When I read Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s debut middle grade novel One for the Murphy’s, I immediately wanted to share it. I wanted to hand it to kids as they came into the library where I teach. I wanted to introduce them to Carley, a foster child who, after a terrible incident with her mom, is placed with the Murphy family. At first, Carley can’t believe that families like the Murphys even exist–families who are loving and flawed and who stick together, because that’s what families do. Just as Carley begins to open herself up to the love that the Murphys have to offer, she learns that her mom wants her back. Will Carley go back to her mom or stay with the Murphys? You’ll have to wait and read the book to find out!
But you don’t have to wait to enter the contest we’re holding to round out our celebration of One for the Murphys…
Calling all teachers, librarians, and school guidance counselors (and anyone who knows a teacher, librarian or school guidance counselor)! We have a special give-away for educators and their students–a signed copy of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, a class set of MURPHY bookmarks, a class set of rubber “Be Someon’e hero” bracelets, a free 30-45-minute SKYPE Q&A with Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and a “Hero” T-shirt for the teacher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post anytime from now until midnight (PST) on Sunday, May 20. The winner will be announced on Monday, May 21. Even if you aren’t an educator, you can still enter for your child’s class or your neighborhood school!
If you’re wondering how One for the Murphys might fit into your curriculum, wonder no more! Here’s our interview with Lynda on how her debut novel connects with kids.
Emu’s Debuts: A student walks into my library and I think, “That kid needs a copy of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS.” Who is this kid?
Lynda: This is a kid who is concerned about fitting in or standing out.
This kid has been worried about who he is or, possibly, worried about who he’ll become.
This kid may be in foster care—or not—but needs to know that whatever life has dealt him as a child, he still has the power to create any life he wishes when he grows up. Any life at all.
Or this child has been dealt a lucky hand. He has a loving family and is not familiar with other kinds of experiences. Reading about others’ varied experiences helps to build empathy, I think.
Or this child may want to read about friendships. Likes sarcastic humor or stories about underdogs. Because this book has many moments of levity and includes deep topics such as wearing towels as capes, chicken casseroles and apples pies, basketball, baseball, Broadway shows, playing pranks, putting up with (and appreciating) siblings, and cowardly pigeon eggs.
The circumstances that put Carley in foster care are quite sad (shown in flashbacks) but, as a whole, the book isn’t too heavy. It’s a story of a bustling, happy family and how they change Carley. It’s a story of friendship, of incorrect assumptions that we all make sometimes, of learning that happy families aren’t perfect and that “family” is more about love and camaraderie and having each other’s backs than sharing blood. It’s about heroes–no capes required. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Emu’s Debuts: Lynda, that answer makes me want to read your book all over again! And I’ve just thought of a dozen more kids to hand this book to…
If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book with the whole class or a small group, what might we see?
Lynda: Actually, I have been fortunate to see some of this already. And it absolutely floored me.
I have visited a few classrooms—one of which has heard the ARC (advanced reader copy) version of MURPHYS. The other was a class I was asked to visit because it has a lot of kids in the class who struggle with various things—some very similar to Carley’s circumstances.
Upon visiting one Massachusetts class in particular, I opened up a bit to the kids about the MURPHY seeds that were planted when I was even younger than them—that I had spent about three months with another family when I was about seven that gave me a view of a world that I had not known—but, upon leaving, a world I decided I would have for myself one day.
Teachers have told me that after I leave, children often make signs that say “Be someone’s hero” and hang them up in the room. I am so moved by this thought. This image. I have also been told that in discussing MURPHYS (prior to my arrival), that kids have opened up to their teacher and to each other about some of their own struggles. That Carley’s struggles have helped these kids forge bonds with each other and to understand themselves a bit better. To feel less alone.
To say this makes me happy is a thin way to describe it. I pursued publication hoping for this very thing. To think that it has already begun? Now, that’s a dream come true.
Emu’s Debuts: Carley and the Murphys have already connected with kids–and adults–and I’m looking forward to recommending One for the Murphys to all kinds of kids for years to come, Lynda.
Where can teachers and students learn more about you and your book?
- LINK TO BOOK TRAILER:
- YouTube code for BOOK TRAILER:
- Find me online:
Facebook: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
A One for the Murphy’s Teacher’s Guide will be up on my website soon. I will offer it for free to any teacher who’d like one. Why? Because I love teachers–most unsung heroes on the planet. (I taught for almost ten years—I know it isn’t nearly an 8:00-3:00 job!)
I am very much looking forward to getting back into classrooms as a visiting author to talk about Murphys, and heroes. About creating fiction from real life and three dimensional characters that step off of the page and into the reader. I look forward to helping students raise their own writing to the next level!
Emu’s Debuts: Thanks so much for joining us, Lynda! And a heartfelt welcome to Carley and the Murphys, who will continue to make a difference in the lives of readers for many years to come.