Have you always been interested in future technology?

Not at all! lol! I’m not very tech oriented, and I get really bored with a lot of classic sci-fi that’s too focused on the technology. For me, it has to be all about the characters and the story or else I lose interest. I think our modern technology is amazing, but I’m much more interested in telling an engaging story and taking readers along for the ride. In the end, I think this has served me well, though, as I hear from a lot of reader who don’t like “science fiction,” but enjoyed Cinder because it almost has more of a fantasy feel to it.

4. Since this book is the start of a series of novels, how far in advance did you plan the story?

I had all four book planned out really early on. I’d actually all outlined the whole series before I wrote a single word of Cinder. That isn’t to say that things haven’t changed – they do change, all the time! – but I’ve always had a vague idea of where the story was heading and how all these subplots would tie together. That really helped me to include lots of foreshadowing and hints in the early books.

5. Do you know how many novels will be in the Lunar Chronicles?

There will be four books – WINTER, the fourth and final, is based on Snow White, and will release in 2015.

6. This novel encompasses many genres of literature. As an author, what genres would you place it in?

I think it most fits into science fiction, though my favorite genre term is “space opera.” :)

7. Many novels are set in America, though this novel has a more unique setting. Is there a reason you set your story in New Beijing?

Yes – as I mentioned before, there’s a story called “Ye Xian” that was first written in 9th-century China and is considered the original Cinderella story. Scholars also believe that the concept of the slipper fitting the smallest foot, and of small feet being desirable, ties directly to the Chinese tradition of foot binding. So I chose to set Cinder in China to pay homage to some of the story’s roots.

8. How much input did you have on the creative vision (cover, font style, page layout, etc) for this novel?

Almost none! I’m lucky that I have a brilliant designer who is working with an incredibly talented artist. I usually don’t see the cover until it’s finished, but I’ve been so thrilled with all of their decisions. I think the books are gorgeous.

9. Do you have a favorite character in the book?

I have a soft spot for the funny characters. I love to write any scene with Iko, Cinder’s android best friend who has a penchant for shoes and boys, and also Captain Thorne, the charming and overconfident spaceship captain. They tend to say things that catch me off guard, and are always full of surprises! For a writer, it makes my job a lot of fun.

10. If you could pick an actress to play Cinder and Prince Kai in the movie, who would you choose and why?

It’s hard for me to imagine real people in the roles, as they’re already so real in my head, but I have heard the suggestion of Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) for Cinder, which I like a lot, and possibly Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) for Kai.

Marissa Meyer, April 2014

Just Released: CRESS: Book Three of the Lunar Chronicles
Join the Resistance at TheLunarChronicles.net.

http://www.marissameyer.com | Blog | Newsletter | Giveaways
Twitter: @marissa_meyer | Facebook: Marissa Meyer + The Lunar Chronicles


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Jim Murphy Interview

giant

Mrs. Ada’s students at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY read The Giant and How He Humbugged America and sent Mr. Jim Murphy these questions.  Thank you to Mr. Murphy for answering and to the students for the thoughtful questions!

Where did you originally hear about the Cardiff giant? I live near Syracuse and I didn’t even know about it until I read this book!  

I read tons and tons of books about all sorts of subjects.  Somewhere along the line (and this was years ago) I came across a reference to the Cardiff Giant hoax and thought it was interesting.  So I started doing research on it and other hoaxes.  I didn’t do this to write a book; I did it because  I was fascinated with how some people are able to create a hoax that actually fools hundreds, if not thousands of people.  Sadly, the world is filled with people who want to take advantage of other people and I felt it was important for my readers to realize (and question) any offer they hear that seems too good to be true and maybe avoid getting involved in them.

Had you ever visited the Giant at the museum before you wrote this book? 

My wife, Alison Blank, and I have been to Cooperstown many times over the years and even been to the Farmers’ Museum and seen the stone giant.  We went back when I decided to actually write a book about the event.

