Middle Grade Madness will be a feature hosted at Lilybloombooks, that showcases Middle Grade books! Reviews, Interviews, Guest posts and Giveaways. Join the Madness!
Hello! Today, I am excited to have author Miriam Spitzer Franklin on the blog today! Today is the one year birthday of her debut middle grade, Extraordinary! Below, find out more about the book, Miriam and enter to win a copy for yourself!
Hi Miriam! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. In 140 characters or less, tell me a little about the Extraordinary.
Pansy hasn’t always been there for her best friend, Anna. But when Anna suffers a brain injury, Pansy is determined to be an extraordinary friend. (It ‘s a little over 140, sorry!)
What inspired you to write Extraordinary?
I began by writing a story about a character who considered herself ordinary, “the kind of girl who blends into the background like tan curtains against tan walls.” Through the course of the story, I wanted my main character to discover what truly makes someone an extraordinary person: Being kind. Being loyal. Facing your fears. Persevering even when things get tough.
I wanted to write this book for the students I’ve taught who didn’t excel in academics or athletics and worked hard for every accomplishment, for the children who always included others who were being left out and performed extraordinary acts of kindness when no one was really watching. I wanted to write a book that would make readers think about what it truly means to become an extraordinary person.
I also wanted to write about a character who has a stroke which causes a brain injury. This happened to my niece when she was two and it changed her life and the lives of people who loved her forever. She inspired me with her determination regardless of her challenges, and with her unique way of viewing the world.
Are there any traits you incorporated into Extraordinary that came from a real life experience?
Lots of real world experiences were integrated into the writing of this novel: the medical details of Anna’s brain injury, both the mountain setting and the park were taken from places I’ve visited frequently, the reading contest is similar to ones held at schools where I’ve taught, skating lessons were included because I’m a figure skater (though it didn’t come easy to me!) and I remember my first lessons.
What was your biggest challenge, if any, when writing Extraordinary?
Although my book deals with a serious subject, I didn’t want the story to be depressing. I tried to balance the sad parts with humor, and I wanted to create a book that was ultimately hopeful even though it deals with a difficult topic.
You visit schools for events and presentations – what is the most fulfilling thing about these visits?
The best part about visiting schools is meeting enthusiastic readers–not just fans of my books, but hearing from kids who love to read and listening to them talk about characters and stories that have touched them. It gives me a direct connection with my audience and as a former teacher, I love being back in the school setting. If anyone out there is interested, I’m scheduling visits to schools in NC and offering free Skype visits!
Do you have anything up your sleeve right now? (Work in progress)
I’m going to begin edits on my second novel, CALL ME SUNFLOWER, next month. It’s about a girl who comes up with a plan to get her parents back together, and in the process, discovers a photo that changes everything. It’s also about navigating sixth grade friendships, discovering that families come in different shapes and sizes, Odyssey of the
Mind, animal rights, and at least one cat. My third novel, which has a touch of magical realism, is about changing friendships, dealing with loss, and the power of healing. It’s currently being considered by editors.
Are you excited for any upcoming 2016 release in particular?
I’ve heard about so many great debuts coming out in 2016. Two middle grade novels I’m looking forward to reading are THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw and MY SEVENTH GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS, by Benjamin Brooks.
Back-list love: what is your favorite middle-grade novel, and why?
I’m going to have to say that my favorite book as a child is still my all-time favorite: CHARLOTTE’S WEB. This is a book that has it all: friendship, loyalty, magic, dealing with loss, the cycle of life, and masterful writing. It touched me as a child and influenced me to become a lifelong vegetarian!
About the Book
by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Published May 5th 2015 by Sky Pony Press
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade
Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to spring break camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. It was just like when they went to get their hair cut for Locks of Love; only one of them walked out with a new hairstyle, and it wasn’t Pansy. But Pansy never got the chance to make it up to Anna. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. Now all Pansy wants is her best friend back—not the silent girl in the wheelchair who has to go to a special school and who can’t do all the things Pansy used to chicken out of doing. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, Pansy realizes this is her chance—she’ll become the friend she always should have been. She’ll become the best friend Anna’s ever had—even if it means taking risks, trying new things (like those scary roller skates), and running herself ragged in the process.
Pansy’s chasing extraordinary, hoping she reaches it in time for her friend’s triumphant return. But what lies at the end of Pansy’s journey might not be exactly what she had expected—or wanted.
Extraordinary is a heartfelt, occasionally funny, coming-of-age middle grade novel by debut author Miriam Spitzer Franklin. It’s sure to appeal to fans of Cynthia Lord’s Rules and will inspire young friends to cherish the times they spend together. Every day should be lived like it’s extraordinary.
Giveaway is sponsored by the publisher. (1) winner will win Hardcover copy. Open to US/CAN only.