Get to Know Author Hayley Barrett

We’re continuing our celebration of  the debut of Hayley Barrett’s eagerly-awaited picture book, Babymoon! Emu’s Debut’s Kat Shepherd  got to catch up with Hayley to ask her a few questions about her gorgeous debut.

Hayley, I’m so excited that your debut picture book, Babymoon, is entering the world! Juggling the schedules of both author and illustrator can mean that picture books often have an interesting path to publicationWhat did that look like for Babymoon? What was your experience when you first saw the illustrations? Did it change the way you thought about your work?

The gestation period for this book was a bit longer than typical—a couple of years longer—but the wait never troubled me. I knew it was in good hands, the best possible hands, at Candlewick Press, and I knew Juana Martinez-Neal’s illustrations would complement and illuminate the text. Now Babymoon is finally here, and it is as beautiful as I could possibly have hoped.

I know this book is about that magical bonding time for families after a new baby is born. Can you talk a bit about the title and how it fits into the story?

There are so few times in our lives when we are encouraged to step away from the world and rest. A honeymoon is one such time—a respite of romance and relaxation—set apart from everyday life. No one would dream of disturbing honeymooners! A babymoon is like that—a bit of sweet, secluded time.

methode_times_prod_web_bin_93ba2656-416e-11e8-9e56-5a3ba78ec85fI want to emphasize that every growing family deserves a babymoon. Whether heading home with a baby graduating from the NICU, adopting 8-year-old siblings, or welcoming a full-term newborn—whatever their particular situation—families deserve time to rest, learn, and fall in love. They deserve our patience, our support, and they definitely deserve our yummy casseroles.

Do you have particular memories of your own babymoons when your children were born?

Image result for free birthday cake imagesI baked and froze a Birth Day cake for each of our babies in anticipation of their arrival. Our daughter’s was chocolate with chocolate frosting—her dad’s favorite—and our son’s was carrot cake with cream cheese icing—just like our wedding cake. After each birth, when Baby was swaddled and everything settled down, we put a candle in the cake, lit it, and sang Happy Birthday to them for the very first time. It’s a lovely memory.

After each of the births, my mother stayed with us for a few days, but I’m not sure she spent much time holding the babies. She was too busy washing our (embarrassingly dusty!) baseboards and making heaps of meatballs to freeze for future meals. She quietly provided physical and emotional support, so my husband and I could rest and get acquainted with the new person in our lives. It was a priceless gift.

This book seems like a perfect gift for baby showers or for new parents to read with their newborns. However, it’s not just families with newborns that are drawn to this story. How have children been receiving the book?

I’m delighted to say that babies love BABYMOON! Many people send me pictures of their little ones turning the pages and gazing at Juana Martinez-Neal’s gorgeous  illustrations. Bigger kids like the book too. It’s a cozy read-aloud, and it invites children and parents alike to revisit those early days of togetherness. Everybody likes to be coddled and cuddled like a baby sometimes, right?

Do you have any suggestions on how a community can support a growing family?

Image result for privacy pleaseYES! The time to plan a babymoon is before the new little one arrives. Family, friends, neighbors, and others can work together to meet everyday needs like food, errands, pet care, and more. Sometimes, the most important baby gift we can give is space and time. When a baby arrives, we’re all excited to visit, but respecting a new family’s privacy is important.

Are there things you know now that you wish you had known as a new parent? What advice would you have given yourself when your first child was born?

I spent a lot of time preparing for the birth of my first baby and not nearly enough time preparing to feed her. Many people have no trouble breastfeeding, but getting started was really hard for me both times. The encouragement of my husband, family, and friends was essential, as was the best breastfeeding book I know, Suzanne Arms’ classic BESTFEEDING. Her clear explanations and close-up photographs saved the day, every day, until Baby and I got the hang of it.

Advice I wish I could have given myself as a new parent? Tell people you’re planning a babymoon, request privacy and practical help, and then let yourself relax, rest, and revel in the moment.

Babymoon is a beautiful debut, and I can’t wait to see readers embracing it. What’s next for you?

The next book you’ll see from me is What Miss Mitchell Saw, coming September 3rd from Beach Lane Books. Diana Sudyka’s illustrations are simply celestial!

Be sure to pick up Hayley Barrett’s beautiful debut, Babymoon, in your local bookstore and get ready to fall in love. And you can preorder What Miss Mitchell Saw today, too! Visit hayleybarrett.com for more information.

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Bonding with BABYMOON

Usually, it takes about two years from the acquisition of a manuscript for a picture book to be born, fully developed with squeal-worthy artwork and huggable hardback covers. Sometimes, the gestational period can be much longer. Such was the case with BABYMOON by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. And, like so many things made with love and nurtured with patience and tenderness, this book was worth the wait.

Official BABYMOON Cover

The deal for BABYMOON was announced on April 2, 2015, exactly four years ago. In that time, 26 emus could have hatched, one right after the other. (It takes an emu 56 days on average to go from egg to chick.) So please join me, all the EMUs here in our digital nest, and an imaginary mob of 26 emus, in wishing a very happy book birthday to Hayley and BABYMOON!!

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If you think a babymoon is like a honeymoon, you would not be far off. The original term, coined by midwives and birth professionals, describes the period right after the birth of a baby. It is, according to Hayley, “a time for holding the world at bay, a time for a new family constellation to rest, bond, and celebrate.” Recently, the tourism industry has adopted the term to market one last getaway trip for expectant parents. While it’s a wonderful idea to relax and reconnect with a partner before a baby arrives, I’d argue that slowing down and taking the time to connect with a brand-new family member is even more important.

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Throughout history and across the globe, postpartum traditions have existed. There are a number of names for what is essentially a babymoon, ranging from a “lying-in period,” “confinement,” “zuo yuezi (sitting the month),” or “la cuarentena (quarantine).” But they all involve the seclusion of the mother and baby in order to help them recover and bond. A babymoon could last anywhere from 8 days to 8 weeks or more, depending on the country. Moms are fed nourishing foods to help them regain strength, visitors (and their germs) are limited to protect weakened immune systems, and family members take care of the cooking and cleaning. I love how babymoons not only bonds parents with their new child, but also brings a community together. Hayley says, “It should not be a luxury. Everyone should do it.”

