HomeBooks by AgeAges 9-12My Writing and Reading Life: Jennifer Maschari, Author of Things That Surprise You
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My Writing and Reading Life: Jennifer Maschari, Author of Things That Surprise You

The Children’s Book Review | August 22 2017

Jennifer Maschari is a classroom teacher and the author of THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE and THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. She is hard at work on her next middle grade novel with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. Jennifer lives in Ohio with her husband and stinky (yet noble) English bulldogs, Oliver and Hank.

I write because …

I enjoy sharing stories. I also write to think through big questions I have and as a way of observing the world. I’ve always been a writer. I actually still have a book I wrote and illustrated when I was very young about Corduroy. I call it my Corduroy fan fiction. My mom covered the book with clear plastic (like a library book) and gave me my first award, a gold star.

I read because …

I read because through the pages of a book, I get to travel to new places, experience things I never have, and meet fascinating people, all without leaving my comfortable couch.

My latest published book is …

My latest book is a middle grade novel called THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU! I’m really excited that it’s now out in the world. I can’t wait for readers to meet soon-to-be-sixth-grader Emily Murphy who is not so thrilled to be starting middle school. Middle school means change and Emily’s already been going through A LOT of changes at home with her parents’ divorce and her sister coming home from an eating disorder treatment facility. To cope, Emily decides to use the advice from self-help CDs to try to become a brand-new Emily.

I wrote this book because …

Jennifer Maschari at age 12

I remember what it was like to be twelve. Being twelve is messy and hard and awkward and a little bit wonderful all at the same time. At least it was for me. I hope I was able to capture that in this book.

Best moment …

My favorite moment in the book is actually a little flashback where Emily and her family adopted their rescue greyhound, Bean. Throughout the book, Bean is a steady friend for Emily through all of the changes she is experiencing as she enters 6th grade. I love dogs and try to put a great one in every book I write.

My special place to write is …

I love to write at my desk! It’s a big desk made from a butcher-block counter top so I’m really able to spread out my notebook and my lap top and all of my many Post-Its. My dog, Hank, loves to curl up under my desk chair. I write to the sound of him snoring away.

Necessary writing/creativity tool …

I definitely need Diet Coke and peanut butter M & Ms. It sounds silly but there’s something about the combination of the two that helps me do my best work. I also carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas or interesting pieces of dialogue or future character names.

The person who has been my greatest writing teacher or inspiration is …

My students have definitely been an inspiration to me! In fact, I dedicated my first book, THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE, to them. I have also been encouraged by teachers I had when I was younger: Mrs. Sarky, Mrs. Hannah, Ms. Ballard, Mr. Geier, and Professor Pici. I also took some writing classes from authors Micol Ostow and Corey Ann Haydu; I am grateful for all I learned from them.

Currently reading …

I just finished Caela Carter’s FOREVER, OR A LONG, LONG TIME. Wow! It’s about a sister and brother in foster care who go on a journey with their adoptive mom to trace their histories. I was so pulled into their stories. I absolutely loved it. I’m also looking forward to starting Corey Ann Haydu’s THE SOMEDAY SUITCASE.

Favorite bookshop …

I have lots of favorite bookshops! A semi-local bookshop that I love is Fundamentals Bookstore in downtown Delaware, Ohio. I also love Paragraphs in Mount Vernon, Ohio (the store is beautiful!) and East City Bookshop in Capitol Hill area of DC. Whenever I travel, I love to find a local bookshop and go to it! Booksellers are great people (they have the best recommendations!) and independently owned bookstores are such assets to the community. I’m so grateful for the kindness they’ve shown me and my books!

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t write…

This is a very tough question because there are so many books I have loved reading! For today, I’m going to say Esther Ehrlich’s NEST. I honestly cried through most of it but it is such a moving, emotional book. It’s the story of a girl named Chirp, the changes that happen in her family, and her friendship with her neighbor, Joey. Those two characters have stuck with me even after I closed the final page. It’s wonderful.

Favorite illustrator …

Kathrin Honesta is the illustrator of the cover of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, and I absolutely love her work. She’s illustrated a few other book covers as well, and the work she shares on her Instagram is great. I’m also a big fan of Erin and Philip Stead. I think their books are beautiful. I especially love A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE.

A literary character I would like to vacation with …

I’d fill a whole car with literary characters, and we’d go on a road trip across the country. I’d take Salamanca Tree Hiddle from WALK TWO MOONS because she tells great stories. I’d bring Winn Dixie from BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE because every trip needs a dog. We’d also bring along Pigeon, from DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. We’d let him drive.

When I am not reading or writing I am …

I am teaching! I like to joke that I’ve never left middle school—I write middle grade books, and I teach some very smart 7th and 8th graders science during the school year. I also love to travel with my husband, spend time with our two dogs, enjoy nature, and bake. Chocolate chip cookies are my specialty.

To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit http://jenmaschari.com/.

ThingsSurpisYou_HC (2)Things That Surprise You

Written by Jennifer Maschari

Publisher’s Synopsis: A poignant, charming middle grade novel, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and Fish in a Tree. A beautifully layered story about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.

Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited…though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.

But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.

Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She wants to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?

Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062438928

Available Here: 

Book Giveaway

Things That Surprise You giveawayOne lucky winner will receive a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU (U.S. addresses). PLUS! One grand prize winner will receive a Crafty Unicorn Kit!  The prize includes a fun craft kit, a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, unicorn stickers, and puzzle cards! Click here to enter »

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on August 22, 2017 and 11:59 PM on September 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random and notified by e-mail. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsored by Blazer + Bray. The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for winner selection or prize fulfillment.

Discover more books like Things That Surprise You, written by Jennifer Maschari, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with , , , and ; plus, be sure to follow along with our Writing and Reading Life series.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.


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