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
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 . . .
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: