Today, I am excited to welcome Sara Pennypacker to Kid Lit Frenzy. I love her Clementine series and often recommend them to students.
Hi Alyson, and thanks for inviting me to stop in and guest post. You may end up sorry you did, but it’s too late now. I’ve been on a blog tour for my newest Clementine book, CLEMENTINE AND THE SPRING TRIP, for a week now, and many of the blogs have been interviews with lots of good questions. This has made me want to turn the tables, so I’ve decided to interview you...
First of all, Alyson, do you know you live near Marla Frazee?!?! (I figured this out because you often seem to stop in at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, which is where Marla lives.) If you already know this, do you stalk her? Because I sure would. She’s a genius and I am so lucky she illustrates my Clementine books and will be illustrating my next series (starring Waylon, a boy in Clementine’s class.) I would spy on her to try to figure out how she gets so much emotion and humor into her drawings.
Look at this one here, where Clementine is telling her father how much she misses her cat:
|Illustration © Marla Frazee|
Or this one here, where she’s being a bit dramatic about how she likes her eggs:
|Illustration © Marla Frazee|
Also, I would try to find out what Marla does to make her hair look so awesome.
Because I’m such a big fan, if I lived near Marla I would be tempted to bust into her house on Sunday mornings and make her heart-shaped pancakes, just to thank her for making such wonderful art, but that’s the kind of thing that’s well-intentioned in theory but a little creepy in actuality, so it’s good I live 3000 miles away.
Ahem. I have signed books at Vroman’s twice now...were you there? If not, will you come the next time?
To entice you, here’s my favorite Vroman’s story: While I was taking a little break from signing, a woman came up to ask Marla if there was any vomiting in the Clementine books. I’m not kidding! Marla was, of course, a little taken aback by the question, and replied, “Well, I didn’t illustrate any.” Unfortunately, the woman left before I came back to the table, so I didn’t get to educate her. Yes, there is vomiting, because it’s kind of a big deal to elementary school kids! In fact, in the first book, Clementine very responsibly doesn’t spin her little brother in the wok a second time because it makes him throw up. And in THE TALENTED CLEMENTINE, there’s an accident onstage at the talent show that our hero quickly closes the curtain on. Mostly I wish I’d been there to ask the woman, “What kind of a crazy question is that? Weren’t you ever a kid???” Now don’t you wish you’d been there, too, Alyson?
A favor: May I please steal the word Frenzy?
Of course you don’t own it, but the truth is I hadn’t realized what a fabulous word it is until coming to your blog, so I’d owe you. I love that it has a Z in it, and that it sounds like “Friend-sy” but most of all that it conjures up such an energetic, crazed image. In return, I will give you a writing tip to pass on: It’s always funny to connect two words that are usually opposites. For instance, Clementine might notice that her mother is “frenzying very calmly” or that Margaret was “in a frenzy to calm herself down.”
Would you like me to talk a little about the CLEMENTINE series, and about the newest book? You would?
Great! In case you don’t know them, the Clementine books are about a third grade girl who possibly has just the slightest, teensy issue with attention. I base her on my own son (who lives in LA now, so is another neighbor of yours!) who got his own attention issues from his mother, I’m afraid. While the books are funny, I’m very serious about two things when I write them.
First, kids like this, while presenting some challenges, are often extremely empathetic, gifted artists, and creative problem solvers – three things the world could use more of.
Second, all the adults in Clementine’s world are functional, supportive, caring and present. The smart author avoids adult characters like this, because there’s more reader sympathy for the main character who’s an orphan, or neglected or mistreated. Also because it’s harder to drum up dramatic tension in a story when everyone around is helpful to the main character. But I really felt there was a need for contemporary fiction about healthy family dynamics, and that it could be compelling if told truthfully with a lot of humor. Bringing these perfectly ordinary, yet beautifully extraordinary, people to life on the Clementine pages has been the biggest joy of my writing career.
While the Clementine books are funny first, they also explore real issues kids her age often encounter: sibling rivalry, missing pets, worries about one’s place in the family, etc. In the newest book, the sixth in what will be a series of seven, CLEMENTINE AND THE SPRING TRIP, I decided to push Clementine’s sense of fairness a little. On a field trip, she encounters a chicken and can no longer avoid an unpleasant injustice – people eat animals! – and must work out her response. As with all the books, I loved writing this one – Clementine and her friends and family are so much fun to hang out with!
I will be in your area next summer, Alyson. Will you have a literacy café with me, where you and I eat cake and get frenzied about books?
You will? Excellent – I can tell you and I would have a lot to talk about, and we may have to order seconds on the cake, to keep us fortified. BTW, I like to bake cakes, not just eat them – here’s a picture of me with a chocolate zucchini cake, mascarpone frosting:
I will send you my California dates when I have them...
Oh Sara, yes, I have met the wonderful Marla Frazee several times at Vromans, and she also visited my school. Also, I would be more than happy to attend one of your book events at Vroman's or another store in Southern California. And, I would be honored to host a Literacy Café for you to celebrate you and Celementine. Thank you for this delightful post. - Alyson
Sara Pennypacker (www.sarapennypacker.com) was a painter before becoming a writer, and has two absolutely fabulous children who are now grown. She has written several books, including the Clementine series, all illustrated by Marla Frazee, The Amazing World of Stuart, Sparrow Girl, and Summer of the Gypsy Moths. She grew up in Massachusetts and splits her time between Cape Cod and Florida.
For additional stops on her blog tour check out the dates below:
Mon, June 17: GreenBeanTeenQueen - http://
Tues, June 18: Once Upon a Story - http://www.
Wed, June 19: Mother Daughter Book Club - http://
Thurs, June 20: Media Darlings - http://www.mdarlings.com/
Fri, June 21: Sharpread - http://sharpread.
Mon, June 24: Children's Book Review - http://www.
Tues, June 25: Kid Lit Frenzy - http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/
Wed, June 26: There's a Book - http://www.theresabook.
Thurs, June 27: As They Grow Up - http://www.astheygrowup.
Fri, June 28 Bookingmama http://www.
Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Blue Slip Media for arranging the blog tour and for giving away a copy of Clementine and the Spring Trip for a giveaway (US/Canada). Please fill out the rafflecopter below to enter to win a copy. a Rafflecopter giveaway