I am very excited to welcome Julie Sternberg to Kid Lit Frenzy. I loved her Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie Series and excited about sharing Friendship Over with students once I wrestle it back from my niece who absconded with it the other day. Thank you Julie for writing such fun books and for stopping by to answer some questions.
The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine seems like the next step up in reading for your fans of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. Was it intentional to take this next step? And what was it like to write for a slightly older audience?
I wish I could say it was intentional. I’d feel like such a good planner! But I didn’t have a particular audience in mind when I started THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE. I just wanted to create a story using the different writings in many kids’ lives: journal entries; notes passed in class; emails; notes scribbled down for family members; homework assignments; and the like. That structure is a little more complicated than the one in LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE, so it works well for slightly older readers. As much as I loved writing PICKLE JUICE and its sequels, it’s also been a lot of fun exploring a new format. I hope Celie’s diary, and the various writings she tapes into it, are as fun to read as they were to write.
Celie’s father received a punching bag when he was 10 and when Celie turned 10 her dad gave her both a punching bag and a diary. Did you keep a diary as a young girl and did anyone ever get into it and read it?
I was the kind of kid who loved the idea of keeping a diary, but never managed to actually do it. Now I wish I had! I’d love a record of my childhood thoughts and feelings.
Friendships and sisters can seem like the most challenging thing whether you are 10 or well even as an adult. Were any of the scenarios in the story based on real experiences?
There’s a moment in the book when Celie is stuck in a long timeout after kicking her older sister, Jo. Jo did something bad, too, but Celie alone is punished. So Jo feels guilty. She writes an apologetic note to Celie and slides it under the door of the room where is Celie is having her timeout. Celie then slides an angry response back under the door. The girls continue to exchange notes this way, until the timeout is over.
My daughters used to slide notes back and forth under their bedroom door, too, when one was in a timeout and the other felt at least a little guilty about it. I’ve always loved the idea of those notes, and the dynamic between sisters (both love and conflict) that they capture. My earliest drafts of the book started with that exchange.
Do you have any special writing routines, and what is your writing space like (coffee shop, office, other)?
I try to write between the time when I drop my younger daughter off at school and when I pick her up. I tend to drink a staggering amount of tea—iced tea and hot tea—as I write. I write in both coffee shops and at home, depending on my mood and the logistics of my day. Here’s a picture of my writing spot right now. Note the pot of hot tea, which I’ve already finished, and the practically empty glass that held iced tea before I finished it, too:
Are you working on any new books/projects that you can share with us?
I just finished the latest draft of the second book in THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE series, and I’m starting the third book now. I also have a picture book coming out in the spring. It’s called BEDTIME AT BESSIE AND LIL’S.
What has been your favorite question or letter from a reader (either at a school visit or in a letter/email form)?
I once received this photograph of a big sister reading one of my books (LIKE CARROT JUICE ON A CUPCAKE) to her little sister. That moment feels magical to me. I can’t think of a better reason to write.
About the author:
Julie Sternberg is the author of the best-selling Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and its sequels, Like Bug Juice on a Burger and Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie is a Gryphon Award winner and a Texas Bluebonnet Award finalist; Like Bug Juice on a Burger is a Gryphon Honor Book, a Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Nominee, and an Illinois Monarch Award Finalist. Formerly a public interest lawyer, Julie is a graduate of the New School's MFA program in Creative Writing, with a concentration in writing for children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. For more information about her life and work and to download free activity materials based on her books, visit her website
Check out the other stops on Julie’s blog tour!
Mon, Sept 29 Mother Daughter Book Club http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/
Tues, Sept 30 5 Minutes for Mom http://www.5minutesformom.com/category/feature-columns/5-minutes-for-books/
Wed, Oct 1 Sharpread http://mrcolbysharp.com/
Thurs, Oct 2 KidLit Frenzy http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/
Fri, Oct 3 The Hiding Spot http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com
Sat, Oct 4 Booking Mama http://www.bookingmama.net/
Mon, Oct 6 Ms. Yingling Reads http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/
Tues, Oct 7 GreenBeanTeenQueen http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/
Wed, Oct 8 Great Kid Books http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com/
Thurs, Oct 9 Teach Mentor Texts http://www.teachmentortexts.com/#axzz3DP0vkvgi
Fri, Oct 10 Unleashing Readers http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
Sat, Oct 11 Bermuda Onion http://bermudaonion.net/
One lucky reader will receive a copy of FRIENDSHIP OVER: THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE in hardcover (U.S. addresses only). Please complete the rafflecopter form to enter.