We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
descriptive ability
humor (if attempted)
illustrations (if present)
believability of characters
believability of situations
overall reading enjoyment

There is no grading curve. There are no points for classroom participation. There is no extra credit.
If you disagree, come speak to us after class.

The Grading System

A+.....this means (guess what) we think it's great. So great it surprised even us.
A.....this means it's pretty darn good. A book we'd recommend to just about everyone we know.
B.....better than most. Not exactly Shakespeare for kids, though, if you get our drift.
C.....mediocre. Like the color beige, it didn't stand out.
D.....we didn't like it. There were more bad aspects than good ones.
F.....it reeked of badness. We read it over and over when we are in dire need of hysterical laughter.
F-.....We're pretty sure Dante had a circle of hell for the people who wrote these...and a lower circle for those who published them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Author Interview: Deva Fagan

Today we are pleased to present an interview with the very talented Deva Fagan, author of Fortune's Folly.

In Fortune's Folly, Fortunata is a young girl who must rely on her own cleverness to hold her life together... Magic might not be around the corner to help her, but she is smart enough to make her own happy ending come true. (Read my original review here: http://thechildrensbookreporter.blogspot.com/2009/07/reporters-review-fortunes-folly-by-deva.html)

CBR: Although Fortune's Folly fits into a "fairy tale" genre, it is
always Fortunata's ingenuity, rather than the help of a magic elf or
fairy godmother, that gets her out of trouble. What made you decide
to write this kind of non-traditional fairy tale?

DF: The original kernel of an idea for FORTUNE’S FOLLY was the concept of
a person who tells a fake fortune and then has to make it come true.
So in order to set that up, I decided it made sense to keep any hint
of “real magic” in the background. Plus, one of Fortunata’s defining
characteristics is that she is deeply pragmatic and just doesn’t
believe in magic: she isn’t going to wait around for a fairy godmother
to give her glass slippers. She’s going to go out there and FIND them
herself. Since the book is told in Fortunata’s voice, everything is
colored with that same pragmatism. My hope is that readers will come
out of the book asking themselves what is magic, what is chance, and
what is just the “good fortune” we make for ourselves.

I also found in writing FORTUNE’S FOLLY that I enjoyed not having
magic front-and-center, because it was more interesting to me as a
writer to find ways for the protagonist to overcome the challenges if
she didn’t have magical abilities. I have a great respect for writers
who can incorporate magic into their books in a way that is clever and
unique, because too often I find magic becomes a sort of skeleton key
that you just use to open whatever door is blocking your way.

CBR: What is your favorite fairy tale? Do you have a favorite modern
retelling? Favorite children's book in any genre?

DF: My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. I have a special
fondness for Robin McKinley’s BEAUTY, which I think was the first
fairy tale retelling I ever read.

Choosing a single favorite children’s book would be virtually
impossible! There are so many!

I did, however, run a series of posts on my blog last December where I
spotlighted one of my childhood favorites on each day of the month.
The posts are here: http://devafagan.com/tag/childhood-favorites/

CBR: Undeniably, Fortune's Folly has a very clever, intricate plot...but
the characters are also wonderfully unique and three-dimensional. Did
you find it difficult to balance these two elements in the writing of
your story?

DF: Yes, actually one of my toughest struggles as a writer is to make sure
that I don’t get carried away by my ideas for plots before I find
real, living, breathing characters for them. I have written large
chunks and even entire drafts of books that I have ended up tossing
out because the characters just aren’t there yet!

CBR: What is your favorite part of being an author?

DF: Getting to meet and talk with other people who love books as much as I
do is probably the most rewarding thing. I still have to mentally
pinch myself sometimes after an email exchange with my editor about
books we’ve been reading, or an online chat with other writers, or an
interview like this! It’s just so weird and wonderful to actually be a
part of the awesome community of people who love kids books!

The other thing I really love is seeing my book in libraries. When I
was a kid (and now) libraries were one of my favorite places, and
where I discovered almost all my favorite books. So seeing FORTUNE’S
FOLLY out in libraries, being checked out and read, is a real dream
come true.

CBR: According to your website you have another book in the works--could
you give us any hints as to what we can expect?

DF: I have a second middle grade fantasy coming out from Henry Holt in the
BOGTHISTLE. Here’s a blurb:

All Prunella wants is to be a proper bog-witch. Unfortunately, her
curses tend to do more good than harm, and she hasn’t got a single
stinking wart. When her mixed-up magics allow a sneaky thief to escape
her grandmother’s garden, Prunella is cast out until she can prove
herself a true bog-witch.

It’s hard enough being exiled to the decidedly un-magical Uplands, but
traveling with the smugly charming young thief, Barnaby, is even
worse. He’s determined to gain fame and fortune by recovering the
missing Mirable Chalice. And to get what she wants, Prunella must help
him. But what if the aspiring villain and the would-be hero are on
the right quest . . . for the wrong reason?

CBR: Finally...Are there any questions you've always wanted to be asked
that you'd like to answer here?

DF: I am always happy to say “YES” anytime someone offers me chocolate,
curry or tea!

CBR: Thank you, Deva, for your time and thoughtfulness in this interview! We are definitely going to be haunting the bookstores next Spring for a copy of Prunella's story, and we wish you all the best..and plenty of chocolate, curry, and tea. :)
To read more about Deva Fagan and her novels, you can visit her very enjoyable and informative website: http://devafagan.com/

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