 

In the U.S., though, new moms are often rushed back to work, pressured to regain their pre-baby figures, and encouraged to “bounce back” as quickly as possible. They experience little rest or relaxation. Traditional postpartum practices are forgotten or lost as people immigrate to the U.S. and get caught up in the quick pace of life and lack of maternity/paternity leave. Many people don’t have relatives/friends who can pitch in. Hopefully, though, that is all changing. People can hire postpartum doulas to visit new parents and check on babies; they can even bring food and give massages. In some communities with large Chinese populations, there are guesthouses where moms and babies can spend their babymoons being pampered alongside other new moms. (Wouldn’t it be nice if babymoon guesthouses existed for everyone?)  

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Whether a babymoon lasts for a day, a week, or even (blessedly) a whole month, take the time. Enjoy “a sweet, secluded afternoon – this restful time, our babymoon.” And whether your baby is a day, a year, or even 18 years old (as my firstborn turns today!), gather them close, curl up with a copy of BABYMOON, and celebrate the person that made you a family.

BABYMOON can be purchased at your local bookstore or online through IndieBound, Amazon, and B&N

Resources for expectant and new parents:

Baby Café USA: http://www.babycafeusa.org

Ou, Heng, et al. “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.” Abrams, 2016.

Search online for a Mothering Circle or Postpartum Support Group near you. Some Mothering Circles even provide lactation consultants as well as classes on infant care or yoga.


Andrea Wang side photo

Andrea Wang is an EMUs Debuts alumna and the award-winning author of The Nian Monster. She loves to travel and sample new and unusual foods. Unsurprisingly, most of her writing is about food. Andrea writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her second picture book, Magic Ramen, was published in March 2019. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family and their dog, Mochi, named for the sticky rice dessert.

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By the Light of the BABYMOON

Official BABYMOON Cover

Tomorrow, author Hayley Barrett debuts with her sweet picture book BABYMOON, celebrating a family’s first days following the birth of a new baby. Emu Debut’s Darshana Khiani caught up with agent Ammi-Joan Paquette to find out the path that led to the book’s own birthday.

Darshana: Was Babymoon the manuscript that led you to sign Hayley as a client? What was it about Hayley’s writing that drew you in?

Joan: Yes! BABYMOON was the first manuscript I read of Hayley’s, and I was immediately hooked—pitch perfect meter and rhyme, exquisitely lyrical tone, and bursting with heart. I loved it then and I love it even more now!

Darshana: What was your thought process like when submitting this manuscript for consideration at Candlewick?

Joan: I adore the picture books that Candlewick makes, and connecting with editorial director Mary Lee Donovan on this was a dream come true. Right from the start she has had the vision and insight to guide and shape this wonderful book—I can’t imagine it anywhere else ❤

Darshana: BABYMOON is about that special time when parents first bond with their newborn. What is your fondest memory from that time in parenthood?

Image result for sleepy parentsJoan: Oh, wow—that is a very long time ago for me! It’s funny, but I don’t seem to have a lot of specific or anecdotal memories of those very early days (sleep deprivation much? 😊). Instead I just remember a sort of warm haze over the time, a feeling of utter warmth and completeness, like everything I could ever want or need was right there within my arms’ reach. And every time I read BABYMOON it’s like getting that feeling back, just for a moment.

Darshana: You write and represent authors from board books thru YA. What are picture books to you?

Joan: I adore picture books! I know this because, despite having felt for a while that my agenting list is increasingly PB-heavy, I can’t seem to stop taking them on. There is something timeless about this book medium, perhaps the perfect form of literary expression.

Darshana: Who do you see as the perfect reader for BABYMOON?

Joan: It’s hard to think of a reader who would not fall in love with BABYMOON! Whether you have a baby, know a baby, have met babies in passing, have no concept or and want to learn about babies, or were once a baby yourself—this is The Book for you 😊

A few rapid fire questions:

What would you be doing if you weren’t an agent/writer?  Can’t imagine a better job, honestly!

Favorite pick me up snack or drink?  85% dark chocolate

What book is on your bedside table?  The Book Lover by Ali Smith


Sounds like the perfect book for any family expecting a baby, or needing comfort in the early days to know they’re not alone – look for it in bookstores everywhere or order on Indiebound.org, Barnes &Noble, or Amazon.com.

Hayley Barrett is a wonderful friend to all us Emus, and we’ll be coming to her debut events whenever we can. Learn more about where’s she’ll be so you can can come meet her in person!

hayleybarrett.com/.

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The Oldest Egg In The Nest

Emu eggs hatch approximately 56 days from the time they land in the nest. I know this because I Googled “emu egg incubation time” a minute ago. Dragon eggHave you ever seen an emu egg? They are spectacular, blue-green, dragonish things.Emu Egg In my opinion, they’re way prettier than real dragon eggs. (Sorry, Dany.)

After an expectant lady emu lays a clutch of eggs, a gentleman emu—sometimes sire of said eggs, sometimes not—does the sitting. He faithfully turns the eggs too, 10-12 times a day for weeks and weeks. At long last, when he is about ready to perish of hunger, impossibly adorable, stripey chicks pop out of their shells and leap straight into his heart.Hatching Emu The proud papa will dote on these chicks for the next year and a half, nurturing them and teaching them to be good emus.

<— Just look at this sweet face, those long legs, and that still-shelled butt… Entirely worth the wait, right? Right.

This brings me to my point. Presently, I am the Oldest Egg in the EMU’s Debuts nest.

If we’re going to be persnickety about metaphor, I guess my debut book is the egg, and I’m the egg-sitter, but let’s not quibble. Fact is, flocks and flocks have fledged and flitted, and I’m still sitting, turning, and awaiting my very own impossibly adorable nestling, BABYMOON. Adoring Hayley

I will now allow myself an extra-big picture of it, because I have been patient. Join me in gazing at Juana Martinez-Neal‘s tender, luminous, romantic cover illustration. Isn’t it dreamy? Sigh…

Official BABYMOON Cover

 

This particular EMU’s Debuts egg hatches on April 2, 2019, and like Mr. Emu, my real job as its nurturer begins then. I’ve had some time to think, and here’s my plan:

—I will do my best to dote on BABYMOON, to nurture it and teach it to be a good book.

—I will try to make sure it reaches growing families and those who care for and love them.

—With BABYMOON’s help, I will encourage the gentle, sensitive welcoming of tiny people into the world, and remind new parents to take time to rest together and fall in love as a family.

Until happy hatching day, I’ll stay cozily settled on the EMU’s Debuts’ nest, getting ready for my book to arrive and busier days to come.


