Current Giveaways

Word Spelunking’s temporary hiatus is now permanent. All requests are closed and there will be no new content. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with and everyone who has read and supported this blog. Y’all are awesome!!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Sunday, March 16, 2014

(MMGM) Gayle Rosengren, author of What The Moon Said {Review, Interview, Giveaway}

I'm excited to have Gayle Rosengren stopping by the March MG Madness today! Check out my Review of her book, our fun Interview, and enter the Giveaway...

What the Moon Said
by Gayle Rosengren

Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Gayle Rosengren’s What the Moon Said is a tender, heartfelt historical middle-grade, reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables series. Sweet, uplifting, amusing, and written with a lot of heart, this book and its character captivated me immensely.

Young Esther is determined to show her mother what a good, helpful daughter she can be and, when the family must leave their home in Chicago for a farm in Wisconsin during the Great Depression, Esther is sure she’ll get her chance. She’s sure life on a farm, with lots of animals, will be a blast, but poor weather, dwindling food and money, and a very superstitious mother, make things very hard for the Vogel family. Esther finds comfort in her new friend Bethany, but when superstitious Mrs. Vogel sees a terrible sign, Esther is left with a broken heart and doubt in her mama’s “Old World” ways. It’s up to Esther to prove to her mama that not all signs are real and that she is a daughter worthy of her love.

In What the Moon Said, Rosengren weaves a charming, lovely historical fiction story full of fun adventures, heartwarming moments, great glimpses into a Depression era America, and a timeless, pitch-perfect voice.

Rosengren vividly and deftly lays out her book’s setting, exploring a Depression era America and the hardships of immigrants with honesty and immense knowledge, while in a way that is easy for young readers to understand. And young readers will be fascinated by this layered look into the past and be wowed by little details, such as the nickel Esther and her sister pay to get into the movies; the one room, for several grades, classroom Esther goes to school in; the horse-drawn buggy they travel in; and so much more! Rosengren also explores the customs and cultural traditions of the Vogel family, which I found so wonderfully interesting. I was especially fascinated by all Mama’s superstitious ways and how they affected the family in so many ways.

Esther is such an endearing, lovable, and plucky girl, whose adventures and perspective reminded me so much of Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley! I just loved her innocent, optimistic, and imaginative nature. Young readers will be so amused and entertained by this memorable heroine! I found Esther’s large, loving family so amusing and relatable and inspiring. And Bethany is such a darling, fun, sweet girl, who I’d love as a BFF.

The Vogel’s tough times on the farm and Esther’s touching journey to be a great daughter are so beautifully explored and written. Rosengren has created such a hopeful and lovely message about family, friendship, and love.

My Final Thoughts: Gayler Rosengren definitely brings the past to life in What the Moon Said and does so with heart, humor, and fun!


What three words best describe What the Moon Said?

Engaging, Realistic, and Hopeful

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give What the Moon Said a try?

"Just read the first chapter and I dare you to stop!"

Grab a copy of What the Moon Said and answer the following:
favorite chapter?  What Ma Did

favorite page? Page 95

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?
"Don't let Ma hear you," Violet warned in a whisper. "You know what she said about you dressing like a witch."

What inspired What the Moon Said? How did the story come to be?

It was inspired by my mother's move from Chicago to farms in Wisconsin when she was a girl during the Depression and by the superstitions of my grandmother.  

Part of the reason why I came to write the story was because my grandmother's undemonstrative ways always puzzled me, especially as I grew older, because I knew her to be a woman who loved her family very deeply.  In writing this story I found a way to explain her actions.

There are some memorable characters in What the Moon Said, do you have a favorite? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters end up surprising even you with the way they turned out?

 My favorite character has to be Esther, because, let's face it, she's so utterly sweet and loveable and sympathetic.  But Ma comes in a close second.  She's so complex that you can't take her at face value.  She often acts gruff and stern but it's because she loves her family so much and is trying to protect them.  That makes her a seemingly cold-hearted protagonist through most of the story.  I was a little surprised to see how sympathetic she still manages to become by the final chapter.

In What the Moon Said, Esther has a very superstitious mother...are there any superstitions you believe or any tricks you follow to avoid bad luck?

I don't believe in superstitions, however… I won't walk under a ladder, put shoes on a table, kill a spider before breakfast, etc., etc., and if I spill salt I always toss some over my left shoulder.  I knock on wood, wish on the first star I see at night, and three is my "lucky" number. But I'm not superstitious; oh, no.  *Laughs*  ;-)

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important?

