Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spotlight on Carrie Clickard + DMC Challenge


CARRIE CLICKARD

Carrie Clickard professes to have spent every free moment since birth with a book in her hand or one in her head waiting to be written. A band, drum corps, and drama geek throughout high school, she graduated Michigan State University with a degree in advertising and bad roommates. Having worked as a copywriter, pressroom manager, marketing VP and color guard instructor, she credits her dazzling career success to a firm belief that dragons exist and that competitive baton twirling should be an Olympic sport.

Besides baton twirling, Carrie has taken up the sport of writing fiction and nonfiction picture books, poetry, middle grade novels, short stories (for children and adults), as well as fun and fascinating nonfiction articles. No matter what she's writing, you can always count on her for a fresh approach, humor, vivid imagination, and a keen ability to pull the reader into the world of the story.

Her debut picture book Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving Buccaneer (Flashlight Press, 2012) has been joined by two more acclaimed picture books in 2017: Magic for Sale (Holiday House) and Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books).


I've been waiting a long time to feature Today's Little Ditty's Rhyme Crime Investigator in a Spotlight ON interview. Although I personally have not interviewed Carrie before, Mortimer Rabbit had a few words with her in 2013. That's when TLD readers were first introduced to her love of strange and unexpected characters. (A pas de deux performed by a zombie ballerina and her mummy dance partner? You betcha.) You might also notice in that interview that Magic for Sale was originally slated for 2014. That's when I thought I would be featuring Carrie in the TLD spotlight. But as these things so often happen, the book was delayed... and delayed... and delayed again.

The good news is that here we are—three years later, yes—but pleased as Halloween punch with this spectac-ghoul-lar book that Kirkus calls in a starred review, "One-stop shopping for all your elixir, potion, and spellcasting needs."

No skimping on the dry ice... we're here to celebrate!

Swamp Monster Sherbet Punch
Image credit: Diana Yen


MAGIC FOR SALE
Holiday House (July 25, 2017)
ISBN: 978-0823435593
Click here for more information or to purchase.

Magic for Sale tells the story of Georgie McQuist, a boy who was double-dared to track down a ghost in the magical shop of Miss Pustula Night. Georgie discovers that the ghost has been locked away because of some naughty antics involving a sphinx and invisible ink. He takes pity on the poor ghost, and decides to help out with his punishment—to accurately account for each and every spooky treasure that is housed in the overstuffed basement.

All goes swimmingly (kraken notwithstanding) until Miss Night enters the scene with a KA-BOOM!,  a THUMP!, and a threat to eat our young hero. In the end, you'll be relieved to know Georgie comes out of the experience alive... albeit with more than he bargained for.



Check out this fabulous trailer:


There's so much to love about this book. First, it's age-appropriate—spooky, but not creepy, with a really fun ending. Perfect for a Halloween read-aloud, children will also want to return to it throughout the year. Second, and not surprisingly, Carrie's text is lively and her rhymes are never simple or predictable—they are witty, fun, and keep the reader guessing. Finally, it's not just any artist who can meet Carrie's imagination head on with such elaborate and engrossing illustrations. With meticulous detail, John Shelley has done a phenomenal job turning the entire book into a seek-and-find that will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

Work in progress for Magic for Sale. © John Shelley, used with permission.

In his own words...
I intended the illustrations to convey a sense of claustrophobic clutter while expanding on the jollity of the text with all the trappings and paraphernalia of magic, mystic and monsters. A darkened shop basement might not seem like the easiest of locations for a picture book, but filling shelves spilling over with extraordinary objects I hoped to create a "bazaar of the bizarre". If the reader is able to find something new every time they look over the drawings, perhaps think of their own stories inspired by the weird items on the shelves, then my job is done.

And now that I've whet your appetite, it seems my job is done... except for the little matter of today's interview. Let's explore the story behind Magic for Sale's bewitching storyteller, Carrie Clickard.


Favorite childhood memory:
The ride home from the library with the light on in the back seat, reading the first delicious page.

Favorite teacher:
I have two—Mrs. Qualls, because she never minded me asking just one more question, and Miss Nichols, because she rescued me when a game of Moonmen vs. Martians went horribly wrong.
Statue of Horus at the Edfu Temple
Photo: Carrie Clickard
  Fun fact: the library in the temple of Edfu
  was called the House of Books of Horus 

Favorite quote:

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.

              — J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite vacation spot: Egypt

Favorite pastime:
Daydreaming my way into a new story.