Hayley's Author Photo-2 MB-JPEGI write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book illustrated by Diana Sudyka, is coming fall 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books. GIRL VERSUS SQUIRREL, a funny STEM-based picture book, is illustrated by Renée Andriani and coming from Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, summer 2020. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Credits: Emu incubation info: ABC.net.au, Emu egg photo: Emu Ridge Eucalyptus and CraftGallery, Hatching emu photo: Corny Caleb on BackyardChickens.com, Emu skeleton photo: Wikipedia

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Hope, Heart, Octopuses and Squids: An Interview with Agent Tricia Lawrence

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Now that THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS has officially begun swimming into the hands of lucky readers everywhere, we Emus wanted to talk to one of author Ann Braden’s partners on her path to publication: agent extraordinaire, Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Emu Emeritus Elaine Vickers caught up with Tricia to find out her perspective on Ann’s tenacity and heart, hope, and invertebrate creatures of the deep.

Elaine: THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS has already received rave reviews, including a star from School Library Journal. What is it about this story that makes it so special?

Tricia: This story is special because it’s an Ann story and each story she writes comes from a her heart. This one in particular was so apt and timely because of the economic disparities it focuses on and it gives kids who live this story every day a bit of hope, at least I hope.

Elaine: The title of the book comes right from Chapter 1 and is tied to a question Zoey’s teacher asks of the class–and a question I’m going to ask of you now: Which animal is the best? Like Zoey’s teacher, we’d love a few details to support your answer.

Tricia: I love a good octopus, but I’m a huge fan of the giant squid. Why? I always wanted one (before they were even seen on camera, when we only knew they existed but hadn’t filmed one yet). They are able to battle whales, and any cephalopod is just a cool animal.
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Elaine: What is your favorite thing about working with Ann?
Tricia: Ann is a professional, always. This is a confusing and frustrating business, but she makes it look effortless. Don’t let her fool you, it’s because she works hard and doesn’t give up. Ann has a big heart. It shows. She loves this work and the kids she writes for so much!
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Elaine: Who do you picture as the perfect reader for this book?
Tricia: Any reader who feels the world has passed them by, because there is always hope.
Elaine: What experience do you hope readers have with this novel?
Tricia: That they walk a little braver, stand up a little straighter, settle into who they are more than they ever have before.
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We trust you are even more intrigued and ready to read THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS, now available to spread hope and octopus facts everywhere. Please come on over to Ann Braden’s website to learn more about the author, upcoming events, resources for teachers and librarians, and what Tricia Lawrence might mean when she calls this moving book an “Ann story.” (And see if you can find out where she got this tentacular dress!)

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An Octet of Octopus Facts and Friends!

We continue to wrap our long, flexible arms around Ann Braden’s THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS in a giant, celebratory, Emu hug.

For my contribution to her launch festivities, I’ve pulled together an octet of informational tidbits about the cephalopodic creature that adorns Ann’s gorgeous cover.

1. Let’s talk about the OCTOPUS. That’s the catch-all name for one of about 300 species of soft-bodied, eight-limbed molluscs, order Octopoda, from the Greek for “eight foot.”

2. The PLURAL FORM of octopus is and always has been—brace yourselves—”octopuses” Say it with me three times fast: Octopuses! Octopuses! Octopuses!

Voilà!

Aren’t they beautiful? Aren’t they majestic?

What’s that? You can’t see them? Of course you can’t, because the next captivating cephalopodic characteristic is:

3. COMPLETELY CONFUSING CAMOUFLAGE!

Octopuses and other cephalopods have specialized cells called chromatophores beneath the surface of their skin. These cells contain sacs of liquid color, like ink-filled water balloons. As the cells expand or contract, the animal’s skin changes color. Specialized muscles under their skin—similar to ours that cause goosebumps—alter the animal’s texture. Chromatophores and specialized musculature make it possible for cephalopods to adapt their appearance, mirroring and mottling until they blend into their surroundings. Poof!

4. FREAKY-SMART INTELLIGENCE! (maybe don’t think about it too much)

 Octopuses have more neurons in their arms than they do in their brains. This means they think—independently of their brain—with their arms. They feel with their arms, sure, but they also taste with their arms. To some extent, scientist believe they even see with their arms. On a whole-body level, they are exquisitely sensitive, problem-solving, interactive creatures.

In fact, due to their intelligence, octopuses are listed in the U.K. and other countries as experimental animals, which means surgery may not be performed on them without anesthesia, a protection is usually limited to vertebrates.

5. OCEANIC BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!

Every ocean is home to the octopus. The habitats each prefers vary from shallow tidal pools to deep-ocean abyssal plains. Their preferred water temperatures range from hydrothermal vent-hot to icy-cold. Sadly, no octopuses inhabit fresh water.

6. 7. & 8. CHECK OUT THESE THREE PARTICULARLY SPECTACULAR CEPHALOPODS:

ABDOPUS (like octopus…with great abs) ACUEATUS, also known as “algae octopus,” the only “land” octopus. It lives on intertidal beaches and crawls along the sand from tide pool to tide pool in search of food. You have to see it to believe it, and remember, once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

 

 

GRIMPOTEUTHISa type of pelagic umbrella octopus, is more commonly known as the Dumbo octopus. I like the name “Grimpoteuthis” far better than “Dumbo,” but I get why this critter got it’s Disney-ish name. It flaps ear-like fins to propel itself, flying underwater like an animated elephant. It also has bright baby-blue eyes, just like—you guessed it!—Dumbo. 

 

 

8. The TREMOCTOPUS, or the blanket octopus, sports rippling sheets of webbing stretched between its arms.  The blanket octopus is immune to the viciously venomous sting of the Portuguese man-o-war. Since the female blanket octopus is 4000 times larger than the male, she’s the one who collects and brandishes the marine hydrozoan’s whip-like tentacles, Scientists believe the octopuses employ the tentacles for offense and defense. Look out, Aquaman!

Now you know  THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS. They’re capable, curious, color-transforming, consistency-copying, and altogether cool!  

 

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I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON, dreamily illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, celebrates the birth of a new family and will be published April 2, 2019 by Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in fall 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. GIRL VS. SQUIRREL, a funny STEM-based picture book illustrated by Renée Andriani, is coming from Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House in spring 2020. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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AN OCTOPUS IS BORN

The Benefits of Being an OctopusWe Emus are fluffing our feathers in proud excitement to announce that Ann Braden’s MG novel The Benefits of Being An Octopus will celebrate its book birthday tomorrow, September 4th.  If only we had tentacles to wave in joy as well!

Read on to learn more about the book’s amazing author and her axe-shaped necklace, about how teachers can’t wait to use it to help students expand their empathy, and how librarians can advise patrons on its appeal factors. We’ll also have a whole ‘nother post about the benefits of being an actual octopus!

