Interested in learning more about Scott and John and their Sci-Fi Junior High series? Check out a Q&A with them below.
1). The intergalactic world you created in Sci-Fi Junior High Crash Landing is so creative and humorous. Were either of you huge science buffs growing up?
Scott: Not so much a science buff, but a science fiction fan for sure. I loved the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and all the other Universal monsters. I was also a big fan of the 50’s and 60’s “outer space/alien” movies such as The Forbidden Planet, The Thing from Another World, Them (giant ants! I mean, how cool is that!) and so many more. And don’t even get me started on the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation movies!
John: Yes, I was a huge Sci-Fi movie fan. I loved everything from Star Wars, Star Trek to Godzilla and other mutant monsters. As a youngster, I was always a poor student, especially in science and math. However, I fell in love with the art on science book covers and interiors. I would study the artwork of earth strata levels and lava flow charts, dinosaur and planetary renderings for the colors and brush strokes.
2). Kelvin struggles with the fear of not meeting people’s expectations, especially because both of his parents are scientists and his little sister is a genius. Can you offer advice to kids who relate to Kevin’s fears?
Scott: All you can be is the best that you can be. If that isn’t good enough for some people, well, that’s their problem, not yours. Worry about trying to meet your own expectations. Those are the ones that matter the most.
John: I like to tell kids: “Hang in there kiddo! You’re not the only one who is insecure! Your individual strengths will shine through eventually, even if your parents are scientists and your little sister is a genius.” I also tell college level students to, “learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Stories and anecdotes like these remind us that we are not alone!
3.) How did you come up with the idea of writing the Sci-Fi Junior High Series? What made you want to write for kids?
Scott: John and I talk about this stuff all the time. We had nearly identical childhood interests, and Sci-Fi Junior High is just an offshoot of those interests. We both really love everything monster/science fiction/superhero related and always have. As for the age group our material is aimed at, it just seemed natural to write to my own maturity level.
John: Scott and I wanted to work on a story where a classroom full of unusual kids would deal with the same issues we deal with. Then I thought of the title and rough premise of Sci-Fi Junior High. Viola, Sci-Fi Junior high with weird and crazy alien kids with middle grade dramas was born. Our process could be described as a creative collaborative stew.
To answer the second part of your question, when I was a kid I always loved to draw and create my own mini comic characters. My Saturday mornings were spent watching cartoons and drawing monsters and superheroes. I was avoiding homework but I didn't realize that I was really working towards a future career. Later in life I went on to study art at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan and became a successful illustrator. As an adult I met Scott Seegert, through our daughters who were playing softball together. We couldn’t believe how much we had in common with all of our childhood pop culture influences. We decided to give this storytelling thing together a shot.
4.) What were some of your favorite books growing up that inspired you to write and got you excited about reading?
Scott: Dave Barry was my inspiration to get into this writing business. He is the only writer who has ever made me laugh out loud while reading. I’m talking tears running down the cheek level guffawing. And when he pointed out that his typical work attire was boxer shorts and a bathrobe, I knew I needed a change in careers from engineering to writing.
John: My favorite books that inspired me were mostly comic books and magazines such as Spiderman, Hulk, Thor, Iron man. Bat man, Mad magazine, Famous Monsters of Film land and comic strips. Novels and pulp novels like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Doc Savage were a staple in my teens. When I was really young I was inspired by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are.
5.) Everyone’s writing process is different. As co-authors can you tell the readers of RKR what your writing process is like?
Scott: John and I are actually “co-creators” of Sci-Fi Junior High. We came up with the nuts and bolts of the concept together and then I write it and John illustrates it. We throw ideas around and see what sticks. There is a lot of back and forth involved and quite often his art concepts lead to plot/story ideas as well. And it only helps this process that we have studios right next to each other in an eclectic old (leaky) building. We even have a “secret” door between the two spaces so we can get together without even entering the hallway. CRASH LANDING is the sixth book we’ve done together. We also have a blowharded supervillain series called VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE. MUAHAHAHAHA!!!
Break out the candy hearts, flowers and chocolate—Valentine’s Day is here. Get into the spirit with some of these especially lovable reads.
Love by Matt de la Pena
As the title depicts, this story is all about love. Snuggle up with your loved one and dive into this New York Times bestseller, you won’t regret it!
Valentsteins by Ethan Long
This book is not your ordinary Valentine tale. The story focuses on Fran K. Stein, a member of fright club who seems distracted. As he continues to work on his secret project, members of the club start to wonder what could be taking up so much time—it turns out Fran is hard at work on a valentine. What could be scarier than falling in love?
