New Voice: Brenda Maier on Making Picture Books Do Double Duty & The Little Red Fort

By Traci Sorell

I’m overjoyed to feature The Little Red Fort by author Brenda Maier and illustrator Sonia Sánchez (Scholastic, 2018) here on Cynsations.

This new picture book is a contemporary retelling of The Little Red Hen, featuring spunky Ruby and her three brothers who are not interested in helping her build a fort.

I love how Ruby takes matters into her own hands and figures out what needs to be done with a little help from her mother and grandmother.

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Author-Teacher Interview: Gene Luen Yang on Writing, Teaching & the Hamline MFA Program

Lean more about Cartoonist and Teacher Gene Luen Yang.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Welcome to Cynsations. We last spoke to Dean Mary Francoise Rockcastle about the Hamline MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults back in 2006.

When did you join the faculty? What appealed to you about teaching in a low-residency program?

I joined the faculty of the Hamline MFAC program in the summer of 2012.

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New Voice: Katie Kennedy on Learning to Swear in America

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Katie Kennedy is the first-time author of Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, 2016). From the promotional copy:

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. 

Maybe not kill-all-the-dinosaurs bad, but at least kill-everyone-in-California-and-wipe-out-Japan-with-a-tsunami bad. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been recruited to aid NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster.

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New Voice: Kurt Dinan on Don’t Get Caught

Educator’s Guide

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Kurt Dinan is the first-time author of Don’t Get Caught (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016). From the promotional copy:

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him?


After all,

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Author-Teacher Interview: Esther Hershenhorn

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Esther, welcome back to Cynsations! What’s new in your writing-teacher life?

I’m happy to report: the teaching part of my teaching-author life is taking off in all sorts of new directions this year, literally and figuratively. I continue to teach writing for children workshops at both the University of Chicago’s Graham School’s Writer’s Studio and Chicago’s Newberry Library,

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Guest Interview: Author Eric Pinder on Writing Picture Books & How to Share With a Bear

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Eric Pinder is the author of four picture books and four adult nonfiction books. His most recent release is How to Share With a Bear, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015). From the promotional copy:

The perfect thing to do on a chilly day is to make a cave. But comfy caves never stay empty for long….

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New Voice: Cindy L. Rodriguez on When Reason Breaks

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cindy L. Rodriguez is the first-time author of When Reason Breaks (Bloomsbury, 2015). From the promotional copy:

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. 

Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her,

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New Voice: Paul Greci on Surving Bear Island

Paul Greci

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Paul Greci is the first-time author of Surviving Bear Island (Move, 2015)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

How did you approach the research process for your story? What was your greatest coup, and how did it inform your manuscript?

The research for Surviving Bear Island was very hands on and spans twenty-five years.

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Guest Post: Cecilia Galante on Where to Start Your Story?

Cecilia Galante

By Cecilia Galante

One of the things I’ve noticed my graduate creative writing students struggling with is where exactly to start in a book.

I’ve had two students fill up the first 40 pages of their novels with excruciating back-story details involving family history, blood-lines, place of birth, and so on.

Another one began her book with a five-year-old protagonist relaying her ideas on life,

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Dianne White on Doing the Work & Not Giving Up

By Dianne White

I haven’t always been a writer – at least not in the way I assume my friends who write must have been as children growing up.

I never wrote stories I couldn’t wait to share with my parents and teachers; I was not the kid who stapled lined pages together to write and illustrate my own books; I never kept a journal, and I’m not one of those people with rich imaginations able to tell grand stories at the drop of a hat.

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