HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Speed Interview with Vivian Kirkfield, Author of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves
Speed Interview with Vivian Kirkfield Author of From Here to There

Speed Interview with Vivian Kirkfield, Author of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves

An interview with Vivian Kirkfield, author of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves
The Children’s Book Review

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words—but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the picturesque town of Bedford, New Hampshire. A retired kindergarten teacher with a Masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge. She is the author of many picture books, both fiction and nonfiction. In this interview we talk about her latest non-fiction book, From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves.

Bianca Schulze: Which five words best describe From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves?

Vivian Kirkfield: Innovative; Inspiring; Nonfiction; Biography; Compilation

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

Asking an author for a favorite sentence, paragraph, or page from her book is like asking parents which child is their favorite. 😊 But I guess one of the highlights for me is in Chapter 9, Raye Draws Her Own Lines.

Raye Montague, an African American woman, worked for the Navy in Washington, DC at a time when UNIVAC computers covered the entire wall of a room, and men were the only ones who operated them. But Raye, who at age 7 decided she was going to be an engineer even though people of color weren’t allowed to study engineering in southern colleges, was determined to be more than just a typist. To gain a promotion, she needed to work the night shift – but the buses didn’t run at night. That was a problem. Raye solved it by saving her money and buying a used car. But Raye still had one big problem. She didn’t know how to drive a car. She only knew how to start it and stop it. ‘I’d leave home about ten o’clock and drive no-mile-an-hour,’ she said. And then the next morning, I’d hang around till nine-thirty to wait for the traffic to let up.”  Raye got her promotion and, in 1970, she led the team of naval engineers to create the first computer-generated design for a navy frigate.

I love that story because it is so inspiring – and I believe it will inspire young readers to follow their dreams.

What has been the most rewarding reaction from a reader so far?

Today is launch day! And so, the only people who have read it are reviewers, friends, and family. Kirkus gave it a starred review and said,

“These innovations in transportation should inspire readers to go far…Educators will also delight in the hefty amount of supplemental backmatter.

And it’s already been chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection.

But the most rewarding reaction was from my 7-year-old granddaughter who, upon hearing me read several of the stories to her, asked, “Please grandma, read it again.”

Please share your thoughts on the role non-fiction books have to play in a child’s library.

Oh, my goodness. Nonfiction books. When I was a kid, I loved reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. I loved finding out about different places and people and events. And we need this now more than ever before – it’s so important for children to learn about other cultures and how every group of people has contributed to science, technology, engineering, math…as well as to literature, art, and music. I think nonfiction books, especially biographies, can spark curiosity and lead children to delve more deeply into whatever interests them – hopefully discovering their passion which, if followed, can lead to a life of purpose.

If you could make a change to the world—with an invention or an idea—what would it be?

Can someone please create an invention that enables every child to get a good education? And, along with that, the invention needs buttons and levers that will ensure that every child has a safe home, food to eat, and clean water to drink.

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

Tea, definitely! And something sweet, like a piece of warm apple or pecan pie a la mode, would be much appreciated. But I’m also a fan of air-popped popcorn, with a sprinkle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

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

I usually start with an old-fashioned notebook and pen – using it to flesh out title ideas, take research notes, begin my rough draft. Then I switch to the computer because my handwriting is a scrawly scribble and with my poor vision, the ability to enlarge the fonts on the computer is a plus.

What’s on your nightstand? Any books?

I recently moved and lots of stuff is still packed in boxes (probably stuff I don’t need and will never unpack). I’ve become somewhat of a minimalist and find that I like things simple and uncluttered. My nightstand is fairly empty…a small lamp, one of my late husband’s art journals opened to one of my favorite pen and ink sketches of his, and a little CD player that I use to listen to Paul Simon, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel when I take a break and exercise. No books because my bed is one of the only places I don’t read.  😊

Can you tell us something that even your most loyal fans may not know about you?