Because you’re an author, when you visited the museum, were you allowed to touch or lick the giant? 

No, I wasn’t able to touch or lick the giant.  He’s reclining peacefully in a horizontal position with a very sturdy fence around him and is well out of the reach of most people.  He’s also been pretty well abused in his lifetime — being buried for a year, hauled around the country for display, stored in a leaky shed, hit with a hammer on several occasions, then moved some more.  The museum wants to preserve him as much as possible and the various acids on our hands would, over years, begin to erode him even more.  But even if given the chance, I’m not sure I would lick him!  Would you?  

 Were you able to make contact with any living relative of anyone involved with the hoax? That would be fascinating to hear about it from the family’s perspective. 

I tried to hunt out some relatives, but wasn’t able to find any.  But I did talk with many people from the town and a number of them said they had grand-parents or great grand-parents who were living in the area when the Giant was discovered.  

 Besides the Cardiff giant, what is your favorite hoax of all time?

I listed a number of hoaxes at the back of the book, some very old and some fairly recent.  I liked all of these a lot and thought them interesting enough to include in the book because the people who created them did so for various reasons.

What do you suggest to readers as a moral of these hoax stories? 

First, sooner or later every hoax is discovered, so the creator of the hoax better be ready to pay the price (in being ridiculed by friends and neighbors, being sued, losing a job, etc.). Second, I hope readers learn to question, even doubt any situation that doesn’t feel right, especially those where many details are hidden or left unexplained.

What did you learn throughout your research that was most surprising? 

I was very surprised that the Cardiff Giant hoax was such big news that it pushed other news stories (such as upcoming elections) off the front pages of newspapers.  I was also surprised at how quickly word about the Giant spread across the country, via newspaper reports and the telegraph.  Finally, I was shocked that not many people who created the hoax or profited by it were in any way embarrassed or ashamed of their actions.  This suggests that they would try to fool the public again and again.

Are you a gullible person? 

I tend to question and doubt anything that smells like too good a deal and I have refused to participate in investments, etc. when other people tell me I’m missing out on the chance of a lifetime.  But I’m not smug about this. I have been fooled in the past by fast talking people and lost money along the way.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a lot of money and now I’m very cautious.

If you had been around when the giant was discovered, which theory would you have believed? 

I think I might have believed the idea that it was a very old statue (because supposed experts were saying this). 

I really like the layout of this book, did you have a say in the look of the book? 

The answer is yes and no.  I rounded up all of the pictures for the book and suggested where in the text they should go.  A designer then did a rough layout, and I had a chance to see it and make some comments. But it was the designer and my editor who really put the book together so nicely. 

 

Jim Murphy, March 2014

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Lesléa Newman Interview

october mourning

Mrs. Ada’s students at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY read October Mourning and sent Ms. Newman these questions.  Thank you to Ms. Newman for answering and to the students for the thoughtful questions!

Was 2010 your first visit to the fence?

Yes. I had finished the first draft of my book, and I went to Laramie to do some factual and emotional research. I went back in 2011, again to spend some time at the fence, where I said Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, and just spent some time feeling what it felt like to stand there. I also walked around the town of Laramie, toured the University of Wyoming where I sat on a bench that was erected for Matt on the tenth anniversary of his death, and visited the Matthew Shepard archives  which has a lot of information including letters, newspapers articles, hospital updates, emails, etc.

Was it difficult to write from the perspective of the killers and the protestor?

These poems were not really much more difficult than any of the other poems. As a poet and artist, it is my job to use my imagination and that is what I did. It was necessary for the book so I steeled myself, took a deep breath, and wrote.

Did anything ever happen to discipline the Frat boys? I can’t imagine anyone being that hateful or ignorant.

The National Fraternity withdrew the Fraternity chapter’s charter, and Colorado State University withdrew recognition of the Fraternity (both these actions are very big deals) and 11 students were disciplined.

Are there any poems you wrote that didn’t make it into this collection?

