Book Nerd Interview
Photo Credit: Linda RichichiCarol's new novel for kids is AVA AND PIP (Jabberwocky, Mar 14). She's been "Dear Carol" at Girls' Life for 20 years. Her first book, GIRLTALK (HarperCollins) was translated into 12 languages. A Phi Beta Kappa Yale grad with an M.A. from Middlebury, Carol has been a guest on Today and The View and at scores of schools. The author of The Diary of Melanie Martin series (Knopf), her fan page is:www.facebook.com/writercarolweston. She posts fun helpful videos atwww.youtube.com/girltalkwithcarol. She and her husband, playwright Rob Ackerman, live in NYC, and have two daughters and a cat. Her next book? AVA AND TACO CAT!
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I wasn't an English major. I read Archie Comics and Aesop Fables as a kid, and never took an English class in college. I was a French and Spanish Comparative Literature major, and I loved Rabelais, Racine, Rostand, Cervantes, Fuentes, Garcia Marquez...but I'm still catching up with Yeats and Austen and I'm not sure I'll ever march through Middlemarch.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Not counting "The Story of My Life," which I wrote in fifth grade, my first published book was Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You. It came out in 1985 when I was 28, and was translated into a dozen languages including Russian and Mandarin. It's still in print and I'm always delighted when I get a fan letter from a girl an ocean away.
Here is a photo of all 13 of my books:
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lu
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Energetic, game, compassionate.
Your new book is Ava and Pip. Can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It's a fun diary-novel about a good kid who does a bad thing. Ava, 10, has a big sister Pip, 12, who is painfully shy. On page one, Ava asks her parents why they named her Ava. She's shocked when they explain that they like palindromes and that her name is the same backwards and forwards. AVA. PIP. ANNA. BOB. MOM. DAD. SIS. HUH? WOW!
Yes, the novel is full of word play, (DOG DOO? GOOD GOD!) but it's also full of feeling: Ava feels bad for Pip and mad at her all at the same time. I've been the "Dear Carol" advice columnist at Girls' Life for 20 years so I know that feeling conflicting simultaneous emotions is common, confusing and hard. In my novel, Ava finds that by helping Pip, she can help herself, and also that it's important to be careful at the keyboard. (She almost causes a disaster!) As a bonus, shy kids will like my Pip Pointers. But mainly I hope kids will read Ava and Pip because it's fun.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I am so tempted to have Ava Wren meet Melanie Martin, the ten-year-old New York city girl who travels to Italy, Holland, and Spain in my four-book series with Knopf. Ava is from suburban Misty Oaks and goes to a public school. Melanie is a Manhattan private school girl. Ava's parents are into words. Melanie's mom is all about art. The families would like each other.
I would love to have had an ideal mentor... but at some point, I realized that I was lucky that, instead, I became a mentor and have lots of mentees.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Whoa, I've been giving advice for two decades! One piece?! Hmmm, I guess: Enjoy being your best self.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
Au pairing in Madrid? I did fall in love while I was at it.
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Tonight, at dinner. I told my husband. I use that L word. I lost my beloved dad when I was 25 and I know life is finite even if love is not.
I hope they won't stalk me. But they can find me at carolweston.com and youtube.com/girltalkwithcarol and facebook.com/writercarolweston. I also hang out in Manhattan where I live. Thanks for asking!
Outgoing Ava loves her older sister, Pip, but can't understand why Pip is so reserved and never seems to make friends with others. When Ava uses her writing talents to help her sister overcome her shyness, both girls learn the impact their words and stories can have on the world around them.
Ava is a happy out-going 5th grader. Her complete opposite, Pip, is quiet and shy. Pip is in the 7th grade and is Ava’s sister. Pip is an A+ student 24/7, but has no friends. When Pip turns 13, she plans a sleepover party, complete with waffles for breakfast and goodie bags. The same day as Pip’s party, the new girl, Bea, also has a party. No one goes to Pip’s party. Ava writes a mean story about Bea called The Sting of the Queen Bee. The story gets an honorable mention in the Misty Oaks Story Contest. (Misty Oaks is where they live.) The Bookshop Cat gets an honorable mention also. That was Bea’s story. Bea finds out about the mean story and gets mad. After Ava explains herself, Bea forgives her and they become friends. They decide that they want to help Pip get over her shyness. They come up with a five-week plan. The plan works so well that by Thanksgiving Pip is talking up a storm. Pip gets all the attention and Ava is upset that no one is listening to her. Will the strain on the sisters’ relationship survive?
I really enjoyed the use of the palindromes in this book. . My favorite ones are Dog Doo Good God and Sue us. The use of creative language was a big hit with me. Ava’s description of her family as ‘extra chunky peanut butter nutty’ was funny. I also like how Ava signed her name in her diary different each time she wrote in it. One time it was ‘A-v-a’, the next time it was ‘Ava, aarrrggghh’. Do you know anyone named Pip? It’s a cool name, huh? I also think that the descriptions of the bookshop that Bea’s parents own were very revealing. It painted a picture in my head, nice one. Ava and Pip is especially good for sisters and everyone who loves funny books.
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