Monday, April 30, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Glory Be (and a giveaway!)

I love an awful lot of middle grade books, and Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood, is now on my 'books I love' list. When a book can transport me to another time and I feel like I'm there, that book is something special.

Please stick around, this post is longer than my usual, but it's full of cool stuff like an author interview and hardcover giveaway. And now, a peek at Glory Be . . .

The premise: It's summer in hot, humid Hanging Moss, Mississippi, and there's nothing Glory Hemphill wants more than to spend her days in the swimming pool, especially her July 4th birthday. But it's 1964, and Freedom Workers have rolled into town, and they change things for Glory--and for the rest of Hanging Moss, Mississippi, too.

What keeps readers reading: Watching Glory grow and learn and decide who she wants to be. In this tumultuous summer, Glory's eyes are opened to things she never really thought about, and she learns you have to make choices, sometimes really tough ones.

What I loved: The way Augusta Scattergood aids middle grade readers in understanding an issue and time in U.S. history through eyes they understand.

I had the chance to ask Augusta some questions about Glory Be and her writing! Here are the three questions I chose (in blue) and her responses.

Glory Be is historical fiction, set in 1964 Mississippi. If it were a contemporary story, what would its plot line look like?

I recently did a school visit in Mississippi. I told them I went to school there when I was their age and we had two separate schools, one for white students and one for African-American students. Sitting on the library floor in front of me, two 4th grade girls hugged each other with a look of utter shock. "You mean I wouldn't be in school with my best friend?" one asked.

So if it were a contemporary story, Glory might have a black best friend, something that probably wouldn't have happened realistically in 1964.

Truly, the book would be completely different. Two sisters pulling away from each other as one grows up and moves on? As much as I love the family connections in GLORY BE, I can't imagine the novel without the story of the community pool's closing.

If I had lived in 1964 Mississippi, I hope I would have been as brave as Laura, her mom, Robbie, the librarian Miss Bloom, and as brave as Glory grows to be. Since you grew up in the South, did you know people like these characters you created?

That's one of the reasons I wrote the novel! I really didn't know anybody like Glory. I wanted to be like her, and I think some of my friends did, too. What we did in 1964 was teach in a summer Head Start program, work in an integrated summer camp and in a public library that stayed open when some thought it should close. In the early 60s in the Deep South, we were learning our way. My friends and I mostly stayed out of the limelight and kept our mouths shut, publicly at least.

I did know one amazing little girl when we lived in Baltimore in the late 70s. I often had her in mind when I heard Glory's strong voice. Sarah spoke up for what she believed and didn't let grownups stand in her way! (She's still like that, even though she's now the grownup.)

Even though Glory Be has a historical setting, it feels and reads like a timeless classic to me because of the timeless message of the story. Since you were a librarian, what middle grade books are on your list of classic favorites and how do they influence your writing?

I like to think of classics as books that stick around, waiting on a library shelf for the next crop of readers to move up and be ready for them. Instead of some of the older titles which appear on every single "Best" list, my list might include books I read aloud, repeatedly: Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, Sounder, William Steig's picture books, Getting Near to Baby.

I really could go on and on!

When I started writing, the sound of my words was very important to me. I've always heard characters' voices in my head. I think that comes not only from all those years of reading to kids but from being told stories to for most of my life.

I do a lot of reading aloud, especially while revising. That's why, while writing, I usually steer clear of my local Starbucks!
  

Augusta, thank you so much for your time and your insightful answers! 

I'm giving away an autographed hardcover of Glory Be. To enter the drawing, comment on this post by 8pm CDT on Sunday, May 6th, 2012. The winner will be announced on Monday, May 7th. United States mailing addresses only for this one, please.

For more middle grade recommendations, follow the links in my Middle Grade Monday tab or the ones on Shannon Messenger's blog.
Happy middle grade reading! 

