October 7, 2015
Space Pioneer Buzz Aldrin Shares His Vision For Exploring Mars In Welcome to Mars
Could Mars be our future home? Buzz Aldrin thinks so, and he should know! Buzz is one of the first people to walk on the moon, and was a member of the historic Apollo 11 crew. A renowned rocket scientist, he developed a futuristic space transportation system to reach Mars. He chairs his own educational organization, ShareSpace Foundation. And he also has a Toy Story character named after him! (Hint: “To infinity — and beyond!”)
Buzz Aldrin lives, eats, and breathes all things Mars. Buzz has a vision for not only traveling to Mars, but inhabiting it as well. In Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, Buzz describes what it will take to build a permanent home on this far away planet.
Welcome to Mars reveals the ultimate in space transportation — the Aldrin Cycler Spacecraft – and what the space traveler will encounter upon arrival, including a detailed illustration of the Mars Lander Sequence and an ingenious method for removing the rusty dust stuck to the space suits. The reader is taken on a tour of the Spaceport, learns how dirt bikes and zip lines will be natural forms of red planet entertainment, and discovers how greenhouses will play a vital role in the colonization of Mars. Finally, after months of exploring and living in the rugged Spaceport, it’s moving day – Buzz ups the “wow” factor with high tech and forward-thinking living, eating and recreational quarters aptly named the Founders Dome.
What do you think? Will you sign up to go live on Mars? Tell us in the Comments.
Sonja, STACKS Staffer
September 2, 2015
James Patterson Talks About His Life as an Author!
Q: How many books have you written?
Patterson: I lost count. A little over 100. I write a lot of kids’ books. I write a lot of things that are different — that’s what keeps me excited. The kids’ books range from Maximum Ride, about kids who can fly to I Funny, about a kid who wants to be a stand-up comedian but he can never be a stand-up comedian because he’s in a wheelchair.
Q: Which ones would you like to see as movies on screen?
Patterson: All of them! Maximum Ride is very visual, these flying kids. I hope that will get made. We are shooting Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life at the end of the summer. It’s a cool story about how kids get lost in the education process. This kid in it is bright, brilliant as an artist, but there’s no way for him to express himself in school so he’s looked at as a dummy.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s block?
Patterson: No, I don’t. I’m always working on more than one thing. I have a big imagination and I’ll just go to another project. I have a folder this thick of ideas for novels. Writing stories comes very easily to me.
Q: What first inspired you to write?
Patterson: I was working my way through school at a mental hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts and I had a lot of free time so I started reading like crazy and then I started scribbling stories. Somebody once told me, you’re lucky if you find something you like to do and it’s a miracle if someone will pay you to do it. I love doing it. I love writing stories. As a kid, I grew up in the woods. I used to wander around the woods and make up stories in my head. I think that talent was there, I just wasn’t aware of it.
Q: You often write with co-authors. Why?
Patterson: It allows me to combine strength with strength. I’m a very good storyteller; I’m a little lazy as a stylist. So it allows me to work with a better stylist. Collaboration is OK!
Are you a fan of James Patterson’s books? Tell us which is your favorite in the Comments!
June 24, 2015
Tombquest author Michael Northrop talks about his books!
Q: Are any of your characters based on real people?
Michael Northrop: None of the characters are based entirely on real people—and I don’t know anyone who’s been brought back from the dead!—but they all have some bits and pieces and traits and tics from real people. As a writer, pieces of yourself make their way into all of your characters. I like to think that I have some of Alex’s determination, and some of Ren’s serious work ethic.
I’ve also visited many of the places mentioned in the books, so I was able to bring real history and a real sense of place into the books. As a New Yorker, I’ve spent many hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and in the subway system!) and I was also able to visit London and the British Museum, where Book 2 takes place. It did rain while I was there . . . just not blood rain.
Q: If you had to trade places with one of your characters for a day, who would it be?
Michael Northrop: That’s an easy one—I’d trade places with Alex and spend the day having a blast (of wind) with the scarab!
Q: In real life, would any of your characters be friends of yours?
Michael Northrop: I like all of the main characters! Luke might be too cool for me, but if we found ourselves together we could definitely talk sports for an afternoon and probably catch a game. And Alex and Ren are a tight little BFF unit—they don’t necessarily need a third wheel following them around and trying to write down everything they say as research for the fourth book. So I’d probably end up hanging out with Todtman and practicing my horrible German.
Michael Northrop, Author
June 17, 2015
A special message from Carolyn Mackler, author of Best Friend Next Door
At first, it doesn’t look like Hannah and Emme are going to be friends. When Emme moves in next door to Hannah, there’s a big problem. Emme has moved right into the house that Hannah’s best friend just moved out of (and out of the country, too). And not only that, but the two fifth graders both have names that are spelled the same backward and forward, they have the same birthday, and they both hate pizza and love peanut butter. Hannah is not happy about this identity theft. But after a rocky start, Hannah and Emme realize that their friendship is meant to be, and they will stick together through bullying, fund-raising fiascoes, sick pets, and new babies.
I loved writing Best Friend Next Door. It made me think about my best friend growing up on Centennial Avenue. Her name was (and still is!) Stephie. She actually lived three doors down, but those two houses in between didn’t mean anything to us. We wore a path through the other backyards to each other’s homes. We swam in her pool in the summer and sledded down the roof of my sloped garage in the winter. (We got in trouble for this one.) We made a tin-can phone and tin-can stilts, and set up an obstacle course for my dog, Rascal, in my backyard. To honor Stephie’s and my friendship, I put Hannah’s and Emme’s houses on Centennial Avenue, though in a fictional town.
