Get up close and personal with a busy kid lit character: meet nine-year-old Tara, or Sweet T as her family sometimes calls her.
T reveals what it's like to be in children's books. Hey, it's not easy! When she faces kid-sized dilemmas, the pressure is on to solve them in a way for young readers to admire and emulate. But yeah, there's fun along the way with sea turtles, skim boarding, and Aunt Mae's triple-fudge peanut butter pie.
Read on for T's exclusive interview about her newest role in Sweet T and the Turtle Team. She reveals insider secrets about summer adventures on Gull Island and gives us a sneak peek at her book's shimmery watercolors by Irene A. Jahns.
Title: Sweet T and the Turtle Team | Author Cat Michaels | Illustrator Irene A. Jahns | Publication Date: July 2017 | Publisher: 2101 Ink | Recommended Ages: 6-11 | Pages - print: 72 | Illustrations/photos - print: 25
Cat: “Hey, Sweet T!” as they say in Carolina. Welcome to my blog!
T: "Hey!" back, Cat. Super-excited to step out of my book to meet our readers on Cat's Corner.
Cat: What brings you to Gull Island from your home in Kelly Lake?
T: Lucky me! I'm staying with Great-aunt Mae Gray and little sister Jenna at Gray Cottage while Mama works at Gull Island Aquarium for the summer. It's fun at the beach, but I miss Daddy and Kristen. They're home in Kelly Lake because Kristen is at computer camp, and daddy is teaching summer school.
Cat: Can you let us know (no spoilers) if Fuzzy gets lost again?
T: Poor little sis, Jenna. She always loses her blue stuffy rabbit! Well, Fuzzy gets tangled up with some beach critters, and he goes missing AGAIN. We do our best to find him. I can’t say anything more, but you will never believe how he gets so tangled up!
Cat: <laughing here> That’s exactly right, Sweet T!
Next question: how are you coming along with making new friends on Gull island?
T: Argh! Why do you do this to me, Cat?!? I’m trying my best to make new friends, but it's hard.
Island kids are nice but they aren’t used to my city ways. Aunt Mae’s neighbor, Billy, is kind to me one minute and grumpy the next. I can't figure him out. When I invited him to join my turtle team, he said “No!” and stomped off. I asked Aunt Mae if she knew why, but she said it's Billy’s secret to tell. I still want to be his friend and find what's troubling him.
Cat: Sorry to give you a hard time, T, but children enjoy reading about your kid-sized problems. Plus, it helps them develop critical thinking skills when they THINK about and DISCUSS what your choices. How about we switch to a happy place: Tell us about your favorite moment in Sweet T and the Turtle Team.
T: OOOooo. I know EXACTLY …When baby sea turtles hatch!
They are so cute! Gazillions pop out of their nest and swish across the sand to the ocean. Turtle teams like mine watch over them to make sure hatchlings don’t become dinner for sand crabs and seagulls.
Our artist, Irene A. Jahns, painted us THE most beautiful watercolor picture of us watching of a hatch. It’s so-so-so pretty! You will want to frame it and put it on your wall.
Cat: How did you know I already framed Irene’s drawing?!? T, are you peeking out of our books when I’m not around?!?
Cat: Were you scared in the part about the tropical storm?
T: Well tbh (that’s texting language for to be honest), we were all nervous when you first told us we’d be in a nasty tropical storm. But you explained how you lived through hurricanes as a girl in New England and then as a big person in North Carolina.
You didn’t write us in a scary scene. You added just enough bad weather to excite readers and let them experience what it’s like. (Hint: lots of wind, thunder, and high surf.)
Cat: Counting this newest books, how many other books are you in now?
T: Lucky me! My whole family and I are in the first two Sweet T Tales: Sweet T and the North Wind and Finding Fuzzy. (Oh, and you don’t have to read our books in order. We tell a complete story in each one.)
That e-book you created for i-Books and Kindle, The Magical Aquarium? It's a fun chapter book, too, even though I’m not in it. You even have secrets and ocean creatures in it! UK artist Corrina Holyoake drew us an awesome illustration that shows … OOPS! … Can’t say what it shows because I’ll give away the aquarium’s secret. But kids love Corrina’s drawing!
I hope you write another Sweet T Tale and keep me in it. What about a return to Gull Island, Cat!?!
Cat: Hmmmm. I’ll have a proper think on your suggestion. Thanks for joining us on the blog today, T. All the best to you and your new book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team.
T: Awww, I’m glad you invited me to be on Cat’s Corner.
I hope your readers visit us on Gull Island soon. Sweet tea and Aunt Mae’s triple-fudge, peanut-butter pie will be waiting for you at Gray Cottage. Happy tales!
Cat: Your turn, lovely readers -:D
Who was your favorite Kid Lit character growing up?
What traits did s/he possess?
Do you think kids are attracted to those same traits today?
T and I would love to hear your thoughts about great Kid Lit characters. Please share in the comment section. Thanks!
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