Mitchell Goes Bowling Blog Tour and Special Author & lllustrator Interview

Today I am thrilled to have author, Hallie Durand and illustrator, Tony Fucile stop by Kid Lit Frenzy. Check out this great interview where Hallie and Tony interview each other about bowling.

Tony Fucile interviews Hallie Durand

Who, from the Durand clan, has the best “strike” celebration dance?

I’d have to award this to my husband Michael. While he was fulfilling his ROTC obligation in Germany, he had his own “turkey” dance (“turkey” is three strikes in a row). The “dance” consisted of: shooting index fingers to the right, then left (quickly and with attitude), a 360-degree turn, and then a split. Pretty impressive, especially cause he could stand up right after the split! (He’s a good dancer.)

Describe your image of the perfect bowling ball.

The perfect bowling ball is not too heavy, and my fingers fit perfectly in the holes. Then the ball moves strong and fast down the lane and knocks all the pins down. The ball is red.

Who’s the most competitive bowler in the family?

That might be a tie, because we’re all fairly bad at the game, but we love to get Xs and we all hoot and holler when all those pins go down. My son has the hardest time with being behind, but he is also the youngest, 8. He has no problem letting loose when he gets a strike (none of us do!). We all need a few mozzarella sticks when we’re losing.

Who’s your favorite fictional bowler (excluding Dad and Mitchell)?

He’s in my mind. And he’s a raccoon who washes the ball with his little hand claws before he bowls. We had a pet raccoon when I was little, and he always washed his hard-boiled eggs with his hand claws. I’d like to see that raccoon bowl! Go Bandit!!

Hallie Durand interviews Tony Fucile

What’s your bowling average, and do you use gutter guards?

Since having kids I use gutter guards. It’s fun! The guards allow me to experiment with different deliveries and throwing techniques (mostly stuff I learned from watching The Flintstones) that would ordinarily land my ball in the next lane or two. I’ve never figured out a bowling average (I like to look on the bright side of things).

How did you nail the illustration of Dad’s “triple steamin’ hot potato dance?” How did you figure out how to draw this, cause it’s perfect!?

I shot video of myself and then selected poses from the footage to draw from. It always helps to get up and physically act things out to get fresh ideas. You never fail to surprise yourself with something. In this case something pretty ridiculous. This is why the evidence has been destroyed.

What do you snack on when you’re bowling?

Anything with melted cheese on it. That includes beer.

October is National Learn to Bowl Month. Celebrate with Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile.

About the Author:
Hallie Durand is the author of Mitchell’s License, now available in paperback as Mitchell Goes Driving, among other books for children. About Mitchell Goes Bowling, she says, "I love hanging out at the lanes with my crew, especially when I get a couple of Xs!" She lives with her family in Maplewood, New Jersey. To learn more, visit her website at

About the Illustrator:
Tony Fucile is the author-illustrator of Let's Do Nothing! as well as the illustrator of the Bink & Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. He has spent more than twenty years designing and animating characters for numerous feature films, including The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. He lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay area.

Readers can follow Mitchell as he tours the web! 

Sat, Oct 5Booking Mama
Mon, Oct 7The Children's Book Review
Tues, Oct 8Susan Heim on Parenting
Wed, Oct 9Sharpread
Thurs, Oct 10There's a Book
Fri, Oct 11Just a Little Creativity
Mon, Oct 14Once Upon a Story
Tues, Oct 15Geo Librarian
Wed, Oct 165 Minutes for Books
Thurs, Oct 17Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Oct 18As They Grow Up

And don't forget to complete the form below to enter for a chance to win a copy of Mitchel Goes Bowling.  You must be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Clementine and the Spring Trip Blog Tour & Giveaway with Guest Post by Sara Pennypacker

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 ( 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 -
Tues, June 18: Once Upon a Story -
Wed, June 19: Mother Daughter Book Club -
Thurs, June 20: Media Darlings -
Fri, June 21: Sharpread -
Mon, June 24: Children's Book Review -
Tues, June 25: Kid Lit Frenzy -
Wed, June 26: There's a Book -
Thurs, June 27: As They Grow Up -
Fri, June 28 Bookingmama

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

The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger Blog Tour - Interview & Giveaway

Today, I am excited to welcome author, Jenny Meyerhoff to Kid Lit Frenzy.  She answers some questions about her newest book The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger, about her writing and more.  Thanks Jenny for stopping by and chatting.

Can you share with readers a little bit about The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger?

