HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8My Writing And Reading Life: Catherine Newman, Author of One Mixed-Up Night
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My Writing And Reading Life: Catherine Newman, Author of One Mixed-Up Night

The Children’s Book Review | January 12, 2018

Catherine Newman is the author of the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness (Little, Brown 2016) and Waiting for Birdy (Penguin, 2005), the middle-grade novel One Mixed-Up Night (Random House 2017) and the kids’ craft book Stitch Camp (Storey, 2017), which she co-wrote with her friend Nicole. She also writes the food and parenting blog Ben and Birdy, and she edits the non-profit kids’ cooking magazine ChopChop. She is also the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine and a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.

I write because …

Writing is how I make sense of my world. I mostly write nonfiction, and as soon as I’ve given events a shape, crafted them into narrative, and made myself laugh, it all starts to feel like a story—in a good way. Also, writing, is a really fun (if occasionally scrappy) way to make a living.

I read because …

Craney Crow and Snapper

Reading is my greatest pleasure, after the obvious capital-G greatest, like my family and friends. Oh, but knowing, all day long, that at the end of the day I will climb into bed with my cats and a great book? That is deeply sustaining. I look forward to it every single day.

My latest published book is …

One Mixed-Up Night

I wrote this book because …

As a kid, I was obsessed with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and my own kids have always been obsessed with IKEA. So, two kids spending the night in IKEA seemed like the perfect mash-up of our passions.

Best moment …

In the book? Or, like, ever? My favorite moment in the book I can’t tell you because it’s a spoiler. My favorite moment ever probably occurred camping—some night when the kids were finally old enough not to crawl into the fire or stagger out into the road or poke themselves in the eye with a flaming marshmallow stick. Probably we were sitting in our camping chairs, and somebody was quietly strumming a guitar, and stars were twinkling through the pine branches above us, and the fire was crick-crackling, and we just felt whole and perfect there, in that place.

My special place to write is …

At my kitchen table, with a cat in my lap. But if I really have to finish something, I go to this one café and write there. I have a slightly mystical feeling about that café and its power over my writing; I have (knock wood) never not been able to write there.

Necessary writing/creativity tool …

I take a bazillion notes all over the place—on Post-Its and diner receipts and tea-bag wrappers—and then half the time I don’t know what they mean. “Does Bollywood email mean anything to anyone?” I will ask, and my baffled family will shake their heads. When it comes down to it, though, I do all my actual crafting on a laptop computer.

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

Ben, 18, and Birdy, 14

My kids. The funny things they said when they were babies more or less launched my entire writing career.

Currently reading …

City of Thieves by David Benioff, one of the creators of Game of Thrones. It’s a novel about World War II—not at all my usual genre—but the story is very Wizard of Oz: two Russians trying to save their own lives during the siege of Leningrad by finding an impossible dozen eggs for a colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. So dark and funny and good.

Favorite bookshop …

Amherst Books, here were I live. Local, independent, and holding strong.

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

I really can’t pick. Today I will say: Amos and Boris by William Steig for a picture book. And, for middle-grade, The Brothers Lionheart, a not super-well-known book by Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame), which I know almost by heart.

Favorite illustrator …

William Steig or Jane Dyer

A literary character I would like to vacation with …

Probably the kids from Swallows and Amazons! Although, of course, the whole point of that book is that they don’t have any grown-ups with them, and I’d hate to ruin their fun. I’d like to vacation with the character Ann Lamott from her memoirs, even though I realize that “character” may not be the right word for that person.

When I am not reading or writing I am …

Baking bread and reading and doing crossword puzzles in the bath and brooding about the fate of the world and sharing epic meals with friends and calling my elected officials and playing really long and strangely complicated European board games with my family.

To learn more, visit: http://www.catherinenewmanwriter.com

One Mixed-Up NightcoverOne Mixed-Up Night

Written by Catherine Newman

Publisher’s Synopsis: Two best friends on the run… to IKEA.

Frankie and Walter aren’t really running away. Just like the kids in their favorite book, they are running to somewhere. Specifically, a massive furniture store. They’ve been obsessed with the Ikea catalog for years. So they make a plan, pack their backpacks, give their parents the sleepover switcheroo . . . and they’re in.

One night all on their own, with no grown-ups or little brothers.

One night of couch jumping, pillow forts, and unlimited soda refills.

One night of surprises and twinkle lights and secrets they have been keeping—and waiting to share.

One unforgettable night in Ikea.

A tribute to the beloved classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!  Only, instead of running away to the Metropolitan Museum, these kids are running away to somewhere a little more modern…

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399553882

Available Here: 

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