Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing two books by popular author Margaret Peterson Haddix. You can check out both of those reviews here and here. There are even discussion questions!
I also had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview, and I am very excited to share Ms. Haddix’s comments here.
1. You have had a wonderfully prolific career. What is the #1 piece of advice would you give to your readers if they, too, want to become writers?
For years, my basic advice to kids who want to become writers has been to 1) read a lot; 2) write a lot; and 3) think a lot, and I believe that all of those things are important (as well as kind of obvious). Lately, though, I’ve been coming down a lot harder on the third point. And sometimes I adjust it to say to kids, “Make sure you have time to think.” I know I sound like some cranky old person if I start complaining about kids constantly being glued to cellphones or tablets or video games—and always being entertained, instead of becoming acquainted with their own thoughts. That can sound like I’m going to follow it up with, “Back in my day, we had nothing to do but stare at a blank wall and think about nothing but our own miserable thoughts for eight hours a day—and we liked it!” Really, I think adults (including, um, me sometimes, too) can be every bit as bad as kids about over-entertaining themselves, and using every spare moment to obsess over social media or watch Netflix, etc., instead of reading and writing and thinking. And I don’t think that social media or Netflix (or cellphones or tablets or video games) are evil in and of themselves. It’s just that I think everyone (kids, adults, future writers, current writers, even people who hate to write…) needs to have some time every day just to daydream and imagine and puzzle out life, the universe, and everything—and just try to figure out what’s going on in their own head, and in their own life, and what they really think and believe, and how that fits with the rest of the world.
Everybody needs to make time to think.
2. Can you give us any hints as to what’s next for Edwy and Rosi?
Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson Haddix
It’s always hard to give hints without giving too much away. But I’ll go with this: Things are going to get a lot harder for Edwy and Rosi before they manage to solve their problems.
3. What other books would you recommend to young readers?
Oh, wow, that’s a tough question, because there are so many great books out there, and I always realize too late that I’ve left out something I really love.
If you want a recommendation of a book that I loved as a kid that I think still holds up really well, I’d go with FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, by E.L. Konigsberg. Granted, everything would be different if the book were set in the modern day (Because: cellphones! Amber Alerts! Etc.) But I think kids can still relate. And A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle. And…
Maybe I’d better move on to newer books. Some I’ve read relatively recently that I really love include WHEN YOU REACH ME, by Rebecca Stead; and THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; and GHOST, by Jason Reynolds; and all five books of the Lockwood & Co. series, by Jonathan Stroud; and WONDER, by R.J. Palacio (Of course, hasn’t everyone already won WONDER?) and ONE CRAZY SUMMER, by Rita Williams-Garcia…
And there are probably five billion other books that I’m probably still leaving out, but that’s a start.
Thanks again to Margaret Peterson Haddix for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Edwy and Rosi in the next book!