 

An Interview with Ann Braden

by Anna Redding

Anna: This book is written in first person. To do that, you really have to know your character.  Zoey’s voice comes through crystal clear, illuminating her world

and way of thinking right out of the gate. It’s so well done, I have to ask, was that something yVersion 3ou focused on crafting or did Zoey’s voice come to you with this kind of clarity?

Ann: Zoey’s voice came to me like that. It’s hard to describe, but in my heart I was Zoey when I was writing the book, so I just wrote down what I knew she would say or think.  For me, it wasn’t about craft, it was just about listening.

Anna: When we first step into this incredible story, we step into a Zoey’s fascination with Octopuses (which we learn from her, doesn’t have to pronounced octopi, thank you very much). What is so brilliant, is that you suck us right into her irresistible curiosity, her enthusiasm, her lovable personality. The connection between reader and Zoey is immediate and as deep as when you bump into a new true best friend. Which is important, because this makes it possible for us to really go “there.” And, in this case,you are illuminating a story that often goes untold in America. Tell me about your decisions in crafting this aspect of the book.

Ann: When I was in the very early stages of conceptualizing the book, I read The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, and I was utterly captivated. I loved that octopuses were so much like us –they form relationships,have different personalities, and are super intelligent – yet they had evolved in such a different way. I think there are parallels of that amongst people, too: we all have different experiences growing up (some vastly different), but at the end we’re all trying to do the best we can. And the more I explored the connection between octopuses and Zoey, the more she became just as obsessed with octopuses as I was. 

Anna: At the same time, this story will be familiar to many readers who see themselves and their families in these pages… and yet their lives and experiences are often not on the subject of books. Have you heard from readers or teachers about what an important story this if for readers to be truly ‘seen’?

Ann – Yes. For kids growing up outside of the white, middle class culture, books that also take place in that culture can be an extra reminder that they don’t belong. (And of course, on the flip side of this, kids who are growing up in that culture can too easily ignore the range of other experiences if that’s all they see.) When I was teacher myself, I taught in several different schools, and I knew that there were kids like Zoey in every single one of them. My gut told me this had to be true on a broader scale, and the feedback I’ve been getting from teachers has confirmed that. And too often those kids have become so good at making themselves invisible that they fall through the cracks. But when we have books that discuss the issues that are central to their lives (but are rarely talked about in school) we are creating an opportunity for those students to see themselves as valued and to potentially connect in a way they hadn’t before. And EVERY SINGLE STUDENT deserves to feel valued and connected. 

Anna: I loved what School Library Journal had to say about THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS in their starred review: “Heartbreaking, beautifully written…Braden’s story raises many thought-provoking and timely questions about the difficulty of escaping poverty and the prevalence of fun violence.” That is such a powerful summary of a powerful book. What do you hope readers will take away from the pages of your book?

Ann: I hope that they come away recognizing their own strength (even if it’s not something that can be seen by others)and realize that how much money someone has has nothing to do with how hard they are working. And that no matter how powerless you feel, you always have the power of your voice.yelling emu

Anna: This is a ‘must-read’ for schools and classes. How can teachers tie this into curriculum and for students, who are inspired to take action in their own communities, what ideas do you suggest or resources can you point them to?

Ann: I’m really excited about the conversations this book has already started. And since the book brings up topics that aren’t often discussed, it can be good to have supports in place. Here is an Educator’s Guide that I put together in partnership with Equity Solutions, a non-profit focused on leading powerful conversations about economic class with people from all kinds of class backgrounds. Besides discussion questions, it includes extension activities, such as analyzing a budget of someone who only gets paid minimum wage and working to find the common ground of a controversial topic in the community. I also created a Flipgrid where educators can reflect on key questions in the books and discuss. Plus, the introductory video on the Flipgrid highlights a few key ways to make sure that discussions of the book are empowering for kids. 

Anna – Lastly, sometimes in life, in the most difficult of circumstances, you can see a lifeline emerge from the fog. For Zoey, it’s joining the debate club. What would you say toreaders about paying attention to those unexpected lifelines?

Ann – We never know where a choice will lead us, and it’s amazing what can happen when we say “Yes” to things. Even a small step forward can shift the ground beneath us in the best of ways. Still, sometimes if your head is down and you’reworking as hard as you can, no matter how many steps forward you try to take it seems like nothing will ever change. That’s when we need to be able to rely on allies who are ready to listen and those who are ready to team up and work to change the  underlying systems that make it so hard for some to make end meet. We all have to look for the opportunity to be lifelines for each other. Because when you’re in that fog, it’s often not possible to do it on your own. We have to remember that we’re all in this together.

Anna – Okay, one more question. For all readers (of all ages), there is a message about taking hold of your own potential, which is why this book is hopeful. What would you say to us about this idea of claiming your own power as your hope?

 Ann – Our own power is the tool that is ALWAYS with us, whether we can see it or not, and it’s up to us whether we wield it. When I was about two years into leading a movement in support of common ground gun laws in Vermont, something that I had never thought I would do and something that taught me I was far stronger than I had thought, I was catching my breath in the midst of months of 60-hour weeks. And in that quiet moment I was reminded that way back in middle school I had also discovered that I was stronger than I thought because that was when I first got into chopping wood. In that moment, I splurged on a small axe charm and I hung it around my neck because I knew there were many more steps I needed to take to help get gun laws passed, and I wanted to make sure I always remembered my own strength – and most importantly, remembered to wield it.Silver-Axe-Accessory

 I kept that necklace around my neck in am-packed statehouse committee rooms and when I was the target of online bullying. And those people who were trying to intimidate me into silence weren’t able to. Because at the end of the day, my eyes were focused on the kind of civil discourse I believed the issue deserved and I had faith in myself that I could help make that happen. That’s why I had hope, and, ultimately, landmark legislation was able to get passed. Zoey’s situation is similar. She had hope because she had memories of what her mom used to be like, and she found a way to keep her eyes focused on what she loved. And when that hope was combined with her courage to use her voice, it shifted the ground beneath her. Maybe all kids get that same chance to find their voice and use it.

 


The Realities Students Face: A Discussion with Teachers

by Kat Shepherd

Ann Braden’s long-awaited debut, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, is a powerful read that is sure to be a staple for schools and libraries for years to come. It received a starred review from School Library Journal, and it’s gone into a second printing before it’s even been released. Following the story of seventh-grader Zoey, it is a deftly-told tale that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Octopus highlights struggles faced by students living in poverty, and takes an honest and compassionate look at how those struggles play out both inside and outside the classroom. Zoey’s teacher, Ms. Rochambeau, plays an important role in Zoey’s life, so I decided to invite some educators to share their thoughts on this beautifully-written novel.Octopus123

Q: When I read Zoey’s story I so wanted her to have that fairytale ending where everything works out perfectly, but the ending of this book, while hopeful, isn’t that perfect fairytale. Why is it important for kids to have books that don’t always have the perfect happy endings we want for characters?

