25 Books to Read Before You Die

Kids' Q&A

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Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity

Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
  1. $18.89 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity

Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
  1. $18.89 Sale Hardcover add to wish list


Kids' Q&A

Emily Jenkins

Describe your latest project.
Some people are a little bit scary. The cafeteria lady who only lets you take one milk. The music teacher who yells. The kid who chews on her pencil and mutters to herself. The police officer on the corner. But if you could see those people at home with their dogs, their families, their pianos and cowboy stories, you would see that they're maybe not so scary after all. I wrote The Little Bit Scary People because I myself am still scared of sommeliers and unkind bus drivers and the like — so I figured I could channel and articulate that feeling for children. Alexandra Boiger made the most amazing pictures! I am so excited to have her illustrating my words. Her characters are wonderfully specific, comic, and true.

  1. The Little Bit Scary People "[A] smart and sympathetic book....Funny and wise." Publishers Weekly

    "An amusing reality check for the easily intimidated." Kirkus Reviews

    "This could be a terrific book to begin a discussion about identity and forming opinions about others. It also offers students a way to feel empowered as they meet the demands of widening their world." School Library Journal

  2. Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic
    $6.99 New Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "[U]tterly delightful....Zelinsky's beautifully detailed black-and-white illustrations are a lovely addition to this very special book." School Library Journal

    "A smart, whimsical collection of stories that capture the imagination and inspire creative thinking." Children's Literature

  3. That New Animal (05 Edition)
    $9.00 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "[A] laugh-out-loud domestic comedy." Publishers Weekly

    "[A] clever take on new arrivals." Kirkus Reviews

What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
I would surely regret it, but there is a part of me that would really like to meet Meg Rosoff's Wild Boars.

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss, with pictures by Maurice Sendak. Because the special house is anything and everything you want, and rollicking fun. It's right in the middle, ret in the moodle of my head head head, as Krauss writes. Because it truly shows the wonder and power of the imagination, which is where I like best to live.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
I think Amy Schwartz is one of today's best writers for children. I think my favorite is A Glorious Day.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Traction Man is guarding some toast."
Traction Man is Here! by Mini Grey

The picture shows an action figure, dressed for adventure, seriously guarding a mischievous-looking bit of toast. It does what I most admire in writing for children, and something that is very hard to get on paper: Grey captures the way a child thinks, the way a child (the owner of Traction Man) pulls together disparate elements to create a completely unique world for himself. The Ruth Krauss book I mentioned above does that as well.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to write for children. It was a persistent dream, because books meant so much to me. I wrote several middle-grade novels as a kid. Only, I wanted to write dark and dramatic adventures like those by Joan Aiken; or raucous comedies like Astrid Lindgren. Turns out I have a bent for neither, but I eventually found my own voice.

Tell us about your pets.
I have two aged and unrepentantly neurotic cats. They have inspired a number of my stories, most particularly Toys Go Out and That New Animal — only, in one book I changed them into stuffed toys, and in the other I changed them into dogs. This was done to protect their dignity, so please don't go blabbing about it.

If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why?
I've now done books, or am in the process of doing books, with a number of illustrators whom I would have named a couple years ago: Paul O. Zelinsky, Barbara McClintock, Pierre Pratt, Sergio Ruzzier, Giselle Potter. And I'm quite fan-ish about illustrators. I get all excited and tongue-tied when I meet them. Anyway, that's all to say that there are many I might name in answer to this question, but I suppose the one I'd really love and will never have is Arthur Rackham. It was he who made me first fall in love with picture-book illustrations. I had a copy of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens with the most wonderful fairies.

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Emily Jenkins is the author of numerous highly acclaimed books for children, including That New Animal, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor recipient; Daffodil; Five Creatures; and Toys Go Out. The author lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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