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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review and Author Interview: The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson

I'm thrilled to share not only my review of The Splintered Light today, but also a great interview with its author...

The Splintered Light 
By Ginger Johnson 
September 4, 2018 
Source: ARC from pub 

In a world without color, eleven-year-old Ishmael lives a monotonous existence, herding sheep and helping his widowed mother with their meager farm after the premature death of his father. Early one morning, a ray of light pierces a pane of glass in the barn, fragmenting Ishmael’s black and white world into something extraordinary: a spectrum of color he never knew existed. Ishmael embarks on a search to understand just what it is that he sees, a search that leads him to the Hall of Hue, one of seven creative workshops at the Commons.  

In The Splintered Light, Ginger Johnson creates an astonishing universe filled with color amid the gray. 

Ishmael lives a dreary life since his father's death and his older brother’s disappearance. Every day on the farm is the same in Ishmael’s colorless world. Until one day Ishmael sees something impossible: a spectrum of color! This discovery leads Ishmael to search for his brother, who he finds at The Commons, a mysterious place of creation and design. Ishmael’s brother, Luc, lives and trains in the House of Hue, where he is almost finished with his Color Keeper training. Ishmael is quickly drawn into this world where his color abilities impress even the Color Master. And as Ishmael struggles with his duty to his family back home and his desire to follow his destiny at The Commons, disaster strikes, setting him on a path he never could have dreamed of. 

Ginger Johnson’s middle-grade The Splintered Light, is a bright and astonishing debut! Full of lovely storytelling, colorful imagination, wonderful world-building, and engaging characters, The Splintered Light is a sparkling delight from beginning to end. 

The fantastical world Ginger Johnson has spun together and the creative story she has crafted feel wholly original, yet with all the makings of becoming a classic. With lush, rich, intricate world-building and fantasy elements Johnson masterfully brings The Commons and its seven Houses- Shape, Manufactory, Motion, Sound, Scent, Hue, and Gustation (food)- to life. Like Ishmael, young readers will be captivated and inspired by this immersive and vibrant world and eager to discover all of its secrets.  Ishmael makes for an endearing and relatable hero, while his fellow classmates and Masters make for intriguing and amusing supporting characters. Johnson takes both readers and Ishmael on a surprising and unforgettable journey full of twists and turns, wonderful, messy mistakes, and dazzling creation. 

Imagination, creativity, creation, the importance of collaboration and working together, and the power of individuality reign supreme, both at The Commons and in The Splintered Light, inspiring readers to discover their own radiant hues and the amazing things they can become and do. Heartfelt, beautifully crafted, and with a story that readers will feel deeply, The Splintered Light is a must read! 

5/5 Cupcakes

Q1. What three words best describe The Splintered Light?

Imagination Creation Collaboration 
Q2. Grab a copy of The Splintered Light and answer the following: 

Favorite chapter? 
You know that’s like asking me to pick my favorite body part, right? Do I like my eye better or my ear? My left hand or my foot? J I will say that one of my favorite chapters is the Shape inter-chapter on page 319 when Dora the Shape apprentice considers the relationships among the Halls and her part in those relationships. She has an urge to do something good, but then a certain prejudice is directed toward her, and she realizes that she’s been guilty of the same prejudice. 

Favorite page? 
Page 68, which is the first of a series of inter-chapters, introducing the viewpoints of apprentices from different Halls. 

Favorite setting? 
I have a special affinity for the Cairns because it’s a place of epiphany. Michael, the Manufactory apprentice, describes it as a place people go “when they have a decision to make or need answers. It’s tradition to add a stone to one of the piles when you visit. After you do, the first thing that comes to your mind—the first memory that you have—is supposed to relate to your current need.” I love to think that sometimes we have the answers and the tools we need to solve our problems already within us. 

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
“Gabriel felt lifted up and weighted down—his head rising, extending upward, reaching for the heavens; his feet planted firmly, sinking down, as if embedded into the foundation. It was a curious sensation, like being stretched or mixed or kneaded.” (p 276) 
Q3. What inspired The Splintered Light? How did the story come to be? 

When my oldest son was a baby, I read a collection of essays about physics, cosmology, astronomy, etc., called Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos by the science writer K.C. Cole. I had a lot of time to think about these essays while walking through the neighborhood every day with my son. I had a few lucid moments during those sleep-deprived walks when my thoughts about the cosmos collided with the world around me, and in those moments, I was completely taken with the elegance of our world. I began seeing everything around me in a new way. Really, why was the sky blue? Why was the earth brown? Why were plants green? I decided that I needed to tell that story. 
Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your main character Ishmael? What makes him special? What do you love about him? 

Ishmael is an 11-year old boy who lives a monotonous and grief-filled existence on his family’s meager and colorless farm. The only break in his grief is a strange light that pierces a pane of glass in the barn and splinters Ishmael’s world into a spectrum of color he never knew existed. When the worries of the farm become too great for him to bear, Ishmael sets out to find his older brother Luc and bring him home. His search takes him to the Commons, where he discovers a wonder and beauty that intrigues him and calls to his heart. Ishmael has a profound relationship with color, particularly green. He connects with it in a way that is almost precocious. One of the things I love about him is that he wants to do the right thing, but he’s not always sure what the right thing is. 
Q5. What House at The Commons would you want to train in and why? 

I think I’d like to train in the Hall of Shape. I’ve dabbled in Hue, Motion, Gustation, and Manufactory over the years, but I’ve never specifically spent time with the fundamental element of shape, which is really at the root of all design. 
Q6. What color would you be in the seven-color spectrum? Why? 

I expect I’d be either green or indigo. Green rests squarely in the middle of the spectrum, which Color Master says is an anchor for the other colors, as it is stable. I have elements of stability within my personality—I appreciate routine—but on the other hand, sometimes I like to do what’s completely unexpected, so indigo, as a complex color, fits me pretty well, too. 
Q7. Is this end of the adventures at The Commons or do you have any other stories within this world planned? 

I’m working on a companion novel about scent. 
Q8. Fill in the blanks: 

I’m really awesome at letting dust bunnies proliferate while doing other things. 
I’m really embarrassed to admit I don’t have a Spotify account. 
The last great book I read was The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider. 
Q9. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Splintered Light, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it? 

I’d have to bake one with a bottom of white cake (symbolizing the light from which the spectrum emerges) and a top of bittersweet chocolate (symbolizing the beauty of all the colors mixed together). The chocolate would also be a hat tip to Gabriel from the Hall of Gustation who has a thing for bittersweet. The cupcake would have a thin layer of white buttercream, which would serve as a blank canvas for dots of all colors a la Georges Seurat. I’d call it the Spectrum cupcake. 

When Ginger Johnson was six, her mother asked her what she wanted for Christmas. “A typewriter,” she said. She didn’t get a typewriter, but instead had to make do with pencil and paper for her writing endeavors. Thankfully, she now works on an iMac.  Since those early days, Ginger has put her fingers to work. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts where she won the Marion Dane Bauer prize. In 2014, she received Honorable Mention for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Splintered Light (Bloomsbury) will be released in September 2018.  Ginger lives in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire with her husband the Gingerbread Man, her two sons, a coop of sassy chickens, and a tank of doctor fish. Website * Twitter 

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