Mixed-Up Files Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson

Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | Janet S. Johnson | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comOne of my favorite things about writing for From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors is that I get to talk to so many great writers.

The following post is especially fun for me because I got to do an interview with Janet Sumner Johnson, who successfully writes both Middle Grade and Picture Books.

 

You started your career as an author writing Middle Grade (THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURES OF THE PB&J SOCIETY). What got you interested in writing Picture Books? And, how long did it take you to write a manuscript you were happy with?

I have always loved picture books. The idea of telling a story in so few words fascinated me! When I had three young kids at home, we had just moved to a new city, and we spent a lot of time at the library and reading picture books. Kids can be pretty inspiring (lol!), and that’s when I first attempted to write a picture book.

Granted, I was busy writing middle grade during this time, but it took eight years from the moment I wrote that first picture book, to when I finally dared show a manuscript to my agent.

Where do you get your ideas? And, once you have an idea, how do you know if it is best suited for a Picture Book or a Middle Grade book? Do  you start out with the form specifically in mind or does it sometimes take you by surprise?

Read the rest of the interview over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors and be sure to check out Janet’s books at your favorite bookstore.

Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | Help Wanted | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com  Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | PB and J Society | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Middle Grade Book Love: American as Paneer Pie

I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of Supriya Kelkar’s upcoming Middle Grade novel, AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE, this week.

You may remember Supriya and her Middle Grade debut AHIMSA.

Well, she’s back. This time with a contemporary novel set in the Midwest that’s sure to become a middle grade favorite.

Middle Grade Book Love | american-as-paneer-pie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAn Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

 

American as Paneer PieAmerican as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely, heart-felt story that does a brilliant job of looking at everything from friendship to racism from the very believable perspective of an eleven year old.

Lekha is a great middle grade heroine. She’s smart, funny, and trying so hard to both be herself and to fit in – at home, at school, and at swim practice – that the reader is pulled right into her story and can’t help but cringe and cheer along side of her. Her pain is easy to connect with, her missteps are real and oh-s0-relatable, and her triumphs are just the right size to make any reader see that growth, change, and forgiveness is possible.

Great supporting characters – including present and realistic parents – round out this story and make it one of my current favorites.

A must read!

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A easy-to-relate-to kid with real life concerns.
  • Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
  • Puns!

For teachers

  • A smart, funny, and engaging handling of some big topics.
  • True-to-life examples of racism (macro and micro), including classroom-level aggressions from kids and adults.
  • A couple fun lesson ideas (an Op-Ed assignment and cooking assignment) that would work great in any classroom.

AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE releases May 12, 2020, but is available for
pre-order online.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files

February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors today sharing some books that are coming out this month.

February New Releases

February is looking promising you all! This month’s New Releases list is filled with everything your Middle Grade reader is looking for – from mysteries, friendship stories, sports, and, yes, dogs!! I think we’re all going to be glad that this year is a Leap Year. Now, we have an extra day to read these beauties.

Check out the list at From the Mixed-Up Files.

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Author Spotlight: Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise

Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Mixed-Up Files member Jennifer Swanson and her middle grade book SPIES, LIES, AND DISGUISE: THE DARING TRICKS AND DEEDS THAT WON WWII.

Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Title:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won WWII

Genre: Middle-grade nonfiction history

 Age Range:  9- 11 years and up

 Launch Date: Out Now!

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

In the late 1930s, times were desperate. The world found itself at war again, less than twenty years after the first World War had ended. No one could quite believe it. And no one wanted it. The leaders of every country involved were left with no choice. They had to try to end the war as fast as possible, using whatever means they could.

That meant coming up with secret operations meant to deceive, deflect, and confuse their enemies. Poison the cattle that the Germans eat? Deliberately float a corpse dressed up as a spy across the water to have it wash up on Germany’s shore? Create a unit of top secret commandos with a license to kill? These were all real tactics attempted with the ultimate goal of defeating Hitler. In this off-center look at history, readers will be captivated by the classified and covert efforts made by each side as they tried to gain the upper hand and win the war. Restricted access is lifted to give the reader a peek into the top secret operations of the daring men and women who fought the war under a cloak of secrecy.

Spies, Lies, and Disguise  has been getting some great reviews:

“The highly readable and well-organized text is accompanied by occasional breakout panels and spreads and focuses mainly on missions conducted by the Allied powers. While each chapter is organized around a different type of spycraft or specific mission, the accounts are more or less chronologically arranged and touch on major events such as D-Day and the ­dropping of the atomic bombs, adding context that will help readers newer to the subject. The text is accompanied by a combination of period photographs and illustrations by O’Malley, whose expressive style adds to the book’s cheekiness. VERDICT A must-read for budding military historians and spies-in-training. Purchase wherever books by Alan Gratz and thrillers like Framed! by James Ponti are ­popular.”