Most authors have active curiosity and imagination, but yours are in perpetual overdrive. Growing up, was that a benefit, a curse, or both?

It was a curse in early school years as I was always thinking and wondering and demanding to know “Yes, but what if...?” But that same imagination in my free time turned the world into an adventure.  A simple cardboard box on the front porch might hold an ancient book from the tombs of Egypt, or a key to the haunted house down the block, or an invitation to join a secret club.  And if it was empty, well, you just have to wonder, “What got out? And where did it go?” 


You describe yourself as a “lifelong word addict” whose goal is to tell stories that delight and entertain. How does that fit in with today’s market?

I grew up loving all the old folk tales and fairy tales and letting the richness of the language, those golden words pull me into a whole new world.  So today’s picture book world with its fondness for brief texts, even wordless books, can be a bit challenging for a wordy soul like me. My shortest picture book to date is 594 words, which most editors would say isn’t “short” at all. (grin)  I’m learning to appreciate the freshness and surprise that can be crafted into shorter texts, but there will always be a part of my writer’s heart that longs for richer, fuller stories.

 Growing up, "I had the full set of Andrew Lang color coded fairy tale books— and
 nearly read the covers off them. I also adored Tatterhood (who didn't want to ride on
 on a goat brandishing a spoon at your enemies?) and The Seven Ravens." C. Clickard


Where Carrie Clickard's
imagination calls home.
Although TLD readers are well aware of your rhyming prowess, you’re by no means a one-trick pony. What makes different types of writing uniquely satisfying for you?

Each poem or story I write scratches a particular mental itch. When I’m dragged down by life’s mundane to-do’s, I’ll end up populating a planet with strange sentient creatures and sending them on the adventures I can’t go on.  If I’ve been feeling unchallenged and brain dead, I’ll winkle out a mystery filled with red herrings and plot twists.  Horror stories and weird fiction let me create scary things that I can control, usually as a way of escaping scary things in real life I can’t control.  And when I’m feeling joyous and silly, rhyme naturally bubbles forth.

 
Magic for Sale was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait! Do you recall what first inspired you to write Georgie’s story?

I was listening to a toe-tapping patter song about potions and spells from Gilbert & Sullivan’s opera The Sorcerer.  I thought, what a fun idea—how many crazy magical items could I put in a rhyming list?  So there I was scribbling down ideas like leprechaun’s purses, pyramid curses, werewolf tales, beds of nails,  and I thought, these should all be stuffed into a spooky old house belonging to some seriously creepy person.  The next thing you know, Miss Pustula Night walked into my head and invited me to her store.

From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017). Text © Carrie Clickard. Illustration © John Shelley. (Click to enlarge)
























"I was tucked in my four-ghoster bed
quite enjoying some beetles on bread
when your ruckus and rumpus 
woke Fifi and Grumpus,
so we've come down to eat you instead."

Please share a favorite selection from Magic for Sale and tell us why it’s a favorite.

Oh my, I confess I love the long inventory list the ghost and Georgie conquer, but since it’s so loooong, I’ll opt for the opening description of Miss Night’s shop:

Illustration from MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017) © John Shelley. All rights reserved.
 
She sells cupboards that you can walk through
and strange mirrors that talk back to you,
crusted cauldrons for brewing,
dried dragon for chewing,
and a rug that a genie once flew.
You can buy mushroom huts for your gnome,
clanking chains if your beasts like to roam,
snoozing bats for your ceiling,
candied mummies for peeling,
or a monster who needs a good home.

...because it’s exactly those kind of objects I’d have loved to find in some mysterious old store as a kid. I’d still love to, as a matter of fact.


From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House), © 2017 Carrie Clickard and John Shelley.


Given the opportunity, what would you bring home from Miss Pustula Night’s shop?

I think it would have to be the dragons of a dainty size, as I’ve always wanted a dragon. But I’m also sorely tempted by the kraken. I think my parents would like having a pet in their pool.


From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017). Text © Carrie Clickard. Illustration © John Shelley. (Click to enlarge)























What's coming up next for you?

I have a picture book biography of Joyce Chen called Dumpling Dreams which just released this fall and a nonfiction picture book coming up called Bigger is Better that’s about two of my favorite things: the early days of America and mammoths.

The wonder-filled world of Carrie Clickard (age 9).

If you had all the world’s children in one room, what would you tell them?

Never let anyone crush your curiosity or your wonder.  The world can be as fascinating and wondrous as you make it.










