March 28, 2015

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Rick Margolis

About Rick Margolis

Rick Margolis was executive editor for SLJ.

Molly Idle’s ‘Flora and the Flamingo’ Is a Wordless Wonder | Under Cover

Photograph by Kathryn Smith

Artist and author Molly Idle talks about her latest book, her life, and her obsession with Prismacolor pencils.

The Best Poems for Kids…and Grown-ups, Too


In honor of National Poetry Month, children’s poet laureate J. Patrick Lewis picks his favorite collections for kids.

SLJ Talks to Author Andrea Cheng: Her latest book, ‘Etched in Clay,’ charts the courageous life of Dave the potter | Under Cover

Andrea Cheng

Author Andrea Cheng’s latest book, ‘Etched in Clay,’ charts the courageous life of Dave the potter, a 19th-century slave who became an accomplished artist.

Life After Death: Susin Nielsen’s tenderhearted novel, ‘The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen,’ explores the aftermath of a school shooting | Under Cover January 2013

Susin Nielsen

Canadian novelist Susin Nielsen talks about her novel The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, which explores the aftermath of a high school shooting.

Everything from A to Z: Vincent X. Kirsch adds some serious fun to ‘Noah Webster & His Words’ | Under Cover

Illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch

Photograph by Jim Dandy

Jeri Chase Ferris’s picture book Noah Webster & His Words is a great read, but it could have been a snoozer without your witty illustrations. How’d you react when editor Kate O’Sullivan offered you the assignment?

Being someone who’s very fond of words, I started looking at other books that were done about Webster, and not to degrade them, but they were very dry, realistic, watercolory, and very highly rendered. Noah Webster looked like some […]

Touched by an Angel: Martine Leavitt’s ‘My Book of Life by Angel’ Is a Harrowing Tale of Redemption

Martine Leavitt

Your latest novel is a dark and disturbing story about a 16-year-old named Angel who moves in with a guy she meets at the mall and is lured into a life of drugs, violence, and prostitution. It must have been tough to write.

I tried to put it off as long as I could. I wrote Heck Superhero and Tom Finder—both about homeless boys—and I knew that someday I was going to have to write a book about a […]

This Is Not My Sequel: Just Wait Till You See This New Book from Jon Klassen | Under Cover

Photograph of Jon Klassen

In This Is Not My Hat, a minnow steals a big fish’s bowler hat while he’s asleep. Part of what makes your art so striking is that the water, or background, is black instead of blue.

Initially, it was more of a mid-tone, like a teal, or a green. But I was fighting it value-wise. Also, since the fishes’ eyes are such a big part of the storytelling, the darker you can get behind them, the more their eyes are going to pop.

My, How You’ve Changed! Jason Chin’s ‘Island’ Charts the Galápagos’s Evolution | Under Cover

Jason Chin

Photograph by Corey Hendrickson.

Island: A Story of the Galápagos is packed with fascinating, well-researched facts about this archipelago and your exquisite paintings of its unique flora and fauna. How’d the idea come to you?

While working on my last picture book, Coral Reefs, I was reading a lot about evolution, and I was thinking, “Well, maybe I could do a book about evolution.” But how could I do it in a way that was a little different? Nothing […]

Straighten Up and Fly Right: Elizabeth Wein’s new spy thriller will break your heart | Under Cover

Photograph by David Ho

Does your novel have a message for readers?

The message is that if you are a girl, you can do anything. I really didn’t want my female characters to feel stopped by the fact that they were female. I wanted them to be able to control their lives, to do what they were good at, and what they wanted to do regardless of what society’s expectations were. I think that’s a good message for modern girls, as well, and that they need reminding about.

Bloody Good: Don’t miss J. Anderson Coats’s debut, ‘The Wicked and the Just’ | Under Cover


Your novel, The Wicked and the Just, has two feisty 13th-century teens: Cecily, whose father forces her to move to Wales from England to seek a better life, and Gwenhwyfar, her resentful servant who lost everything when the British took over her town. Why Wales? Most folks have never even heard of it!

Holy Cow!: Sy Montgomery’s ‘Temple Grandin’ is an inspiring tale of cattle… and courage

When Temple Grandin was born, her parents didn’t know she had autism. In fact, her father thought she was retarded and wanted to send her to live in a mental hospital. Today, she’s a renowned scientist who designs humane environments for cattle and other animals we eat. What impact has she had on the industry?