29 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great book. The 1960's were such an incredible time in our history. This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  2. I totally agree with the part about avoiding the local Starbucks and reading out loud. If my husband reads in bed when I'm editing (the bedroom is also my home office), I tell him to use ear plugs because I'm going to be reading my ms out loud. It's the only way I can catch awkward sentences and dialogue that sounds off.

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  3. THIS time I'm going to fold up my entry so it sticks out of the pile differently than everyone else's. There. See? heh heh heh I love being tricky.

    I love reading out loud too, I find so many mistakes. But also the cat seems to enjoy it.

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  4. Sounds terrific! And I definitely agree that reading about history from such a personal point of view teaches you so much more about the time, the place, etc.

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  5. Thanks Barbara. I usually enjoy the same books as you, and this sounds like another one that my daughter and I would appreciate. I made the questionable decision to let her watch the movie of The Help (definitely not ready for the book, but the movie glossed over some of the more adult themes) and it profoundly moved her.

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  6. I usually love "Southern Fiction" and I don't know why since I'm not even American, much less from the south. And historical southern fiction is often so evocative. This sounds like it would be jsut my cup of tea. And the cover! <3<3<3 So pretty!

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  7. I've read and loved this book, too, Barbara. It's one of my staff picks at the bookstore! And since I already have a copy, please give this one to someone else.

    What impressed me most (besides the character of Glory) was how well Augusta brought to life a time and a place that seems so long ago to kids today.

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  8. Wowza! Fantastic post and interview, Barbara. This books sounds wonderful. :)

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  9. I love well told historical fiction and this one sounds like a great one.

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  10. This sounds like a great book. Wonderful interview as well. It's very cool to hear about the story behind a book.

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  11. This book sounds like an excellent way to connect children to a complicated time in history. Even when I read The Help, I found myself appalled that it really was such a relatively short time ago that our country still held to such beliefs.

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  12. Glory Be sounds like an inspiring and thoughtful book. Great review and interview. Thanks.

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  13. I believe I'm growing fond of mg historicals thanks to you.

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  14. Sounds like a great story! Would love to read it!

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  15. This sounds right up my alley - love the stories from this part of history!

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  16. I love MG Mondays! And I love historicals, so this would be something I'd really like.

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  17. This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you've finished it, and I'm so happy to share it with you all. The best to each of you in the drawing for a signed copy!

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  18. I know I overuse the word "lovely." But this just sounds lovely. So does the author. I agree with you that it has that "timeless classic" feel to it and I haven't even read it. But I could. If I won a copy from you. heh heh.

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  19. This sounds like my kind of book. (Since I was born in 1964 and grew up in deep south Alabama) Fabulous interview and yes, please, I'd love to be in the drawing.

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  20. This seems like a book I would love. Great interview. I need to read out loud more, maybe I'll catch more of my mistakes.

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  21. I've heard so many good things about this book. Must read!

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  22. Wow. Now that's the type of book that NEEDS to be read.

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  23. This will be the perfect read aloud for my students. I am looking for ways to get them to read especially with summer coming on! Even though this is a historical book, what 6th, 7th or 8th grader can't relate to summers at the community pool. Can't wait to get this in someones hands!!

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  24. This would be a great fit with my Historical Fiction unit. Always nice to have multiple perspectives on a topic!

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  25. Yay for books like this, and the Help!!! She mentioned a couple books I haven't heard of too, and I plan to check those out.

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  26. I also loved this book. Today, my sixth grade class and I had the chance to Skype with Ms. Scattergood. She was amazing! The way she interacted with the kids was incredible - she had their attention the entire time and that is difficult to do with 12 years olds.:)

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  27. I'm a little late to the party this week, but glad I got a chance to stop by. This sounds like a great book, thanks for the interview and the giveaway! :)

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  28. Glory B is a great Historical Fiction book that students and myself would love to read. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

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  29. Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this special book! And thank you once again to Augusta for sharing her insight.

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Comments. Yay! They're almost as good as chocolate. Almost.