Finally, what you have chosen as this month’s ditty challenge?

Since Georgie is dared to go to the spooky store and face Miss Night, then maybe a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.


Peering into my crystal ball...

jl071077

I predict this is going to be a SPOOKtacular month of poems! 

I also predict that Carrie Clickard will be back next week, on Friday the 13th, with a fun post about jinxes and superstitions.  BOOoooYAH!


And before I come up with any other cringe-worthy puns, please join me in thanking Carrie for today's interview and for offering a personalized copy of Magic for Sale to one lucky DMC participant! (Winner to be randomly chosen at the end of the month.)


Oh! I almost forgot. I got you a little something, Carrie...


Sculpture made from watch parts, designed by Sue Beatrice

a dragon of dainty size.



HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Post your poem about what spooked you as a child on our October 2017 padlet. Stop by any time during the month to add your work or to check out what others are contributing.

By posting on the padlet, you are granting me permission to share your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  Some poems will be featured as daily ditties, though authors may not be given advanced notice. Subscribe to the blog if you'd like to keep tabs. You can do that in the sidebar to the right where it says "Follow TLD by Email." As always, all of the poems will be included in a wrap-up celebration on the last Friday of the month—October 27th for our current challenge.

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

FIRST-TIMERS (those who have never contributed to a ditty challenge before), in addition to posting your work on the padlet, please send your name and email address to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. That way I'll be able to contact you for possible inclusion in future Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs– I love that!  Please let me know about it, so I can share your post! Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet in order to be included in the wrap-up celebration and end-of-month giveaway.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Thanks again to everyone who participated in Carole Boston Weatherford's challenge last month to write an abecedarian poem! We had a few additions since last Friday's wrap-up celebration—click here to take another look.

Random.org has determined that the winner of a copy of SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez is . . .


HEIDI MORDHORSTCongratulations, Heidi!



Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup. Wish her a happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving and she might offer you a piece of pumpkin pie... or at least a pumpkin poem.

43 comments:

  1. What a deLIGHTful interview. And, thank you, Carrie, for making curiosity a priority and for celebrating the curious. It's so needed today! The kids I see are curious....SO curious. But, they also are distracted and put off by demands of schedules. I really do all I can to build curiosity in my work. It's the joy of my life, really. And, what fun to pair your incredible words with such an inspired illustrator! I'm excited to get my hands on Magic for Sale. What an incredible mentor text it can be....vocabulary builder....imagination prompt. Oh, the places I can take this story. Thank you!
    Michelle, as always, challenge ACCEPTED! I absolutely adore working to TLD challenges and feel like I owe you a workshop fee. If you ever give face-to-face workshops, I hope you'll arrange for a visitor from up north. Great topic and author for this week...and next!

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    1. Thank you Linda. Yes, I am a huge fan of curiosity - it's gotten me on my feet on some of the roughest days, just because I might miss what happens next. An I wholeheartedly agree, we so need to encourage children to explore and examine and keep on asking "what if?"

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  2. Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading the Joyce Chen book. When I first moved to the Boston area, Joyce Chen's restaurant was a landmark!

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    1. I'm jealous. I never got the chance to visit Joyce's restaurants, only in pictures.

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  3. What fun, fun, fun! I love that this book is age-appropriate scary. I might be able to read it without nightmares. (Seriously, I have to avoid the grown up horror stories, or I don't sleep for weeks.) And now I have the chance to write my own age-appropriate spooky poem. I'm in!

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    1. Oh, my! Watch out for a big purple monster following you through the pages. He looks intimidating, but his intentions are good.

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  4. How fantabulous, illustrations, rhymes and spirits. Elixirs, potions, and spellcasting, oh my! I can't wait to see this book. It looks like fun on a broomstick.

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    1. Love that phrase, "fun on a broomstick". And thanks for your kind words.

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  5. Awesome and inspiring interview. Can't wait to get a hold of this book.

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  6. Just a magical encounter...I am spellbound by your creativity, Carrie!

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    1. I'm blushing at your kind words. Thanks so much for stepping in for a peek at Miss Pustula's world (and mine).

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  7. Just the book for this month, Carrie! The poems & the pictures invite a dark night & shadows while reading! I love that you "winkle" out things in your writing, and reading all that you shared today. There are a few spooky characters I might share this month! Thanks Michelle!

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    1. I'm a Halloween fall girl and heart. I'm still reveling in how lucky I was to have john's illustrations in this book.

