Saturday, January 29, 2011
Mellie Turpin spends her early years with a fairy named Fidius. She enjoyed Fidius, especially when he turned her squash into candy corn and flicked his wrist to clean up her room. She thought her friends in Kindergarten would enjoy him too, but when she shared her idea to bring him to school, Fidius disappeared. The only thing she had to remember him by was a porcelain look-alike fairy. Unfortunately, Mellie had already promised to bring Fidius to school, so reneging caused a lot of name-calling from the kids at school. They dreamed up the nickname "Fairy Fat."
After hours with the school counselor and her parents convincing Mellie that there really is no such thing as fairies, Mellie finally went on with her life. She convinced herself that Fidius must have been in her imagination.
Years later, when Mellie's grandfather dies, they inherit his small inn and pub. The family decides to move there and fix it up. Mellie is glad to start over in a new town and lose the "Fairy Fat" moniker. However, when investigating the basement pub, she discovers something that she though she left in her crazy past for good. Small persons with wings (don't call them fairies). A bunch of them. They are real and her parents knew it! Not only are they real, but her family has a complicated relationship with them. Furthermore, they have some tough decisions to make about their future.
I loved this for so many reasons. First of all the characters are wonderful! The fairies (I'm just going to call them that here because it's quicker to type & easier to use in sentences than small persons with wings, although after typing all of this, I guess it would've been quicker to just..) anyway, the fairies have such great personalities. Durindana is a riot with her attitude coupled with her sweetness underneath. OMG, I love when she yells "Ai-yi-yi!" Maybe I can start using that on the kids at school. The fairies really are entertaining. They are obsessed with fine things, fancy clothing and high drama. Since they are about 1300 years old, their speech is part English, with Latin and French intermingled.
Melllie is witty and smart, yet still self conscious and afraid to make friends. It's believable that she would resist her neighbor Timmo's friendship. I love the way Mellie's mom tells her that she will "grow into her grandeur." That is one line I will always remember. It's beautiful. Mellie's parents, her grandfather and her friend Timmo are all original, interesting characters that you will adore. (That grandfather - what a sharp tongue. And so funny!)
The plot is unexpected, suspenseful and fast paced. Overall, this is clever and brilliantly executed. I was so sad it was over. I enjoyed spending time in Mellie's world.
Check out the author here - she must be so much fun, since she's written such an entertaining book!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Hooray! I was given the honor of interviewing the author of THE RISE AND FALL OF MOUNT MAJESTIC, Jennifer Trafton. The book is delightful! You must read it.
First of all, I am blown away that this is your first novel. It’s really brilliant! How long have you been writing?
Thank you so much! I started really thinking about writing—doing it deliberately—when I was ten years old. I took a creative writing class and discovered how much I liked writing poetry. (I also have a vivid memory from that class of listening to a recording of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”!) My parents bought me a journal, and I filled those pages with very goofy and melodramatic poems for the next decade. When I was in high school, I started writing stories that I thought could be children’s picture books, and I sent them to agents and publishers and got many, many rejections. But I learned a lot about the publishing industry that way.
Did it take long to get this book published?
Six years from first draft to publication. So the answer is “yes!”
There are so many imaginative creatures in this book, where did the ideas come from?
Oh my, from everywhere. I can’t explain why my brain works the way it does. I remember that I imagined most of them from the inside out. In other words, I knew about their inner characters and personalities first, and then their external characteristics grew out of those internal ones. For example, the Leafeaters’ concern for courtesy, beauty, and correct grammar and their sense of superiority to others shaped the way I imagined their appearance, their way of talking, and the culture of their city.
Did you have any input in the selection of the illustrator? I think Brett Helquist was the perfect match!
I think so too! I’m not sure I can say that I had “input”—it’s ultimately the publisher’s decision—but when I heard Brett was being considered, I certainly expressed my enthusiasm! Brett’s style perfectly combined the fairy tale feeling and the quirky humor of the book.
I love the ending, but it leaves me with a question or two. Are you thinking about a sequel or do you think that’s the perfect way to end our time with Persimmony?
I had always intended there to be more to this story than just the first book. However, once I finished the final revision I realized that I also really like the openness of the ending. It’s a story about “mights and possibilities,” after all—there’s something appropriate about the fact that the reader wonders “what might be?” at the end. I enjoy leaving the reader with a bit of a mystery. Will there be a sequel? That’s another mystery—to me as well as to you.
I love to ask children’s authors what they read while growing up. What did you read? Did you have any favorite authors as a child?
Like many kids, I got hooked on certain series. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books, L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, Noel Streatfeild’s Shoes books, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily books were all favorites. I also read a lot of Beverly Cleary, E. Nesbit, Judy Blume, E. B. White, Louisa May Alcott, Roald Dahl, Joan Aiken, and Shel Silverstein.
What about now? Who are your favorite authors now?
I love Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, George MacDonald, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, W.B. Yeats, Billy Collins . . . . I like Lewis Carroll even better now than when I was a kid. Some all-time favorite “adult” novels include Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Can you give us a sneak peak at what you’re writing right now?
Yes, as a matter of fact, it will be an extraordinarily exciting story with a hero, a villain or two, an utterly unique setting, a nail-biting climax, and possibly a few giraffes.
Giraffes - well now I really can't wait!
Finally, if you could have dinner with any other author (alive or dead), who would it be? And more importantly, what would you talk about?
“‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said, ‘to talk of many things . . .’” I would love to spend an entire evening with Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) making up nonsense words and discussing sealing wax and the correct way to swing a vorpal sword. We would, of course, sit on a briny beach and eat oysters and mock turtle soup.
Sounds like fun!
My readers and I thank you very much for your time! We know you’re busy crafting your next brilliant novel – and we can’t wait to read it!
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.
If you'd like to read more about Jennifer Trafton or her new book, check out her website here.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
What delightful debut by author Jennifer Trafton! I really love this one!
In a small town in the southern part of the Island at the Center of Everything lives a girl named Persimmony Smudge. She longs for adventure, something more exciting than her basket making, boring existence. After accidentally breaking an important family item, she runs off to go get another one before her mother gets home. Later that night, she loses her way in the woods and ends up hiding from the poison-tongued jumping tortoises in the hollow of a tree. While crouched down in the tree, she overhears a conversation that changes her life. Her adventure begins. She must travel to the top of Mount Majestic and warn the king about the plot against him.
She meets some fascinating characters along the way, discovers an even bigger secret, and learns more about her missing father.
What an exciting tale filled with so many wonderful characters! Worvil the worrier is a sweet little guy, who only needs a little push to become the hero he is inside. The Rumblebumps are light-hearted people who help everyone stay positive. Theodore the potter is a wise helper to Persimmony and her family. The bumbling king is hysterical and mixes up so many words. (one of my favorite king quotes "No one can feel discumbersomebubblated except a king.")
"Most people may think you’re short, but I know that inside of that shrinking body there’s a giant waiting to burst out." Persimmony encouraging Worvil.
There is so much adventure, wonder and sweetness in this book. It would be a fantastic read-aloud for the whole family. I'm still amazed that it's a debut novel. It's witty and brilliantly written! I wish I could do it justice in my review, but I can't. You just must read it yourself! You will love it!
The cover and illustrations sprinkled throughout the book are by the amazing Brett Helquist (CHASING VERMEER, SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, etc.). His illustrations are a perfect match for MOUNT MAJESTIC!
For more about the book and the author, visit here website here.