Erin Varley: There are so many books out there that already have the fairy tale endings, so it’s just as important to have a lot of books that don’t have that ending. Life isn’t fairy tale perfect and kids figure that out really fast. In fact, for kids like Zoey, they figure it out too fast. For a kid to see that life, while not perfect, can still offer hope, well that’s just as important. Kids know when they are being lied to, and sometimes fairy tales can seem like that. They don’t buy the lies. Books like Octopus offer an alternate path that still is positive, but also realistic.

Kristin Crouch: I love the ending and agree that it not being perfectly wrapped up is a strength of the novel. In my school, I have so many fifth graders in transition. I’ve taught children in shelters, children who’ve moved several times through a year, children who move in with friends (resulting in 14 people in one two bedroom apartment), children in houses that have been condemned, children living in hotels until a new apartment is found (and those are just housing transitions!). Ending the book with Zoe in transition shows my students that transition is not, in and of itself, an ending… It proves what the teacher tries to convey to Zoe~ that she is not the product of her circumstance. She can, and will, make more of her experiences, but that doing so is not a quick, easy fix. It will take years of working hard to overcome her challenges.

Jennifer Druffel: I loved that it was not a fairytale ending! Kids need realistic books that mirror their own lives and see characters that can be strong despite their circumstances. Also, for kids who have never experienced such hardships, it helps them put themselves in someone else’s shoes and be less judgmental about their peers’ circumstances.

Cassie Thomas: Real life is not perfect, in any way. It’s so important for kids to be able to relate to stories, and if every student just reads books where everything turns out good in the end then in their life they may feel defeated and unsure. Every year I read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson out loud to kids and the ending is not happy, it’s not perfect, but it’s real, and it leaves my students with jaws dropped and questions. Then they realize that in life they don’t get happy endings for every single thing. It’s a great message to have discussions over.

Q: Many adults have concerns that books dealing with issues like poverty and domestic violence are “too adult” for children to be exposed to. As a teacher, how do you respond to those concerns?

EV: Well, first I like to make sure each parent is heard. To be honest, I defer to the parent. If a parent tells me they don’t want a certain title being read by their child, I respect their wishes. However, I don’t remove the book from my library. Just because the book isn’t right for one certain child, doesn’t mean the same thing for every child. There might be another child in that same class that finds that book to be a lifeline, as I know Octopus might be.

KC: While I’m on the bandwagon that yes, these topics and concepts are too tough for kids, the fact is the kids who are exposed to it must know they are not alone. They are not invisible, they should not be hiding, and they will get through it.

JD: I would never force a student to read such a book. And if a parent is concerned, I’d ask them to read it first before they let their child read it so they can be the judge for their own child, but NOT for other people’s children!

CT: I teach 5th grade, and this comment irks me in a lot of ways. These students are SO mature and they truly know so much already. If they don’t, they are so eager to learn. When discussing social justice last year I had some outside people say this exact same thing, and my response was Do you know what your child is watching on TV? On their iPad? What the lyrics in their music actually say/mean?  Because they do, they totally know. They are smart and they want to be treated like an adult, especially at this age. I make sure I choose my words wisely, but we do have discussions. The reality is that some kids in class ARE experiencing that life, who are we to act that it doesn’t happen when it is reality for some.

(Name Withheld): When I read Octopus I immediately said… “THIS is what my kids deal with.” Honestly… this book is exactly what some of my kids go through on a daily basis. The trailer park, watching their younger siblings, new boyfriends/girlfriends all the time. Not that this makes any of the parents bad people or bad parents, and I know that everyone is doing the best they can, but I know that some of my students deal with a lot and have a lot of responsibility that I never had as a kid. Which makes this book even more important to include in my library!! It is the first book I’ve read that I really felt MY student’s struggles come through.

Q: When you read this book how did you envision it as a teaching tool in your own classrooms?

EV: I’m not sure I plan to read this book as a read aloud, but def as one to include and book talk in my classroom. I thought perhaps an excerpt would work as a discussion tool. Many tough topics are written with grace and hope, and kids need to see that tough times are not the end of the world, that things can get better, and that sometimes people need help or are doing the best they can in that moment.

KC: I was hoping to use this book to spark a discussion about verbal abuse. What it is, what it can sound like, and how it can affect your own thoughts about yourself and your abilities. From there, I was hoping to discuss negative and positive self talk as well. Even the character of the boyfriend’s father who lived in the house added to the stress. While he was less insulting toward the kids, they were living in a home in which people didn’t adore them~ they barely tolerated them. This affects the psyche, and I want my students to be able to recognize it so they can try to protect themselves any way they need to.

JD: I would book talk this book to my classes and then students can choose to read it if they wish!!

CT: As an educator I can’t even begin to explain to you the quiet importance that Ms. Rochambeau plays in this story. This will be a book that will not only be a very vital window for students to look in, but also a mirror to know they aren’t alone. Ann has touched on topics that I know for a fact students experience, or something similar, on a day in, day out basis, but are not quick to speak up. I feel as though all middle grade students and teachers need to read this book, and soon… One of our school wide behavior expectations is empathy and this book provides the opportunity to teach and understand empathy in Zoey’s life.

Q: I love that Ann views books as means of bridging the divides between people, as is evidenced in her excellent podcast with Saadia Faruqi. One thing I loved about Octopus is that it delves into the the complexity of issues that are often painted as simple black-or-white answers in the cultural narrative. What can educators do to help students find the complexity in these hot-button issues?

JD: It would be awesome to have a book club of students discuss this and their opinions on those issues!

CT: A way that I foresee us bringing up the complexity is giving multiple experiences and then having discussions, constantly. Everyone’s story isn’t the same in real life and Zoey’s story is one that some may relate to in SOME ways but not all ways, or the entire way. Another way is that I love for students to start figuring out solutions. What could we do as a community to help make these situations better.

Q: My husband, who grew up poor, talks often about how profoundly his life was impacted by a teacher who encouraged him to apply to a free Jesuit high school in Manhattan. He is still moved when he talks about what it meant for him to have an adult see him and believe that he had something great to offer the world. Jarrett Krosoczka still remembers being in school and having an author visit from Jack Gantos. Jack complimented Jarrett’s drawing of a cat, and it’s part of what encouraged him to become an author/illustrator. Zoey has Ms. Rochambeau. Who were those adults in your lives that encouraged you, and how do you see your role as teachers in helping kids reach their potential?