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  8. The book looks amazing! I can't wait to see it and read it and find out what happens! I can think of quite a few things that spooked me as a kid. Which one to write about...

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you like the ending.

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  9. Ooh thank you for this interview and introduction. I love the challenge already and the wheels are clicking. It's going to be a magical month.

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  10. Inspiring imagination with words, doesn't get any better! Can't wait to get this amazing book and share it with my students. I will share the challenge with them. They are up to it. Not sure I am, but they will pull me through.

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    1. I hope your students enjoy the book. John's illustrations are a treasure trove of spooky inspiration!

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  11. I can't what to read MAGIC FOR SALE Thank you for sharing your writing life with us I can't what to read everyone poems I all ready entered mine

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    1. You're welcome, Jessica. It's always a treat to spend time with the people on Today's Little Ditty!

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  12. Magic for Sale looks amazing! A glorious celebration of word love and rhyming fun! I can't wait to get it --it's just the right level of scary for me. (I've been known to have nightmares after watching Monty Python skits!) I'm also excited by the idea of creating some spooky poetry. Thanks for a great challenge, Carrie, and another rich interview, Michelle!

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    1. You're too kind, Molly. And lol on the Monty Python skits (I'm a big fan!) I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's creepy poems.

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  13. Very fun interview. And very inspiring. The book looks like so much fun. I will definitely be checking it out.

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    1. Thanks, Rosi! I hope you enjoy it as much as John and I did creating it.

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  14. The fascinating illustrations in this book are only exceeded by the clever rhymes. What a fun October book, and challenge. Loved this entertaining interview. I hope the padlet is spook-proof!

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    1. Awwww, I'm blushing. Thank you, Violet. (And I love the idea that the blog is temporarily haunted.... grin)

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  15. I am gearing up for the spooky fest you and Carrie Clickard have conjured up for us. This post was spooktacular good!

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    1. Michelle always does such a fabulous job. I'm so looking forward to see what the TLD crowd cooks up in their creative cauldrons.

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  16. That is simply the cutest dainty dragon EVER!

    Thank you for a Carrie Clickard feature, and thank you to Carrie for the fun challenge. (The abecedarian didn't happen, but not for a lack of trying, and I refused to let myself send in one I wrote previously! This month, I'll dig deep for spooky memories!)

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    1. Isn't that dragon to die for? I'm still looking for a spell to make it come to life right off the page.

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  17. It's great that Magic for Sale is finally out. Congratulations, Carrie. I can't believe how neat your work space is!

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    1. LOL --- are you channeling my Mom, Barb? (wink) Thanks!

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  18. Can not wait to read Magic for Sale--not a fan of scary but like a little adventuresome spookiness.

    Thanks for the interview, Michelle, and the great books for my to-be-read list, Carrie!

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    1. Thanks, Rebekah! And remember if you get a little scared inside Miss Night's shop, look for the friendly purple monster. He's great when you need a hand to hold -- at least he was for me. (grin)

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    2. Thanks for the tip! Will definitely look for him! :)

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  19. Fun interview and intriguing challenge, Michelle and Carrie! I have to dig deep into my rapidly aging memory (that's a spooky thought right there) to participate in this challenge, but I plan to get it done. Thanks for the inspiration. =)

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    1. Thanks, Bridget! I have the opposite problem: I wish I couldn't remember all those spooky bits from childhood. The monster under my bed is still a problem. (wink)

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  20. Freshly pickled elf??! Now that's spooky!
    I like "a "bazaar of the bizarre" -- how fun! :-)

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    1. Fresh pickled elf is my favorite product in the whole shop. (And my editor's too!)

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  21. Simply marvelous post Michelle–and tantalizing new book that Carrie has offered us, can't wait to read it and soak in the pictures! The trailer is wonderful too. Thanks for filling us in on how your book came about Carrie and the critters that enchant you. Hope you like the dragon Michelle scoured out for you, looks like the perfect pet too!

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    1. OH that dragon - I'm completely in love. Steampunk and dragons? That gets me where I live. And I'm glad you liked the trailer. It was soooo much fun to put together.

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  22. "Four-ghoster bed" -- I love it! Thank you for this wonderful post, Michelle and Carrie! I'm a big Gilbert & Sullivan fan, but I'm not familiar with The Sorcerer. I'll have to check it out while I'm brainstorming for this month's challenge!

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    1. Always nice to meet another G&S fan.You can sneak a few scenes and songs from The Sorcerer on Youtube, BTW. Thanks for your kind words.

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