Only one poem, which was called “The Keynote Speaker” which was about me giving my talk on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died. It seemed out of place and a bit self-indulgent, so I left it out.

What do Matthew’s parents think about October Mourning?  Did you ask them for permission (or a blessing) to write their sons story?

I have been in touch with the Matthew Shepard Foundation since I completed the first draft of the book. When I first wrote to Judy Shepard, she was on the road and told the director of the foundation, “Reach out to her” (meaning me) “she’s a good person.” I had sent Judy an article titled “Imagine” which I had written in October 1998 right after her son was murdered, and published in about 20 regional gay newspapers around the country (an expanded version of that article appears as the afterword of the book). So she knew who I was. I visited the Foundation in 2010 on the way to Laramie. Judy was not there–she is always traveling–so I spoke with Jason Marsden, director of the Foundation. I asked him if he would like to read an early draft of the book. He said no, he didn’t want to interfere with my artistic vision. When the manuscript was finished, I sent it to him and he wrote an endorsement which appears on the back of the book. In February 2013, I spent the day with Judy Shepard, watching the Tectonic Theatre Company perform both parts of the Laramie Project in Brooklyn, NY and we had dinner together. I thanked her for letting me tell her son’s story. She said, “Thank you for telling it so beautifully.”

How do you feel about the current state of Gay rights in the US compared to in 1998 when Matthew was killed?

Things have really progressed! The marriage equality movement is growing daily, with more and more states recognizing same-sex marriage. DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has been struck down. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been struck down. We have moved forward, and we still have a long way to go. I am confident that all 50 states will recognize same-sex marriage in my lifetime.

In the afterword you challenge readers to find one thing to do to help  end homophobia. What do you think is the most effective thing people can do to stand up for equality?

I don’t know that there is one most effective thing; there are many things that are effective. You can be inclusive in your language and pay particular attention to pronouns, you can march in a Gay Pride Parade, you can join PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays), you can wear a supportive button on your backpack (“Honorary Lesbian” “I’m Straight But Not Narrow” “I Love My Gay Brother”), you can join the Gay Straight Alliance at your high school (or start one), you can call out someone for using offensive language (when you hear someone say, “That’s so gay” you can say, “That’s so not okay”), you can write a letter to your school newspaper about gay rights, you can visit http://www.matthewshepard.com or http://www.matthewsplace.org and get involved. If you’re a teacher, you can use the new GLSEN/ Matthew Shepard Foundation resource guide, “He Continues to Make a

Difference: Commemorating the Life of Matthew Shepard” to make your school a safer place for LGBT students:

http://glsen.org/matthewshepard

 I suppose if I had to pick one thing, it would be to befriend an LGBT student in your community who is being ostracized. Who is being picked on at your school? Are you brave enough to go against the tide of peer pressure and eat lunch with that student? Being bullied wears a person down, often to the point where he or she loses the desire to live.  Being kind to someone can save that person’s life.

This collection of poems was heartbreaking to read, was it necessary to be able to think about the events objectively or did the emotions drive the writing?

I would say both. I needed to enter the events, as I ask the reader to do, so that I could emotionally place myself in that time and place. 

And I needed to take a step back to focus on language, line breaks, rhythm, and other poetic devices. I did cry a bit when when I wrote some of the poems. Then I sharpened my pencil (I still write longhand!) and dove back in.

Lesléa Newman

March 2013

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Susan Vaught Interview

freaks like us

Mrs. Ada’s students at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY read Freaks Like Us and sent Ms. Susan Vaught these questions.  Thank you to Ms. Vaught for answering and to the students for the thoughtful questions!



Were there real people you based your characters on?

Across my years of practice as a psychologist, I worked with teens and adults with Schizophrenia. Their experiences informed me, inspired me, and humbled me, but I didn’t base my characters on any real people. The characters in Freaks Like Us are from my mind and heart, and that storehouse of experiences so many brave people shared with me.