Octopus123 EV: I think about coaches first, actually. I was so involved with swimming and my coaches were the ones who stick out in my mind. They believed in me and saw potential in me that I didn’t always see. Encouraging kids and helping them see their good and their successes are what I try to do as a teacher. Always staying positive and helping develop a growth mindset are also things I try to encourage.

JD: I strive to let EVERY child I teach know they are valued for who they are. I notice strengths in each child and point them out often. I listen to let them know their voice is important. I can only hope that this will make a difference!!

CT: One of the educators who played the biggest role in my life was my middle grade creative writing teacher. I was going through a lot. Bullying was unbearable (to the point where we moved my 8th grade year), but Mrs. Ward helped me learn to write, how to escape that reality that I was dealing with and get thoughts out on paper through poetry. I was published. I was proud. I was finally happy. I knew that at that moment I wanted to be that light for students. There were a lot of teachers who weren’t there for me because they were friends with the parents of the students who were being ugly, so they just brushed my stresses aside. I knew then what I did NOT want to be as an educator. I feel that it has helped me significantly in building relationships and also with helping place that heart print book in the hands of a child who needs it. I don’t ever look at myself as a “savior” but an extra mom so to speak. I have told them I wear many hats as a teacher and I want nothing more than our classroom to be a safe place for them. So far it has proven to be just that.

Many thanks exceptional educators like Erin, Kristin, Jennifer, Cassie, and others for taking the time to chat with me and celebrate the debut of The Benefits of Being an Octopus. We are so excited to help welcome this wonderful book into the world!  For teachers who want to join this discussion, please visit Ann’s Octopus Flipgrid.


The Appeal Factors of Being An Octopus

by Christina Uss

Let’s not forget how librarians are going to get this tender, tough, many-tentacled story into the hands of readers. I was lucky enough to get some training as a library assistant last year and learned about successfully matching a reader with their next read as a reader’s advisor.  One of the keys to advising wisely is ferreting out a book’s APPEAL FACTORS, which turns out to be way cooler than solely recommending titles by t

200px-Easy_cheese2

he same author or the pushing the newest thing in the same genre. Thanks to the metadata librarians at NoveList, we’ve got a whole list of potential appeal factors, and I consider it an honor to be the first to point out to all librarians how they might describe The Appeal Factors of Being An Octopus:

  • Character – the main character is believable, relatable, courageous, likeable, spirited, strong, and well-developed. Kids are going to wish Zoey was their big sister, especially those who already know all about the eight-armed juggling that comes with taking on caregiving tasks for siblings (and sometimes parents) at a young age.
  • Writing Style – candid, compelling, engaging, with well-crafted dialogue. The book satisfyingly fills our minds’ eyes with rich details that make Zoey and her friends and family come alive (and our minds’ mouths with the comforting scrunch of Easy Cheese and crackers.)
  • Pace – intensifying. Will everything work out for Zoey and her family? How??
  • Storyline – both plot- and character-driven, mixing uncertainty in plot with Zoey’s determination
  • Tone -often intense with an emotional edge, moving from heartwarming to heart-wrenching, hopeful, sobering, eye-opening, thought-provoking, with a strong sense of place.

I can’t wait until Tuesday when my library system will load in its first copies of this fabulous and I can start advising readers to check it out!


Ann Braden writes about kids struggling to find their voice despite the realities of life, and about cultural divides and possibilities for bridges across.  She writes because even when life is throwing the entire kitchen at you…there is HOPE.  Come chat with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


Ann's schedule

 

 

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Breezy Battles and Baseball Bloopers, Plus a HUGE Giveaway!

I left you (and Sly Stallone) hanging yesterday, but now I’m back to give you exactly what I promised and more!Cliffhanger 2

Yesterday, GOOGLE IT! author Anna Crowley Redding gamely answered questions about her past work as an investigative television reporter.  I saved an extra-special, best-for-last anecdote for today’s post.

Anna, what is your funniest memory from when you were on TV?

There are a lot, but one comes to mind. I was asked to throw the first pitch out for Charlotte, NC’s minor league team. I did not grow up playing sports, so I was secretly VERY nervous about this whole proposition. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I really just wanted the ball to make it to the plate.Anna Baseball 1

I get to the ballpark, they call my name, and I head out there to get ready. But I was in big trouble immediately. What I did not prepare for… was the catcher. He was so handsome! I mean, he looked like he had just walked off a soap opera set . . . and he smiled at me just as I started to throw the ball. Anna Baseball 2I don’t even know where the ball went, but certainly nowhere near the plate. To say it was embarrassing is an understatement.

Even worse, I had to anchor the news the next morning for three hours. My co-anchor had video of the whole thing and played it over and over again, and every time, I turned from serious journalist into this puddle of giggles. Oh, Lawdy! That was a doozie.

As we wrap up this interview, Anna, I have to ask you the question that’s on everyone’s mind. What is the weirdest, wackiest, most way-out topic you’ve ever…Googled?

Most of my random Google searches come from my boys (ages 6 and 9), and it goes like this “Hey, Google! Tornado vs. Hurricane. What happens?” And luckily, we always get a solid answer!

 

That’s one big-time battle of the breezes!

Anna’s Google search highlight is way more exciting than mine, but I happen to know that if you Google “Squirrel Expert,” Squirrel gradyou’ll find one. I did!

Many thanks, Anna, and congratulations on your debut book, GOOGLE IT! IMG_8310

GIVEAWAY ALERT! To celebrate the launch of Google It: A History of Google,  Teachers and Librarians have a chance to win a classroom set of 25 copies! The lucky winner will also receive a classroom set of Google It! bookmarks plus a free Skype visit. A winner will be picked on September 4, 2018. Click here to enter.

 


About Hayley BarrettHayley's Author Photo-2 MB-JPEG

I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in fall 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. GIRL VS. SQUIRREL, a funny STEM-based picture book illustrated by Renée Andriani, is coming from Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House in spring 2020. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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You know you want to GOOGLE IT!

IMG_8310Anna Crowley Redding’s lively nonfiction debut, GOOGLE IT!: A History of Google from Feiwel & Friends brightens up nonfiction shelves across the nation tomorrow, August 14, 2018. We here at Emu’s Debuts can’t recommend it highly enough – read on to learn how Anna’s book will enlighten students and engage reluctant readers, plus find out how editor Holly West started Anna down the path to publication.