Peppa Pig and the I Love You Game by Candlewick Press
It’s Valentine’s Day and Peppa the Pig starts to play a game with her family called the I Love You Game. Peppa starts to make a list of all the things she loves: books, her birthday, goldfish…the list goes on and on—which makes her question what she loves most of all.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose by Lucille Colandro
Everybody’s favorite old lady is back and swallowing items to make special Valentine’s Day treats. Filled with humorous illustrations and rhyming text—this book is perfect for all.
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish
Amelia Bedelia is so excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day in her classroom and to get her first Valentine. However, the day is off to a less than perfect start when she forgets her Valentines for her classmates on the bus. What will she do?
Welcome 2018! With a new year comes a brand new reading list. RKR is excited about many titles publishing this year, and we hope you add the books below to your reading list…we already have!
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
In the lavish world of Orleans, Belles are responsible for controlling beauty, and Camilla is one. The citizens are born gray and only with the help of a Belle can they be made beautiful. However, Camilla wishes for more than just being a Belle—she wants to be the favorite. But when she arrives at the palace with all of her Belle sisters, she concludes that being the favorite is not all that it is cracked up to be. Now with the queen asking her to risk her life and her fellow Belle sisters in danger, Camilla must decide if she wants to change the ways of the world or save the way of the Belles.
The Unflushables by Ron Bates
Thirteen-year-old Sully Stringfellow has always admired Nitro City’s plumbers—they resemble superheroes in his eyes. The plumbers are tasked with overseeing the city’s sewers until the Ironwater Corporation discredits them. Now Nitro City is overrun by mutant creatures and it is up to Sully and the plumbers to save the day in this hysterical tale.
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Marvin and his twin brother Tyler go to a party together but what starts out as a good time ends with a shooting, which then leads to a police raid. The next day Marvin goes to look for a missing Tyler and then finds out through a video that he was shot and killed by a police officer. As tensions continue to rise and Marvin and his mother try and cope with the loss of his twin, Marvin struggles to define what freedom and justice truly mean.
Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks
Peter Gronkowski has always been ambitious and even views himself as a businessman. He is sick of seeing lemonade stands on his block and strives to accomplish something bigger and even hires an intern to help him form his business. He ends up hiring Rachel, but is surprised when she has innovative ideas and isn’t afraid to share them. When Rachel decides to leave Peter, and open up a competitive business—the rivalry is on. Told in alternating points of view between Peter and Rachel this is one hilarious book you don’t want to miss out on.
Dork Diaries 13—Tales of a Not So Happy Birthday by Rachel Renee Russell
It is Nikki Maxwell’s birthday and you know what that means. Cake, presents and a party will all be present. The question is will the birthday be a success or will something go horribly awry? Find out in Nikki’s newest diary.
12 Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn
Kira gives everything up—her school, her friends, her boyfriend—and moves away when her father enters rehab. Now that he is out and she has returned home she is determined to get her life back on track to how it was, exactly the way she left it. She even makes her own 12 steps list to achieve that goal, but somewhere between steps 1 and 12 she realizes that when your parent is an alcoholic there is no such thing as normal.
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
If you are looking for a historical fiction book for middle graders, this is the choice for you. Nisha is a twelve-year-old girl grappling with the newfound freedom of India from Great Britian but the split of the country into both India and Pakistan in the late 1940’s. The change has caused lots of violence in the region and when Nisha’s father decides that living in their homeland of Pakistan is no longer safe they travel by both foot and train to reach their new destination and become refugees. Struggling with losing both her homeland as well as her mother at birth, Nisha copes by writing letters to her late mom.
James Patterson’s Indie Bookseller Bonus program has selected the recipients for 2017. Publishers Weekly announced that Patterson donated $350,000 (an additional $100,000 over past years!) to indie bookstore employees this holiday season, and more than doubled the number of booksellers affected, up from 179 in 2016 to 320 this year. Individual bonuses ranged from $750 to $1250 and booksellers and owners who have been impacted by the hurricanes and wildfires were among the recipients.
The full list of recipients can be found on the ABA website.
The air is getting frosty, holiday tunes are already on repeat and hours have been spent brainstorming the perfect gifts for your loved ones—the holiday season is officially here! Whether you are looking for the perfect picture book for your child, the most “unputdownable” book for your middle schooler, or even a juicy young adult novel for your teenager, ReadKiddoRead is here to help. We've gathered our top choices for all ages to gift this holiday season!
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by: Anna Dewdney
Is your little one bursting at the seams for Christmas to finally come? Join Llama (and his mama) as he experiences how to handle holiday season excitement and learns what truly matters most.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by: Michelle Edwards
Mrs. Goldman always knits hats for her neighborhood. Young Sophia doesn’t know how to knit and thinks it is very difficult. One day, Sophia realizes that Mrs. Goldman doesn’t have a hat—so she sets out to make her one—easier said than done!
