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An Interview With MG & YA Author Deborah Lytton

THE FANTASTIC LIBRARY RESCUE
AND OTHER MAJOR PLOT TWISTS
Written by Deborah Lytton
Illustrated by Jeanine Murch
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; $7.99, Ages 8 and up)

Cover art of Ruby Starr from The Fantastic Library Rescue and Other Major Plot Twists


Read Our Q & A With Author Deborah Lytton

On today’s post I’m excited to share a recent interview I had with author, Deborah Lytton, about book #2 in the Ruby Starr series, The Fantastic Library Rescue and Other Major Plot Twists, which came out earlier this month. Having thoroughly enjoyed this chapter book for middle grade readers* that includes illustrations of Ruby’s active imagination at work, I can see how much tweens and bibliophiles will gravitate to the series, and this new book in particular, especially since it tackles two important issues: libraries losing funding and friendship predicaments. I especially like that Ruby’s friend Will P is also in a bookclub, something I don’t usually see depicted in stories. Here’s how Sourcebooks Jabberwocky describes Lytton’s latest:

The second book in this fun series that’s perfect for younger fans of the Dork Diaries and Story Thieves series. Ruby Starr is an older Junie B. Jones with a big imagination and a love of reading.

Ruby Starr’s life is totally back on track. Her lunchtime book club, the Unicorns, is better than ever. And she and Charlotte, her once arch enemy, are now good friends. The only thing that’s really causing any drama is her upcoming poetry assignment. She’s a reader, not a poet!

But disaster strikes when Ruby learns that her most favorite place in the world, the school library, is in trouble. Ruby knows she and the Unicorns have to do something to help. But when Ruby’s plans end up hurting a friend, she’s not sure her story will have a happy ending after all.

 

Q & A:

GOOD READS WITH RONNA: Ruby is a charming, book-loving outgoing yet introspective fifth grader. And while she is not perfect she certainly is someone any parent would be proud of. Do you happen to know any Rubys? And if not, how did you wind up with her as a main character for your series?

DEBORAH LYTTON: I do know a Ruby. My inspiration for this series came from my younger daughter who was in fifth grade when I began writing the first book. My YA SILENCE had just been released, and my older daughter was reading it. My younger daughter wanted me to write something for her to read. She asked for a story that would make her laugh. I based the character of Ruby on her initially, but then as I began to write, the character took on her own qualities. My favorite part of writing is when the characters begin to shape themselves. That definitely happened with Ruby Starr.

GRWR: What do you love most about her? 

DL: I love that Ruby makes a lot of mistakes, but always tries to fix them. My favorite thing about Ruby is her kindness. She thinks about other people and their feelings and tries to help them when she can. This is a quality I truly admire. I also enjoy writing Ruby because she is so imaginative.

GRWR: I realize this is book #2 in the series but yet I felt fully up-to-speed. Can you please tell readers briefly what happens in book #1? 

DL: I am so happy to hear that you felt up-to-speed! It was really important to me to write a second book that would let readers jump right in. Book #1 establishes Ruby’s character and her love for reading. The story centers on friendship troubles. When a new girl joins Ruby’s fifth grade class, she begins pulling Ruby’s friends away from her. Then she threatens to destroy Ruby’s book club. Ruby has a difficult time, and then she learns something about the new girl that changes everything. Ultimately, books bring the friends together.

GRWR: Is there a book #3 on the horizon? 

DL: Yes, I am really excited about Ruby’s third adventure. I have just finished the manuscript and I can tell you that Ruby and her friends get into a little bit of a mix-up and that it all begins with a very special book.

int art from The Fantastic Library Rescue and Other Major Plot Twists

Interior illustration from The Fantastic Library Rescue and Other Major Plot Twists by Deborah Lytton with art by Jeanine Murch, Sourcebook Jabberwocky ©2018.

GRWR: As a kidlit reviewer I love that Ruby is in a book club (The Unicorns), and as a writer I love Ruby’s vivid imagination. Did your own childhood inform these traits or did you feel she’d need these qualities to be a role model for tweens or someone many young readers could relate to?

DL: Growing up, my sister and I were like Ruby. We loved reading. Both of us cherish books and have saved many of our favorites from when we were young readers. My own daughters also love to read. In spending time helping out in their school classrooms and libraries, I have seen how many students enjoy books. I loved the idea that a fifth grade student would be independent enough to start her own book club at school to celebrate reading. Then I thought it would be fun to see where her imagination would take her, especially since she would be inspired by all the books she had read and loved. I hope young readers who have stayed up late just to read the next chapter of a book will connect with a character who is like them.

GRWR: The hero’s journey that Ruby embarks on is to save the school library where the hours have been reduced and new book purchases have been shelved due to funding cutbacks. Was this plot line inspired by stories you’ve seen in the news or even closer to home here in L.A.? 

DL: I have volunteered in the libraries at my daughters’ schools so I have seen first-hand the way that budget cuts have impacted the libraries. I have also helped students search for the perfect book to read and then watched their faces light up when they discover something really special. Libraries are so valuable to our youth. I wanted to highlight that message in this story.

Five Great Gift Ideas for Young Book Lovers

FIVE GREAT GIFT IDEAS
FOR THE YOUNG BOOK LOVERS IN YOUR LIFE
Selected by Ronna Mandel

 

GuessHowMuchILoveYouGiftSetGuess How Much I Love You Deluxe Book and Toy Gift Set
Written by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
(Candlewick Press; $15.99, Ages 3-7)

Who doesn’t know and love Big and Little Nut Brown Hare? With this gift set that includes a board book and soft Nutbrown Hare plushy, little ones will be reminded that there’s no limit to the love that’s felt for them. And who can forget the oft quoted phrase, “I love you to the moon and back” without feeling a tug on those heartstrings? An affordable gift that’s sure to please.