Louie wants to be a stand-up comedian, but he’s got one big problem. He’s afraid to do his act in front of other people. He’s just fine when he performs in his closet in front of tennis shoes and baseball caps. He’s even got an amazing catch phrase…Barftastic! It means amazing times fantastic plus unbelievable. Squared. For Louie, life is barftastic, until his dad decides Louie should perform in the school talent show and Louie’s best friend starts spending all his time with the new kid. Louie wonders if doing well in the talent show will make all his problems go away. He just doesn’t know if he will kill (that’s comedian talk for do really, really awesome) or if he’ll bomb (that’s comedian talk for stink worse than the tuna sandwich you accidentally left in your lunch box over spring break.)

On your blog, you mentioned that you got the idea for this book from something that happened with your son? Were there other ways that he and his friends influenced the story or characters?

All of my kids (and their friends) are large influences on my writing. I steal character first names and last names from their friends. I’ll often ask to borrow bits of dialogue that I overhear. And the experiences that are happening in their lives often wind up in the book I’m writing at that moment, from a friend who hasn’t lost any baby teeth, to square dancing lessons in gym, to being homesick at camp. In the case of The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger, my son was also my first reader and gave me lots of great suggestions, like changing the word girl-illas to girlzillas. I also may have borrowed some of his most embarrassing moments, but I’ve promised him never to reveal which ones. ☺

Louie wants to do stand-up comedy, but struggles with stage fright. Do you have anything on your list of fears you would like to conquer?

I don’t have stage fright the way Louie does, but I often feel that way about my writing. I don’t want to let anyone see it. That’s kind of a problem if you want to be a published author. Letting people see what you wrote is an essential part of the job. So every day, I work on my fear of letting my work out into the world and trusting, that it will somehow find the readers it is meant for. I do have lots of other fears—jumping from airplanes, fighting tigers, and accidentally going grocery shopping in my underwear, for example. But I do not plan on conquering any of them.

If you could spend the day with any fictional character (not one of your own), who would it be and what would you do?

I’d like to make myself thirteen again and send myself to Avonlea to hang out with Anne of Green Gables, and all her friends. I’d be game for any of her adventures: acting out dramatic poems, thinking up scary stories in the haunted woods, or serving ourselves up a “grown-up” tea. I hope she’d find me a kindred spirit!

Where do you like to write and what does your writing space look like?

I mainly write in my office, which is a converted storage space in my husband’s business suite. I find it challenging to write at home with consistency and used to write at cafés. I still do that now sometimes for fun, but I love my cozy little room, filled with inspirational pictures and sayings. When I walk in the room and shut the door, the real world disappears and the worlds I create are all that remain.

If you could claim credit for another children's book (one written by another author), what book would it be and why?

I’m going to go with Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery, again. I’d love to create a character as lovable as Anne. Anne is flawed, but charmingly so. Even though she’s always making mistakes, readers are rooting for her to find love and happiness on every page. I think that’s one of the reasons the book is so enduring.

Who would you credit as having the most influence on your work?

The authors I read over and over growing up were Judy Blume and Shel Silverstein and I think that their styles and aesthetics just seeped into my cells. I don’t know if I would be a writer at all if I hadn’t read their books to shreds.

Can you share about any future projects that you are working on?

Right now I’m focused on the second book in Louie’s Barftastic life. It’ll be out next spring. It’s still a work in progress, so for now I’ll just say, Halloween, square-dancing and coupons.

What top 3 books do you recommend for 8 to 12 year olds for summer reading?

I am going to recommend two series that the 8-12 year olds in my house are reading. These books are being read over and over, which is about the best recommendation I can think of!

The Charlie Joe Jackson books by Tommy Greenwald. Funny and a little bit subversive in just the right way.

The Astronaut Academy Books by Dave Roman. Awesome graphic novels!

And lastly, I recommend Dorko The Magnificent by the hilarious Andrea Beaty. This book about a boy magician pairs great with Louie Buger! Those two could hold one heck of a talent show.

