Podcast #24: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

An Interview with Denise Vega

For my twenty-forth Dream Gardens kid lit podcast, I interviewed author Denise Vega about one of her favorite children’s books,  The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.

Published in 2015, The Thing About Jellyfish is a story of a young girl trying to make sense of her own guilt and grief.  Suzy Swanson and Franny Jackson were the best of friends growing up, but after a particularly awful falling out in middle school, they aren’t anymore. Then Suzy learns Franny has drowned while on vacation, and she doesn’t know what to do. First she stops speaking. Then she latches onto an idea while visiting an aquarium that Franny’s death must have been caused by a jellyfish sting. She becomes obsessed about proving this theory, and cooks up an outlandish scheme to make it happen. But what she learns is not what she expects. The Thing About Jellyfish is a story about lost friendships and new friendships, unsatisfactory answers to impossible questions, the loneliness of being different, and of course jellyfish.

Denise Vega is the author of several YA, middle grade and picture books, including Fact of Life #31, Click Here: To Find Out How I Survived 7th Grade, and her latest book, a picture book titled If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed.  She also provides a manuscript critique and consultation service for other authors. You can find Denise’s website at www.denisevega.com.

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published on December 1st, 2017.

Podcast #23: Beautiful Joe: A Dog’s Own Story by Marshall Saunders

An Interview with Charlotte Bennardo

For my twenty-third Dream Gardens kid lit podcast, I interviewed author Charlotte Bennardo about one of her favorite children’s books,  Beautiful Joe: A Dog’s Own Story by Margaret Marshall Saunders.

Beautiful Joe is the fictional autobiography of a dog named Joe, based on an real-life incident told to the author. The book was originally published in 1893 under the name Marshall Saunders because Margaret did not think most people at that time would read a book written by woman.  In it, Joe relates his harrowing life as a puppy living with an owner who abuses and disfigures him.  But he is rescued by a loving family whose home brims with animals of all kinds,  and for whom the welfare of animals is a paramount concern. There Joe makes friends with the other dogs, horses, and birds that populate the household, and has many adventures.  Beautiful Joe  was a best-selling book in Canada for many years after its publication, and in 1995 a Beautiful Joe Society was created to maintain Joe’s memory and to establish a museum in the house where the original Joe lived.

Charlotte Bennardo is author of such books as the Evolution Revolution series, including Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons. She is also co-author of Blonde OPS and the Sirenz series . You can find Charlotte’s website at charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com.

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published on November 16th, 2017.

Podcast #22: The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

An Interview with Beth Vrabel

For my twenty-second Dream Gardens kid lit podcast, I interviewed author Beth Vrabel about one of her favorite children’s books,  The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.

Published in 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Wednesday Wars is a historical middle grade novel set in the 1967 – 68 school year in Long Island, New York.  Holling Hoodhood is a seventh grader who thinks his teacher, Mrs. Baker, is out to get him.  Every Wednesday afternoon he’s stuck all alone with her while the other kids go to their religious education classes.  And every Wednesday she dishes out all kinds of horrible punishments upon him, like cleaning out the class rat cages, beating erasers and, even worse, reading Shakespeare!  But when Holling learns that Mrs. Baker’s husband is an MIA soldier in Vietnam, he starts to see her as a human being with joys and fears just like everyone else. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the tumultuous late ’60s, The Wednesday Wars is a heartfelt and humorous story of one boy’s coming of age in a difficult time.

Beth Vrabel is author of such books as the Pack of Dorks series, A Blind Guide to Stinkville, and her most recent book, Caleb and Kit. You can find Beth’s website at www.bethvrabel.com.

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published on November 1st, 2017.

Podcast #21: Rules by Cynthia Lord

An Interview with Maria Dismondy

For my twenty-first Dream Gardens kid lit podcast, I interviewed author Maria Dismondy about one of her favorite children’s books,  Rules by Cynthia Lord.

Published in 2006 by Scholastic Press, Rules tells the story of twelve year old Catherine, who wishes she had more control over her messy life. Her autistic brother David consumes most of her parent’s attention, and the rules she tries to get him to abide to make him more “normal” never really work out for either one of them. But when two potential new friends turn up in her life, a girl who just moved next-door and a paraplegic boy who she can only communicate with by touching word cards, things start looking up. Except Catherine still has lot to learn about what it means to be a true friend, and that what “normal” looks like is not what she’d thought.

Maria Dismondy’s books include The Juice Box Bully, Chocolate Milk Por Favor, and her most recent book, Fruit Salad Friend.  In addition, Maria offers coaching services for published authors and is founder of the hybrid publishing company Cardinal Rule Press. You can find Maria’s website at mariadismondy.com.

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published on October 16th, 2017.

Podcast #20: The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring

An Interview with Karen Yingling

For my twentieth Dream Gardens kidlit podcast, I interviewed librarian Karen Yingling about one of her favorite Young Adult books, the contemporary sports novel The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring.

Published in 2017, this YA tells the story of Tessa and Caleb’s last summer before entering high school. It should be a time for friends, fun, and perhaps even a budding romance. But Tessa’s decision to be the first girl to join the football camp threatens to upend her camaraderie with her track buddies, not to mention thwarting her deepening relationship with Caleb. And as for Caleb, how he reacts to Tessa’s decision, and how he deals with the hazing rituals of his soon to be varsity teammates, raises all sorts of questions whose answers are not always easy for him to figure out. Whatever happens, Tessa and Caleb’s life will never be the same after the summer ends.

Karen YingLing is a middle school librarian, as well as a Middle Grade Fiction Organizer for the Cybils award and a book reviewer for the  School Library Journal and Young Adult Books Central. You can find Karen’s website at msyinglingreads.blogspot.com

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published on October 1st, 2017.