Middle Grade Memories: Author Sarvenaz Tash (+ Giveaway!)

16 May

This summer, every Monday and Wednesday, I am hosting a series of guest posts here on my blog, a series called Middle Grade Memories. In this series, authors, agents, librarians, and editors talk about their favorite childhood middle grade books. I’m beyond thrilled to share their middle grade memories with you.

Below is the second post in the series, by Sarvenaz Tash, middle grade author of The Mapmaker and the Ghost. Read on as Sarvenaz talks about one of her favorite childhood middle grade books, The Witches. Then check out our giveaway!


Reading was one of my favorite pastimes as a kid. This is probably not surprising given what I do now! But it was a little surprising, I think, for my family back then. With the exception of my dad (who’s big into history and non-fiction books,) no one in my family was particularly into reading fiction.

I discovered books when my 2nd grade teacher read Beverly Cleary books to us in the classroom. At first, I wanted to buy the books, too, so that when I played teacher with my stuffed animals, I would be doing so more faithfully. (I was a stickler for accuracy.)

But then I discovered the joy of reading them on my own. There were all sorts of stories, all sorts of people to meet and places to go, and they were just waiting for me on thousands and thousands of pages. Even though my family wasn’t big into reading themselves, they sure encouraged my voracious love of it. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

If I had to pick one author who influenced me and my childhood reading (and my writing later on), it would have to be Roald Dahl. The Witches, in particular, was my favorite book of his. But, really, I loved them all. I loved his dark and dry sense of humor. I loved how the adults in his book were at the very least a little twisted and, more often than not, rather sinister. I loved how it never felt like he condescended to kids, like his books always were telling you that–in some ways (like recognizing witches)–kids knew more than adults did.

I think that’s an extremely powerful message when you’re a kid, when it feels like most things are out of your control and like your choices are mostly those of your parents or teachers or other adult figures. There’s something wonderful about being let into a secret club or being told there are some things that are meant just for you.

Roald Dahl passed away when I was nine. And I remember when I heard about it being so sad, because I knew there were only a finite amount of his books I could ever read. I doled them out to myself over the next two years, only taking one out of the library for every other five or six books I checked out. The last one I read of his (for the first time) was The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. I remember that distinctly.

And I’ve never forgotten what his books meant to me. I know that a lot of the humor and adventure in The Mapmaker and the Ghost, my debut middle grade book, is inspired by him and his work. And maybe, even, a sinister adult or two.



Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. The Mapmaker and the Ghost is her debut novel.

Photo by: Corinne Ray

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To win copies of The Witches and The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, as well as a The Mapmaker and the Ghost bookmark, signed bookplate, and sticker set, simply comment below and tell us about your favorite Roald Dahl book! Have you read and loved The Witches? What are your middle grade memories?

For an extra entry, tweet about this post and include the link to your tweet in your comment.

This giveaway begins now and ends next Tuesday, May 22 at 5:00 p.m. EST. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. This giveaway is U.S./Canada only.

EDITED 5/23: This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner . . .

Tobi Summers!


Love Middle Grade Memories? Check back on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the summer for more in this series!

You can view previous Middle Grade Memories posts below:

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11 Responses to “Middle Grade Memories: Author Sarvenaz Tash (+ Giveaway!)”

  1. Christina (A Reader of Fictions) May 16, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    I read a lot of Roald Dahl as a child. I loved all of them, although some were obviously more dear to me than others. I know that it took me forever to read James and the Giant Peach; I didn’t want to because it had bugs in it, and I’m terrified of bugs. When I finally did read it, I loved it of course.

    Roald Dahl’s biographies are fascinating too. He did so much, and most of it wasn’t really child-friendly tales. I’m always surprised to learn that children’s authors don’t live saintly lives. I don’t know why, especially since I like it better this way.

    My favorite, though, is probably Matilda. A young, spunky heroine with a love of reading even greater than mine. How I can I not love that? Also, she gave me hopes of suddenly acquiring magical powers.

    Thanks for sharing, and I loved The Witches, too. I don’t think I’ve read The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. I should.

  2. Tobi Summers May 16, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Man, it’s hard to nail down just one favorite Roald Dahl book, but I think I’d have to go with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. First of all, getting to tour a candy factory seemed like the coolest thing in the world. But also, I like that it’s basically saying, it’s okay if you screw up sometimes. If you’re mostly good, you’ll be rewarded. You don’t have to be perfect.

    Plus in the sequel, they get to fly in the glass elevator.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. nikkiloftin May 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Oh, I LOVE Dahl! My fave is the BFG… no, wait. Matilda. Urg! Can’t choose!!!
    I only read The Witches this year, so I can’t count that one.
    Matilda is one of my fave female characters of all time, but the BFG… I just love the whole concept. I dressed one of my kids up for Halloween as the BFG, ears and trumpet and all.
    Darn it, now I have to go re-read them both.

  4. Maria Touet May 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I love Roald Dahl but I didn’t discover him until I worked at the local public library as an adult. I read Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, The Witchers. I love Matilda the best. She teaches herself to read, how can you not love that!

  5. wilabea94 May 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    As a child I loved James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but for some reason The Great Glass Elevator really blew my mind when I read that. Something about being on the space ship with those monsters/aliens. I returned to it recently as an adult, but unfortunately it has lost the magic for me. Though as an adult (I’m a Children’s Librarian) I’ve read more of Dahl’s body of work as well as his autobiographies – amazing, brilliant and odd man.
    Yeah, NYU – I graduated from TSOA with a BFA in Dramatic Writing. Too much fun in college!

  6. Kristen May 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I started by loving The Enormous Crocodile. Then fell in love with Charlie, Sophie, James, and Matilda.. All of his books have such great language and characters. In my school fifth grade teachers read aloud The Witches and show the movie at Halloween to compare and contrast.

  7. Lauren@THCW May 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Oh, I ADORED Roald Dahl! My favorite was probably The BFG, but I also loved The Witches, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. Although I also had a weird love for The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.

  8. smartyharley May 22, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    I loved the BFG! I remember reading it in elementary school :) I hope I win this

  9. Lauren May 22, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    My favorites are definitely THE BFG and THE WITCHES (it’s a tie). Though, I must say, I love them all.

    When I studied abroad, I bought copies of THE TWITS and THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX in Scots (their titles in Scots are: THE EEJITS and THE SLEEKIT MR. TOD). I really can’t understand a word of either book, but I still love them. Dahl is wonderful in every book and every language!

  10. Lisa May 22, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    It most def was The Witches, although I could never look at that cover because for some odd reason it scared the crap out of me. =) And of course, who didn’t love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory=)

  11. Beth May 22, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    My favorite Dahl book is probably Matilda. As a kid, I read my copy so many times that I wore it out! Although BFG probably comes in at a close second.

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