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Monday, September 15, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm so thrilled to have author Yona Zeldis McDonough stopping by today to talk about her new middle-grade biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder! Plus, you can win a copy...

Little Author in the Big Woods
(A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder)
by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

What three words best describe Little Author in the big Woods?

Fun. Cozy. Inspiring.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Little Author in the big Woods a try?

Here is a story about a plucky little girl who crisscrossed the country with her family more than a dozen times and who, despite so many hardships and interruptions, never lost her cheerful nature or optimistic outlook.

Grab a copy of Little Author in the big Woods and answer the following:
favorite page?  PAGE 45
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:

“And although she did not know it, making pictures with words for her sister was preparing her for what would be her life’s work: it was turning a bright, observant girl who loved reading into a full-fledged writer.”

What was it like writing this biography for children?  

I had so much fun writing this book! I loved learning about the many correspondences between Laura’s life and the stories she wrote.

Was it difficult taking all the fascinating facts about Laura Ingalls Wilder and exploring them in a way that is appropriate for younger readers?

Not really because she had such an interesting childhood and it’s been my experience that kids love to read about the lives of other kids. Laura’s early life was so fascinating that she made it easy!

In all the research you did for this book you must have learned lots of interesting things! What are your top three favorite facts or things you learned about Laura Ingalls Wilder?

That she got her start writing about farm life
That she hated wearing a bonnet
That she was an early feminist who urged farmers’ wives to become active partners in their farms and made sure her own daughter got the best education possible.

Why do you think Wilder’s books and life still resonate with people today?

Life on the American prairie has an almost mythic attraction for so many people: it represents a combination of freedom, self-determination and courage. Laura’s books give us an insight into that life, and they chart its joys and sorrows with great specificity and detail.

What do you love most about this beloved author?

Her resilience and her perseverance.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at baking banana muffins!
I’m really embarrassed to admit that I have dreadful penmanship!
The last great book I read was THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Little Author in the big Woods, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

The cupcake would be made of yellow cake, to represent the golden plains of the prairie landscape.  The frosting would be green and blue butter cream, to represent the lush forests and cooling rivers that Laura knew so well.  I would call it Ode to America and it would taste fresh, sweet, delicious, and unlike anything else.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Yona!

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of many books for children, includingSisters in StrengthAnne Frank, and Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott. Ms. McDonough lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Win a copy of
Little Author in the Big Woods!
Macmillan has generously offered up one finished copy for one winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 9/21
-must be 13+ to enter
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail
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Brenda said...

What a beautiful cover. Like so many others, I adored Little House on the Prairie growing up. The biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder sounds wonderful. I'm adding it to my TBR list.

Carl Scott said...

I'm not surprised that the Little House books and other stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder are still popular today. A classic like that never really goes out of style and I'm really pleased that young people still like it so much. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.

jennifer.essad said...

lovely story and illustrations, I love reading stories such as these first to myself then to our grandkids thanks you for sharing

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for writing this story about Laura Ingalls Wilder, I love Little House on the Prairie and this would just add more love to my heart for her stories.

susanlulu said...

I'm so glad I saw this on facebook, so I could hop on over. I am surprised I had not heard of this book/author before, considering how much I love Laura Ingalls Wilder. I hope to read it soon!