August/September Author of the Month Donna Gephart

Those tween/teen years can be so difficult and scary—we can all remember feeling lost and alone and like we didn’t fit in. Donna Gephart remembers, and through her books that amuse, touch, and inspire, she helps to make those years just a little less scary.

When the team at School Library Connection and reVIEWS+ met her latest characters, Lily and Dunkin, we knew Gephart was someone we wanted to get to know.
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gephartLike so many bibliophiles, Gephart’s love of books began at an early age. When her mother took her to the Northeast Regional Library, she “felt like the whole world had opened up for me. Throughout my childhood,” she tells us, “that library was a mecca to me.”

At age ten, Gephart decided to become a writer and, after “only thirty years of writing practice,” she sold her first children’s book to Random House.

When asked what inspires her to write, Gephart replied, “I write for the lonely girl I was, growing up in Philadelphia with my sister and single-parent mom. We didn’t have much money, and I didn’t have many friends back then. Books provided me companionship, wit and wisdom, and roadmaps for how I might navigate a rich, fulfilling, and creative life.” This inspiration is evident in her books. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly frivolous titles, these books deal with some weighty topics—tempered with humor and compassion. Tween/teen angst, broken families and friendships, death, financial difficulties, mental health, and sexual identity are just some of the subjects encountered within the pages where you will also find geeks, factoids (most toilets flush in the key of E-flat, a person must be at least thirty-five years old to become president of the United States, Mount Everest is on the border of Tibet and Nepal), trivia buffs, and a sweepstakes junkie. And no matter the emotional ups and downs throughout her books, you will always be left with hope when you’re done reading. Continue reading “August/September Author of the Month Donna Gephart”

ICYMI: September 2015 Author of the Month Bruce Hale

We all know summer and fun go together, but we’re also aware of the not-so-fun summer reading gap. So why not suggest some books from Bruce Hale that will bring summer, fun, and reading all together?

We were thrilled to have a chance to meet Bruce in person last August when he was gracious enough to visit our offices for an author of the month interview. Be sure to look for our review of his new book, The Curse of the Were-Hyena, in the August-September issue of School Library Connection. Subscribers can see reviews of Bruce’s books and our complete archive of reviews on reVIEWS+.

bruce hale“If it’s not fun, why read it?” That’s children’s author and illustrator Bruce Hale’s motto. And fun is a word that definitely describes Hale and his books.

Hale considers himself to be a very lucky man; it’s not everyone who gets to make a living doing something they love to do. He hasn’t, however, always been an author. Hale has worked as a magazine editor, actor, gardener, and surveyor, just to name a few of the careers he has pursued. He won a Fulbright grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand, and his energetic storytelling comes in handy for his school visits. Despite this rich and varied background, the idea of becoming an author was never far from his mind.

Eventually, Hale took the leap and turned his focus to writing children’s books. Hale has written and/or illustrated over thirty books for kids, from picture books to novels and graphic novels. Many of his titles speak to an affinity for lizards and detectives, which often are one and the same in his stories. Continue reading “ICYMI: September 2015 Author of the Month Bruce Hale”

In Case You Missed It: October 2015 Author of the Month Sarah Albee

Pick up a book by children’s author Sarah Albee and you just might be surprised what you can learn about history from bugs, poop, and fashion. Sarah is a favorite of the team over at School Library Connection and reVIEWS+, and she was our pick for Author of the Month last October. Subscribers can access our reviews of her books via the hyperlinks.

albee 187x250“There is so much wonderful nonfiction out there right now. No longer is it the dry, fact-based, expository stuff so many of us grew up with.” So says Sarah Albee, and she should know.

Sarah Albee loves social history and has made it her mission “to get kids to see that history can be relevant to their own lives, and to love it as much as I do.” She’s certainly done her part to draw children in by writing books with attention-grabbing titles like Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up, Bugged: How Insects Changed History, and Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History. Students who pick these up will find that “societies that paid attention to sanitation tended to be those that survived and thrived,” and that although “insects have wiped out populations…we have co-evolved with them and must learn to co-exist.” Moreover, those who think clothes are just clothes may be astounded to discover how much “fashion reflects the political, social, economic, and moral climates in which people lived.”
Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: October 2015 Author of the Month Sarah Albee”

Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde

Classic fairy tales and virtual reality games with a twist, children with magical powers, tongue-tied dragons, princesses who don’t need rescuing, time travel, mystery, adventure, wizards, ghosts, troll teachers, unicorns, and more, all brought to you courtesy of Vivian Vande Velde.

Vivian VVV_WVande Velde can’t remember a time before she knew she wanted to write. She tells us that even as a very young child, “I would make up my own stories by taking what someone else had written and giving it a different ending…or I’d give the story from my own perspective if a character did something I couldn’t imagine…or I’d mix together characters from different stories to see how they’d react to one another.” Some of her published works reflect, in one way or another, these childhood imaginings. In Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, and Cloaked in Red, Vande Velde provides different takes on traditional fairy tales. Remembering Raquel tells the story of Raquel Falcone from the varying perspectives of her former classmates. Continue reading “Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde”

Author of the Month: Don Tate

April is National Poetry Month. Don Tate’s new book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, received a highly recommended rating in our April issue of School Library Connection/reVIEWS+.

Don Tate

Bill Traylor and George Moses Horton were two men born into slavery; one taught himself to draw, the other taught himself to read and soon after began to write poetry. In two beautifully illustrated books written by Don Tate, you can introduce these inspiring individuals to your elementary grade students.

If you’ve never heard of either Bill Traylor or George Moses Horton, you’re probably not alone. As Don Tate suggests, “So often with books about historical figures, the same stories get told time and again. I think publishers realize that a story about Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King or Harriett Tubman will sell well. But,” he reminds us, “there are a lot of equally inspiring stories out there that haven’t been told.” Continue reading “Author of the Month: Don Tate”