Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Author Corey Green Interview

"Thank you for thinking of me.  
Here is something I didn't know we had in common--we both love the Muppets!  I have Muppets dolls in my classroom, making the area by the calendar cheery.  Last week, we had to do community builders about helping kids get along (and make it to break without being written up.)  I showed the "Why Can't We Be Friends" skit from the John Denver episode.  The kids loved it!  They were more interested in the historical soldiers than the theme, but eventually we got around to discussing how to get along.  (If the link doesn't work, just search "Muppets why can't we be friends" on google or YouTube.)

How do you know Michelle?  I met Michelle through my local reading council, part of the International Reading Association.  I was impressed with how much she knows about education—Michelle is a teacher, professor, and was president of our council.

Tell me about your books and what types of readers would relate to it.
I write funny middle-grade books (grades 4-6)  with lots of mischief.  In Managing Stan, the new kid in class creates "Stan" to hastily cover up a prank gone awry.  The whole class helps to turn Stan into the ultimate scapegoat—kids can play any joke and blame him.  The kids soon find that inventing Stan was easy…making Stan behave is impossible!

My newest release is a CD, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  In just eight minutes, you can learn the times tables to tunes you know.  This professionally produced album grew out of songs I sang with my third graders last year.  Our class set a challenge for every student to know all the time tables.  These songs helped us do it!  We were the talk of the school.  Listen to clips of the songs and download free practice software (it's the best ever!) at abligio.com

Do you feel that educators make the best authors?  Why or why not?  I think educators know more about kids than anyone.  Parents and editors know their own kids, but teachers work with all sorts of kids, all day, every day.  Teachers understand the big picture—social interactions, typical problems, issues with academics, and what really happens in the school lunch line.  Teachers also understand individual students.  We can tell our students by their handwriting, their walk, their favorite snack, what they play at recess, how they solve math problems, and who their friends are.  I think that translates to an above-average ability to create characters that really connect with kids today.

Additionally, I think that educators understand how kids read.  We know their true reading level, which parts they skip, which books they claim to read, and which books they really read.  The answers would surprise anyone who isn't in the classroom every day.

Tip for writers: learn about how kids really think, act and learn in today's classrooms at my blog, ClassAntics.com.  Peek into the world of school: the truth about the lunch linehow the Accelerated Reader program affects what kids read, and the intricacies of managing a classroom pencil supply (a three part series).

What has surprised you about the publishing world?  In many ways, it's nicer than you think.  Publishing is a business—one that depends on authors, readers, and teachers to connect the two.  Agents and editors gladly share information with would-be writers at conferences of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  When I gave a presentation to discuss classroom uses for Random House's Tapestry series at the International Reading Association conference in Phoenix, author Henry Neff inscribed a book for one of my students, and Random House marketing execs gave books for my classroom. 

Which authors do you know well?  What's your favorite children's books?  When I lived in Reno, Ellen Hopkins was regional advisor of our local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  Everyone was thrilled to see her achieve such well-deserved success.  Growing up, I loved reading books by Beverly Cleary and Ann M. Martin.  I learned a lot about writing by studying Beverly's autobiographies and Ann's biography.

Describe your writing regime.  I do most of my writing on the weekends and during school breaks.  Every once in a while, I get something done on a school night.

Do you feel that using an agent is helpful rather than going the slush pile route?  I've heard arguments for and against.  Whatever works!"

Thanks Corey for your time!  I can't wait to see what you do next!

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