Category: Authors

Interview with Sarah Beth Durst


I was thrilled to be asked to interview author Sarah Beth Durst about her new book as well as her writing. Welcome Sarah!

What is your writing process? Do you outline or have a less structured approach?

First, I decide what kind of chocolate this draft needs. Is this a Three Musketeers draft? A York peppermint patty draft? A Ghirardelli milk chocolate caramel draft? Or a traditional and almost-healthy Raisinets draft? I put the chocolate on the bookshelf next to my desk, in easy reach, and then I write a chapter. All my chapters tend to be about ten pages long, because that’s the amount of time until I want to eat more chocolate. If I run out of chocolate, it means the draft is finished.

I am at least partially serious.

In addition to consuming copious amounts of chocolate, I also write every day. I know writing every day doesn’t work for all writers (and it isn’t always logistically feasible), but it really helps keep me in the story. It keeps the sentences flowing. For me, writing is all about momentum. Maintain it, and writing is fun. Let it flag, and I need to buy more chocolate.

That part is completely serious.


The book is filled with cupcakes of various flavors. What is your favorite flavor of sweet cupcake? What is your favorite savory flavor? And if cupcakes are not your favorite dessert, what is?

In THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, Sophie’s best friend is a cupcake-loving, six-tentacled monster named Monster. But cupcakes are actually not my favorite dessert. My favorite is berry cobbler, specifically the berry cobbler with black raspberry ice cream served at Artist Point in Disney World — my favorite restaurant ever. I also love crème brulee and anything involving a drizzle of raspberry. Yum.


I love that your book features a girl who does not dream, since I was a child who did not dream though I do more now as an adult. Are you a dreamer? What is your favorite dream you have ever had? Do you have a favorite nightmare?

I do dream. Sometimes after I wake, I lie in bed without moving to try and capture the dream before it slips away. I often wish I could bottle and save the best ones — and that is, in fact, where the idea for THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM came from. In the book, Sophie’s family owns a secret dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams.

This doesn’t qualify as my favorite dream, but in my most vivid dream, I was Cindy Brady’s imaginary friend. I lived in the corner of the squares in the opening credits, between Cindy and Alice.


Monster is an amazing character and I was not expecting him to talk at first! Where did Monster come from?

Monster crawled out of my subconscious fully-formed. I actually wrote the first scene of the book — where Monster meets Sophie inside a dream and then comes to life — a couple years ago while I was supposed to be writing another book. I had to put his and Sophie’s story aside then, but I didn’t forget about him.


Can you tell me anything about your next project?

Right now, I’m working on an epic fantasy trilogy for adults about bloodthirsty nature spirits and the women who can control them. The first book, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, will be coming out in fall 2016 from Harper Voyager. I’m really, really excited about it!


Thank you Sarah! I’ll be sharing my review of The Girl Who Could Not Dream tomorrow. So stay tuned!

Vera B. Williams Dies


The New York Times has the news of the death of Vera B. Williams at age 88. Willams started her career in children’s books late in life in her late 40s. She received a Caldecott Honor for A Chair for My Mother, one of my all-time favorite picture books. Williams has illustrated other books that have become instant classics such as More More More Said the Baby which also received a Caldecott Honor.

Her art is exuberant, colorful and filled with joy. She illustrated books in a naturally diverse way, incorporating children of all colors and making her books shine even more.

Guest Post: Maggie Thrash, Author of Honor Girl

I am so pleased to be part of Maggie Thrash’s blog tour. Here is Maggie!

I would never want to be a “comedian” or a “comic” because they can probably never relax at parties. They’re always on call to chime in with some witty barb or a monologue about how crazy it was to make a withdrawal at the ATM today, or what’s the deal with people who drink coconut water. But I do think that a sense of humor is pretty essential when you’re treating your reader to the story of how love slowly and tortuously crushed your spirit.

My graphic memoir HONOR GIRL is about the summer I got totally slammed with love for an older girl, and how that love played out in the confines of a southern Christian camp in the year 2000. It was a very serious summer for me. Every day felt like I was probably going to die. Which isn’t to say that I would go back in time and tell myself to lighten up. No fifteen-year-old girl needs yet another voice telling her that her feelings are melodramatic, that she should just smile and be delightful for the pleasure of everyone around her. But when I decided to write this, it was with the understanding that the reader would need—and deserved—a regularly scheduled break from the relentless angst I was serving up. The Royal Tenenbaums is a movie that does this really well. The characters are all super angsty and hardly anyone smiles for the duration of the film, but it’s not dragging you down. There’s something very buoyant about their despair.

I also remember being fifteen and how the slightest thing could set you off laughing uncontrollably. I think as you get older, you start to lose the expectation that at any second, something completely hilarious could happen. With HONOR GIRL I wanted to capture that particular depression where you spend most of the day lying face-down on your bed, but you still have the energy to explode laughing when some ridiculous person has a wedgie or something!


HONOR GIRL. Copyright © 2015 by Maggie Thrash. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Shirley Hughes Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Dogger All about Alfie

Shirley Hughes, the popular and prolific author of Dogger and the Alfie series, has won the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from Book Trust. She was presented with the award as part of Children’s Book Week.

From the Telegraph article:

Her characters are imprinted on the memories of two or three generations, a recognition of their enduring charm. Shirley continues to innovate and create, providing young children with a love of reading that we know will give them a great start in life.

We often hear about ‘national treasures’, but Shirley Hughes is up there with the best.

Woodson Named Young People’s Poet Laureate

Giving Voice

GalleyCat has the news that Jacqueline Woodson has been named the new Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She began her two-year tenure at the beginning of June.

The Poetry Foundation has a great interview with Woodson that focuses on poetry and Woodson’s work. And of course Woodson answers in poetic fashion:

I would love for everyone to listen to the poetry inside of them. I would love for everyone to believe that they have a poem to write, say, sing, rap, dance—and then execute that poem. I’m thinking about collaborations across race and class and gender. I’m thinking about old poets and young poets sharing stages. I’m thinking about young poets getting published and about young people discussing Ferguson and Guantanamo Bay and high-stakes testing and helicopter parenting and housing and health care—my lists go on and on—through poetry. I’m thinking about giving voices to and back to young silenced people.

Marcia Brown Has Died

Cinderella Once a Mouse... Shadow

Marcia Brown, three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, has died at age 96. She won her Caldecotts over the course of decades:

  • Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper in 1955
  • Once a Mouse in 1962
  • Shadow in 1983

She is one of only two illustrators to have won three Caldecott Medals, the other being David Wiesner. She also illustrated six Caldecott Honor Books!