Monday, March 20, 2017

5 with Elana K Arnold - Author of A Boy Called BAT

A Boy Called BAT is a tender story about Bixby Alexander Tam, known as Bat, who is determined to be a good caretaker for an orphaned skunk kit.

Today author Elana K. Arnold stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 

Enjoy today's interview below and be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of A Boy Called BAT.

Welcome, Elana, and thank you for stopping by LibLaura5 to answer my 5 questions!

1. I love BAT because he reminds me of many students I have known through my teaching career. How did his character come to you?
I had dropped my daughter off at rehearsal and was driving to a coffee shop to do some work while I waited for her. It was night, and I was in the turn lane waiting for my light to turn green. And then, a name came to me: Bixby Alexander Tam. In an instant, even before the light turned, I realized that the initials of his name formed a word—BAT—and that this name was perfect for him because I knew that he loved animals, that he had bat-like qualities, and that I loved him.
2. Skunks are …adorable, and fluffy, and also nearsighted and bumblingly slow.

3. What is the most unusual animal you have had for a pet?
We had the great pleasure of being the caretakers of Vegas, Ferret of the World, so called because he was the best ferret to ever, ever live. For ten years, he leapt after yelping children, nipping at their ankles; he wrestled with Sherman, our cockapoo; he slept in my sweater drawer; he stole and hid rubber duckies. He was deaf and rather stinky, yes, and he never did quite work out the intricacies of the litterbox, but he was an Arnold through and through.

4. I was thrilled to discover that A Boy Called BAT is the first in a series. Is there anything you can share about what will be coming in the future?
Yes! I’m excited to share that the second book in the series, BAT AND THE WAITING GAME, will be out next year. Here are a few words about it:
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life is pretty great.  He’s the caretaker of the best baby skunk in the world—even Janie, his older sister, is warming up to Thor.   When Janie gets a part in the school play and can’t watch Bat after school, it means some pretty big changes.  Someone else has to take care of the skunk kit in the afternoons, Janie is having sleepovers with her new friends, and Bat wants everything to go back to normal.  He just has to make it to the night of Janie’s performance... Elana K. Arnold returns with another story of friendship starring an unforgettable boy called Bat.

5. Sharing the books we love is one way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book you loved as a child?
When I was a young reader, I adored Beverly Cleary’s RAMONA books. I couldn’t have clearly explained then why the books were important to me, but now I can see it’s because Cleary allowed the things that are a big deal to young people to feel like a big deal; she didn’t try to talk Ramona (or her readers) out of feeling big, messy feelings. Ramona feels angry and upset and affronted about things that some adults would say weren’t big deals, that the kid should have more perspective or just “get over it.” But Cleary allowed her young heroine to stew in those feelings and work through them on her own terms, something I aim to do with Bat.

ENTER to win a signed copy of A Boy Called BAT!

Visit Elana K. Arnold's website:

Find A Boy Called BAT on...

Visit the other stops on the A Boy Called BAT Blog Tour:

March 30 LitCoachLou

Monday, February 13, 2017

25 with Caroline Starr Rose author of Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine

You may know author Caroline Starr Rose from her previous middle grade novels, May B or Blue BirdsCaroline's latest book, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine (G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 7, 2017) is a historical fiction adventure set during the Klondike gold rush. 

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine is an adventure-filled survival story of young Jasper and his brother Mel dreaming of gold on their journey through Alaska and into the Yukon region of Canada. Along the way Jasper hears a curious story of an old prospector named One-Eyed Riley who supposedly left his Klondike claim worth millions free for the taking. 
"The coot--One-Eyed Reily is his name--he made a fancy five-line riddle that leads a soul straight to it. Only the lines--clues, really--you have to search for them. They ain't easy to find, even harder to figure how they fit together."

Many thanks to author, Caroline Starr Rose for stopping by the LibLaura5 blog to share 25 things (aka 5x5!) you might not know about her:

  1. It made the children laugh and play: I lived in Saudi Arabia as a girl. Once while my preschool class sang “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a little goat wandered into our schoolyard.

  1. Avocados are my favorite food.

  1. I’ve given everyone in my family multiple nicknames, including the dog. My children do not appreciate most of them. Now that they’re older, I’m pretty good at not using them in public…most of the time.

  1. February is my least favorite month.

  1. I’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth at least 30 times, first as a six-grade student and then to my own six-grade students. It’s middle-grade perfection.