The Night Before Christmas by: Rachel Isadora
Enjoy this rendition of a classic Christmas poem—Santa wears leopard print pants and has gray dreadlocks. This is one classic tale that you don’t want to miss out on sharing with your family.
Middle Grade Books
The Tale of Rescue by: Michael J. Rosen
A family ventures from Florida to the Appalachia to experience a snowy holiday weekend. Nearby, a cattle dog is going about her normal routine. When a blizzard strikes and the family is stuck in the snowy drifts, it is up to the cattle dog to save them.
Snow and Rose by: Emily Winfield Martin
This reimagined fairy tale will get your middle schoolers in the holiday spirit. Beautiful illustrations are included in the timeless story of two sisters who live in an enchanted forest. It is up to them to fight terrible spells and restore peace.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas by: Matt Haig
Amelia Wishart was the first child to receive a Christmas present and it was her Christmas spirit that gave Santa the extra energy to fly his sleigh around the world. When Amelia’s mom gets sick, she is forced to work in a wrecked workhouse with unsavory working conditions. When Santa learns about Amelia’s situation and realizes that Christmas spirit is running extremely low, he goes off to find Amelia—the only girl who can save Christmas.
Young Adult Books
The Chaos of Standing Still by: Jessica Brody:
Ryn experiences one chaotic New Year’s Eve. Stuck in the Denver Airport, she is forced to acknowledge her past thanks to a chance romantic encounter, the kindness of strangers and circumstances that are usually mundane, but in this case magical.
Far from the Tree by: Robin Benway
Being the middle child is not an easy task. Add on an adoption, teen pregnancy and foster care and you get to read Far From the Tree, perfect for fans of This Is Us.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by: Erika L. Sanchez
Julia is not your perfect run of the mill Mexican daughter—that was her sister, Olga’s, job. When Olga is killed in a tragic accident, Julia is left behind to fill the void for her parents. While Julia continues to try and be the perfect daughter amidst all of her grief she discovers that Olga may not have been as perfect as she appeared.
2) Pity is a strong, female protagonist with some impressive fire arm skills. What inspired you to construct a modern-day Annie Oakley as your main character?
Well, Annie Oakley was definitely an influence! I loved that Oakley performed in a Wild West show, because she was using her very real skills in a very dramatized setting—which is basically what Pity ends up doing. Also, having Pity be a skilled sharpshooter from the beginning of the story (instead of honing her abilities along the way) allowed me to play with plot problems that couldn’t be solved by her simply shooting her way out of them. (Because if were that easy, she would do it!)
3) The theater’s concept and description are simultaneously glamorous and terrifying. How did you choose to juxtapose those two views of what the theater represents?
Something that I try to keep in mind when I’m writing is that the accepted morality of our world and the world of a story don’t necessarily need to align. And in the setting of Cessation, where there are no laws and a lot of decadence, the twisted, elaborate “justice” of the theatre fits in perfectly. Beyond that, I don’t think the Theatre Vespertine is even that unusual. Escape artists, air shows, Cirque du Soleil, pretty much any performance with a wild animal involved—these are all glamorous theatrical experiences that involve an aspect of danger, and people go to see them every day. The Theatre Vespertine simply takes it up a notch or two.
4) How did you come up with the notion of “The Finale,” and what are you hoping that people take away from Pity’s desire not to participate in them?
At one point in the story, a character refers to the Finales as “feeding the beast.” Writing Cessation, I knew that an entirely lawless city wasn’t really a believable (and sustainable) setting. So the Finales provided a way to create consequences in a manner that the city would both accept and enjoy. For Pity, the Finales force her to challenge her perceptions of what is right and wrong. And while neither of those things are easy to clearly define in her world, I’d hope that the reader takes away that Pity ultimately has a choice in how she chooses to participate in regards to them. (Even though her choices may come at a cost.)
5) Pity’s relationship with Selene is different than with the other residents of Cessation. Why do you think that Pity often toes the line between defiance and obedience with Selene?
I think Pity’s relationship with Selene is different because of the somewhat unpredictable way Selene exercises her power. She can be incredibly generous as well as dangerously unforgiving (which Pity learns the very first time they meet), both ruthless and protective. A part of Pity respects what Selene does. But at the same time, it’s not in Pity’s nature to be unquestioningly obedient. She sees the kinds of sacrifices Selene is willing to make to get what she wants, and it doesn’t always sit well with her.
6) You didn’t leave the book on a cliffhanger, but you did conclude it with a rather open ending; are there more adventures to come in Pity’s future?
I hope so! (And maybe not just in Pity’s future?)
7) What is next for you? Are you working on another book?
