Podcast #15: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

An Interview with Jen Vincent

For my fifteenth Dream Gardens podcast, I interviewed author and educator Jen Vincent about one of her favorite books, the children’s middle grade  fantasy novel and 2017 Newbery Award winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

The book tells the story of Luna, an infant rescued from sacrifice by the good-hearted witch Xan. Trouble begins when Xan feeds the child moonlight, making her “enmagicked”. As Luna grows up in the forest with Xan, along with a tiny dragon convinced he’s enormous and an ancient swamp monster with a knack for poetry, her magical abilities threaten to explode out of control and wreak havoc on everything she touches. Add in some sinister secrets, a heroic young carpenter, a madwoman in a tower commanding an army of paper birds, and a volcano ready to erupt, and you have a fantasy adventure with thrills and heart and, of course, a touch of magic.

Jen Vincent is the author of the ebook: My Story Is Here: Be Present and Explore Your Story, a guide for new and developing writers on how to explore  and improve their stories.  She is also a blogger and an educator, focusing on how writers can use “mentor texts”, which are examples of quality writing, to inform writing decisions. You can find her blog at www.teachmentortexts.com and her website at www.jenvincentwrites.com.

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

Podcast #14: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

An Interview with A. T. Baron

For my fourteenth Dream Gardens podcast, I interviewed author Angela Baron, who writes under the name A. T. Baron. We talked about one of her favorite books, the children’s middle grade comic fantasy novel, The Wee Free Men by the late, great Terry Pratchett.

First published in 2003, The Wee Free Men is a Discworld book, the setting of so many of Terry Pratchett’s middle grade and adult satirical novels.  Here we are introduced to nine-year old Tiffany Aching, who discovers she may have a calling as a witch after she dispatches a river monster with a well-aimed frying pan.  But before she can learn more about what all that means, she must rescue her bothersome little brother from the Queen of Fairyland.  She won’t have to go it alone, though.  She has the assistance of the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, a band of six-inch, kilt-wearing, sheep-stealing blue men who never pass up the opportunity for a fight or a drink. This is the first of a series of books featuring Tiffany and the Nac Mac Feegle. Others include A Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and the posthumously published The Shepherd’s Crown.

Angela Baron has written under the name A.T. Baron such children’s books as  the self-illustrated Tale of Two Squirrels as well as her forthcoming YA novel The Ruby Cell. She has also created the illustrations for Sandy Barton’s picture book, The Tree. You can find her website at www.atbaron.com.

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

Podcast #13: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

An Interview with A. B. Westrick

For my thirteenth Dream Gardens podcast, I interviewed author Anne Westrick, who writes under the name A.B Westrick. We talked about one of her favorite books, the children’s middle grade comic mystery novel, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

The novel was first published in 2012 and was a Newbery Honor Book. Set in Tupelo, North Carolina,  the story is told by Moses “Mo” LoBeau, a young girl who was rescued from a flooded river eleven years before, and has stumbled into the middle of a mystery when one of the locals turns up murdered. Along with her best friend Dale, she tries to find the answers to a whole basket full of questions. Who killed Mr. Jessie?  What happened to the Colonel, the man who’s been raising her along with the cafe owner Miss Lana, before he lost his memory? When will her “upstream mother” answer the notes she’s been stuffing into bottles and releasing in the river? Why was her teacher at the races with the detective investigating the case? And where was Dale’s head at when he thought it was a good idea to steal Mr. Jessie’s boat? All these questions and a few more besides are answered in this not terribly serious mystery novel.

Under the name A.B Westick, Anne has written the young adult novel Brotherhood, which was an ALA/ YASLA Best Book for Young Adults in 2014 and a Junior Library Guild selection. The story  is set during the tumultuous time of the Reconstruction, and deals with one brother’s conflict between his ties to the Ku Klux Klan and his friendship with a young former slave. Her website can be found at abwestrick.com/

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

Podcast #12: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathon Stroud

An Interview with David Neilsen

For my twelfth Dream Gardens podcast, I interviewed author and storyteller David Neilsen about the children’s middle grade tale of the supernatural, The Screaming Staircase, Book One of the new Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathon Stroud.

The spooky novel was first published in 2013. Ghosts have been popping up all over England, and not the friendly variety.  So agencies dedicated to their removal having been popping up as well–including Lockwood and Co. The three young members of the new agency have a lot to prove, especially after a well-publicized disaster with a unruly spirit. So when the chance comes to investigate Combe Carey Hall–the most haunted house in the county and home of the dreaded Screaming Staircase–they jump at the chance.  But will the Hall be the start of pushing their ghost-hunting agency into the limelight, or will it be the end of the line not only for their business, but for the three of them as well?

David is a professional storyteller whose performances of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, as well as his performance of Revolutionary War British General John Andre have been enjoyed throughout New York State. His own book, Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, is about a group of children who must find a way to thwart a mysterious doctor before everyone becomes captivated by his strange and ever-growing playground. The sequel, Beyond the Doors, will be available on August 1st, 2017. His website can be found at david-neilsen.com

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

Podcast #11: The BFG by Roald Dahl

An Interview with Ashley Mills Monaghan 

For my eleventh Dream Gardens podcast, I interviewed author Ashley Mills Monaghan about the children’s middle grade novel The BFG by Roald Dahl.

The classic novel was originally published in 1982, and more recently inspired the Steven Steilberg animated adaptation in 2016. The BFG, which stands for The Big Friendly Giant, is the story of the unusual companionship between a young orphan girl and, as you might guess, a big friendly giant. Together they must find a way to keep the other giants, who are much bigger and not at all friendly, from eating up any more “human beans”.  Along the way they discover where dreams can be captured and bottled up, why snozzcumbers should always be avoided,  what the joys of whizzpopping are, and who are the ones you can always count on when the going gets tough. It is a imaginative story with a big heart and a lot of big laughs.

Ashley’s own book, A Little Goes a Long Way, is about a boy named Fin and his dog Sausages searching for the things they’ll need to do the household chores. It has been written for children ages 2 to 6 as a fun way to start a discussion about the importance of conservation. Her website can be found at alittlegoesalongwaybook.com

All podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please link, share, comment, or subscribe. The next podcast will be published April 20th, 2017.