HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Speed Interview with Daphne Kalmar, Author of Stealing Mt. Rushmore

Speed Interview with Daphne Kalmar, Author of Stealing Mt. Rushmore

The Children’s Book Review

Daphne Kalmar was an elementary and middle-school teacher for over twenty years. Exploring the natural world with kids was her passion as an educator—she owned seventy-five pairs of rubber boots so she could outfit each new class in September and lead weekly expeditions to local creeks and ponds. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of A Stitch in Time, on Bookpage and NPR’s lists of Best Books of 2018. Stealing Mt. Rushmore is her second novel for young readers.

The Children’s Book Review: Which five words best describe Stealing Mt. Rushmore?

Daphne Kalmar: Heartbreak, Hope, Awakening, Betrayal, Family

Can you share a highlight from the book? Or maybe your thoughts on, or an excerpt of, your favorite sentence, paragraph, or page?

Nellie’s dad, Ron, retreats to his bed when he’s angry or upset. His depression is a heavy burden for both him and his kids throughout the story. Nellie’s mom was never very sympathetic.

Nellie narrates:

“When he’d walk up the stairs Mom would make some crack. “Go on, hide under the covers. Have a good sulk.” I didn’t think he was sulking. I figured he was staying away from everyone so he wouldn’t get more angry but the staying away let the sadness creep in like darkness slips under a bedroom door when the lights in the hall go out.” (page 19)

What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?

Many readers tell me that they love the relationship between thirteen-year-old Nellie and her little brother Teddy.  This makes me happy—Teddy and Nellie’s relationship is the solid core of love and caring in the book that allowed me to explore the sadness and hurt Nellie experiences over the course of that summer in 1974.

What’s on your nightstand? Any books?

Kekla Magoon’s sequel to How It Went Down, titled Light It Up; Jenn Bishop’s new middle grade novel, Things You Can’t Say; James Bird’s wonderful debut, The Brave; and the newest adult fantasy by N.K. Jemison, The City We Became. The pile is about two feet tall but those are at the top right now.

For your writing energy: sugar or salt, tea or coffee?

Coffee. Strong coffee. And salty beats sugary any day.

Writing tools: computer, pen and paper, or all of the above?

I go to pen and paper for exploring my characters—I can uncover their secrets while I’m innocently scribbling in my notebook with a pencil. I write all my drafts on the computer with a dedicated playlist of classical music humming in the background.

Can you tell us one more thing we may not know about Stealing Mt. Rushmore, your writing and illustrating style, or yourself?

I read all my drafts aloud. Over and over. My dog, Yoyo, is my companion in my writing shed curled up in the chair next to my desk. When I’m done reading aloud he goes outside to the muddy pond to hunt frogs.

For more information about Daphne Kalmar, visit:

Stealing Mt. Rushmore

Written by Daphne Kalmar

Publisher’s Synopsis: In Stealing Mt. Rushmore, Daphne Kalmar brings to life the social and political upheaval of the 1970s, revealing the heart of a family on the verge of falling apart and the courage of a young girl who does all she can to bring them together.

She almost always made things worse. But at least she’d be standing there.
I hated her for stealing the money. But I want her back.

Nellie’s dad had planned on having four boys to name after the presidents on Mt. Rushmore. He got George, Nellie, Tom, and Teddy. No Abe.

It’s the summer of 1974. Nellie’s turned thirteen. Her best friend, Maya, has a crush on a boy. President Nixon might get impeached. And her mom’s run off. The money for their family road trip to see Mt. Rushmore is missing and her dad’s crawled into bed and won’t get up.

Nellie’s sure the trip out West will fix her family, and she’ll do almost anything to come up with the cash. But she begins to wonder why it’s always her, the girl, who’s stuck with the dishes and everything else. And how can a mom just up and leave with no note, no forwarding address, no nothing?

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | August 18, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1250155009

Available Here


Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Stealing Mt. Rushmore!

Three (3) lucky winners receive:

  • A copy of Stealing Mt. Rushmore

Giveaway begins August 18, 2020, at 12:00 PM PST and ends September 18, 2020, at 11:59 PM PST.

How To Enter

  • Fill out the required fields in the form below.
  • You can also gain daily bonus entries.
  • See the complete giveaway rules below.

Giveaway Rules
  • Stealing Mt. Rushmore book giveaway sponsored by Feiwel & Friends.
  • Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on August 6, 2020, and 11:59 PM on September 6, 2020.
  • Using your computer or wireless device, complete and submit the entry form pursuant to the on-screen instructions.
  • Important Notice: You may be charged for visiting the mobile website in accordance with the terms of your service agreement with your carrier.
  • Three (3) winners receive:
    • A copy of Stealing Mt. Rushmore
  • Odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • Winners will be selected at random on or about September 22, 2020.
  • Open to the legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are thirteen years of age or older in their state or territory of residence at the time of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law.
  • The prize(s) that may be awarded to the eligible winner(s) are not transferable, redeemable for cash or exchangeable for any other prize. Participants must provide valid and accurate contact information. If a winner cannot be contacted or is disqualified for any reason, The Children’s Book Review reserves the right to determine an alternate winner or not to award that winner’s prize, in its sole discretion.
  • The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for undeliverable, lost, delayed, misdirected or misaddressed email or any other issues regarding the electronic delivery of the contest form. This includes, but is not limited to, the speed at which your email service routes email through the internet. The sole determiner of eligibility for the final drawing will be the time the online entry form is completed and received.
  • The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Prizes courtesy of Feiwel & Friends.

This speed interview with Daphne Kalmar, author of Stealing Mt. Rushmore, was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with , , , and . Be sure to follow along with our series, too.

How You Support The Children's Book Review
We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to 'Grow Readers.' Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that's available to all. Thank you!

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.

  • I would love to read this with my grandson.

    August 21, 2020
  • My granddaughter is so excited about me entering the contest.
    She loves our story time together.

    September 10, 2020
    • What great news, made my day!! Thanks!

      September 21, 2020

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.