Monday, October 15, 2018

Gail Donovan Author Interview

Photo Credit: Tom Bell

Gail Donovan is the author of the middle-grade novels The Waffler, What’s Bugging Bailey Blecker?, and In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog, which was named a New York Public Library Best Books for Children. She is also an author for the Rainbow Fish & Friends picture book series based on the bestselling books of Marcus Pfister. Donovan, who was born and raised in Connecticut, lives in Maine with her husband and two daughters, where, in addition to writing children’s books, she is a library assistant at the Portland Public Library.


Age Range: 6 - 10 years
Grade Level: 2 - 3
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Islandport Press (October 23, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1944762558
ISBN-13: 978-1944762551


"...If it's anything like the last (In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog), it's worth discovering." Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal

"An amusing, empowering tale that should appeal especially to middle schoolers with abundant energy." Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Gail's Previous Middle Grade Novels

“A solid middle-grade choice—no waffling necessary.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The book captures the pains and pleasures of being both a twin and a fourth-grader.” —Booklist

“Andrew Clements fans will enjoy this school story, too.” —Horn Book

“Bailey is emotionally authentic, with an individualistic voice and a strong streak of stubbornness, of which she is particularly proud.” —Publishers Weekly

“Purposeful in a lighthearted way but guaranteed to make your head—scalp and brain—itch!” —Kirkus Reviews

"Middle-graders will celebrate as Josh learns to use his personal “pause” button to stop talking long enough to keep out of trouble. Obvious appeal, particularly to fans of Andrew Clements’s work.” —Kirkus Reviews

What is your happiest childhood memory?
My happiest childhood memory is spending summers in Maine, in a house beside a tidal bay. At low tide, we could walk onto the sand flats. We dug for clams, searched for sand dollars, and ran around in a space that had been deep underwater 6 hours earlier and would be underwater again in another 6 hours. It felt like magic, but it was just the magic of the natural world. 

What made you decide to write books for children?
I don’t think one needs to have children to write for children, but for me it was reading to my own children. I started rereading my own favorite books and discovering new books, and I realized I wanted to write for the age I was when I first fell in love with reading. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A friend told me that one of my books was the book for her grandkid. By the book I mean the book you’re reading when the mechanics of reading stop being a struggle and the reader achieves “lift-off” with the story. I love knowing that my work grabbed a kid so much that they began to love reading. 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first book was a collection of short stories written in my early twenties. It’s unpublished, as are the two novels I wrote for “grown-ups.” It wasn’t until I began writing for young readers that I found the voice and material that really fit. 

What was the most memorable toy you played with from when you were little?
A dollhouse was my favorite toy. I think the feeling I get when I am writing, moving characters around in a story, isn’t far off from the way I felt playing in that dollhouse, moving a family of toy mice from room to room. I still have some of the “furniture,” —a tiny ceramic tub, sink and toilet—which my mother had played with when the dollhouse was hers. (see photo, below and attached)

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Activate your verbs! This was the first thing I learned when I went to Brown University, where I got my graduate degree in writing. My favorite verbs are short and strong. For instance, I’d rather use “search” or “dig into” than “investigate.” 

In your new book; FINCHOSAURUS, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it.
I’m going to borrow the opening of the Kirkus Review, which described Finchosaurus as the story of “A 10-year-old wannabe paleontologist (who) finds his life transformed after unearthing a buried message.” Finchosaurus is realistic, middle-grade fiction with a bit of a mystery element, too.

For those who are unfamiliar with Finch, how would you introduce him?
Finch is bouncy, curious, compassionate, and also dinosaur-crazy. He is the kind of kid who is always being told to settle down with a good book or go outside. He chooses to go outside, where he likes to dig in the dirt, since he wants to be a paleontologist. When he digs up a note in the class garden with the single word Help on it, he is off and running, trying to find out who needs help. 