Middle grade is incredibly important because it's for readers who are choosing and reading books on their own for the first time. They're just discovering the amazing places a book can take them and the personal connection they can feel with the characters and setting.  As a result, the books they love make lasting, even life-long impressions.  Also, discovering the wonders of reading at this age is the best guarantee that they will be life-long readers.

What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?

I love to write middle-grade because I believe in its importance and feel a special connection with this age--and it's cool to think that someday there may be adults who remember my characters like old friends and my stories like their own adventures, as I remember the books I loved as a girl.  I love to read middle grade because there is a place inside of me that will forever be eleven or twelve and middle grade books feed that place.

What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine?

All time favorite book has to be Little Women.  Middle grade hero, hmmm, that's harder but I'm going to say Harry Potter;  Favorite heroine, Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables).

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at finding the humor in nearly any situation.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I chew my fingernails sometimes when I'm nervous.

The last great book I read was No Surrender Soldier by Christine Kohler, a YA Historical Fiction book that is super exciting as well as informative.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by What the Moon Said, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?  

Hmmmm.  This is a fun question!  It would have to be crunchy on the outside, because times were tough, so let's say chopped nuts around the sides.  But it would be super sweet on the inside, like Esther herself, so maybe a squirt of marshmallow cream in the middle of a devil's food cupcake (devil's food to signify those few times when Esther is a little naughty and also to hint at the superstitions in the book.) And finally, on top is vanilla frosting (for Esther's pure heart and devotion) topped with multi-colored sprinkles in the shape of hearts and moons and stars to signify the superstitions and the love in the story.
And I can't imagine calling it anything other than "Esther's Hug".

Thanks so much for stopping by Gayle! And that cupcake sounds delish!

Gayle grew up in Chicago.  Like Esther, she enjoyed school, was an avid reader, and loved dogs and horses.  She attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where she majored in Creative Writing and was the editor of the literary magazine. Gayle never outgrew her passion for children's books, and she worked as a children's and young adult librarian at a public library for several years in the late 1980's and early 1990's, enthusiastically sharing her love of books with young people.

Also like Esther, Gayle eventually moved to Wisconsin, but by then she was a mother with three children.  She worked in the reference library, and later as a copy-editor, at American Girl.  During this time period she published short stories for children in CricketLadybugJack and Jill andChildren's Digest magazines.

Now Gayle writes full-time in her home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Don, and slightly neurotic rescue dog, Fiona.  Gayle is living her dream, she says, writing books she hopes will make the same difference in children's lives as her favorite books and authors made in hers.  What the Moon Said is her first novel.

Win a signed hardcover copy of
What the Moon Said!
Gayle has generously offered up one signed book.
-Open to US/CAN/UK only
-ends 3/31
-must be 13+, one free entry per person
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
Fill out Rafflecopter form:


Anonymous said...

I am really, really looking forward to reading this one. This is one inspiring, never give up author!

Brenda said...

I love to see more historical fiction books coming out. Nice interview and review.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the Little House books series and I think that this would be an interesting read because the depression did affect a lot of people and a lot of people had to make lifestyle changes because of it and learn new things and ways of life. I would love to follow Ester and her new life on the farm in Wisconsin.

Jillyn said...

I'd love to read this one. I'm from Chicago and my partner is from Wisconsin, so the setting alone is enough to draw me in.

Mad_In_Wonderland said...

I live in Wisconsin, I love reading books about my lovely dairy state, this sounds great!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

Ester sounds like a great main character! I love the inspiration behind the story.

Anonymous said...

This one is on my reading list for this week! Yay for historical MG! =) I am really excited to read this story!

Unknown said...

What the Moon Said just looks and sounds absolutely magical! I can't wait to read this one, it sounds like one I might even be able to read with my daughter! Thanks for the giveaway :)

Barbara Watson said...

So looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the chance to win it.

Barbara Watson said...

My previous comment leaves the wrong link to the wrong blogger. Sorry about that.

Orchid said...

Sounds like an interesting MG historical fiction read.

anne s. said...

historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. would love to read this book :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren….and enjoyed your thorough & positive review on your excellent site. The vibrant, lovable, and conflicted Esther is one of my favorite main characters ever. And the book has just the right voice for this age group. Beautifully written—seems as if it would be a great read-out loud book for the classroom, library or home. Also think this would be a wonderful mother-daughter read-along or mother-daughterr book club book. Just excellent! A++++