Today I'm very excited to welcome Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee!!
They are here today to talk their new book Maybe a Fox.
My review for the book will be up later today! (spoiler I really liked it!)
About the book
A tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever.
Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends, they’d be identical twins if only they’d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn’t such a fast—faster than fast—runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they’re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens…and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that—like their mother—her sister is gone forever.
At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born—half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast—faster than fast—and she senses danger. She’s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide.
Writing in alternate voices—one Jules’s, the other the fox’s—Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the tale of one small family’s moment of heartbreak.
About the Authors
Kathi Appelt is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her picture books include Oh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer, and the Bubba and Beau series, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her novels for older readers include two National Book Award finalists: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath, which was also a Newbery Honor Book. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, visit Kathi’s website at kathiappelt.com.
Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Firefly Hollow, Little Boy, So Many Days, Bye-Bye Crib, Always, A Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to the Sea,Countdown to Kindergarten, and Snap. Alison is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated adult novel Shadowbaby, which was also a Today show book club selection. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and you can visit her at AlisonMcGhee.com.
Today they each have a guest post about themselves at the age of 11 because the main characters in Maybe a Fox are about this age. I wanted to know how they felt they compared.
First we'll hear from Kathi:
There were three of us, with me being the oldest. Like Sylvie and Jules, my sisters and I had a lot of similarities. We were close in age, separated by months rather than years. We could wear each other’s clothes. We shared friends, and we had a cousin named Mike, who could easily have played the role of Sam for us. We adored him. Still do actually. But mostly, we leaned on each other heavily during those back-and-forth years of shared custody and constant moving between parents. At the time, the only ones experiencing our life was us. Even Mike couldn’t share our experience of loss.
When any group, regardless of familial connections, is thrown together in a shared situation, our vocabularies actually change to reflect that. My sisters and I still have our “language of sisters.” Likewise, Sylvie and Jules created their own language that shaped and enriched their world as they knew it.
As we wrote this book, one of the first things that Alison and I recognized was that tight bond between Sylvie and Jules and the way that their mother’s death sealed them together in such a complete and utterly profound way. So when Sylvie was lost, it felt like Jules lost a part of herself, a part that she had to find before she could move on.
I adore Jules and her true dedication to Sylvie; but if I had to say which sister I find myself in more fully, it would be Sylvie. She was the oldest, like me, and I immediately understood her keen desire to keep Jules and their father safe. Of course, from the vantage point of an adult, I know that that was beyond her powers as a twelve year-old, but I also know the way that love compels us to do whatever it takes to prevent loss, even it means losing ourselves. Sylvie made a mistake; but she made it in the name of love. There’s no greater language than that.
And now from Alison:
Kathi and I are both the eldest of three girls (I also have a younger brother) born very close in age. Like her, I was born wanting to take care of my sisters, my family, everyone I loved. I remember lying awake at night worrying about their safety and how to make them happy. So, in that way, we are fundamentally alike both to each other and to Sylvie.
Unlike Kathi, I grew up in the rural foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. It’s a region of tremendous natural beauty, brutal winters and hardscrabble working lives. My family and I lived on 130 acres of woods and creeks and fields, and I spent a lot of time roaming around our land. Inside me, from birth, there has always been a sense of how fleeting time and life is, and how much I want to hold onto the people and moments I love. I used to walk down the road to watch the sun rise over a field near our house. There was a tree in the middle of that field, a huge and ancient oak, and one day I decided to memorize it, the exact way it stood there, sentry to the cows and the grass and the hills that rose behind it.
I still have that image in my head, and for the rest of my eleventh and twelfth years I created other memory-photos of places I loved. My treehouse, which I built in an enormous maple by the side of the road. My “pine tree house,” which is what I called a tiny clearing among evergreens. The hay forts that my sisters and I would make in the barn. All these places were sanctuaries to me, places where I could be alone and think and read and draw and wonder where was my true place in this world.
In terms of inner emotional life, I am much more like Sylvie than Jules. In terms of external life, I am a woodland creature like Jules. Kathi and I are both alike, I think, in that we turn to the natural world to make sense of the human one—or, if not make sense, put it in some kind of perspective.
So very interesting to hear from the two of them how their lives influenced, reflected or mirrored the story!
Thank you for sharing.
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