MacKids Spotlight: Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

MacKids Spotlight: Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass


This month’s Author Spotlight highlights Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass, co-authors of The Lost Library, a middle-grade novel that follows three characters—an eleven-year old boy named Evan, a fluffy orange cat named Mortimer who guards a little free library, and a ghost librarian named Al—in one small town, all mysteriously linked by an unfortunate event that happened years prior.

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MacKids Spotlight: Pari Thompson


Can you tell us what inspired you to write GREENWILD? Where did the idea first come from?

I’m lucky enough to live near Kew Gardens, a huge botanical garden in London, and I’ve always loved walking through its magnificent glasshouses. Some of the plants there are stranger than fiction – tiny hairy pink bananas, giant lily-pads big enough for a person to lie down on, and poisonous flytraps that sense movement in the air around them. I’ve always thought that plants are a little bit magic, and I wanted to take that idea and run with it. What if plants really WERE magic? What would a magical garden look like? Writing Greenwild was an opportunity for me to explore that world and make it feel real.

As this is your debut, what did you learn about your writing process? Is it linear, character driven, written with ideas in mind or made up as you go?

This is a great question! I’m currently writing the sequel to Greenwild, so it’s something I’m thinking about a lot at the moment. I tend to have a broad overarching structure in mind from the start, but I like to have freedom to move around inside this, as the best ideas often arrive while I’m in the middle of writing. And the characters definitely drive the story – they have firm opinions about what’s going to happen!

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? Tell us a little bit about it!

I love the scene where Daisy first meets the Five O’Clock Club. She’s still new in the Greenwild, and the Club are a group of kids who meet every day in a tiny glasshouse in the woods to exchange news and snacks. There’s Indigo, a boy who can speak to animals; the Prof, a girl genius; and Acorn, the youngest and bravest of them all. This group of friends is central to the sense of found family and community that Daisy experiences for the first time in the Greenwild. Plus, the Five O’Clock glasshouse has a tree that grows milk chocolate!

With such an excellent tie-in to climate activism, how do you hope this book will be used in classrooms and libraries? 

I wrote Greenwild as a love letter to the beauty of the natural world, and a rallying cry to protect it. I hope that the book will help children to feel slightly less powerless in the face of the unfolding climate crisis, by acknowledging that although our forests and oceans and under threat, there is always hope and things we can do to help. Having said that, the last thing I want to do is preach or impose messages on young readers as they navigate a crisis created by previous generations.

I hope the book will be used in classrooms and libraries to tell children: you matter, you are brave, you are important, your voice deserves to be heard, and you can make a difference.

Tell us about a library, librarian or educator who made an impact on you as a child (or as an adult!).

I had a wonderful high-school English teacher called Mrs. Addison who used to sneak things into our lessons that weren’t on the syllabus – mostly poetry. It was always done in a slightly clandestine way, which made the poems feel incredibly exciting, like we were being let in on a great, thrilling secret. It gave me a life-long love of reading and poetry, especially Keats, Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson.!

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?

Try to write what gives you joy and makes you feel happy – that way, writing won’t ever feel like a chore. Also, remember that very few writers have the luxury of calling writing their day job – at least not to start with. Greenwild was written in the evenings and weekends around my full-time job, and I find that even an hour a day can make a difference!

What was your favorite book when you were a young reader?

This is such a hard question! I was a real bookworm as a child, so I have a huge number of favourites, from The Hobbit and Narnia to Tom’s Midnight Garden and Journey to the River Sea. But I’m going to go with Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, because I reread it so many times. It’s the story of a girl called Sophie Hatter, who is put under a spell that turns her into an old woman. In order to undo the spell, she has to seek the help of the ill-tempered, charismatic wizard Howl, who lives in a moving castle that hovers above her town. The book is funny, witty, unexpected, and completely original. I’d recommend it to anyone, young or old.



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Pari Thomson is an Editorial Director for picture books at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Half Persian, half English, she has lived in many places, including India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. She studied at Oxford University and now lives in London, not far from Kew Gardens. Follow her at @PariThomson on Twitter.



Greenwild by Pari Thomson
On Sale 6/6/2023

The thrilling first book in the most extraordinary new fantasy series from debut author Pari Thomson.

Open the door to a spellbinding world where the wilderness is alive and a deep magic rises from the earth itself . . .

Eleven-year-old Daisy Thistledown is on the run. Her mother has been keeping big, glittering secrets, and now she has vanished. Daisy knows it’s up to her to find Ma—but someone is hunting her across London. Someone determined to stop her from discovering the truth.

So when Daisy flees to safety through a mysterious hidden doorway, she can barely believe her eyes—she has stepped out of the city and into another world.

This is the Greenwild. Bursting with magic and full of amazing natural wonders, it seems too astonishing to be true. But not only is this land of green magic real, it holds the key to finding Daisy’s mother.

And someone wants to destroy it.

Daisy must band together with a botanical genius, a boy who can talk with animals, and a cat with an attitude to uncover the truth about who she really is. Only then can she channel the power that will change her whole world . . . and save the Greenwild itself.

“The start of a dazzling series about a girl’s determination to find her mother, Thomson’s debut blooms with gorgeous wildlife descriptions that shape Greenwild’s world-building and its diverse inhabitants… aspiring young explorers will happily spend time in this emotionally gripping adventure.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

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MacKids Spotlight: Ari Tison

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Can you tell us what inspired you to write SAINTS OF THE HOUSEHOLD?

It came in two parts. First, I share a similar history as the boys and so personal experience seems to always come out in creating whether or not I want it to! But two, I really love experimenting with form. I adored HOUSE ON MANGO STREET’s form of vignettes and the verse novel LONG WAY DOWN before I wrote SAINTS, and I wondered about what it would look like to combine the forms.