Author Bio
Jenny Meyerhoff is the author of a young adult novel, Queen of Secrets, and three books for young readers--Sami's Sleepaway Summer, Third Grade Baby, and most recently, The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger, a story about an aspiring stand-up comic with an unusual catch phrase. Unlike Louie, Jenny is not a comedian, but she does know a lot about barf. After all, she’s a mom. Her three kids love fluffernutters, comedy and reading. Jenny lives in Riverwoods, Illinois with her funny kids and her delightful husband. For more information, visit her website:

Check out all of the stops on the blog tour:

Tues, June 4 Green Bean Teen Queen -
Thurs, June 6 The OWL for YA and Hooked on Books -
Fri, June 7 Dear Teen Me -
Mon, June 10 Mother Daughter Book Club -
Tues, June 11 Geo Librarian -
Wed, June 12 The Children's Book Review -
Thurs, June 13 The Book Monsters -
Fri, June 14 Ms. Yingling Reads -
Sun, June 16 Nerdy Book Club
Mon, June 17 As They Grow Up
Tues, June 18 Kid Lit Frenzy -
Wed, June 19 Mundie Kids -
Thurs, June 20 There's a Book -

Thank you to Blue Slip Media for The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger Giveaway for participants with US mailing addresses.- Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Truck Stop Blog Tour, Giveaway & A Special Guest Post

Yes, Anne Rockwell has a new book out.  Truck Stop was released on yesterday, May 16, 2013 by Viking Juvenile.  As a new teacher, many of my first books for my young students were written by Anne Rockwell.

One of my favorites was Apples and Pumpkins which was prominently featured in several lessons and projects that I did with students.  I probably have several paperback copies of this book that I took apart, ran through the laminator, and re-stapled so that little hands wouldn't damage the books.

Imagine how thrilled I was to discover that not only would I get to be a part of the blog tour for Truck Stop, but Anne Rockwell along with illustrator Melissa Iwai would be stopping by to share their responses to my Children's Book Week prompt "Books can take you anywhere..."?!  Thanks to Blue Slip Media for helping to coordinate the blog and a giveaway of Truck Stop.   

Anne Rockwell answers "Books can take you anywhere..."

Anne Rockwell - Photo credit @2013 Oliver Rockwell

It’s true that books can take you anywhere, including that cozy diner off the highway heading north or south, deep in the woods, where the truck stop is ready with a good-smelling cup of hot coffee, and whatever you are hungry for.

Sullivan - Photo credit @2013 Oliver Rockwell

I love to travel, and have seen a lot of the world, including most of the United States. But no matter where I go, there’s still a yearning for the safety and comfort of home. The American truck stop mom and pop diner is as worthy of tribute as the French sidewalk café, the Italian trattoria, the British pub, or those many Chinese 24-hour open restaurants lining Ghost Street in Beijing or a mountain road inn that’s been nestled in the remoter parts of China for centuries. I’ve spent a good deal of time in the last three years in such places because my son, my Chinese daughter-in-law, and Littlest Grandson, Sullivan Wong Rockwell, live there. When I saw Chinese patrons rinse their chopsticks in their green tea before using them I was reminded of our own roadside home places and the seemingly essential need humans the world over have for familiar food and companionship. TRUCK STOP is the story that came out of this. And of course, there was also Sullivan’s love for big trucks and work machines, a love he shares with so many children.

Note: Sullivan Wong Rockwell reading his first book not yet knowing that his NaiNai (Mandarin Chinese for paternal grandmother) wrote and illustrated it many years ago for another little boy who grew up to be Sullivan’s BaBa.

Ilustrator, Melissa Iwai answers "Books can take you anywhere..."

“Jamie? Jamie…? Hellooo?”

When I am being ignored by my 8-year old son, Jamie, my emotions can range from annoyance to exasperation. But there’s one occasion where he gets a free pass: When he’s reading a book. I can tell he’s in another place and time. And I fully understand and appreciate that. A great story can have that effect on a reader. Fortunately, I grew up experiencing the same wonderful feeling.

My favorite thing to do from the time I was 4 or 5 years old was visiting the library (we didn’t have a bookstore back then in our small town!). Looking at the collection of picture books there, I would be transported to other worlds. We’d check out a collection to bring home, and I’d look forward to many hours of visiting those places again and again. My favorites at that age were Maurice Sendak’s books, Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (I could pore over the text and pictures for hours every day), the Lois Lenski book series of the “Small” people, and many others.

Through the years the list has grown and changed of course, but I still get the thrill of anticipation of “story travel” when I begin a new book.

So the next time my son isn’t responding to me asking him something, and his nose is buried in a book, I’ll save it for later and let him enjoy the journey.

Stop by Melissa's blog for activity sheets:

For the next blog stop, check out As They Grow Up on Saturday, May 18, 2013. 

Enter below to win a copy of Truck Stop.  US mailing addresses only: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour & Guest Post: Amy Timberlake

I am excited to welcome author, Amy Timberlake to the blog today.  Her new book ONE CAME HOME was released on January 8th.  Check out her blog tour for more great interviews and guest posts.   Here's what Amy had to say:

Recently, there was an on-line discussion amongst a group of teachers identifying periods of history that seem to be ignored in children’s literature. I have to admit that my knowledge of Wisconsin history and the “pigeoners” is limited and for me added to the excitement of reading ONE CAME HOME. What motivated you to write a story set in 1870’s Wisconsin and particularly focused on the “pigeoners”? 

