Get to Know… Andrea Wang!

My name is… Andrea Wang. I was named after the doctor who helped my mom deliver me, Dr. Andreas. He was Greek and pronounced his last name An-DRAY-us, but my parents took off the “s” and pronounced my name AN-dree-uh. I usually say my last name to rhyme with “sang” because then folks know to spell it with an “a” and not an “o.” In Mandarin, though, it’s pronounced “wong” to rhyme with “song.” Since people say my name a bunch of different ways depending on where they’re from and what they’re used to, I answer to pretty much everything, including all cries of “Mom!”

I am an… excellent procrastinator. But I’m not just sitting around binge-watching TV. Well, not usually. I’m procrasti-baking, or procrasti-cleaning, or procrasti-gardening. And even while I’m doing those things instead of writing, I’m mulling over the story I’m writing. I’ve come to realize that this is part of my writing process — letting my thoughts and ideas marinate while my hands are busy doing something else. Then, when I return to my desk, the words flow more freely.

As a kid, I was… always reading. And I mean, always. I read during meals, at the park, and in the bathtub. I got scolded a lot for it, so kids — if you’re reading this, know that books and water don’t play well together, that you should get more exercise than I did, and mealtimes are a good time to talk to your parents and ask them for an increase in your allowance (so you can buy more books).

Andrea pointing.jpeg

Writing is… how I explore the world around me, how I work through my feelings about things, how I entertain myself. That I can also entertain and inform others with my writing is one of the great joys of my life.

Reading is… everything to me. I was a super curious kid but also super, super shy. Reading is how I learned about other kids and our world, about how to solve problems, and about how to be a good friend.

Books are… friends and lifelines. They connect us to other people, other worlds, other ideas. Books can surround and comfort us with stories about people experiencing what we’re going through, or push us to stretch our imaginations and develop empathy for people who may be very different from us. Books are magic and wonder in a tidy little package.

Did you know… that Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, wasn’t a scientist by training? When he emigrated from Taiwan to Japan, it wasn’t to do research in food science. He moved there to start a business making and selling socks!

ando_momofuku3.png

In my new book, MAGIC RAMEN: THE STORY OF MOMOFUKU ANDO, you’ll find out what inspired Ando to create instant ramen, and see how thinking like a scientist helped him succeed.

noodlemaking.jpeg
Art by Kana Urbanowicz.

You can find me… physically curled up on the sofa with a book and a hot cup of tea, or virtually at www.andreaywang.com, @AndreaWhyWang on Instagram, and @AndreaYWang on Twitter. I am also a member of 19PBbios (19PBbios.com, #19PBbios), a group of 19 authors and/or illustrators of diverse picture book biographies that are releasing in 2019.

MagicRamen 3 MB cover.jpg
MAGIC RAMEN comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, March 5th!!!
Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 7.34.47 PM
Andrea’s first picture book, THE NIAN MONSTER, with pictures by Alina Chau, published in 2016. Her next picture book, out in 2020, is titled WATERCRESS, and will be illustrated by Jason Chin.

Get to Know… Diane Magras!

My name is… Diane Magras (and one of the cool things about having this surname is that you can pronounce it the correct way—”MAY-gris”—or what I like to pretend is the Scottish way—”M’grass”—and I’ll nod in recognition at the first and probably beam at the second).

I am… the author of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and its companion novel The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter (which will be out on March 5, 2019). I write middle grade fiction. While I may one day write something other than middle grade, it’s going to take me a while to get there since I’m 12 years old inside and that’s just who I am. (So maybe when I’m 100 I’ll write young adult or new adult fiction or something like that.) I’m also obsessed with Scotland and the medieval world, and castles. Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware of this.

Q2.jpg

As a kid, I was… always telling stories. I had a box filled with tiny rubber animals and I made up stories about them as I played, adventures that went on for days. I had so many of these little animals that I kept a sheet of paper on which I’d written their names and one characteristic each (“brave,” “shy,” “nasty”). I’d refer to this page when I was playing to make sure I got my characters straight. My dad also likes to tell the story of his attempts to read me The Hobbit. I never let him get very far before I interrupted him and started to rewrite the story. (In one of my versions, Gollum was the loyal and slightly weird sidekick.)

Writing is… an outlet, utterly necessary for me. I need to tell stories. I need to create characters and worlds and set conflicts into play. It’s my way of making sense of the world, and also indulging in my passions. (Such as Scotland and medieval worlds and swords and castles…) Most of all, though, it’s a place where I can address issues that bother me in the present by creating a reflection of those issues, and solving them, in the past.

Reading is… a passion, an adventure, an escape. It’s a way of learning, an experience of another world. I’m devoted to the books I love and tell everyone about them. Reading broadens perspectives and makes us all better people. Reading also taught me how to write.

Books are… essential and should be in every house and in every kid’s hands. The right book for every child is out there. This book will be a comfort during tough times, cheer its reader on during good times, and be a friend when its reader needs one. Books are powerful: They can enrich, inspire, and delight. They can make people think and act. They’re like magic.

Q6.jpg

Did you know… that medieval castle defenders in Britain (and most of the world!) didn’t really dump boiling oil on the people attacking them? Oil was too expensive. Boiling water worked just as well, and so did hot sand. Think of how hard it is to get sand out of your clothes when you’ve been to the beach. Now think of how hard it would be to get burning hot sand out of your chain mail armor… (A fun fact of medieval research.)

