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Sunday, March 30, 2014

(MMGM) Jess Keating, author of How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied {Interview and Giveaway}

I'm so excited to have the very awesome Jess Keating stopping by the March MG Madness today for a fun interview about her upcoming book (that I'm dying to read!) and fabby fab giveaway...

How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied
(My Life is a Zoo #1)
by Jess Keating
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

What would middle school be like if you lived in a zoo?

Ana didn't ask to be named after an anaconda. She didn't ask for zoologist parents who look like safari guides. And she definitely didn't ask for a twin brother whose life goal seems to be terrorizing her with his pet reptiles. Now, to make matters worse, her parents have decided to move the whole family INTO the zoo! All of which gives the Sneerers (the clan of carnivorous female predators in her class) more ammunition to make her life miserable-and squash any hope of class tennis stud, Zack, falling in love with her. Ana tries to channel her inner chameleon and fade into the background, but things are changing too quickly for her to keep up.

What three words best describe How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied?

Crocodiles, cupcakes, and cameras!

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied a try?

This funny, filled-to-the-brim-with-critters-and-shenanigans book is for anyone who has ever felt like a weirdo and an outsider, and wanted to be brave enough to
own it!

Grab a copy of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied and answer the following:

favorite chapter? Unlucky Chapter 13! This is the one where poor Ana embarrasses herself on live television. Then her parrot, Charles Darwin, makes things even worse. How? You'll have to read it to find out all the mortifying details!

favorite page? p. 244! I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say what goes around comes around and it could possibly involve crocodiles.  

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?
p. 29 Ana confused thoughts on her brother's best friend, Kevin:

"You know those kooky Magic Eye things that reveal a secret picture when you stare at them in just the right way? Kevin seems like that, only I have no idea what the secret picture is. And there's no way I'm going to stare at him to find out."

What inspired How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied? How did the story come to be?

Oddly enough, the first thing that came to me was the title. I had a clear vision in my head of a goofy, geeky girl dangling out of a tree with a crocodile snapping at her feet. Only instead of being afraid, it was just another ordinary day for her! It's possible I was watching too much Animal Planet at the time. Once the initial idea was there, Ana's journey became clearer to me. This book is all about 'owning your weird', and with a zoologist background, it's no surprise I wrote about a girl who is surrounded by animals as a way of life.
There are some memorable characters in How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied, 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?

I love all of my characters (even the nasty ones!), but the biggest surprise was Ana's grandfather, Shep Foster. Shep is a world famous naturalist, who films reality TV shows about his crazy adventures with venomous snakes and man-eating sharks. I've always been a fan of naturalists and conservationists, and Shep was inspired in part by some awesome real people, like David Attenborough, Jeff Corwin, and Steve Irwin. The surprising part to me was that Shep turned out to be a bit of a celebrity hunk, with a supermodel girlfriend and an entourage of paparazzi following him everywhere! What I love most about him is his infectious humor and positive outlook, and the way he teaches Ana to be her bravest self. I also love his Hawaiian shirts.

Would you be willing to move INTO the zoo like your character Ana’s family? What part of the zoo would make the coziest home?

What a great question! I would love to live in a zoo. I think the otters would be great to live with, but the fishy smell would probably get to me after awhile. After ditching the otters, I'd move in with the chimpanzees so I could feel like another one of my heroes, Jane Goodall.

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?

I think the books we read as middle-graders influence the type of people we become, and what we think of as possible. I remember trying to move pencils with my mind for hours after reading Matilda, for example, and reading middle grade now always brings that feeling back. There's a certain openness and wonder at that age, but there's also an incredible sense of unfiltered observation that's really fun to tap into. Because so many things are new, they notice everything. Middle-grade readers have brilliant questions about the world, and creating characters that have these (often hilarious) questions is probably my favorite part of the middle-grade gig!

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

Ah! I'm horrible at favorites. I have so many, depending on what mindset I'm in, or what type of adventure I'm looking for! Island of the Blue Dolphins is one of my old favorites, and a new favorite is Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer. Both have an incredible mix of heart, survival, and human-animal friendship. As far as middle grade heroes go, my heart belongs to Neville Longbottom and Ivan the Gorilla. The favorite heroine award would be split between Meggie from Inkheart, Matilda, and Charlotte from Charlotte's Web.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at making fancy popcorn (with toppings like cheddar-lime, and apple-chocolate-cinnamon bun).

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I wanted to marry Tarzan when I was a kid.

The last great book I read was PRIMATES, by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks!

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Well, this is officially my favorite question. Cupcakes play a special role in this book, so I'd have to make extra to share with Ana. I'd go with a chocolate fudge cupcake, with a cheesecake-lime icing! I'd call it the "How To Eat This Whole Thing in One Bite" cupcake.
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Jess! I can't wait to read your book!

As a middle grade author and zoologist, Jess Keating has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. Her debut How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied is coming in Summer 2014 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, with a sequel to follow. She has a Masters degree in Animal Science and a growing collection of books that are threatening to take over her house. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves hiking, playing ukulele, and writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

Win a signed ARC and swag OR swag and a signed finished copy of
How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied!
The loverly Jess Keating is offering a signed ARC and swag for one winner and a signed finished copy and swag to another winner.
-there will be two winners: 
winner #1 will get the ARC + swag, winner #2 will get the finished copy (when available) + swag
-ends 4/6
-must be 13+
-winners 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:


Jessica said...

My favorite animal? That'a hard question! I think my favorite, though, are panthers! They are amazing animals! :) I love otters and wolves, though, too! And a lot of other animals! :)

Michael G-G said...

I love Jess on Twitter--and this novel sounds hilarious. If I had a parrot, I would certainly consider naming him Charles Darwin too!

Unknown said...

If I could follow a animal up close and I was not an old scary cat lady, I would love to follow the big kitties,k like a tiger or lion up close.

Unknown said...

I would love to study giraffes up close! I think their necks are amazing and they are absolutely beautiful.

By the way, this book sounds great - I would love to read it!

Brenda said...

I would love to study panda bears up close, I've always been intrigued by them. Your book sounds like great fun, congratulations on its release.

Jean Giardina said...

I can't wait to read this book! And my favorite place to hang out is the monkey house. I feel at home there.

Orchid said...

Well...I've always been partial to...dinosaurs. I'm not sure why, but I have always found them interesting.

This definitely sounds like quite the fun read.

Jillyn said...

I'd love to study flamingos up close. I mean, they're pink!

Rachel said...

Growing up I said leopards were my favorite, but I have a major inclination toward primates, especially the Great Apes, so I'd want to study those! Great interview; I love Eliot Schrefer's Great Ape books! Thanks for the giveaway!