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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Interview & Giveaway: Michele Weber Hurwitz, author of the mglit Ethan Marcus Stands Up

I'm so thrilled to have author Michele Weber Hurwitz here today to chat about her new middle-grade, Ethan Marcus Stands Up...

Ethan Marcus Stands Up
By Michele Weber Hurwitz
September 19, 2017
Ethan Marcus is fed up with sitting in school. One day, enough is enough. He doesn't cause trouble or wander around, he just refuses to stay seated during class. That doesn't sit so well with his rule-oriented teacher so Ethan is given two afternoons of Reflection, his school's answer to detention. The kind-hearted faculty advisor suggests Ethan can solve his fidgeting problem by inventing his own solution and urges him to enter Invention Day. One small problem: Ethan is scientifically-challenged. His perfectionist sister Erin has her invention plans in place and doubts he can make anything competition-worthy. But Ethan gets an idea and recruits his best friend to help. Can they pull it off? Find out from Ethan, Erin, Brian, Zoe, and Wesley what happens when one fidgety kid decides to take a stand against sitting down. "A thoughtful next step for readers of Andrew Clements." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Q1. What three words best describe your new novel, Ethan Marcus Stands Up?

Relatable, inspiring, conversational.

Q2. Grab a copy of Ethan Marcus Stands Up and answer the following:

Favorite chapter? Chapter 36, toward the end. It’s when everything shifts and comes together at the same time.

Favorite page? Really tough to choose, but one of my favorites is page 245, when Erin says, “Get up, everyone! Remember the sit-ins from the sixties? Well, this is a stand-in!” It’s a definite moment.

Favorite setting? The park across the street from McNutt Junior High, where Wesley sits on a bench near the seagulls, and also where Ethan and Erin walk home at the end.

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: I grit my teeth. “We’re gonna do this. Somehow. We’re going to make a desk-evator. I promise you.”

Q3. What inspired Ethan Marcus Stands Up? How did the story come to be?

I was initially inspired by my son, who was always a high-energy kid and once told me his brain works better when he’s moving. I noticed how the workplace was incorporating standing desks and walking meetings, but many schools – especially as kids got older – still had the same old desks and chairs. Some teachers have found, however, that flexible seating choices heightens engagement and promotes better behavior. My son always studied while standing or moving around, usually bouncing a ball too, but obviously he couldn’t do that in school. I was also intrigued by the growing popularity of the maker movement with kids. All of that led to envisioning a science-challenged character who tries to modify the classroom environment, even if he needs to go outside of his comfort zone to do so.

Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your character Ethan Marcus? What makes him special and what do you love about him?

I love how Ethan attempts to change things in a roundabout, haphazard way. All he wants to do in the beginning of the story is be able to stand up in class when he’s fidgety, but that goes against his language arts teacher’s rules and he gets in trouble for doing a protest of sorts. It takes a kind-hearted science teacher to suggest he can solve his problem by inventing his own solution. When he decides to participate in Invention Day, he’s not sure of himself or confident, and I love that too. His perfectionist sister Erin, who’s dreamed of winning Invention Day forever, feels like Ethan isn’t taking it seriously, which creates a lot of sibling tension. But despite his scientific shortcomings and failed efforts, Ethan remains determined and keeps trying.

Q5. What do you hope young readers learn or walk away with after reading Ethan Marcus Stands Up?

Perseverance and believing in yourself, of course, but I also love the notion that we see and interpret the world from different lenses but when we take a closer look, we realize we’re not so different after all. This happens to Ethan and Erin as the story unfolds. Even though they’re opposite personalities, they grow to understand how it’s better to champion each other instead of get annoyed and argue all the time.

Q6. In Ethan Marcus Stands Up, Ethan and other students work on projects for the Invention Day competition...what would YOU like to invent if you were competing?

Something to stop polar ice from melting and oceans from warming. Climate change terrifies me.

Q7. Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at making banana bread. It’s pretty much the only thing I can bake 😊___.
I’m really embarrassed to admit _I have a terrible sense of direction__.
The last great book I read was __Mosquitoland by David Arnold_.

Q8. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Ethan Marcus Stands Up, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

At a pivotal point in the story, Ethan is inspired by a beloved picture book that belonged to his grandfather – The Carrot Seed. I think Ethan’s cupcake would resemble a carrot, with bright orange frosting and a green tip in the middle. But in true Ethan style, it would be lopsided and messy, with frosting dripping down the sides. Despite its sloppiness, it would taste delicious!

Michele's critically acclaimed middle grade novels Calli Be Gold and The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days have been nominated for several state reading awards. A sequel to Ethan Marcus Stands Up will be published in 2018 -- Ethan Marcus Makes His Mark. Michele lives in the Chicago area with her family and is an avid walker, passionate consumer of ice cream, and is constantly inspired.

Win a signed copy of Ethan Marcus Stands Up!
Michele has generously offered one signed copy for one winner.
-US only
-ends 9/20/17 at 11:59 pm ET
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes in the mail
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anne s. said...

Can't wait to read this book! We own SummerI Saved the World in 65 days, and it gets a lot of love in our house!

Danielle H. said...

I love the message behind this fun book. I also enjoy the comparison of this character to a delicious, messy carrot cake.

John Smith said...

Sounds like a different take on the fidgeting problem!