– School Library Journal

“This book will capture your attention from the very beginning!” ―School Library Connection

“Black and white photos, O’Malley’s cartoon-style recruitment posters and illustrations, and a narrative tone free of textbook stuffiness combine to create broad appeal.” ―BCCB

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

 I wrote a book for an educational publisher a few years back that was very short, but I did a massive amount of research for it. Way more than I used in the book. I was SO fascinated with the military ops and secret missions that were executed in WWII (most likely my interest also came from the fact that I attended the U.S. Naval Academy and took classes in military strategy). When I found the format for the book, wham- it all came together very quickly. This structure just seemed the best way to convey excitement and intrigue to my readers.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

My writing process is different for every book. For this one, I spent hours devouring books on WW2, researching the Imperial War Museum’s archive files, and doing tons of photo research. I typically research as a I write, because that is most efficient for me. The writing part of this book came very easily, which was awesome. I really had tons of fun writing this book!

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

One of the big reasons why I love STEM/STEAM so much is because of my 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Roth. She just made Science FUN! I woke up every morning excited to go to her class to learn. At the time (in the early 80s) is wasn’t that common to have a female science teacher – especially not in a very small town. She showed me that women could do science and do it WELL! I have carried that love of science my whole life.     

What makes your book  a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

I think this book is a great resource for teachers in the classroom because it talks about the military strategy that was used during World War II. The book gives young readers a glimpse into the innovative and secretive actions that each side took in an attempt to win the war. It highlights many true heroes of the war, and brings attention to some of the lesser-known missions that truly worked! The narrative is reader-friendly for the age group and invites the reader to read more about these amazing accomplishments.           

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

We have two dogs that I adore. They are Lily and Sasha. Sasha is a Great Pyrenees, which means basically, she is a giant polar bear of a dog. She is white, fluffy, and weighs 120lbs.  Lily is a beautiful, lovable golden retriever. She is “small” weighing in at only 70lbs.  We are big dog people in this house and love our fur-babies dearly.

Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comScience Rocks! And so, do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 35 nonfiction books for children. Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books, but especially her Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact, which received a Florida Book Award, a Eureka California Reading Association Gold Award and an NSTA BEST STEM book award. Her newest book, Save the Crash-test Dummies, received a starred review with Booklist and a Eureka Silver Award. Jennifer has presented at multiple SCBWI conferences, National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the World Science Festival and the Atlanta Science Festival. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com or on Twitter or Instagram @JenSwanBooks

You can pick up a copy of SPIES, LIES, AND DISGUISE: THE DARING TRICKS AND DEEDS THAT WON WWII at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

Thanks, Jennifer!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

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Catching Up

ponte-vecchio-bridge | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
It’s been pretty quiet here on the blog the last couple of months. The good news is all is well. My husband and I spent a good chunk of October in Italy, roaming around Rome and Florence, taking in amazing artwork, eating so much pasta, and discovering the joy of gelato. We had an incredible time – some of which you can see over on my Instagram.

 

 

But I haven’t been completely silent. I wrote a couple of blog posts over at the From The Mixed-Up Files site that you can check out below:

Books About Museums

November New Releases

And I’m back to work on the novel I’ve been struggling to finish. Here’s hoping I can bring in all together soon. Wish me luck!!

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March New Releases

krokus - March New Releases - www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been an interesting 2019 so far – and a fast-moving one. I cannot believe it’s already time to usher in March! Did I mention March is one of my favorite months of the year? It carries with it the promise of Spring, bushels of tulips, and the birthdays of some of my very favorite people (plus my own).

And it’s bringing in a whirlwind of new Middle Grade books.

This week, I’m over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors with a list of March New Releases designed to fill all of your reading needs on the blustery and the sunshiney days March is sure to be full of. Check the post out, then head back over here and let me know what you think of this year’s March New Releases.

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Presidents Day

presidents-day | american-flag | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s Presidents Day, and I’m over at the From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog talking with my writing friends about middle grade characters who would make great presidents. One of them even suggested Kit for president!

I was too shy to put it on the list over there, but I’ll share it with you all here.

 

Kit Donovan (From The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey). Kit is fearless! She stands up to bullies, she fights for justice, and she doesn’t quit. Kit would be an amazing president!

Janet Sumner Johnson, Author of THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE THE PB and J SOCIETY.

Read the rest of my post – Charlotte For President!! – over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and nominate your favorite Middle Grade Character!

And, Happy Presidents Day!

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