Thirty-five million cattle are raised annually for beef in the U.S. Half of them spend their final minutes in buildings Temple designed, but her […]

Tough Love: Marie Lu’s dystopian thriller offers plenty of explosive action and romance

Your first novel, Legend, triggered a major bidding war, Hollywood can’t wait to turn it into a movie, and you’re only 27.

It’s just been a really, really exciting ride. I wake up all the time and I pinch myself, because it’s all just so overwhelming sometimes.

Legend features two teens from opposite sides of the tracks in postapocalyptic L.A. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal, and June is a military protégé who’s charged with taking him down. […]

Going Deep: Author-artist Claire A. Nivola’s ‘Life in the Ocean’ tackles some urgent issues

Your gorgeous new picture book is about Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer and leading spokesperson on the importance of the ocean to our planet’s survival. She’s designed undersea research vessels and has spent more than 7,000 hours underwater. Have you ever gone scuba diving or snorkeling?

No, and while doing this book I was thinking, how can I do this book without snorkeling? I’d love to do it, boy. But I’m not a brave soul. I share Sylvia Earle’s love […]

The Mane Event: Maggie Stiefvater on success, rejection, and her new novel, ‘The Scorpio Races’

Hollywood’s eager to turn your New York Times best sellers into movies, your book tours take you all over the globe, you play a few instruments and paint, plus you have two small kids—and you’re not even 30. What’s it like being such a slacker?

[Laughs] I always dreamt when I was a little kid of being a best-selling author. I used to have this fantasy of walking into a bookstore and someone would recommend my own book […]

Secrets and Lies

Australia’s Craig Silvey tackles racism and hypocrisy in ‘Jasper Jones’

Jasper Jones opens with a horrifying scene—the body of a young girl is found hanging from a tree. Can you set up the story for those who haven’t read it?

It’s set in the summer of 1965 in a rural town in Western Australia. It’s chiefly about two boys who set out to solve a crime on their own because they’re rightly distrustful of the community. One of these boys, […]

Places in the Heart: Favorite Children’s Books About the Black Experience

To celebrate black history month, we asked some top children’s book creators to choose their favorite titles

Talk about hitting the lottery. That’s how we felt when we asked some of the top kids’ book creators to choose their favorite children’s book about the black experience. The title could be for kids of any age—from a picture book or graphic novel to a chapter book or collection of poems. We told them it could be new or old, […]

Altar Ego: In Ally Condie’s ‘Matched,’ the government dictates who you marry | Under Cover

Photograph by Matthew Turley.

Matched takes place in a dystopian society that controls who you marry, what you eat, and when you die. But 17-year-old Cassia challenges the established order when she falls for two guys—her state-approved match and someone a computer glitch accidentally reveals. I heard the story was inspired by a high school prom that you and your husband, Scott, chaperoned.

We used to chaperone dances on the weekend for […]

The Last Battle: With ‘Mockingjay’ on its way, Suzanne Collins weighs in on Katniss and the Capitol

The suspense is killing us. Ever since Katniss Everdeen, the arrow-slinging heroine of Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy, was snatched from the cruel clutches of a ruthless government, we can’t stop thinking about the feisty 16-year-old from District 12. What sort of flesh-devouring, mutant killing machine awaits her next? How can she possibly lead a successful revolt against the technologically advanced Capitol? And what about her two teen suitors—Gale, a longtime hunting buddy, and Peeta Mellark, the baker’s selfless son? […]

It’s a Long Story: Poet Joyce Sidman’s ‘Ubiquitous’ celebrates evolution’s winners

Ubiquitous features poems about some of nature’s most successful survivors, including bacteria (which are almost four billion years old), sharks, and squirrels. I was stunned to learn that 99 percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.

I know. When I found that out, I felt the same way. There have been so many books about endangered species and why they die out. I was interested in why certain groups of organisms thrive.

Did you discover anything amazing?

One of […]

Born to Be Wild: Sick of boring science books? Try Pamela S. Turner’s ‘The Frog Scientist.’ | Under Cover

Photograph by David Paul Morris/

Getty Images for SLJ.

Your latest book opens with Tyrone Hayes, a biologist at UC Berkeley, and some of his grad students trying to catch frogs in Wyoming. What was it like hanging out with those guys?

It was pretty funny. I was in Southern California at a conference, and they were up in Montana. They were going to these really remote lakes and trying […]