What was the writing process like, switching between dual narrators with distinct voices?

I loved it! Jay’s whole narrative came first in vignettes and then Max came along and because he was a painter it just felt like he had to be in poetry! I loved getting to explore painter’s voices and listened to a lot of videos of artists talking about their work and took notes on the phrases and types of diction they’d use to describe their work which was in conversation to how they saw the world.

Do you have a favorite scene from the book?

Oh this is hard! I actually really love Melody sitting on a swing set in the trailer park. It’s based off of a piece of art by Gregory Crewdson that I had seen and wanted to reimagine in Saints. I feel like the swingset captures being a teenager and being maybe stuck in this space between adulthood and childhood in a mundane yet really beautiful way. I still love swinging (we have an adult sized one at our farm). I also remember when I was younger realizing that I wanted to capture the world with words and thoughts on a swing. Apparently, they are an endowed object for me. 

How do you hope this book will be used in classrooms and libraries?

I hope the book will be paired with resources for young people in abusive situations. Living or being in spaces of abuse as a young person can feel like a secret because it’s so hard to feel safe to share. I know books were huge for me and they modeled to me that I could speak and share even if it felt scary or had so many questions attached. They told me that there could be healing or goodness on the other side. And for me, it’s true there can be healing and goodness even if parts of life did feel impossible. I truly believe that books can be a first step in voicing that which we feel we cannot voice ourselves. From there, they can help us be brave to do the same in our own lives.

Tell us about a library, librarian or educator who made an impact on you as a child (or as an adult!).

I absolutely love Swati Avasthi. Her knowledge of craft is brilliant. She taught me a ton about systematizing craft, finding confidence in knowledge that we can both name and develop, and she’s also just a marvelous friend. I owe her so much! 

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?

Keep the love! Sometimes writing will feel hard or difficult, but know yourself and make sure you’re keeping the love and intrinsic desire to write. Some folks turn off the electronics and write in the woods to tune the world out. For me, I’m on my crappy laptop and working at coffee shops like I used to do as a teenager. It gets me in a space where I want to create and enjoy it. I make it a priority in my life, make sure it’s done in spaces I love, and it tells my brain, this matters, now let’s get writing. Knowing yourself as a writer will serve you well for the long haul. It’s worth so so much. 

What was your favorite book when you were a young reader?

Because of Winn-Dixie. The book still reads like real life and magic all the same time. Kate DiCamillo is also from Minnesota, and I remember how much of a *moment* it was when I got to meet her. I still have a signed copy from her that I cherish on my bookshelf! 


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Ari Tison is a Bribri (Indigenous Costa Rican) American and African descended poet and storyteller. Her poems and short works have been published in Yellow Medicine ReviewThe Under ReviewRock & Sling, and POETRY‘s first ever edition for children. She was the winner of the 2018 Vaunda Micheaux Nelson award for a BIPOC writer with Lerner Publishing. She currently is the annual broadside editor for Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop where she gets to collaborate with the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts to bring incarcerated voices into the world. Saints of the Household is her debut novel.


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Saints of the Household

By Ari Tison
On Sale 3/28/2023

Saints of the Household is a haunting contemporary YA about an act of violence in a small-town–beautifully told by a debut Indigenous Costa Rican-American writer–that will take your breath away.

Max and Jay have always depended on one another for their survival. Growing up with a physically abusive father, the two Bribri American brothers have learned that the only way to protect themselves and their mother is to stick to a schedule and keep their heads down.

But when they hear a classmate in trouble in the woods, instinct takes over and they intervene, breaking up a fight and beating their high school’s star soccer player to a pulp. This act of violence threatens the brothers’ dreams for the future and their beliefs about who they are. As the true details of that fateful afternoon unfold over the course of the novel, Max and Jay grapple with the weight of their actions, their shifting relationship as brothers, and the realization that they may be more like their father than they thought. They’ll have to reach back to their Bribri roots to find their way forward.

Told in alternating points of view using vignettes and poems, debut author Ari Tison crafts an emotional, slow-burning drama about brotherhood, abuse, recovery, and doing the right thing.

This stunning debut graphic memoir features page after page of gorgeous, evocative art, perfect for Tillie Walden fans. It’s a cross section of the Korean-American diaspora and mental health, a moving and powerful read in the vein of Hey, Kiddo and The Best We Could Do.

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Discussion Guide: Don’t Look Back

Discussion Guide: Don’t Look Back


Don’t Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America
By Achut Deng and Keely Hutton
Ages 12-18
On Sale Now!

In this propulsive memoir from Achut Deng and Keely Hutton, inspired by a harrowing New York Times article, Don’t Look Back tells a powerful story showing both the ugliness and the beauty of humanity, and the power of not giving up.

I want life.

After a deadly attack in South Sudan left six-year-old Achut Deng without a family, she lived in refugee camps for ten years, until a refugee relocation program gave her the opportunity to move to the United States. When asked why she should be given a chance to leave the camp, Achut simply told the interviewer: I want life.

But the chance at starting a new life in a new country came with a different set of challenges. Some of them equally deadly. Taught by the strong women in her life not to look back, Achut kept moving forward, overcoming one obstacle after another, facing each day with hope and faith in her future. Yet, just as Achut began to think of the US as her home, a tie to her old life resurfaced, and for the first time, she had no choice but to remember her past.

Click below to watch a video of Achut and Keely talking about the message behind Don’t Look Back.

  Find out more about THE LOST YEAR HERE→