Liz Garton Scanlon: Oh, thanks for having me back, John. Your book energy is so inspiring, and gratifying, and contagious!
Thank you for your positive energy! Let’s start our conversation by examining Fort Lonesome’s memorable cover illustration and Angie Kang’s beautiful cover design. What ran through your heart the first time you saw it.
Liz Garton Scanlon: I thought about a story thread from the book, a thread about bioluminescence – about how some living things create and emit light – and how vivid and surprising and life affirming that can be. And I thought, that’s what this cover does! It brings the whole book to life. The art itself looks lit from the inside, and it seems to say, this is the lifeforce behind this story – light.
Scenario: You’re booktalking Lolo’s Light to 5th graders. What do you share with them?
Liz Garton Scanlon: I’d tell them about the chicken hatching project at Montrose Middle School where Millie Donally is starting 7th grade. The idea is that the kids build brooding boxes and use them to bring fertilized eggs all the way to hatching. It’s meant to be exciting, but for Millie, it’s also a nerve-racking process and responsibility. Millie recently experienced a great tragedy and is feeling the weight of the grown-up world very much upon her – and taking care of tiny, fragile, opaque eggs isn’t helping! Lolo’s Light is Millie’s story, about finding her way through dark days until she’s able to crack out of her shell from grief into the light.
Please finish the following sentence starters:
Millie Stands – wobbles – on that invisible wire dividing childhood from the adult world, with the eagerness that implies but also the stunned shock at what it really means. In so many ways, I think, that’s what middle grade is – that liminal wobble between not knowing and knowing, between innocence and responsibility, between who you were and who you are becoming.
Story is a reflection of all of that, a way to keep ourselves company through it all.
John Schu, you should have asked me if I’d ever participated in hatching project! I’d have been able to tell you yes, indeed, and that I’d “won” one of the chicks at the end of it all, which I thought was absolutely brilliant until I found myself sitting on the school bus with a rooster in my lap.
Thank you, Liz! Congratulations!
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous beloved books for young people, including the highly acclaimed, Caldecott Honor–winning picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee; her debut novel for middle grade readers, The Great Good Summer; Another Way to Climb a Tree; In the Canyon; Bob, Not Bob!, coauthored with Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Matthew Cordell; and several others. Liz serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at schools, libraries, and conferences.