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book and Holiday OrnamentTheVeryHungryCaterpillarbookandornament
W
ritten and illustrated by Eric Carle
(Philomel Books; $19.99, Ages birth-3)

The beloved children’s classic “that teaches children about numbers, days of the week and time,” is perfectly paired with the most adorable apple ornament with that very hungry caterpillar emerging from it. I can just picture the smiles on children’s faces when they not only get to hear the story, but also when they get to enjoy seeing this unique Christmas decoration hanging on their tree. Destined to become a keepsake, this exclusive gift set will make a welcome gift for any family.

HistoriumcvrHistorium: Welcome to the Museum 
Written by Jo Nelson
Illustrated by Richard Wilkinson
(Big Picture Books; $35.00, Ages 8-12)

Journey back in time in the comfort of your very own living room as you hold this amazing collection of treasures from the past right in your hands. Explore ancient civilizations from around the globe as you tour the continents seeing stunning illustrations of a broad range of artifacts. Flip slowly through the pages as you would leisurely stroll down a gallery in a world class museum while studying descriptions as detailed and interesting as you’d find in any display case. Nelson and Wilkinson take us first to Africa then onto America, Asia, Europe, The Middle East, and Oceania. There’s also a comprehensive index. I couldn’t down put this oversized volume of often “sacred and culturally important items,” and you’ll find it hard to believe the illustrations are indeed artwork and not photographs. I found the Fresco from Pompeil (p. 61) depicting a Roman woman particularly appealing although picking favorites is difficult when the book contains so many glorious achievements in craftsmanship. From pottery to pillars, rock paintings to royal cemetery headdresses, Historium has it all and then some.

J. Smith: A Miniature Treasure from Queen Mary’s Dolls’ HouseJSmithMiniature
Written and illustrated by Fougasse
(Candlewick Press; $25.00, Ages 10 and up)

This new collector’s item is ideal for the dolls’ house and miniatures fans in your life. Imagine how you would have felt as a child, waking up on Christmas morning, to unwrap this red and gold packaged gift. I would have been thrilled to receive such an unusual present, especially to play with when I got out my dolls. J. Smith is an exact replica of a miniature book originally created for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and if you’ve never seen a miniature book before, start here. I needed my reading glasses, but everything was there including gold-edged pages, tiny illustrations and even tinier rhyming text! There’s even a pamphlet included that explains the “Origins of a Masterpiece” and lots more. Here’s how this fairy story set in 1920s London begins:
One night in mid-September –
While storm clouds rode the air –
And a tempest swayed the tree-tops –
Stripping the branches bare –
A fairy was blown out of fairyland –
And fell … in Eaton Square.

I absolutely love this little book and so will your child. They had me at miniature!
Also available: A Sherlock Holmes Story: How Watson Learned the Trick


Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Boxed SetMissPeregrinesPeculiarChildrenBoxedSet

Written by Ransom Riggs
(Quirk Books; $56.97, Ages 13 and up )

Got teens not familiar with this extremely popular series? Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs is an intriguing tale of mystery and magic, inspired by a collection of inexplicable vintage photographs. The story begins in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in which sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman travels to a mysterious island of the coast of Wales to try to make sense of his grandfather’s untimely and cryptic death. When he discovers Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children and their extraordinary powers, they fight unthinkable monsters and become allies while Jacob realizes that he actually has powers of his own. The story continues in Hollow City and Library of Souls as they embark on a journey to save their headmistress, Miss Peregrine, and many other peculiar children, who have been captured by their sinister enemies. Throughout this captivating series, Jacob learns about his grandfather, the friends that were once left behind, and a world that he could have never imagined. This boxed set includes 3 hardcover novels by Ransom Riggs and 12 collectible peculiar photographs. And just in case you hadn’t heard, the movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children arrives in theaters December 2016. – Reviewed by K.B. Jefferies

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Monkey Around With Lindy Michaels

IT’S A BOOK! (Roaring Brook Press, $12.99, ages 6 and up) written and illustrated by Lane Smith is reviewed today by the ever enthusiastic Lindy Michaels, of BookStar on Ventura Blvd.

9781596436060As the monkey is getting his literary enjoyment by reading the ink printed word on, yes, actual paper, the donkey (here stated by his ‘other name’), while playing his technological invention, looks up and seems perplexed. Next, comes a barrage of questions from the donkey.

“How do you scroll down?” Do you blog with it?” “Can it text?” “Tweet?’ “Wi-Fi?” And the computer-like questions go on and on and on.

“NO! IT’S A BOOK!!” the monkey repeatedly tells him, with much frustration.

This book is simply perfect, not to mention hysterically funny, for all of you out there who would rather turn a page than hit a key. And perhaps it will bring some insight to those who don’t understand the joy gotten from one of the greatest simple pleasures that can be gotten in this life. A wonderful lesson for youngin’s, also. I’m not saying all this new technology isn’t great, but, to me, there is nothing more wonderful than curling up on a comfy couch and reading a real book! It’s something that, I certainly hope, won’t ever go out of fashion. For goodness sake, IT’S A BOOK!!

Another of Lane Smith’s books that’s a must to check out is The Big Elephant in The Room. With great humor and truths, Mr. Smith has the unique ability to hit societal situations right on the head.

lindymichaelspicThe very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. where we first met. I think she might even be more gaga over kids’ books than me, if that’s possible!

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