Speed Interview with Sherri Duskey Rinker, Author of Revver the Speedway Squirrel
It was almost ten years ago when I was sitting in on a preview of upcoming books in a boutique publisher in San Fransico and discovered Sherri Dusky Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Chronicle Books). My experience as a children’s bookseller told me that it was going to be a hit. More than this, now a series of books, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is a major success! With a list of picture books and board books in the double digits, Sherri is making her chapter book debut with the sweet and funny Revver the Speedway Squirrel (Bloomsbury Children’s). It’s a fantastic segway from picture books to chapter books, especially for animal lovers and young revheads!
The Children’s Book Review: Which five words best describe Revver the Speedway Squirrel?
Sherri Duskey Rinker: I HOPE (!) readers find it funny, action-packed (can two hyphenated words count as one?!), sweet, hopeful, and affirming.
Can you share a highlight from the book? Or maybe your thoughts on, or an excerpt of, your favorite sentence, paragraph, or page?
I think this section says a lot about Revver — his passion, his curiosity, and the impulsiveness that so often leads him into trouble!
He hurried out of the little machine room and shimmied back through the crack in the big door. He pushed against the door to make sure it was closed and went back into the main garage. He continued exploring, and, when he noticed it sitting there, alone, his heart skipped a beat.
There, in the darkness, just waiting for him, sat THE CAR.
He never got tired of seeing it. Even sitting still, it looked fast! It was so beautiful. So glorious. So unsupervised!
What do you hope readers will learn or take away from reading Revver the Speedway Squirrel?
Revver is different from his family; he feels like he doesn’t fit in. But he finds the strength to follow his passion and, ultimately, finds his place and his calling — and true happiness.
What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?
My favorite 8-year-old critic announced that it was, “Good. And funny!” (How could I ask for a better review than that?!)
Since this sweet chapter book is your middle-grade debut, how did the writing process differ from creating picture books?
The editing of a larger/longer manuscript is so much more in-depth and, often, sweeping. Character development is more involved. Character intention and motivation are more complex. The story arc is more drawn out.
I’m raising children, and my husband and I rehabbed an entire, dilapidated building (while living in it!), and I’ve run marathons: This, honestly, was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. No exaggeration.
The first book in a series has been described as perfect for fans of Beverly Cleary’s Ralph S. Mouse books, and authors like Doreen Cronin and Katherine Applegate, and any young readers who love movies such as Cars and Zootopia. Can you provide a few hints on what readers can expect from any of the upcoming books? And how many publications will be in the series?
Revver’s impulsiveness and curiosity lead to even bigger adventures in the next book. As far as I know, there will be two books in the series.
Why do you think books about ‘things that go’ make an excellent addition to a child’s home or school library?
I think that many kids are naturally fascinated with action (movement, noise, working parts) and speed!
What’s on your nightstand? Any books?
A reading light, a lip balm, and STACKS of books — middle grade, mostly. (Ok, I’ll be honest — ALL middle-grade.)
What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?
Taking my oldest son back to college — into his own apartment. I boo-hoo’d all the way home!
What’s giving you hope right now?
I’m overwhelmed at the huge influx of children’s books that address kindness, inclusivity, acceptance, feminism, racism… My hope is that this next generation will grow up more to be more informed, more accepting, more understanding — and more kind.
Can you tell us one more thing we may not know about Revver the Speedway Squirrel, your writing style, or yourself?
It didn’t occur to me until AFTER the book was complete and I was writing my acknowledgments — but Revver is a mix of my whole family. He gets his fascination and love of cars and racing (and speed!) from Zak, my youngest son. My husband is SO mechanically adept. Revver gets his curiosity and impulsivity from Ben, my oldest son. And his klutziness — ohmigosh!, that’s all me!
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Publisher’s Synopsis: The author of the bestselling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site picture books makes her middle grade debut in this utterly delightful, illustrated series perfect for fans of Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Meet Revver: a little squirrel with big dreams . . . to drive a race car! His siblings might not understand his need for speed, but Revver doesn’t care. And he certainly doesn’t care about looking for food, climbing trees, or any other “ordinary” squirrel activity. He spends his days staring at the racetrack just below his nest, where the cars zoom by day in and day out.
When Revver finally gets the chance to sneak out to the track, he finds that becoming part of the pit crew is more difficult than he expected. He never learned anything about engines in Squirrel School! Then Revver meets tire changer Bill, who luckily has a soft spot for animals. Can Revver prove to Bill that he deserves to be part of the team?
Perfect for fans of Ralph S. Mouse, Revver the Speedway Squirrel is a funny, action-packed, and heartwarming story about family, feeling different, and following your heart.
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books | ISBN-13: 978-1547603619
About the Author
Sherri Duskey Rinker is the author of #1 New York Times bestsellers Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site; Mighty, Mighty Construction Site; Construction Site on Christmas Night; and Steam Train, Dream Train. She loves cooking, gardening, and old oil paintings. Revver was inspired by Sherri’s husband (who took her to watch sprint car racing on one of their first dates), her brilliant-but-impulsive oldest son, and her kart-racing, speed-obsessed youngest son.
This speed interview with Sherri Duskey Rinker, author of Revver the Speedway Squirrel, was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Alex Willan, Animals, Cars, Family, Illustrated Chapter Books, Sherri Duskey Rinker, and Squirrel Books. Be sure to follow along with our Speed Interview series, too.
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