  1. I’ve stayed in the bedroom — and the bed — in Spain that Ernest Hemingway rented while writing The Sun Also Rises.

  1. I never read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (though I can picture where it was shelved in my elementary library), but I’ve memorized the name of its imaginary rocket fuel: tritetramethylbenzacarbonethylene.

  1. I’d like to think I started the recycling program in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. When we first moved there, we had to drive to a nearby parish for a communal recycling bin. I wrote a letter to a local magazine, and they contacted me for an interview. I also brought up the recycling problem with a parish councilman. Not long after, communal bins showed up all over our parish, the closest just a few miles from our home.

  1. Most runners I know think great thoughts. Not me. My mind is happily empty as I run.

  1. I don’t like one jug of milk to be mixed with another. Just give me a half glass if the jug runs out.

  1. My middle-school Spanish teacher used to call my hairsprayed bangs “The Wave.”

  1. I’m a sentimental softy.

  1. I hated my middle name when I was young. Kids used to tease me and ask if my parents were hippies. Now I think it’s pretty groovy.

  1. Speaking of groovy, I had this cassette tape as a kid.

  1. Sometimes I got in trouble at school for laughing uncontrollably.

  1. My mother once whispered something during a wedding that made me laugh uncontrollably for the rest of the service. Thanks, Mom.

  1. Another time I got the giggles while teaching six-grade and couldn’t stop for the life of me. The kids thought it was loads of fun and actually helped me through the rest of the lesson.

  1. I danced ballet for ten years. Nothing is more beautiful or powerful than a ballerina.

  1. I’m obsessed with author L.M. Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame. I’ve read all her books, some multiple times, and twice have read the journals she kept from age fourteen until her death. Last summer I traveled to Prince Edward Island on a L.M. Montgomery pilgrimage.

  1. I think the word undulate is fun to say.

  1. I can’t understand why people sometimes confuse my name with Carolyn. When I meet Carolyns I ask if they are sometimes called Caroline. They always are. This is a mystery to me.

  1. I usually read 3-4 books at the same time.

  1. I’d love to visit Iceland.

  1. In Hong Kong I ate chicken feet and something called a sea cucumber, which is absolutely not a vegetable.

  1. Writing for kids is the best job in the world.

Visit Caroline Starr Rose's

Find Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine on...

Visit the other stops on the Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine Blog Tour:

Wednesday, February 8th – Teach Mentor Texts

Thursday, February 9th – Mr. Schu Reads

Friday, February 10th – Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Saturday, February 11th – Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

Sunday, February 12th – Children’s Book Review

Tuesday, February 14th – All the Wonders

Monday, December 19, 2016

5 with Monika Schröder author of Be Light Like a Bird

For today's post I turn the LibLaura5 blog over to Monika Schröder, author of Be Light Like a Bird, the moving story of Wren who is trying to find herself in the wake of the sudden loss of her father.

Monika, thank you so much for stopping by my blog to share about Be Light Like a Bird by finishing my 5 purple prompts.

Hi Laura, Thank you for inviting me on your blog. I appreciate the opportunity to talk a bit about BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD.

Grief and hope…play an important role in BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD. Wren is devastated after the loss of her father and doesn't understand why her mother acts so distant toward her. She slowly works through her grief, also with the help of Theo, who himself suffered the loss of a parent. She is lonely and her mother takes her away from the only home she knew. But she never looses hope. She makes a plan to convince her mother to stay in Pyramid, MI and to make it their new home.

Wren... has grown very close to my heart while I was writing the book. Even though she is grieving the death of her father she shows a lot of strength. When confronted with the choice of fitting in with the popular girls or standing up for what she believes in, she chooses the later. She decides to fight for the sanctuary where she watches birds and she comes up with creative ways to generate support for this project. At the end of the story she has formed a new bond with her mother and has found a new home. I think she is an awesome girl and I hope many readers like her as much as I do.

Monika's garden--"since we moved to the US I have become an avid gardener.
Gardening, to me, is the perfect supplementary activity to writing."

Birdwatching… is important to Wren. I love birds, but I am not a serious bird watcher. Wren used to watch birds with her father. Right after his death, she is not sure if she can continue watching birds, since the activity is so closely connected to her memory of him, and it was her father who gave her the journal she notes her bird sightings in. But then, after she and her mother arrive in northern Michigam, she decides to continue, and when Theo joins her birdwatching helps the two of them to forge their friendship. Her love for birdwatching also becomes the catalyst for her getting engaged in a civil action project to save the bird sanctuary from destruction from the expansion of a landfill.

