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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

6th MMGM: Call Me Sunflower by Miriam Spitzer Franklin (interview)

Welcome to Day 1 (part 1) of the 6th Annual March MG Madness! Be sure to check out Day 1 (part 2) as well.

Call Me Sunflower by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.
So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

*Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
*Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
*Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.

But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.

Q1. What three words best describe your book, Call Me Sunflower?

Heartfelt, humorous, thought-provoking

Q2. Grab a copy of Call Me Sunflower and answer the following:

Favorite chapter? Chapter 17
Favorite page? Page 153
Favorite setting? Earthly Goods, the health food store owned by Lydia's parents
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
I remembered the way Scott stood out front waving, while Stellaluna, my perfect little black cat, wrapped herself around his legs. As we pulled out of the driveway and took off down the street, Scott and Stellaluna got smaller and smaller . . . until I couldn’t see them at all. (page 17)

Q3. Who are your favorite middle-grade hero and heroine? What is your favorite middle-grade book?

I'm a huge HP fan, so I'll have to say Harry Potter! One of my other fave heroes is Holling Hoodhood, from Gary Schmidt's THE WEDNESDAY WARS. Favorite heroine-- India Opal Buloni from BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE.

Q4. Why do you think middle-grade lit is so important?

It covers a transitional time of growing up, when kids are torn between wanting to become more independent and needing the safety and security of their families and everything they're familiar with. It's a time of possibility and change, before the loss of innocence, when kids believe they can do anything if they try hard enough and when they begin to learn that sometimes you have to accept the things that are out of your control.

Q5. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Call Me Sunflower, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?  

I'd call it "Be Prepared for the Unexpected!" It would look like an ordinary cupcake, nothing too fancy, a little lopsided-- sort of like life. And it would be filled with a mix of things--bittersweet chocolate chips, crunchy nuts, peanut butter and caramel swirls so each bite might bring something a little different. You may not be sure what you think while you're eating it since it's a mix of tastes, but when you finish, you feel surprisingly satisfied and you decide the cupcake was delicious after all.

Miriam Spitzer Franklin is an elementary and middle school teacher who currently works with homeschooled students, freelances for an educational company, and fills in for fulltime teachers who are on maternity leave. Other jobs she has held in her life include working as a frazzled and unorganized waitress at a number of restaurants, driving the Zamboni and working the skate counter at the ice skating rink, teaching ice skating lessons, and owning a toy and gift store with her husband, Scott.
Miriam's hobbies include coaching her daughter's Odyssey of the Mind team, figure skating, and being passionate about environmental and animal rights causes. She has been a vegetarian since she was fifteen and has participated in her share of animal rights protests, similar to the one Sunny experiences in CALL ME SUNFLOWER. Miriam spent her childhood in New Jersey but currently lives with her husband, two daughters, and two pampered cats in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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