I’ve probably mentioned in other interviews that I was a timid child – afraid to try new things, go new places, and meet new people. But I think part of that can be attributed to the fact that I am extremely directionally challenged. North? South? East? West? If you turn me around, I’ll be totally confused. In fact, when I was in 6th grade in New York City, the class had gym/PE in the afternoon. I always went home for lunch (in those days, you didn’t think twice about letting a little kid walk home from school by herself). And in the season when baseball/softball was the sport, I often told my mom I had a stomach ache because I didn’t want to go back to school for the afternoon. The thing is that I loved playing baseball…I was a pretty good batter and runner and I could catch and throw the ball fairly accurately. So why, you ask, didn’t I want to play? If they put me In the outfield, I would get totally disoriented and if I caught the ball, I wouldn’t know which was first base and which was third base and I’d be in a quandary as to where to throw the ball. It created a lot of stress and anxiety. But innovations like cell phones and GPS have definitely alleviated most of that stress. HURRAY FOR INVENTORS! Hmmm…maybe I need to research who invented the GPS. 😊

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I didn’t start writing for children until I was 65 – and now I am living my dream. Whether you are 8 or 80, I encourage you to follow your dreams because the only failure is the failure to keep trying – and because nothing is impossible if you can imagine it.

To learn more about Vivian Kirkfield, visit viviankirkfield.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Linkedin.

From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves

Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Ages 8-12 | 96 Pages

Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13 : 978-1328560919

Publisher’s Synopsis: Celebrating the invention of vehicles, this collective biography tells the inspiring stories of the visionaries who changed the way we move across air, water, and land. Perfect for fans of Mistakes that Worked and Girls Think of Everything.

In a time when people believed flying was impossible, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier proved that the sky wasn’t the limit. When most thought horseback was the only way to race, Bertha and Karl Benz fired up their engines. From the invention of the bicycle and the passenger steam locomotive, to the first liquid-fuel propelled rocket and industrial robot, inventors across the world have redefined travel. Filled with informative sidebars and colorful illustrations, this collective biography tells the story of the experiments, failures, and successes of visionaries who changed the way the world moves.

Buy the Book

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Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves and 30-minute Zoom visit with author Vivian Kirkfield!

One (1) Grand Prize Winner Receives:

  • A copy of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves, autographed by Vivian Kirkfield
  • A choice of:
    • A 30-minute Zoom visit with Vivian Kirkfield
    • A picture book critique by Vivian Kirkfield

Two (2) lucky winners receive:

  • A copy of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves, autographed by Vivian Kirkfield

Giveaway begins January 19, 2021, at 12:00 PM PST and ends February. 19, 2021, at 11:59 PM PST.

How To Enter

  • Fill out the required fields in the form below.
  • Enter once daily.
  • See the complete giveaway rules below.
Giveaway Rules
  • NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER TO WIN.
  • From Here to There: Inventios That Changed the Way the World Moves book giveaway sponsored by Vivian Kirkfield.
  • Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on January 19, 2021, and 11:59 PM on February 19, 2021.
  • 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.
  • One (1) Grand Prize Winner Receives:
    • A copy of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves, autographed by Vivian Kirkfield
    • A choice of:
      • A 30-minute Zoom visit with Vivian Kirkfield
      • A picture book critique by Vivian Kirkfield
  • Two (2) lucky winners receive:
    • A copy of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves, autographed by Vivian Kirkfield
  • 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 February 23, 2021.
  • 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, at 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 Vivian Kirkfield.

This speed interview with Vivian Kirkfield, author of From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves, was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Biographies, Books About Inventors, Inventions, Non-Fiction, and Vivian Kirkfield. Be sure to follow along with our Speed Interview series, too.

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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.

Comments
  • I like the approach that you covered the process – what worked and what failed. There is more to being a success than just a brilliant idea.

    Interesting that the author feels that giving children a good education is so vital – it’s a need I think that libraries have tried to fill for decades.

    January 19, 2021

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