Writing books for young readers…is rewarding. I love writing for kids. I hope that some young readers recognize themselves in my books. In the case of BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD the book may help a grieving child or may help a girl to stand up against bullies. I also truly enjoy being part of the supportive community of children's book writers and teachers and librarians who are getting these books into the hands of kids. It is a great tribe to belong to.

Monika with her dog Frank whom she adopted from the streets of India

Sharing the books we love is another way to share about ourselves and connect with each other, so my last prompt for you is...

I've read many great books this year. One book I read and loved recently... was WISH, by Barbara O'Connor, a beautiful story about a girl who finds acceptance and love in an unexpected place. Charlie, a girl with a temper and an urgent wish, grows out of her angry shell with the help of her loving aunt, a true friend, and a stray dog. Young readers will connect to the well-drawn characters on many levels. WISH provides ample material for classroom discussion, while leaving kids with the assurance that, even if they feel alone, there is always hope. O'Connor's hallmark cadence and poignant descriptions of the southern setting enhance the charm of this book. Lovely all around!

Thank you, Monika!

Visit Monika Schrӧder's Website:

Find Be Light Like a Bird on...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

5 with Sarah Aspinall of Penguins Love Colors

For today's post I turn the LibLaura5 blog over to Sarah Aspinall, creator of Penguins Love Colors.

Sarah, thank you so much for stopping by my blog to share about your new book Penguins Love Colors by finishing my 5 purple prompts.

[Sarah:] Thank you for having me, it’s lovely to be here!

Penguins… are so much fun to illustrate!  I adore animals of all kinds and any excuse to draw and paint them I will take!  Did you know there are approximately 17 different types of penguins? Not all of them live in the cold like mine do, in fact, the smallest breed of penguin, called a Fairy Penguin, (the biggest ones grow to just 13” tall, with a maximum weight of 3.3 lbs!) lives in Southern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand!
It was also very important to me that I make the world of the book as void of color as possible so that when the creativity begins (much like starting a drawing on a blank piece of paper, or painting a fresh canvas) the colors truly burst across the page/snow!  There are no limits!  What better choice than a sibling group of playful black and white penguins!

Broccoli… is delicious!  My best friend and I used to eat it nearly every day with cheese and spicy sauce (those were the frugal days of living in London in my early 20’s- ha!).  
The penguins all have very specific names linking them to their favorite colors.  I wanted to have one, named Broccoli, that was a little out of the ordinary.  I think we almost all have that quirky friend or family member who is a little different than the rest.  In fact, I think I might even be that person for some- hehe.
I also think it helps to give young readers something to remember and react to right away!  Most people do not know that Broccoli is a flowering vegetable, it’s a good way to make sure they’re listening ;)

Growing up on top of a hill in the middle of the english countryside.
Surrounded by seven brothers and sisters, dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and mice

Picture books…  help us to connect, communicate, understand, learn, laugh, remember, feel, express love for one another and form a creative point of view--they are truly limitless.  They must never, ever, ever go away.
I first understood just how powerful a picture book could be when I took a class at RISD called Picture and Word.  I will never forget day one when Judy-Sue, an amazing lady who has inspired me more than anyone I have met, introduced us to a spectrum of wonderful picture books, but finished by reading aloud ‘Annie Bananie’ by Leah Komaiko (Illustrated by Laura Cornell).  By the end of the book she was moved to tears and I was surprised to find that I was too. Taking that class was a truly pivotal moment in my life, and I have not stopped writing, illustrating and collecting picture books ever since.

Making books for young readers… is an honor and a heck of a lot of fun.  Children are the experts when it comes to play and bringing life to one’s imaginings, as a creator you need to keep your wits about you!  
There is also something incredibly special about being a part of someone’s childhood, if you get it right, parts of whatever it is you created stays with them forever.

Sharing the books we love is one way we share about ourselves and connect with each other, so my last prompt for you is...

One book I read and loved recently… Oh!  There are so many!!  Only one?  Hmm, well, if I must- I think I will choose ‘Rude Cakes’ by Rowboat Watson.  It is absolutely bonkers, and really, really funny, I loved it.  When these kinds of books get published I feel relieved to know that there are still enough grown up folks out there with a great sense of humor and the gumption to publish something truly original.

Thank you, Sarah!

Find Penguins Love Colors on...