There is nothing like a best friend, and even better, a best friend you can visit at all hours, even in your pajamas.
Would you like to live next to your best friend? Do you know anyone who has a palindrome name?
– Carolyn Mackler, author of Best Friend Next Door
June 10, 2015
Tui Sutherland Q&A
Tui Sutherland is the author of the Wings of Fire series. In honor of the Summer Reading Challenge, she has offered to answer some questions about her books and characters!
Q: Are any of your characters based on real people? Did any of things that happen to them in your books happen to you or people you know? Continue reading
April 15, 2015
More Proof That J. K. Rowling ROCKS!
Part 1 of a 2-part interview with Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling appeared on the Today Show this week. There is good news and bad news. The bad news for Harry Potter fans is that she said she is definitely not working on another Harry Potter book. “Harry Potter 8, as in what happened next to Harry, Ron and Hermione — I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Oh well . . .
But the good news is pretty amazing! J. K. Rowling has started a charity called Lumos. (Awesome name, right?) According to the Lumos website, the goal is to eliminate all orphanages and replace them with “community based services that provide children with access to health, education and social care tailored to their individual needs.”
As you probably know, Lumos is the spell to make light, so this name has a special meaning. This charity will help bring the problem of orphanages to light, and hopefully inspire people to change that system. And it will also be a light of hope to the children living in them and can hopefully make their lives much better.
In the Today Show interview, J. K. Rowling said, “I definitely will write for children again, ’cause I love writing for kids. So that will definitely happen, and that will sit comfortably alongside this work [Lumos]. And maybe I’ll get to read that new work to some of these children.”
Did you even need more proof that J. K. Rowling is a goddess? Well, there it is! Do you love her even more now? Leave your reactions in the Comments!
Sonja, STACKS Staffer
October 29, 2014
With Halloween nigh, it’s only fitting to serve up a treat . . . a Q & A with the terrifyingly spooktacular R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series! Read to find out which Goosebumps character R. L. Stine is most like, his inspiration for Slappy, and more!
Q: How did you come up with Slappy’s character and the rhyme that brings him to life? Continue reading
September 10, 2014
The BFG: The Movie!
Calling all Roald Dahl lovers! We have some fantastic news! (“Who is Roald Dahl?” you ask? You know Roald Dahl’s funny fantasy books like Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, just to name a few. He is so awesome that his birthday, September 13, is now known as Roald Dahl Day.)
Dahl’s fabulous book The BFG is being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg, the super-famous guy who directed The Adventures of Tintin and E.T. (rated PG). The BFG movie is scheduled to be in theaters in 2016. If it’s anything like the book, it will be funny, fantastical, and phenomenal!
The BFG goes like this: In Sophie’s world, most of the giants who come around only want to find children to eat for breakfast. But the Big, Friendly Giant is different. He would never eat “uckyslush human beans.” He only eats “snozzcumbers.” When he carries Sophie off one night, she becomes his friend, not his next meal. Sophie is a tough cookie, so she decides to stop the other kid-munching giants, and the BFG is going to help her.
Let’s hear your casting ideas. Which young actress do you think should play Sophie? What about the BFG? Which actors do you think would fit the roles of the other giants in the story? Post your predictions in the Comments below. I can’t wait to see if the on-screen BFG looks anything like the giants I imagined from the book.
Marisa, STACKS Intern
August 27, 2014
Meet Goosebumps author R. L. Stine
Are you a fan of the spooky and silly? Then you’re going to love the new movie Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? (rated PG). It’s based on the book series of the same name, written by Goosebumps author R. L. Stine. The movie, out on Blu-ray and DVD on September 2nd, stars Bella Thorne (from Shake It Up), Calum Worthy (from Austin & Ally), Madison Pettis, Roshon Fegan, and Ryan Ochoa. Ryan plays Max, a boy who’s finally gotten his crush Cammy (played by Bella) to go with him on a date. What could possibly go wrong? Well, when evil ghosts, ghouls, and other sinister creatures get involved, a LOT does. It’s up to Max and his ghostly friends Tara (played by Madison) and Nicky (played by Roshon) to set things right in time for Max’s big date on Halloween!
Read what R. L. Stine has to say . . . Continue reading
August 12, 2014
Top 5 things I learned while writing Surrounded by Sharks (for ages 12 and up)
By Michael Northrop
I’ve always been fascinated by sharks and have been a devoted viewer of Shark Week since it first aired in 1987, but even I was surprised by some of the things I discovered when I waded into the research for my latest book.
- Sharks are nature’s true smelling machines. Unlike bloodhounds and the owners of the world’s other notable noses, sharks don’t breathe through their nostrils. They use them for only one thing: finding food (and, okay, the occasional mate).
- Sharks’ senses are all sharp, but the one they use up close is a sort of underwater spider-sense. They can detect even the tiniest electrical charges in the water, as small as five one-billionths of a volt. If a fish swims by, the shark can sense its bioelectric field, each flick of its tail and beat of its heart.
- In the book, Davey stays afloat with the help of a discarded water cooler bottle. About ten million tons of plastic make their way into the ocean each year. And, fictional flotation devices aside, they serve absolutely no purpose other than pollution.
- The cool stripes that give tiger sharks their name fade out as they reach adulthood. As with humans, it’s the young ones that have all the style!
- While sharks get all the attention, riptides are the real killers at the beach. Over the past ten years, rip currents have killed an estimated one hundred people annually in the US alone. That’s more than floods, tornadoes, lightning, or hurricanes. Sharks are responsible for about one fatality every two years, fewer than fireworks, roller coasters, or falling vending machines.