By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: October 21, 2011
Shana Gammon is the author and illustrator of Marie’s Nine Lives. She based the book on her cat Marie; a cat that she and her family rescued from an animal shelter. This is Shana’s second book for children.
TCBR: Marie’s 9 Lives is a chapter book based on your cat Marie; a cat that you and your family rescued from an animal shelter. When did you realize that she would make a great protagonist for a story?
Shanna Gammon: It didn’t take long. Almost immediately we noticed Marie was a little different than other cats. At night, she loved to sleep in the sink or on top of the children’s heads. During the day, she would play with the children, occasionally going up and down their slide (by her choice) or walking along the top of their swing set. The kids were delighted. They thought that maybe she had once belonged to a circus. So I began to make up humorous stories to tell our children about where Marie had lived and what she had done before we adopted her.
The book was written for children ages 8-12.
As Marie unwittingly tries to find her place in the world, what is it that you hope readers connect with the most?
I hope that the book will motivate readers to adopt pets from animal shelters. There are so many wonderful animals in shelters that are just waiting to find great homes.
Of the many adventures that are chronicled in the book, do you have a favorite?
My favorite adventure is when Marie lives with a wealthy socialite and poses as the woman’s show cat. Marie is of course a mixed breed. I don’t want to give the story away, but the human characters in this chapter are my favorite.
Marie’s 9 Lives is your second published book. Can you tell us a little about your first book, The Great State Cookbook (2003)?
The Great State Cookbook was a cookbook that featured a fun fact about each state, including what food(s) the state produced. Each state recipe contained at least one ingredient that the state produced.
The goal was to create a children’s cookbook with recipes that children could actually do. It was designed to be simple, fun, and educational.
Should we expect to see another book from you soon?
Writing is just a part of who I am, so I’m sure I will do another book at some point. With four children my writing time is limited. They would be delighted if I did a sequel to Marie’s Nine Lives.
Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer?
When I was growing up, my favorite thing to do was to read. As I grew older, I realized that I liked making up my own stories. Even though I’m an adult, I’m not sure I ever grew up. So, for me, writing children’s books just seems more natural than writing books for adult audiences.
What would you say has been the most personally rewarding aspect or becoming a children’s book author?
As a parent, it’s been rewarding for me to see my children reading my books – even though they are my toughest critics. As an author, to know you have encouraged a child to read is very fulfilling.
Which books from your own childhood have most influenced your life?
I would have to say that the Nancy Drew books were the most influential. As a child, they were my absolute favorite. A friend and I formed a Nancy Drew club – even going as far to make our own newsletter (circulation was only “2” – she and I were the only ones interested in reading it).
For more information, visit: www.mariesninelives.blogspot.com
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