Sounds like a great discussion—wish I could have listened in!

By the way, I get the sense that hardly anybody knows about the 1871 passenger pigeon nesting in Wisconsin—so there’s no shame there!

For me, it was a happy convergence of interests that led to writing about the passenger pigeons, the pigeon hunters (the “pigeoners”) and Wisconsin’s passenger pigeon nesting of 1871. For instance, I love history; I love novels set in the Midwest; and I’m a birder. (Yes, I’m actually one of those folks up at dawn watching birds. My husband and I do the whole deal—a pocket bulging with The Peterson Guide, binoculars in hand. We yell out to each other, saying phrases like “Yellow crown! Bandit mask! Red Rump!” It’s quite hilarious!)

Anyway, you can imagine that a person like me might read a book on birds every once in awhile—and I do. So One Came Home began because I was reading A.W. Schorger’s history of the now-extinct passenger pigeons.

Now Schorger’s book is a scholarly work, published in the 1950s by the University of Wisconsin Press. Picking it up, I expected dry, fussy prose wrapped around a lot of charts. But I thought I’d find something to like because I like birds.

 It was a scholarly book—tables, charts, an endnote section as thick as the text—but I was riveted. Here was this history that read like something straight out of science fiction. I mean, a billion birds the size of crows? Add to this that they flew at 60 mph and my imagination just stopped working. But wait, there was more: Sometimes passenger pigeon migrations darkened the sky for days. As these birds passed overhead, everyday folks were shooting at them from their windows and hitting twelve birds at one pop. These birds were so loud that as they passed you couldn’t hear a thing. Their dung dropped from the sky like sleet. This was weird, weird stuff!

So I’m reading this—and reading bits of it out loud to my husband because I cannot believe it—and I turn the page, and there, on the page, is a map of this huge passenger pigeon nesting in Wisconsin in 1871. (850 square miles?!?) It just floored me. I grew up in Wisconsin—this was my state—and I knew nothing of this. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I started writing about it. And that was the real beginning of One Came Home.

Yeah, I had a few story ideas knocking around in my head earlier, but I didn’t put much of it on paper until I happened to read about this, crazy, jaw-dropping, maybe-a-billion-birds, 1871 nesting. I knew then where this story was going to be set. It was going to set in my home state of Wisconsin, and I was going to put a small, fictional town right next to this monstrous nesting. I’d have this living, breathing, science-fiction-like (but historical) setting. How could I resist?

 I should add—in case readers of this interview think that the book is all about passenger pigeons—that One Came Home is a western with a mystery in it. (It also qualifies as historical fiction. Yeah, that’s a lot of genres, but I swear it’s the truth!) Anyway, the story is told in the voice of thirteen-year old Georgie Burkhardt who leaves home in order to find her sister. Everybody else says her sister is dead, and has good reason—after all, there has been a funeral. But Georgie refuses to believe it and so sets off.

Georgie Burkhardt is a wonderful character. Was she based on anyone specific or did you just have fun creating her? 

I’m glad you liked her – that’s good news!

Let’s get this off the table first: There is a lot of me in Georgie. Deep down, I’m stubborn and sure I’m right. I know it’s silly, and half the time, it’s plain dumb, but there it is. I think I’m pretty good at hiding this though, so you shouldn’t worry about meeting me.

 Georgie is also derived from a character named Miss Illene Viola Wiggins who appeared in my novel, That Girl Lucy Moon. Miss Wiggins is a powerhouse. She’s a businesswoman and philanthropist in her late 60s who owns the town’s primary business. When I discovered I was still thinking about Miss Wiggins after that novel was published, I asked myself what she might have been like as a thirteen year old. From that question came the first versions of Georgie Burkhardt.

Can you identify one research technique that you use that a classroom teacher may be able to adopt as a writing exercise with students?

Well, I love primary historical documents (and by that I mean documents that were written by someone from a particular time period). For instance, in One Came Home, I quote from a period book, Captain Randolph B. Marcy’s The Prairie Traveler.

