The November book selection is The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling. We will be meeting to discuss this book on Monday, November 23rd at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room. Copies of the book are available at the Children's Desk or by request through the library catalog. A boy acquires a magical gift that turns everything his lips touch into chocolate.
Following our book discussion, the Book Buddies Book Club had the opportunity to call the author, Kate Klise, at her home in Norwood, Missouri. Kate was absolutely delightful on the phone and thoughtfully answered all of our questions.
We started by asking her how many books we could expect in the new series, 43 Old Cemetery Road. She is working on a third book, tentatively titled Til Death Do Us Bark and told us that in general, publishers like series to be in odd numbers. She asked us how many we thought there should be and a few of us told her we'd like to see four books.
She told us where the number 43 comes from in 43 Old Cemetery Road - 43 is the age she was when she started writing the series!
We asked her if she's ever experienced writer's block like Ignatius in Dying to Meet You. She said that she doesn't really believe in writer's block and that if she doesn't like what she's writing she takes a break but overall she finds that she never runs out of things to say.
She told us that she likes to write a first draft for a book really quickly (in approximately 30 days) and that she spends the bulk of her time re-writing. Often she writes 13 or 14 drafts and that the entire process usually takes 8 months to 1 year. Her advice to young writers is to constantly re-write; the more you re-write the better your work gets and it gives you the chance to take out things that might be boring or slow.
Her favorite place to write is on the 2nd floor of her renovated farmhouse. She often writes with her cat on her lap. The idea for Dying to Meet You came from the old book/tv show The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. She was a big fan of the book and tv show and likes ghost stories that aren't too scary. She's also interested in old houses and prior to our telephone interview did a little research about Newport, Rhode Island and all the old mansions we have here. She thought that the Breakers would make a great setting for a ghost story.
The best part of being a famous author is meeting young readers and writers. She also enjoys her work immensely and has great fun writing in letters. She advises anyone interested in her style to start writing letters. She wrote many letters as a child which gave her great practice for the graphic epistolary mysteries she writes today!
We asked her about working with her sister and whether or not they ever disagree about their work. She said that they don't really disagree about their books because she does all the words and Sarah does all of the illustrations as well as layout and design. She said that she often found group work difficult in school and would find it challenging to share the writing of a book. But the system that she and her sister have works out great for both of them.
She told us a little bit about the third book in the series, Til Death Do Us Bark. Iggy is a dog person and Olive is a cat person so there will be lots of problems along the idea of cats vs. dogs in book three.
We ended by asking her about one thing she'd like to learn to do (play guitar better) and what she's reading right now (Katie Fforde and other British writers). She is currently working on writing a novel for adults and is finding lots of inspiration in British writers.
Her parting advice for young writers is to start writing books and give them as gifts as she did as a child. The holidays are only a few weeks away and she encouraged all of us to write and give our books away.
We had a wonderful time talking with Kate Klise and learned a lot about her writing and her life as an author. A BIG thank you to Kate for her time and eagerness to participate in our book club. Thank you!
The Book Buddies Book Club met yesterday, October 26th, to discuss the book Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise. We had a delicious Halloween cupcakes during our discussion which we followed with a wonderful interview with the author!
We started by talking about the main characters, Ignatius, Seymour and Olive. We discussed why Seymour's parents left him behind when they went to Europe and whether or not they are legitimate paranormal investigators. We talked about Olive and why Ignatius refuses to believe she exists and how that changes over time. We felt that Olive decided to help Ignatius with his book because she loves writing and she never had the opportunity to be published in her lifetime. We also thought she decided to help because she felt he wasn't doing a good job of writing about ghosts in his book and she wanted the truth about ghosts to be written.
We discussed some of the things that Olive, Seymour and Ignatius have in common including loneliness and rejection and why Ignatius's editor, Paige Turner, sends a private investigator (Frank N. Beans) to check on him (and what he finds).
We had fun talking about the format - which everyone really enjoyed - and what kind of book, Dying to Meet You is. The author tells us what kind of book it is in a letter from Paige Turner to Ignatius's lawyer, E. Gadds. In the postscript she says that Olive wrote something called "graphic epistolary mysteries - or some such unmarketable nonsense." A graphic epistolary mystery is exactly the style of Dying to Meet You! In other words, it is an illustrated mystery novel written in letters.
We spent some time talking about one of my favorite passages in the book, in which Ignatius tries to persuade Olive to write with him again, insisting he is a changed man. Olive tells him, "All I'm saying is that your life is a story, and that you are the main character of that story. Is your story a comedy or a tragedy? Is it dull? Or is it a compelling, spine-tingling drama? My point, Iggy, is simply that each of us is the author of his or her own life. So if you're telling me that you've changed, I'm pleased at your authorship." We all agreed that Olive is correct, that each of us has some amount of control over our lives and the ability to make them however we want them to be.
Overall, we really loved the book and everyone is dying to read book 2, Over My Dead Body.
Just a reminder that the Book Buddies Book Club will meet this Monday, October 26th at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room. We will have Halloween snacks and discuss our book, Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise. Following our discussion we will be calling the author! Don't forget to think of some really great questions we can ask Kate Klise about her book and her life as an author.
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo was published on September 8th and I had an opportunity to read it at the end of September. Kate is best known for her books The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I have read both of those while I enjoyed them both (especially Edward Tulane) I adored The Magician's Elephant. Elephant is magicial and Kate's writing is extraordinary. It is the story of a young boy named Peter Augustus Duchene, a ten-year-old orphan who goes on a journey to find his lost sister and save a mysterious elephant. The message is one of hope and faith and left me feeling that life can be full of magic if you are willing to believe. Here is my favorite quote from the story: "It is important that you say what you mean to say. Time is too short. You must speak words that matter." (p49)
I highly recommend The Magician's Elephant to fans of Kate DiCamillo's work and those looking for an uplifting read.
