Thursday, September 30, 2010

Falling In Read Alikes

Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell is a terrific story about a girl who falls through a door and into another world. Once there she goes on an adventure to find the mysterious witch whom all the children fear. Falling In is a light fantasy with many magical elements to it. If you like that sort of story, here are a few other books you also might like to read...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice falls down a rabbit hole and discovers a world of nonsensical and amusing characters.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Four English schoolchildren find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion, to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter.

Hansel and Gretel retold by Rika Lesser, ill. by Paul Zelinsky
A poor woodcutter's children, lost in the forest, come upon a house made of bread, cakes, and candy, occupied by a wicked witch who likes to have children for dinner.

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan

Eleven-year-old inventor Sol must recover his self-confidence if he and his eight-year-old sister, Connie, are to escape the clutches of Hansel and Gretel's witch, to whom they have been led by their new stepmother and the man they believe to be their father.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September Meeting Wrap-Up & Author Phone Call!

The Book Buddies Book Club met yesterday afternoon to discuss our September book, Falling In, and to interview the author, Frances O'Roark Dowell! It was a terrific discussion, the highlight of course being our phone conference with Ms. Dowell. She was so kind to take time out of her busy schedule to speak with us and she was an absolute delight on the phone!

We began by discussing our overall impressions of the book and the magical elements of the story. We spent a lot of time talking about the main character, Isabelle Bean, and what kind of a person she is. We analyzed the various descriptions of her throughout the story and came up with our own adjectives to describe Isabelle including easy going and quirky.

We talked about her family, how she is the only child to a single mother who is an orphan, and how that might have affected her and her relationships with other kids at school. We felt that because she didn't have a lot of family, she spent more time alone and relied more on herself and her imagination than she might otherwise have.

We spent time discussing the other characters including Grete and Hen and their relationships with Isabelle and why the children of the 5 villages believe Grete is a witch. We all felt it was extremely unfair for Grete to have been branded a witch when she wasn't a witch at all, in fact she was a kind and caring person. We liked that Isabelle helped her in the end and was able to convince the other children that Grete wasn't a bad person.

Overall we really enjoyed Falling In and are looking forward to reading more books by Frances O'Roark Dowell!
Following our discussion, we had the priviledge of interviewing Frances O'Roark Dowell by telephone. We all had a lot of questions for Ms. Dowell and she generously took the time to answer each one in great detail.

We began by asking her to talk about the character of Isabelle. Ms. Dowell told us that her books go through a series of drafts and in the early stages of Falling In, there were two main characters: Isabelle and Charley Bender (another character in the story who in the final version is a minor character). As she revised her work, she found she was more interested in the character of Isabelle, someone who is quiet but not shy and who knows herself well. A character who is confident in who she is as a person. So she decided to focus on Isabelle and found that she became a great contrast to the character of Charlie.

One member of our club wanted to know if she has any plans to write a sequel to Falling In and at the moment she does not. She has written a couple of books that have had sequels (Phineas L. MacGuire and The Secret Language of Girls/The Kind of Friends We Used to Be) but in general she likes to finish her stories. She likes to write until she's satisfied that she knows what she wants to know about her character. She also enjoys leaving some things open ended, for example in Falling In, will Isabelle ever find her way back to the other world? The answer to that question is anybody's guess.

We asked her if she'd always wanted to be a writer and she told us that she's always loved to write but that as a child she preferred writing poetry and had aspirations in many different fields including art, law and radio. But all throughout her life she's always been writing and in her late 20s she starting thinking about being a full-time writer.

Ms. Dowell has many hobbies including playing the fiddle (a hobby she has been pursuing for about a year), knitting, making quilts, reading and walking her dog. She also enjoys keeping up with baseball and although she lives in North Carolina, is a fan of the Boston Red Sox! (Good taste!)

She is working on a new book and is waiting for her editor's notes on her most recent draft. There will also be another book in the The Secret Language of Girls series. She loves going to conferences and meeting librarians, teachers and other writers and she loves visiting schools and talking with children about books.

Ms. Dowell was delightful and charming on the phone and we really appreciate her taking the time to speak with us. Thank you!

Overall, it was a fantastic way to start off a new year of Book Buddies! Thanks to all the Book Buddies members who read Falling In and joined us for our meeting. See you in October!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I've just confirmed that we will be conducting our first author interview of the year with Frances O'Roark Dowell! The author of our fantastic September book, Falling In, has agreed to speak with the book club via speakerphone at our meeting on the 27th. She'll talk with us about Falling In, the many wonderful books she has written, and her amazing life as an author.

Start thinking of questions we can ask her now! If you have any brilliant ideas about what we should talk about, feel free to post your thoughts on the blog.

Otherwise, see you on the 27th!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Author Frances O'Roark Dowell

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the author of our September book, Falling In. She has written many books for children including Chicken Boy, Dovey Coe, The Secret Language of Girls and the Phineas L. MacGuire series. She is also the author of Shooting the Moon, a Rhode Island Children's Book Award nominee in 2010. She currently lives in Durham, North Carolina. To find out more about this wonderful author, visit her website.

Chicken Boy (2005)

Since the death of his mother, Tobin's family life and school life have been in disarray, but after he starts raising chickens with his seventh-grade classmate, Henry, everything starts to fall into place.

Dovey Coe (2000)
When accused of murder in her North Carolina mountain town in 1928, Dovey Coe, a stronged-willed twelve-year-old girl, comes to a new understanding of others, including her deaf brother.

The Secret Language of Girls (2004)
Marylin and Kate have been friends since nursery school, but when Marylin becomes a middle school cheerleader and Kate begins to develop other interests, their relationship is put to the test.

Phineas L. MacGuire Erupts!: The First Experiment (2006)

Fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire is forced to team up with the new boy in class on a science fair project, but the boy's quirky personality causes Phineas to wonder if they have any chance of winning.

Shooting the Moon (2008)

When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the army world that she has grown up in.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September Book!

The first meeting of the new school year will be on Monday, September 27th at 3:30pm. Our first book is Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell. It's middle school meets Hansel & Gretel... I think you'll really enjoy it!

Middle-schooler Isabelle Bean follows a mouse's squeak into a closet and falls into a parallel universe where the children believe she is the witch they have feared for years, finally come to devour them.