Happy Summer, dear #librarian and #teacher pals–and now that you have a moment to breathe –or READ–meet Sarah Scheerger author of two YA novels, an early chapter book, three picture books, and her NEW middle grade novel OPERATION FROG EFFECT.
Friends, you will LOVE sharing this book with your students. And they will love you (even more) when you do! Here’s why:
“A heartfelt novel with complex characters who realize that to promote change in the world, they first have to change how they see each other.” John David Anderson, author of MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY
“Compelling…teachable moments aplenty in the kids’ experiences and camaraderie…enticingly readable…offers multiple discussion possibilities for classes seeking to expand from Andrew Clements.” BULLETIN
“…readers follow the fifth-grade year of Ms. Graham’s class (and their class frog, Kermit!).Her characters are genuine and complex as they grow and change… A thoughtful exploration of the power of the collective voice—growing up is owning up and speaking up.” —KIRKUS
Q 1. Congrats on your MG debut, Sarah! Tell us–Are you a “pantser” or a plotter” –?
Sarah Scheerger: Omigosh. I want to be a plotter in the worst way. I do (try to) plot. I could save so much time if I was a better plotter. But alas… I’m a pantser. I usually have a general idea of where I want to go, but it’s really the characters that lead me there. I can go in circles plotting and plotting and then wind up changing it all anyway.
Q 2. Does this approach differ when you are writing YA novels (ARE YOU STILL THERE? / THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE)? Picture books (MITZVAH PIZZAH )? Early readers (THE BOULDER BROTHERS)?
Sarah Scheerger: This approach is true across the board. I do really try to plot… so I suppose I’m not 100% a pantser. But my best writing happens when I forget myself and just get absorbed in a character’s reality. This happens during a writing process but not during a plotting process (for me).
Q 3. Which of the following quotes from OPERATION FROG EFFECT best describes your path as an author? Explain why.
a. “…a small change in one thing can lead to big changes in other things…” –Mrs. Graham
b. “I’m lucky.” –from one of Blake’s cartoons
c. “I like writing. Because I’m quiet, people think I don’t have much to say, but the opposite is true. I have so much to say. ” –Aviva
d. “I can read and mop at the same time.” –Kai
e. “Anything and everything we do–positive or negative, big or small–can influence other people and the world.” –Mrs. Graham
f. “Sometimes it’s easier to speak the truth through a ball point pen…” –Sharon
Sarah Scheerger: Okay—I love this question! I think the one that best describes my path as an author, is “c.” I am shy. In fact, I wrote my first couple books under my first and middle name—because initially I wasn’t planning to tell my friends and family that I’d started writing. That’s pretty darn shy! But truly, I have so much to say.
I will add that “d” describes my sons. They get ready for school (brush teeth, eat breakfast) with a book in their hands… I have to keep saying “put down that book!” I’m glad they love reading so much.
The other quote I’d like to reference is “e”. This doesn’t represent my writing life so much, but it does represent my work as a school-based counselor. I love talking to kids about putting positivity into the world, and choosing the kind of person they want to be.
BTW I highly recommend the audio book of OPERATION FROG EFFECT, told by nine different, amazing, voice over actors, plus a commentary by the author.
Q 4. You’ve mentioned that OPERATION FROG EFFECT was inspired, in part, by a teacher you had in school, Mr. Nubling. How does it feel to see the many ways your book is inspiring today’s teachers and their students?
Sarah Scheerger: That’s kind of an author’s dream, honestly. Often it’s teachers very similar to Mr. Nubling who get excited about creative ways to extend use of the book and foster discussion. This inspires me too. I would have loved it if Mr. Nubling could somehow know he inspired a book. For any teachers who might be reading this post—Operation Frog Effect has tons of Social Emotional Learning tie ins, and is also a good way to teach about “voice”
Q 5. I love how the friendships in Mrs. Graham’s class grow, and they stand up for each other. Was there ever a time when you wanted to stand up for someone but you were too shy? OR a time when another student stood up for you, or you wish they had?
Sarah Scheerger: Yes. I remember vividly sitting in class in fifth grade and hearing other students gossip about and tease a male student in my class. I felt completely helpless. I hated what they were doing and yet I did not feel I could do anything about it. At that time in my life I was so shy that I don’t think I even considered standing up for him. I regret that to this day. (The good news is that he wound up being an extraordinarily successful person. I think in his case the hardships sparked personal growth. But I still feel guilty for not doing more for him when we were kids.)
Q 6. If you had a magic snow globe that could grant one wish, what would your Snow Globe Wish be?
Sarah Scheerger: Ohhh… I’m all for wishes! But is it like a birthday wish or a penny-in-the-pond wish—if I say it out loud does it make it less likely to come true? I’ll give you a hint. . . I’m the type that often wishes for big scale things, sometimes world-wide things. . .
There you go! You’ll have to guess from there.
Thanks Sarah! Sounds like your world-wide wish might be the same as the main character of my upcoming picture book SNOW GLOBE WISHES (Sleeping Bear, Illus. Claire Shorrock, pre-orders have begun…) But I’m not telling what her wish is just yet either…
Meanwhile, to learn more about Sarah Scheerger’s books go to SarahLynnBooks.com and follow her on Twitter @SarahScheerger & Facebook SarahLynnScheergerBooks.
Wishing you Frogtastic Reading!