This month the second installment of 43 Old Cemetery Road is being released - Over My Dead Body.... The International Movement for the Safety & Protection Of Our Kids & Youth (IMSPOOKY) dictates that Seymour cannot live in the mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road "without the benefit of parents." Ignatius B. Grumply tries to explain to Dick Tater, the head of IMSPOOKY, that he and Seymour are in a lovely living (and publishing!) arrangement with the ghost of Olive C. Spence. Dick Tater is not convinced. But this clever trio can’t be broken up as easily as he imagines . . .
Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise (sisters!) are the brilliant author and illustrator behind our October book, Dying to Meet You. They have collaborated on many projects including Letters From Camp, Trial by Journal andthe fantastic Regarding the.... series. They have a great website which I encourage you to investigate!
Regarding the Fountain: a Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks (1998)
When the principal asks a fifth-grader to write a letter regarding the purchase of a new drinking fountain for their school, he finds that all sorts of chaos results.
Letters From Camp (1999)
Sent to Camp Happy Harmony to learn how to get along with each other, pairs of brothers and sisters chronicle in letters home how they come to suspect the intentions of the singing family running the camp.
Trial by Journal (2001)
In this illustrated novel told through journal entries, news clippings, and letters, twelve-year-old Lily finds herself on the jury of a murder trial while conducting her own undercover investigation of the case.
I didn't want to say anything until I had it confirmed but this month we will be conducting our first author interview of the year! Kate Klise has graciously agreed to speak with us at our meeting on October 26th. I am so excited and I can't wait to talk with her.
So now it's up to you to come up with some interesting questions for her about her books, especially Dying to Meet You (our October book), and her life as an author. Feel free to post your thoughts to the blog or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with suggestions. On the 26th we will spend some time organizing our questions before we give her a call.
A big THANK YOU in advance to Kate Klise for taking the time to talk with us. We are really looking forward to it!
Our October book selection is Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road, Book 1) by Kate Klise. This was a book that I read and loved during my Summer Reading Book Challenge and one that I thought would be perfect for book club to read this October since one of the main characters is a ghost.
We will meet to discuss the book on Monday, October 26th at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room. Copies of the book are available at the Children's Desk or through the Ocean State Libraries catalog.
The best-selling author Ignatius B. Grumply moves into the Victorian mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road, hoping to find some peace and quiet so that he can crack a wicked case of writer's block.
But 43 Old Cemetery Road is already occupied - by an eleven-year-old boy named Seymour, his cat, Shadow, and an irritable ghost named Olive.
The September meeting of the Book Buddies Book Club actually took place yesterday, Monday, October 5th. We met to discuss From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. We had a wonderful meeting - everyone was very enthusiastic and happy to be back at book club after taking the summer off. We also welcomed a couple of new members to our group and for anyone else who is interested, it's not too late to sign up! Post a comment to this blog or email me at email@example.com and we'll get you started!
Overall, to my surprise, feelings were mixed about From the Mixed-Up Files. Many felt that the book was very dated (it is set in 1967 and certain things like how much things cost were very specific to that time period) and many felt that it was very slow-paced. Everyone liked the idea of running away and living at the Metropolitan Museum in New York but a few members felt that the story got bogged down in the middle and lost some of it's excitement. Others were less interested in the mystery of Angel and didn't see why it mattered if it was a genuine Michelangelo scultpure or not.
Most club members liked the main character, Claudia, because she had good taste and seemed like someone who would be fun to hang out with. A few thought that she was bossy and too fixated on the statue. Everyone agreed that running away from home was not the correct way for Claudia and Jamie to handle their problems and felt that they should have talked to their parents instead. But they were glad that at the very least, Claudia sent them a note telling them not to worry.
We agreed that Claudia had a pretty good escape plan and that the museum was a good place to run away to because, as one member put it, "it was a very unexpected place to hide." One thing we did not like was the part of the story where Claudia and Jamie took the money from the fountain while they were bathing. We had a brief discussion about how the coins represented wishes and that taking those wishes was not the right thing to do no matter how in need of money they were.
We discussed the format of the story - how it is told as an account from Mrs. Frankweiler to her lawyer, Saxonberg - and whether or not this was the best way to tell the story. Many readers felt that the story would have been more exciting and would have included more details had it been told by Claudia and Jamie instead because it is their story and they experienced it. We ended by talking about the meaning of the title "The Mixed-Up Files" and why Mrs. Frankweiler's files are "mixed-up."
We also looked at some of the different book covers that have been used (see my earlier blog post) and talked a little bit about Michelangelo and the Italian Renaissance.
Overall, book club members were divided on From the Mixed-Up Files. Those who liked it LOVED IT and those who didn't like it, really didn't.
Following our book discussion, everyone decorated reading journals for this year. The idea behind the journals is that as we are reading during the month, members will write down any questions or observations they have about the book. Then when we get together we will have a good basis for getting our book discussion started.
It was a terrific first meeting of the new school year and I look forward to the months ahead!
I am the Head of Children's Services at the Newport Public Library in Newport, RI. I started the Book Buddies Book Club in October 2007 because I love reading and talking about books with kids. We have an awesome club with fantastic, dedicated readers who come each month. If you are interested in joining us, please contact the Children's Department. We're always excited to meet new friends!