GOOGLE IT: Curriculum Connections

by Ann Braden

I tore through my copy of Google It like my life depended on it. There have only been a few books that have been as much of page-turner for me and one of them was The Hunger Games, so you get the idea. For me, the fire it lit inside me was my teacher fire because suddenly here was this amazing story of two (big) kids who ran with an idea, weren’t afraid of failure, and were creative as all get out to make it work.
A turning point in my teaching career was when I was introduced to the concept of “Effective effort.” It recognized that saying “Good job!” or “You need to put in more effort” often didn’t have much impact, and that instead we needed to break down “effort” into meaningful, concrete chunks. Six chunks, specifically. As soon as I saw this list of six, I immediately made posters for my classroom for each one.
Six Types of Effective Effort
1) Putting in the Time
2) Being Focused
3) Reaching Out for Help When You Need It
4) Using Different Strategies and Alternatives
5) Getting Feedback and Using It
6) Sticking With It Even When It’s Hard
IMG_9311Suddenly, I could point to Poster #4 to congratulate a student for finding a new way to attack a problem, or point to Poster #1 when a student tried to turn in a rushed assignment. It made it clear that there was no such things as smart or stupid: the only difference was one’s willingness to attack something with whatever kind of effort is needed. It was empowering for me, and most importantly, for the students.
For me, reading GOOGLE IT got at the same empowering essence. The story of how two college students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, transformed the Internet (and our daily lives) is not just riveting; it also demonstrated step-by-step the power of Effective Effort.
Example #1 — Putting in the Time: When their thesis project started exploding and going international Larry and Sergey actually dropped out of college (very much against their parents’ wishes) so that they would have the time to dedicate to their project. (Their parents later agreed that it had been the right decision.)
Example #2 — Being Focused: Larry and Sergey prioritized this project over everything else at the time.
Example #3 —  Reaching Out for Help When Needed– Larry and Sergey had lots of ideas about new ways to approach technology, but they didn’t actually know much about running a business, so they found someone who did and made him the CEO.
Example #4 — Using Different Strategies and Alternatives – Google is based on the idea of using different strategies to approach the Internet and that failure is only teaching us what hasn’t worked yet, but here’s just one example: Larry and Sergey actually built their first server using legos.
Example #5 — Getting Feedback and Using It: Larry and Sergey make a practice of listening to their employees and giving them time to explore their own projects. For example, Gmail grew out of one of these employee-driven projects.
Example #6: Stick With It Even When It’s Hard — When Larry and Sergey didn’t have enough server capacity when they were first experimenting with their idea, they “borrowed” servers from other college departments and keep going. When at the beginning Google kept losing money, and losing money, and losing more money, they didn’t give up. They found someone who could be a good CEO, and they kept going.
Not only does story of Google help us understand how the things we take for granted now (e-mail, online maps, internet searches), but it helps students understand that they have the power to make their OWN mark on the world.
Plus, as a sidenote, I’ve seen Anna Crowley Redding  with kids, and she would be an amazing author to have for a school visit. Check out her website here for some of the school programs she offers.
P.S. Teachers and Librarians! Keep reading, for your chance to win a classroom set of 25 copies of GOOGLE IT!

Three Cheers for Nonfiction Books!

by Kat Shepherd

I am so excited to celebrate Anna Crowley Redding’s fabulous new book, Google It!, a delicious read that is chock full of fascinating facts about one of the most recognizable companies in the world. I was drawn in from the very first page, and within minutes I was yelling across the house to my husband: “Hey! Listen to this! Did you know…?”

pangolin peekingI have avidly devoured nonfiction since childhood, partly because I love learning new things, but even more so because every new book reminds me that the world of facts is far more interesting than we could even begin to imagine. Pangolins! Winchester Mystery House! Biddy Mason! Thank you, nonfiction. (And thank you, Google!)

Nonfiction can be a draw to any curious kid, and in my classroom I found that boys in particular would ask me for recommendations from the nonfiction bin. My fourth grade nephew, Leo, who eschews fiction books as ‘lies’, loves taking true-fact deep dives into some of his favorite subjects: soccer, presidents, and the Revolutionary War. Many a time I have been approached by dismayed parents who lament, “My kid just won’t read,” as they gesture toward a gleaming pile of award-winning novels. When I suggest they offer magazines, news articles, encyclopedias, or how-to guides, they suddenly find an engaged scholar who is begging for more.)

I recently returned from a national conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, where Melissa Stewart moderated a panel on nonfiction. At the beginning of the panel, Melissa threw out some surprising facts about expository nonfiction, which she shared in this excellent blog post for The Nerdy Book Club. She also wrote,

Many students connect more strongly to books with an expository writing style, and they’re most likely to develop a love of reading if they have access to fact-filled books with clear main ideas and supporting details, intriguing patterns, analogies, concepts, and calculations. These children read with a purpose. They want to understand the world and how it works and their place in it. They want to understand the past and the present, so they can envision the future stretching out before them.

This is why the world is so hungry for fabulous books like Google It!. Redding has given us a high-interest subject for tech-savvy kids, and she has presented the info in a way that students love to read. And not only are books like Google It! meeting student demand for engaging expository texts; they’re also preparing kids for the kind of reading they will absolutely rely on as they enter the world of adults. So as you’re preparing your classroom library for the year or taking a back-to-school book shopping trip, don’t forget to stock up on plenty of nonfiction books for satisfying, fact-filled reads!