So I’d suggest doing a writing exercise that begins with a primary document. Say you have an old photograph of several people—you can ask the students to put themselves into that photograph and imagine that world. Ask the students to write quickly about the relationships between the people. Ask them to write about what they imagine the people are thinking. Ask them to imagine what these people do ‘for fun.’ (Maybe one of them doesn’t look like they have any fun at all. Why not? Write about it!) Tell them to imagine the sounds these people hear, the things they can feel, what they’re looking at—remind them to use all their senses. Ask them to pick a person and make a list of the important objects in that person’s life. Tell them to jot down any questions they’d like to ask these people.

The students won’t get everything ‘right,’ but misinterpretations can be the start of a good conversation, or the beginning of a research project. Personally, I like learning history this way. I’m not great at dates, names and places, but if I’ve seen a photograph, or read a letter, the rest of the history sticks.

One thing I am always curious about is the writing habits and writing space of authors? Some work in their home or a writing space, and others in coffee shops. Some like music playing in the background and others have special snacks or beverages. Tell us a little bit about your writing space and habits.  

It helps if I write regularly. That’s the biggest thing for me—to write regularly. If I don’t do it regularly I lose the threads of my plot. So I try to write four hours a day consistently. I take one day off a week.

 I have an office, and my own desk. I’ve got a door I can shut. But I’ve worked in lots of crazy places, and have strategies for each. I’ll say this: I love owning a laptop.

As for practices: When it’s an early draft, I can listen to music. But later, when I’m working at the sentence level, I need silence because I need to be able to hear the rhythm of the words. I also do a lot of reading out loud to hear the voice of the book.

At the end of my process, reading out loud is the only thing I trust to make sure the words are hitting their marks. I’ve found that when I read in my head (which goes much, much faster and is therefore tempting) I’ll add words, rhythms, beats that aren’t there. When the editor and I are sending a manuscript back and forth, I often go hoarse from reading out loud.

What book would you identify as being the book that turned you into a reader or inspired you to become a writer? 

William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. It was required reading in high school, and I just got it in a sort of primal way. The voices were so specific and regional. In addition, I had never before considered that a narrator in a book might be unreliable. Wow. It blew me away.

If you could spend the day with your favorite character (from any book – doesn’t have to be one of your own characters), who would it be and what would you do for the day? 

 I would love it if Tolkien’s Gandalf would drop by to set me off on an adventure. Would you let him know I’m interested, please?

What is the question that you most frequently get asked by children who write to you?

“Are you going to write another book about Lucy Moon?” Man, that is such a compliment!

If we were to get a peek at your “To-be-read” pile, what titles would be see in the stack of books? 

I love this question! Last year, I was curious about how many books actually passed through my hands, so I kept track on Goodreads. You can go see it! I summed up my reading here:

Current list?
• Right now, I’ve got a bunch of cookbooks waiting to be read and tried. I want to learn to make artisan bread, my own mustard, and maybe ferment something. (Cider? More mead? Haven’t decided.)

• I’m reading a lot of Thomas Merton. Going to read The Seven Storey Mountain—finally!

• I need to finish Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’m at his fourth meal, so nearly there.

• I’m reading a mystery that I picked up because the cover was so beautiful: Kevin McCafferty’s The Royal Wulff Murders. I’m a sucker for covers, but this one doesn’t disappoint—it’s good so far!

• I will be doing some reading for a Kindling Words conference I’m going to in January, so add William Alexander, Natalie Babbitt, and John Green to the list.

• And I’m going to read Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty. She’s a friend of mine and I can’t wait to read it because I heard early excerpts. Yay! Okay, that’s a startlingly large list for “what’s next.” Clearly this is an eyes-bigger-than-stomach situation. Does your list get this big?

Hey, as long as we’re bringing Gandalf into my life (see earlier question) maybe he can arrange for more time to read . . . What do you think? (I think my own list just got longer. *sigh*)

Thanks for this interview! This was fun!

Amy Timberlake grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin. She has an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she’s also taught writing. She’s worked as a book reviewer, a book event coordinator, and as a children's bookseller. Her previous books include That Girl Lucy Moon and The Dirty Cowboy. The Dirty Cowboy was illustrated by Adam Rex and won SCBWI's Golden Kite Award. That Girl Lucy Moon was chosen as a Book Sense Pick, a NYPL’s “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing,” a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2007, an Amelia Bloomer Book, and the winner of the Friends of American Writers Literary Award. Amy Timberlake lives with her husband in Chicago. Learn more about her life and work at her website:

Amy also has a great Pinterest page about passenger pigeons:

Amy's next stop in the blog tour:  January 14th over at

Thanks to Blueslip Media, I am able to offer a copy of ONE CAME HOME to a reader who lives in the United States.    a Rafflecopter giveaway