I Double Dog Dare You
She says, “I am a very picky person in choosing books, and I only usually only choose books that won a Newbery or that my mom read before me. My mom convinced me to read this book and I did. And I ended up liking it.”
I first ran into Lisa Graff at the public library one town over. I find libraries to be like bookstores. Each one is different and appealing in its own way. I found her books Umbrella Summer on display there as a summer chapter book. It was one of those books that you read, deeply enjoy and wonder why the author didn’t win an award for it. Even a small award like the Massachusetts Book Award.
Annie Richards knows there are a million things to look out for—bicycle accidents, chickenpox, runaway zoo animals. That’s why being careful is so important, even if it does mean giving up some of her favorite things, like bike races with her best friend and hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she’s just fine. But they thought her brother, Jared, was just fine too, and Jared died.
It takes a new neighbor to make Annie realize that her plans for being careful aren’t working out as well as she’d hoped. And with a lot of help from those around her, Annie just may find a way to close her umbrella of sadness and step back into the sunshine.
When Lisa Graff asked me if I wanted to join her blog tour, I jumped on it. The book arrived but PickyKidPix snagged it just when I was 1/3 the way through. And thus, she is conducting this interview with me. Can you tell which questions are hers and which are mine?
1) Where did you get the idea from for Double Dog Dare?
The first thing that popped into my head for the story was the characters. I liked the idea of these two fourth-graders, Kansas and Francine, who kept making each other do sillier and sillier things. But the characters didn’t have much to do for a while (almost five years!), until one day, without really trying, I thought up a first line for the story: “When Francine’s parents told her they were going to get a divorce, Francine barfed her lentil soup all over the kitchen floor.” That isn’t the book’s first line anymore (I often change things around quite a bit when I rewrite a book), but it gave me a good jumping off-place to begin my story.
2) How long did it take you to write the book from start to finish?
From the time I sat down to write the first draft, until the last word of the final draft, this book probably took me about two years.
3) Where did you get the double dog dares from?
Most of the dares I simply made up out of my head, but I also asked my friends and family members to help me think of some crazy ones. The best person for thinking up dares turned out to be my mom. She came up with some really funny ones. I had no idea my mother could be so devious!
4) Out of all the books you wrote which one is your favorite?
As far as Georgie is concerned, everyone has a “thing”
The thing about poodles is that Georgie Bishop hates to walk them.
The thing about Jeanie the Meanie is that she would rather write on her shoe than help Georgie with their Abraham Lincoln project.
The thing about Andy’s nonna is that she kisses Georgie’s cheeks and doesn’t speak one word of English.
The thing about Georgie’s mom is that she’s having a baby—a baby who will probably be taller than Georgie very, very soon.
The thing about Georgie . . . well, what is the thing about Georgie?
Brilliant but socially backward, eight-year-old Sophie Simon doesn’t bother to hide her brains. She is quite comfortable reading Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience under her desk during math, but she is disdainful of her parents’ suggestion that she try to make a friend or two. Still, to earn money for the graphing calculator of her dreams, Sophie attempts to solve several classmates’ personal problems and ends up with more than she bargained for. The appended glossary, entitled “Sophie Simon’s Encyclopedia of Things She Can’t Believe You Don’t Know Already,” defines terms such as Greensboro sit-ins, reverse psychology, and topographic map. From Sophie’s doting-but-clueless parents to the tyrannical ballet teacher aptly named Madame Robespierre, the portrayals of adults are frequently, amusingly over-the-top. Sometimes exaggerated for comic effect and occasionally poignant, the black-and-white illustrations capture the story’s sense of humor as well as its sense of style. A fresh, funny chapter book for young readers. Grades 3-5. –Carolyn Phelan from Booklist
What would you do to win a dare war?
In a humorous and insightful novel reminiscent of her award-winning titles The Thing About Georgie and Umbrella Summer, Lisa Graff tells the story of fourth-graders Kansas Bloom and Francine Halata, who start out as archenemies, until–in a battle of wits and willpower–they discover that they have a lot more in common than either would have guessed.
This dual-perspective novel will appeal to girls and boys alike–and to anyone who has ever wanted anything so badly that they’d lick a lizard to get it.
I love all of my books for different reasons. I would say that Double Dog Dare is probably my funniest book, and it’s a personal story too (my parents got divorced when I was a kid, just like Kansas’s and Francine’s do in the book), so it definitely holds a special place in my heart.
5) I double-dog dare you to do a Skype author visit for my book club. It’s my turn to host and we’ve never had an author visit …
I love doing Skype visits! 🙂 Email me and we can work out all the details!!
Thanks so much for having me, Mia and PickyKidPix! Before I go I wanted to tell your readers very quickly about the Double Dog Dare Rube Goldberg Machine contest that I’m hosting. Children ages 6 to 13 are invited to enter by creating their own Rube Goldberg Machines, and uploading a video of the machine in action. The contest is open to school and classroom groups as well as individuals, and the many awesome prizes include a free Skype visit for your school!
To find out more about the contest (and Rube Goldberg machines!) visit the Double Dog Dare contest page. (link: http://www.lisagraff.com/contest.html)
I’m also giving away one copy of Double Dog Dare to one lucky reader of this blog. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is to email me at graff [dot] lisa [at] yahoo [dot] com with the subject line “PRAGMATIC MOM.” The winner will be chosen at random on May 1st.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.