What is your favorite book outside of your genre?
As a writer of realistic middle-grade fiction, dystopian young adult fiction is not my genre, but I do love The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. And while what Collins does in her trilogy—posing deep thematic questions about war and violence—is fascinating, that’s not what gives the work its power for me. What I love is the scene, quite early in the first book, in which Katniss volunteers for her sister. For me, everything follows from that character-building moment. It propels me through the whole trilogy. 

What is your greatest adventure?
Raising children! Watching and hearing children acquire language was mind-boggling. I loved reading to and with them, which led me back to children’s books with the important knowledge that I needed chapter endings which would leave a kid begging for “just one more!” 

Who was the last person you hugged?
A guy named Gregory, the father of my kids.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
As a child, I loved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I wanted a book to last and Little Women was long enough for that. More importantly, it was well written enough that it bore repeat readings. And each time I reread it, at a different age, I could try out imagining myself as a different one of the four main characters. I still go to this book if I’m home sick and want to cuddle up with an old favorite, though my perspective has changed. As a child I sympathized with their plight—they were so poor! But as an adult I realized my naiveté. They’d had domestic help! Yet I still love the book.

1. Finch could picture it, too, just like in a book. Stars twinkling in the blue-black sky. Him digging underneath the lilac tree. And the caption would say: On a warm spring night, a young Finch Martin dug up a fossil of the largest dinosaur ever to roam the earth, the Finchosaurus.

2. What was it? A tiny piece of paper. Not a scrap, but a big piece, folded and folded until it was as small as his thumb. Finch unfolded and unfolded, until it was flat, and he could read what was written on it. A single word. Help.

3. Somebody needed help, and he wasn’t going to stop digging until he found out who.

4. He sat still for a minute, trying to decide if it was worse to wait for something you wanted to happen—like dessert. Or something you didn’t want to happen—like a friendly chat with Mrs. Blake, the social worker.

5. “Okay, fine,” he said. “But you have to promise not to tell anybody.”

6. He felt Sam’s elbow dig into his ribs, and then Sam was holding out his hand, palm flat. The silent signal for Give me my money. Now.

7. If there was one thing Finch hated, it was grown-ups telling you what to do by having a pretend conversation with another grown-up.

8. Another trick question: Could he do all his homework? He couldn’t tell his parents No, because then he’d be in trouble for not even trying. But he couldn’t tell them Yes, because the truth was, he didn’t know. It was a lot of work. Plus, he had a lot of other stuff to get done. 

9. Suddenly, he doubted he was helping anybody.

10. Mrs. Adler drew a deep breath and put the this-hurts-me-more-than-it-hurts-you look on her face. “I am really disappointed, Finch,” she said. “You know what this means, don’t you?”

FINCHOSAURUS follows the adventures of Atticus Finch Martin, otherwise known as Finch. Finch’s dream is to uncover a dinosaur fossil and name a new species after himself—until he digs up a note in the fifth-grade class garden with the word HELP on it. He is determined to come to the aid of the mystery note-writer. But when the quest turns out to be harder than expected, Finch risks losing two things that he really wants—his best friend Noah, and a field trip to Dinosaur State Park.
You can purchase Finchosaurus at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you GAIL DONOVAN for making this giveaway possible.
10 Winners will receive a Copy of FINCHOSAURUS by Gail Donovan. 
OCTOBER 15th MONDAY Movies, Shows, & Books TENS LIST & EXCERPT 

OCTOBER 23rd TUESDAY RhythmicBooktrovert REVIEW
OCTOBER 24th WEDNESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW 
OCTOBER 25th THURSDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW & EXCERPT


  1. My happiest childhood memory is vacationing in Alaska.

  2. "What is your happiest childhood memory?" I would have been too young for me to remember it now.

  3. putzing in the garden with my dad

  4. Traveling to Gatlinburg Tennessee with my grandparents.

  5. My favorite childhood memory is when I traveled to Denver, Colorado.

  6. Staying with my cousins during the summer.