Monday, July 11, 2016

FFBC: Welcome to the club, Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper

Sticks & Stones
by Abby Cooper
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: July 12th 2016
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, School
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Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just "cute" and "adorable," but as she's gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like "loser" and "pathetic" appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like "interesting," which she's not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she's starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying "I know who you are, and I know what you're dealing with. I want to help." As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.

Hello Abby! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours.

Thank you! Excited to be here.

Favorite Book? 

So hard to decide! My all-time favorite is Frindle by Andrew Clements, but there are so many books I love. 

Favorite TV show?

Big Brother. I’ll need to be pried away from the TV this summer because it’s on a glorious three times a week. 

Favorite movie?

You’ve Got Mail.

Your Favorite Song? 

It changes a lot. Right now I’m really into Adele’s Send My Love. So catchy!

Favorite Food? 

Cupcakes. ALL. THE. CUPCAKES. 

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat. 

Hogwarts (obviously), Blackbird Hollow (from Natalie Lloyd’s fabulous The Key to Extraordinary), and the island of Dr. Libris. 

Who is your perfect fictional boyfriend? 

Michael Moscovitz from Princess Diaries. He is just so wonderfully nerdy – and really cute, too!

Favorite Quote? 

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over? 

Bookstores and libraries for sure. Cool teachers, librarians, and booksellers. Also the National Spelling Bee because it’s the best night of TV ever.

If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be? 

Probably A.S. King. I’m a HUGE fan of her books. She’s so brilliant! I actually met her once but I was so excited/nervous that I’m pretty sure I said something like “skghsdgjsggerumm.” If I ever get the chance to meet her again, I’m going to try my hardest to say something more like “hi.” 

Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about Sticks & Stones?

Sticks & Stones is the story of Elyse, a twelve-year-old girl who has a rare skin disorder where the names others call her appear on her arms and legs and stick like temporary tattoos. The good ones soothe and the bad ones itch. Early in the book, Elyse discovers that the things she thinks about herself appear as well. 

Can you tell us a bit more about Elyse and what is happening to her? 

Elyse has been dealing with CAV (short for Cognadjivisibilitis) her entire life, so she’s pretty used to seeing the words on her skin. But things change when she starts middle school. The words become increasingly negative, and Elyse starts wearing long sleeves and long pants all the time in order to cover them up. When she starts receiving mysterious notes from someone who says they know what she’s dealing with and wants to help, she has to decide if she wants to follow this person’s instructions. 

Since in Sticks & Stones it seems like Elyse is trying to find herself after being labeled all the time, can you pick a song that would describe her? 

I think Brave by Sara Bareilles would describe Elyse and her situation pretty well.

How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?

I was really inspired by the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. When I was working as a school librarian, I couldn’t ever keep it on the shelf – kids loved it so much! I think Auggie, the main character, has a huge impact on readers. It seems like a lot of middle grade readers feel different from their peers in some way. I want them to know that it’s okay to feel different, and that you can still love yourself and be kind to yourself no matter what life throws your way. 

Tell us your favorite quote from Sticks & Stones.

My #1 favorite is kind of a spoiler, so I’ll go with my #2 fave:

“’You don’t really wanna be with me.’ 

I was pretty sure I did, actually.”

These lines make me laugh every time I think about them. Haven’t we all been there at some point in our lives with a crush? Those experiences, though cringe-worthy at the time, make us strong. Unfortunately for Elyse, this is just the beginning of her middle school struggles. 

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?

The scene at the fund-raising show, when Elyse is about to perform and is super nervous, was a ton of fun to write. There’s a big long paragraph that’s all one sentence, and it kind of seems like Elyse is saying/thinking it all in one breath, and that’s sort of the way I wrote it, too. I got right in the moment with her. I felt her nerves like they were my own, and when she took a breath at the end, so did I. 

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for Sticks & Stones – Which one would you pick? 

Oh man! I probably shouldn’t say Brave again (such a great song, though) so I’ll go with Beautiful by Christina Aguilera. 

Imagine that we get to see your book on the big screen (how awesome would that be?). Who would you pick to play your characters?

That would be SO awesome! This is hard. Maybe Daisy Tahan (from Little Fockers) for Elyse and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Lily on Modern Family) for Jeg. (She’s a little young right now, but the movie probably wouldn’t come out for a couple years, right? Ha, ha.) Quvenzhane Wallis for Olivia, and August Maturo (from Girl Meets World – he’ll get a little older before the movie comes out, too) for Nice Andy. I’ll keep thinking about the rest! 

Is there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read Sticks & Stones (specific music, snacks…)? 

Well, Elyse is super into cupcakes (and, okay, so am I), so I definitely recommend getting one of those to go along with your reading experience. (Just be careful not to get frosting all over the book. I learned this the hard way.) As for music, probably something upbeat and fun – anything that makes you feel like the awesome person you are.

Is there any advice you could give to middle graders who are in the same situation as Elyse?

Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

What’s next for you? 

I’m finishing up BUBBLES, my 2017 book, and working on a few other manuscripts. I hope to keep writing books for as long as the middle grade book world wants to keep me around :)

Something to say to our Book Addicts? 

You’re awesome! Thanks for reading. 

Thank you so much for everything, Abby!

Thank you!

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Abby Cooper lives in Minnesota with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. A former teacher and school librarian, her favorite things in the world (besides writing) are getting and giving book recommendations and sharing her love of reading with others. In her spare time, she likes eating cupcakes, running along the Mississippi River, and watching a lot of bad reality TV.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow! This book sounds so unique--it's one of those that I wished I'd thought of. I can't wait to read this book.