Q7.jpg
This is a yett at Stirling Castle in Scotland. Defenders would dump boiling water and burning sand on attackers if they got past one of these.

You can find me… at a Scottish castle, wandering in the woods or by the sea, or at www.dianemagras.com, or on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and Goodreads.

Q8.jpg

Revenge of the EngiNerds!!!

Today’s the day!

Revenge of the EngiNerds has officially launched!

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.13.38 AM

If you preordered the book — which, by the way, THANKS! — it should be arriving at your home or independent bookstore today. Otherwise, you can go and get yourself a copy wherever books are sold. The book should also, of course, be available at your local library. And if you can’t find it on the shelves at any of these places, just ASK!

Anyway, I’m celebrating the big day over at the MG Book Village, where I’m talking to two  of my favorite people — Kathie MacIsaac and Corrina Allen — about one of my favorite things: humor!

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 6.32.32 AM.png

Don’t worry — no frogs were harmed in the creation of this blog post. Check it out here! And thank you — again and again and again — for all of your awesome support.

STAY NERDY!

~ Jarrett

Robots, Clouds, Stars… and Farts

Good morning! Revenge of the EngiNerds comes out in a little more than a week, and I’d like to share with you a few things about it…

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.13.38 AM.png

Because yes, the book IS about a rogue farting robot and the hunt to find it before it does some SERIOUS damage.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.16.50 AM.png

But the book tackles some other, “bigger” issues and ideas, as well. It tackles several questions about friendship. Such as:

If you care for someone, do their problems become your own? What do you do when a friend is set on doing something wrong? How do you navigate a disagreement that splits a group of friends? Can two people grow up without also growing apart?

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.15.56 AM

There are also a lot of clouds in the book, as well as a relatively extended discussion of the vastness of the universe, and what the contemplation of that vastness does to the contemplator.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.46.32 AM

Why?

Because clouds and the universe are things I often think about. And by including them in these books, I hope to encourage kids to think about them too—to appreciate the beauty and wonder available to them every day, free of charge.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.08.49 AM

I viscerally remember the first time, as a kid, that I actually attempted to mentally grasp the inconceivable hugeness of the universe. It made me giddy, and filled me with equal parts fear and awe.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.08.27 AM

It also fundamentally changed the way I thought about myself and my life—this itsy-bitsy blip of time I get to spend on our cosmic speck of a planet. For some, these thoughts lead to nihilistic conclusions. For me, they inspire the opposite.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.10.39 AM

They make the miracle of life all the more miraculous, our uniqueness all the more precious. They can also inspire a hefty dose of humility, and empathy for the billions of miraculous, precious lives we get to spend our time here with.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.09.39 AM

And so, I hope Revenge of the EngiNerds inspires readers to take a second every now and again to ponder the clouds drifting overhead, and that they sometimes try to do the impossible, and fit the universe in their heads.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.09.10 AM

And I hope they enjoy all the fart jokes, too.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 7.14.15 AM

~ Jarrett

. . .

The images above are either stock photos, available for free use, or taken from NASA’s archive. The cover of Revenge of the EngiNerds was illustrated by Serge Seidlitz, and the black-and-white interior illustration is from the Dutch edition of EngiNerds, titled RoboNerds, illustrated by Kees de Boer.

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

screenshot2019-02-01at5.49.09am

Today — February 1st, 2019 — is the 10th Annual World Read Aloud Day! But because reading aloud is worth celebrating for more than just one day, I’ve been celebrating all week, and will continue to celebrate next week, too! How? By virtually visiting classrooms and libraries all across the country (and also up in Canada!) and reading aloud to kids. All told, I’ll be visiting more than 60 schools!

You can — and SHOULD! — celebrate World Read Aloud Day, too. Just grab a friend, family member (pets included!), coworker, neighbor — or, hey, even a total stranger — and read them something. A picture book. A poem. Whatever! Why? Because reading aloud is fun, and it makes us smarter, stronger, kinder, and about a hundred other awesome things besides.

Happy reading!

~ Jarrett

screenshot2019-02-01at5.49.22am

screenshot2019-02-01at5.49.28am

screenshot2019-02-01at5.49.33am

Get to Know… Traci Sorell!

My name is… Traci Sorell. Actually, that’s my pen name. But it’s easier to pronounce and less to write than my entire last name!

I am a… Cherokee citizen, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, first generation college graduate, traveler, former attorney, advocate, educator, wife, mother, and author.

As a kid, I… wondered about how the world works especially in the United States – why some grownups were in charge instead of others and why children and other vulnerable people had so few protections from those grownups.

Writing is… challenging, exhilarating, and what keeps me stretching myself to grow beyond my comfort zone.

Reading is… one of my lifelong loves. I would never trade the adventures, aching belly laughs, silent sobs, and wonder I’ve experienced through books.

Books are… powerful. They can uplift, harm, instruct and entertain. Those creating and publishing them need to be mindful of that always.

Did you know… that I only started writing for young people a few years ago? My debut nonfiction picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga illustrated by Frané Lessac came out in 2018. My debut fiction picture book, At the Mountain’s Base illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre, will be published in September 2019.  It’s never too late to pursue a different line of work—just be prepared to put in the time and effort!

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 7.52.57 AM.png

You can find me… at www.tracisorell.com. I look forward to hearing from you!