How did you research what it’s really like to have schizophrenia?

Since around 1990, I have been working with people who struggle with this disorder. That was my primary source of information. I have a doctorate in clinical psychology, and I’ve always preferred helping people who have severe and persistent mental illness, or other serious problems in their brains. I drew on both what I learned in school and what I learned in my practice to create Jason’s character and describe his experiences.

It’s so scary when Jason sees the room bleeding! Is that really what it’s like to hallucinate?

Sadly, yes. Hallucinations are often terrifying. People with schizophrenic symptoms frequently describe seeing very scary things like blood, ghosts, deformed faces, and demons. The voices they hear are equally frightening, and often say upsetting things, or make terrible noises.

As the book goes on, the voices of Bastard, Whiner, and the No-Names seem to be less defined. Was this purposeful?

At the beginning of the book, I called attention to the voices Jason hears so that readers could understand that each voice was distinct and sounded different to him. As the story went on, I let his experiences become more and more like what people describe when they hallucinate–everything blending together into a mind-bending mass off disturbing sounds and terrifying visual images. Also, Jason gets sicker as the story proceeds, since he’s under a lot of stress and without his medication. When that happens to people in real life, hallucinations can blend together so totally that they become indistinguishable from the person’s thoughts, and the person experiencing the hallucinations can no longer tell the voices apart, or make out what they’re actually saying.

Did you know where Sunshine was the whole time you were writing the book?

No! I didn’t. I didn’t know for sure until the last few chapters. I didn’t even decide if she would be found alive until about mid-way through the book. Everybody was asking me–my agent, my editor, friends that had read the first chapter, and I *really didn’t know*. At one point one of my family members told me that if Sunshine didn’t live, they were never, ever speaking to me again. Thankfully, by that time, I had already decided she would survive, or I would have been in serious trouble.

It was really tense the way you wrote the book in “real time” and labeled the chapter titles after each passing hour. Was it difficult to maintain that pacing?

Not in this story. I was able to be so far inside Jason’s head that I could feel the clock ticking for Sunshine, too. It made sense to take it hour by hour, since those first 24 mattered so very much.

Why don’t Jason and Drip just tell what they know? It’s so frustrating because they make things so much worse!

Jason didn’t tell what he knew for two primary reasons. First, he had promised Sunshine he wouldn’t tell. Second, his illness confused him about what was real and what he might have imagined or hallucinated. Drip knew some of what was happening to Sunshine, but maybe not as much as Jason. He has so much trouble focusing that his mind couldn’t light on her troubles and stay still long enough to sort them out. Finally, Jason, Drip, and Sunshine had built a deep friendship out of surviving challenges and keeping each other’s confidences. To Jason, to share secrets entrusted to him by Sunshine would have felt like an unforgivable betrayal.

Did you do a lot of research about how to find missing children? Are those methods and statistics all true?

That, I actually did have to spend a lot of hours researching. I have several books on FBI procedures, and also relied on their website, and some sources who work for the FBI to keep me straight on the details. The methods are as true as I could make them based on those resources, and the statistics were accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Can Alphabets ever have a normal life?

Yes! Though the word “normal” can get pretty loaded. People with all types of disorders can experience recovery and build meaningful, happy lives. They do it every day! Better yet, I think mental health professionals in the United States are making more serious and more successful efforts to help instead of trying to force everyone to accept our beliefs and values.

Do you think Sunshine and Jason eventually find their way back to each other after the book ends?

Absolutely. YES! I can’t stand to think about their lives moving forward any other way. Jason and Sunshine forever!

Susan Vaught, March 2014

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Votes are due April 15

 

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We want NY students’ votes!  Please send them in by April 15.  Voting details are here:

http://www.nysreading.org/content/nysra-charlotte-award-2014-charlotte-ballot-update

Who will win?

 

GRADES PRE K-2/PRIMARY

Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders & Creepy Insiders.  Written by  Anthony D.Fredericks.   Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio .  Published in 2011 by Dawn Publications.