Always! I probably have five or six projects fermenting in my brain at any given time. But fantasy was my gateway genre, so I think I’d like do something there next.
To learn more about Lyndsay and Gunslinger Girl click here.
There’s nothing better than time spent with family during the Holidays, and maybe a few extra hours to read! Just in time for Thanksgiving, we've picked out some titles we're especially thankful for…
Thanks from The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle
This classic picture book is perfect for the holidays. Following everybody’s favorite hungry caterpillar, this colorful picture book celebrates the word "thanks," and its impact in everyday life.
The Know-Nothings Talk Turkey By Michele Sobel Spirn
The funny foursome is back in this hysterical book about how to get the Thanksgiving turkey to join them at their table for the meal!
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving By Charles M. Schulz and Adapted By Daphne Pendergrass
Celebrate the holiday with Charlie Brown and the gang as Charlie scrambles to make a feast for Peppermint Patty and all of their friends. Will Charlie be able to rise to the challenge or will the gang be thankful that the meal is over?
Give Thank You a Try By James Patterson
James Patterson emphasizes the importance of giving thanks for small things, like ice cream, for larger things, like a parent's love.
Pete the Cat The First Thanksgiving By James Dean
Join Pete the Cat as he gets the starring role in his school play that shares the first story of Thanksgiving fun. While even the “coolest” cat would be nervous about being a star, Pete has fun with sharing the history of thanksgiving and your kids will have fun reading it too.
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Turkey By Lucille Collandro
Everyone’s favorite quirky old lady is back: and she's swallowed a turkey!
Goblins, ghouls and ghosts, oh my! Halloween is rapidly approaching. To get into the festive spirit, check out RKR's list of super spooky books sure to entice even the most reluctant readers.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—By Ransom Riggs (12+)
16-year-old Jacob is traveling to a remote island, fleeing his own personal tragedy. Once he arrives he stumbles upon the remains of an old orphanage that housed peculiar children—children that may still be alive. Now a major motion picture, this thriller is super spooky and will get you in the mood for Halloween.
The Graveyard Book—By Neal Gaiman (10+)
This Newbury Honor award winner follows Bod, a boy raised in a graveyard. Bod doesn’t have human parental figures, instead he was raised by ghost, werewolves and other species found in a cemetery. Follow Bod as he navigates both the world of the living and the world of the dead in this award winning middle grade book.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronical Series)—By Marissa Meyer (12+)
Cinder is a girl with a mysterious past. She is a gifted mechanic and cyborg who lives with her evil stepmother and stepsister when she suddenly finds her life entangled with the handsome prince, Kai. It is up to Cinder to uncover her haunted past quickly to save her future in this young adult take on a classic fairytale.
Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales—By Kiersten White (8+)
Once upon a time, fairytales got mixed up and mashed together to form one hilarious and spooky scarytale—look no further this story is perfect for getting your kiddo in the Halloween spirit.
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding—By Alexandra Bracken (8+)
Prosper Redding is just your average boy who happens to have a demon living inside of him. Now plagued with hosting a demon who wants to destroy the family fortune and a family who would rather save their fortune than one of their own flesh and blood—Prosper is in for one wild ride.
The Girl with All the Gifts—By M.R Carey (12+)
Join Melanie as she navigates her dystopian reality and adapts to the various trials and tribulations that she is constantly faced with in this science fiction thriller.
Hunting Prince Dracula—By Kerri Maniscalco (12+)
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are back for another adventure, this time in Romania. The dynamic duo is all set to attend forensics school, but their semester starts off with a few problems—mainly, dead bodies drained of blood. Could Dracula be stalking their halls or is the real killer someone they know? Follow Audrey and Thomas as they journey to find the real murderer or lose their lives searching.
Monsterland--By James Crowley (10+)
Charlie is surrounded by Halloween excitement but for him, it’s just a reminder that his cousin Billy is no longer around. After being bullied into giving away Halloween candy, Charlie heads off the woods where low and behold he believes he sees his cousin Billy. Soon enough Charlie finds himself entering Monsterland, a mysterious place filled with supernatural creatures. Will Charlie be reunited with Billy or is it just all a mirage—find out by picking up a copy of Monsterland.
There's Someone Inside Your House—By Stephanie Perkins (12+)
Makani Young thought she left her gruesome past behind in Hawaii when she moved in with her grandma in Nebraska. She enrolls in the local high school and then something strange starts to occur—one by one students are being murdered. As Makani starts to question her own past as the death toll strikes—the question still exists, who is killing all of these students?
A Tale Dark and Grimm—By Adam Gidwitz (10+)
Hansel and Gretel take a leave from their own story and enter eight other Grimm original tales—this is one spooky spoof of original fairytales you don’t want your kiddo to miss.