An Interview with GOOGLE IT editor Holly West

by Christina Uss

Holly, what was it about Google It that drew you in and made you decide you wanted to publish it?
The original concept for Google It was something that I had wanted to  publish for a long time. I’m most interested in non-fiction that expands upon or explains things that are relevant to our lives today, and I don’t know about you, but I use Google, and Google based products and services several times a day. Whether its holding meetings with authors over Google Hangouts, using Google Maps to find the restaurant I’m going to, constantly checking both my work and personal Gmails, or simply googling that thing I can’t quite remember.  And when I noticed how omnipresent Google was in my life, I decided I wanted to know more about it. And then I realized that September 2018 was going to be the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Google, and I knew the time was right to publish a book.
I didn’t realize a publisher might have a nonfiction project in mind and then go looking for the right author to bring it to life. How did you connect with Anna? (Did you Google her?)
did Google Anna at one point early on. As I mentioned above, I had been wanting to do a non-fiction book about Google for a while, but I was having a hard time finding the right author to tackle this subject. But then a colleague of mine introduced me to Anna’s wonderful agent, Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary, and she told me all about this new debut author she’d just signed who she thought would be perfect for the book. One Google search later, and I was writing Joan and asking for an introduction. And many moons later, we have this wonderful book!
The format of the book is so appealing: chock-full of facts with plenty of sidebars and side notes set off from the rest of the text. Did you and Anna come up with these layouts together? How did you decide what would be part of the main text and what would be pulled out as an extra tidbit?
I love the design of this book as well! The actual layouts were the work of our fantastic England, Wiltshire, Longleat Maze, aerial viewdesigner, Raphael Geroni, who did a wonderful job.  But Anna and I did have a few conversations about the inclusions of sidebars and inserts. We wanted to book to feel right to an audience used to reading online, and we both have a tendency to take “Wiki Walks” when browsing online, where if you want more information on something or have a question like the one she opened the book with: “How many stacked pennies would it take to reach the moon?”  you can immediately open a new tab and Google the answer. So we wanted a way to have those answers and extra information readily available without disrupting the flow of the main text. And there were definitely some discussions mid-edits about which stories needed to be part of the main text and which tidbits and explanations could live in the sidebars.
What was your favorite part of working on this book with Anna?
Anna was just lovely to work with all around, but I think my favorite bit was always reading the new draft and seeing what wonderful new stories and facts she’d found.  She used to be an investigative journalist, so her research skills are top-notch!
Each new draft must have been so much fun to read. Any advice for other nonfiction kidlit authors on how to polish their manuscripts to have as much appeal as Google It?
I think the most important thing for authors is to find a topic that you can be passionate about. If you think what you are writing about is fascinating, then that will probably come through for your readers. Also, you are going to spend a LOT of time thinking, and writing, and reading, and rewriting, and re-researching information about your topic, so it better be something you enjoy!
We here at Emu’s Debuts know Anna’s genuine enthusiasm is on every page, and it’s sure to hook readers right from the beginning.  What are you waiting for? Google how close the nearest copy is to you right now!
Attention Amazing Teachers and Librarians, to celebrate the launch of Google It: A History of Google, you have a chance to win a classroom set of 25 copies! The lucky winner will also receive a classroom set of Google It! bookmarks plus a free Skype visit. A winner will be picked on September 4, 2018. Click here to enter.

Anna Redding

Anna Crowley Redding’s inquisitive nature lends itself perfectly to nonfiction writing for kids. She can tell you how many stacked copies of her favorite books it would take to reach the moon.

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Don’t Know Who Anna Crowley Redding is? GOOGLE IT!

She’s smart. She’s curious. She’s dig-down-deep determined to get her story. Meet today’s dazzling debut, the one and only Anna Crowley Redding!Google It!

Anna, I’m excited your first book—GOOGLE IT! A History of Google—is on bookshelves at last. Young readers will love learning about how Google—the idea, the software, the company, the verb, the proprietary eponym—began and how it became what it is today.

How did you decide to write this book?

Holly West, my brilliant editor at MacMillan’s Feiwel & Friends, first approached my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette. Then Holly called me to talk about her idea… a book about Google! I jumped at the chance! It’s a fascinating company and the people and very human experience behind the company is compelling, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.

Before you began writing for children, you were a real-life investigative reporter, and I have a picture to prove it!AnnaCR 1

How did you decide to become a journalist?

Becoming a journalist was a path I began walking as a child. I have always loved writing, loved to find stuff out (and tell everybody)! I also have a deep sense of justice and advocacy, a respect for the truth and for fighting for people. That’s a fundamental part of journalism, caring about people and telling their stories in a way that gets others to connect with them.

What education and training did you need to start off in television reporting? 

I earned my journalism degree from Northeastern, and they require students to work in their chosen field as part of the curriculum.

I remember walking into New England Cable News (NECN) for the first time. News was breaking. There was a mad rush to the set, and people were barking information and directions. It was chaos, but it was a special chaos. It made sense to me. Then came the countdown, and on cue, massive professionalism and topnotch storytelling. I knew had to do this work.

Back in the olden days, we had radio, newspapers, and scheduled television news programs. That’s it. Today’s journalists-to-be can’t imagine our limited access to information. We couldn’t Google anything!

What’s exciting for young journalists today, those just learning their craft, is the opportunity to start reporting right now using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

Can you tell us about what the work was like? What did you enjoy? What was difficult?

There was a lot that I loved. The camaraderie of the entire team, the thrilling pace, those instances where storytelling or digging into an investigation really changed someone’s life were deeply satisfying. And newsrooms are rife with humor. It’s how we got through the raw, emotional intensity of the work. I loved the head-thrown-back belly laughing.

But the schedule is punishing. When you first get in to the news business, the intensity is super fun. Eventually, it can be tiring. The news cycle is insane, and I feel for reporters who sacrifice themselves (time with family, sleep, vacations, you name it) to cover it all. And then to face massive admonition? It’s tough. Balance is not a word often used in newsrooms.

How does your experience with journalism inform your new job? 

Writing nonfiction books is an extension of journalism in a longer format. The years of working on deadline, digging for details and facts, reaching out to people for information or interviews, and finally organizing everything into a cohesive story, all of it helps.

I’m fascinated, but we should get back to GOOGLE IT! *inserts giant picture*IMG_8310

What was it like to retell Google’s history in a kid-friendly, kid-interesting way?

Our middle schoolers and teens are so smart. I tried to approach the subject in a way that really honored that. For me, that meant having fun with it while also being cognizant of making sure I explained terms specific to business or technology.

One of the most important and interesting things I learned from researching Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page is how to take life’s problems, any problems, and look at them as a puzzle that needs to be solved and can solved.

A message we all need to hear and sure to resonate with many readers. Thanks for letting me pepper you with questions, Anna. I have just one more:

What is the weirdest, most random topic you’ve ever Googled, Anna?

Cliffhanger 2

(Cliffhanger! Tune in to Emu’s Debuts tomorrow for Anna Crowley Redding’s answer to this all-important question. There will also be a funny story involving Anna and a baseball.)

 

GIVEAWAY ALERT! To celebrate the launch of Google It: A History of Google,  Teachers and Librarians have a chance to win a classroom set of 25 copies! The lucky winner will also receive a classroom set of Google It! bookmarks plus a free Skype visit. A winner will be picked on September 4, 2018. Click here to enter.

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Hayley's Author Photo-2 MB-JPEGAbout Hayley Barrett

I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. GIRL VS. SQUIRREL, a funny STEM-based picture book illustrated by Renée Andriani, is coming from Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House in spring 2020. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

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