 

Because Amelia Smiled.  Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

Cloudette. Written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  Published in 2011 by Henry Holt.

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships.  Written by Catherine Thimmesh. Published in 2011 by           Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Goldilocks and Just One Bear. Written by Leigh Hodgkinson. Published in 2012 by Nosy Crow.

 

I Need My Own Country. Written by Rick Walton. Illustrated by Wes Hargis.  Published in 2012 by Bloomsbury.

 

Jangles: A Big Fish Story. Written by David Shannon.  Published in 2012 by Blue Sky Press.

 

Penguin and Pinecone. Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. Published in 2012 by Walker.

 

Spike the Mixed Up Monster. Written by Susan Hood. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster.

 

Who Has This Tail. Written by Laura Hulbert.  Illustrated by Erik Brooks.  Published in 2012 by Henry Holt.

 

GRADES 3-5/INTERMEDIATE

Ben Franklin His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z. Written by Alan Schroeder.  Illustrated by John O’Brien.  Published in 2011 by Holiday House.

 

Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond. Written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Published in 2012 by Walker.

 

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson. Written by Peggy Thomas. Illustrated by Laura Jacques. Published in 2011 by Calkins Creek.

 

Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller. Written by Doreen Rappaport.  Illustrated by Matt Tavares.  Published in 2012 by Disney/Hyperion.

           

Kizzy Ann Stamps. Written by Jeri Watts. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

May B:  A Novel. Written by Caroline Starr Rose. Published in 2012 by Schwartz and Wade.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds A Civil War Hero. Written by Marissa Moss.  Illustrated by John Hendrix.  Published in 2011 by Abrams.

 

Same Sun Here. Written by Silas House.  Illustrated by Neela Vaswani.  Published in 2011 by Candlewick Press.

 

A Storm Called Katrina. Written by Myron Uhlberg.  Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Published in 2011 by Peachtree.

 

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives. Written and illustrated by Gene Barretta. Published in 2012 by Henry Holt.

 

GRADES 6-8/MIDDLE SCHOOL

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur. Written by Tracey Fern. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Published in 2012 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Dogs of Winter. Written by Bobbie Pyron. Published in 2012 by Arthur Levine Books.

 

Gifts from the Gods:  Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology. Written by Lise Lunge-Larsen. Illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin.

 

Hidden. Written by Helen Frost. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Mighty Miss Malone. Written by Christopher Paul Curtis.  Published in 2012 by Random House.

A Monster Calls. Written by Patrick Ness.  Illustrated by Jim Kay.  Published in 211 by Candlewick Press.           

 

My Brother’s Shadow. Written by Monika Schroeder. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

Shadow. Written by Michael Morpurgo. Published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends.

 

Surviving the Hindenburg. Written by Larry Verstraete.  Illustrated by David Geister. Published in 2012 by Sleeping Bear Press.

 

Wonder. Written by R.J. Palacio.  Published in 2012 by Knopf.

 

GRADES 9-12/HIGH SCHOOL

Ashfall. Written by Mike Mullin. Published in 2011 by Tanglewood.

 

The Amazing Harry Kellar. Written by Gail Jarrow. Published in 2012 by Calkins Creek.

 

Cinder. Written by Marissa Meyer. Published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends.

 

Freaks Like Us. Written by Susan Vaught. Published in 2012 by Bloomsbury.

 

The Giant and How He Humbugged America. Written by Jim Murphy. Published in 2012 by Scholastic.

 

Ice: The Amazing History of the Ice Business.  Written by Laurence Pringle. Published in 2012 by Calkins Creek.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Written by Ransom Riggs.  Published in 2011 by Quirk Books.

Never Eighteen. Written by Megan Bostic. Published in 2012 by Graphia.

 

October Mourning. Written by Leslea Newman. Published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

 

Wolf Mark. Written by Joseph Bruchac. Published in 2011 by TU Books.

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