Sea Monster And the Bossy Fish Blog Tour - Giveaway & Interview with Kate Messner

When I was asked to participate in the Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish: Making Fishy Friends Blog Tour, I was thrilled.  I adore both Sea Monster's First Day and Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish.  And Kate Messner is an amazing author who writes picture books and early chapter books and middle grade novels and is one of my favorite authors.   Today, I am excited to welcome author, Kate Messner to Kid Lit Frenzy.  Thanks Kate for stopping by and chatting.

The Sea Monster books are wonderful and funny and have great lessons. What inspired you to write about a Sea Monster of all things and did you have someone in mind when you created the character?

Aw, thanks! The inspiration for Ernest the Sea Monster actually came from the legendary lake monster where I live: Champ of Lake Champlain. I’m not making this up…really. We have a Loch-Ness-Monster-esque lake monster that people have reported seeing since the 1600s. I always thought the people who reported those sightings were a bit over-imaginative until my family saw a big, unidentified something swimming through the waters near our house about eight years ago. What was it? I’m still not sure, but whatever it was, it got my writer’s brain churning, and the first sea monster book was the result!

Now that you are a full-time writer, what is the hardest thing or the thing you miss the most about the start of the school year?

The smell of new pencils. Confession: I have a bit of an office supply addiction, so I still pick up a few school supplies for myself when I do my kids’ fall shopping. I love teaching, and I’d miss it like crazy if teaching weren’t still very much a part of my job. These days, instead of showing up in the same classroom each morning, though, I’m visiting schools around the country to give presentations and writing workshops for kids, and I love it.

If you can spend the day with your favorite book character (not a character that you wrote) who would it be and what would you do?

Albus Dumbledore. I’d ask him to teach me everything he knows and share his lemon drops.

What is one book that you read over and over again as a child? What book did you never return to the library because you loved it so much and couldn’t let it go? 

Oh, gosh…there wasn’t just one! I was a voracious reader as a kid and remain one today. My favorites growing up were Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books and Judy Blume’s TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING.

What was the book that turned you into a reader? 

Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. My parents joke that they had to stop having dinner parties because I’d follow their guests around lugging a huge pile of books and looking pathetic until someone put down his or her drink and read to me.

What new projects are you working on?

I’m super-excited about my next picture book with Chronicle, which comes out in the spring. It’s called TREE OF LIFE, and it’s about Costa Rica’s almendro tree – a rainforest giant that provides food and shelter of various sorts to more than a thousand different kinds of organisms. In addition to exploring biodiversity, this book plays with numbers, too, as the animals multiply from page to page. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the third title in my Marty McGuire chapter book series with Scholastic (MARTY MCGUIRE HAS TOO MANY PETS!) and working on a new middle grade novel called ALL THE ANSWERS – my first book that involves magic! That one comes out in 2015.

What is the name of your favorite Indie bookstore and where is it located? 

Oh dear…I’m not sure I can choose just one because there are SO many amazing indies out there. But a few of my beloved local favorites are Flying Pig Books, Phoenix Books, and Bear Pond Books in Vermont and the fabulous Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, which handles signed book sales for my Skype classroom visits. All of these stores have incredible, book-loving people behind the counters and are truly special places for readers.

What are you reading? 

My TBR pile (and currently reading pile) is always an eclectic mix of kids’ books and research, mixed in with the occasional grown-up book. Here’s what’s on the table by the couch right now…

Anything that you wished I had asked you about? Or anything else that you care to share with the readers of Kid Lit Frenzy? 

Just a big thank you! The readers of SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY are the reason that our lovable Ernest is back. I so appreciate everyone who loved this book and shared it, and I hope you’ll enjoy SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH just as much!

Teachers, Librarians, and Parents - Chronicle has provided a "Friend Fish" Pledge.  

click on image to download PDF

To check out all of the post for the Sea Monster Blog tour, check out Chronicle Book's Interview with Kate Messner, here.

Thanks to Chronicle Books for providing a copy of Sea Monster and the Bossy Day by Kate Messner to one lucky reader.  Please enter the rafflecopter form below.  Participants need to be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.

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Book Review - Marty McGuire

Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Publisher: Scholastic (May 1, 2011)
Pages: 160
Audience: 1st to 3rd grade
Source: ARC from Mid-Winter ALA
Fiction * Early Chapter Books 

Description from GoodReads:

A fun, accessible chapter-book debut from an exciting new talent--simultaneous hardcover-paperback launch!

Marty McGuire would rather spend recess catching frogs in the pond than playing dress-up with the other girls in third grade. So when her teacher casts Marty as the princess in the class play, Marty's absolutely, positively sure that there's been a huge mistake. But after a special lesson in the art of improvisation, Marty comes up with her OWN plan to IMPROVE the play: Why use stuffed-animal frog onstage when a live one would be so much better? In the end, Marty's one-of-a-kind performance makes for an unforgettable show. Maybe Marty CAN live happily ever after, after all!

One of the most challenging age groups to write for are children in grades 1st to 3rd.  These developing readers are at all different levels.  Finding just the right book to draw them in and keep them reading - well that isn't easy.  When I find one that I love, I get pretty excited.  Kate Messner's first early chapter book is definitely one that falls in this category.

"I'd call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I'm not.  So I won't."  - Marty McGuire, p. 1

Messner had me with this line.  I immediately became quite fond of this third grader who would rather be Jane Goodall than a princess in a school play.  Messner does a great job of creating a character who is funny, energetic, but not annoying.  I had great empathy for Marty's teacher and loved her down-to-earth parents.  And of course, I got a great chuckle out of a rehabilitating raccoon named Sparky who is currently living with the McGuires.

Since I loved this so much, I had to share it with a class of second graders.  They loved Marty as well.  Here are some of their thoughts:

"I like the part when she (Marty) kisses the frog." - Perla, age 7

"The book was funny, and nice.  It will be cool to have another." - Dulce, age 7

"I like Marty McGuire because it was funny.  I liked the book because Marty got a new friend in the end." - Celeste, age 8

"My favorite part was when Marty fell into the pond." - Chanler, age 7

"What I liked about this book is that Marty didn't want to be a Princess in the play, but she still did it. And she was showing courage." - Sierra, age 7

Since we were so excited about Marty McGuire, we asked Kate Messner if she would Skype with us.  She agreed and my students were so thrilled.
We asked lots of questions and even learned that there were be one more Marty book coming out in 2012 and hopefully more after that. (Scholastic - please take note that we would like many more Marty books.)  Kate even asked the students to give her feedback for possible future titles of books.  Our love for Marty McGuire didn't end here, we made sure she was featured at our Spring Bookfair at Vroman's Bookstore.

For more information about Kate Messner and her books, check out her website:

You can follow her on twitter: @katemessner

She can be found on Facebook: