War and Millie McGonigle #6

friends

Millie forms a close friendship with Rosie, a girl who has just moved into the neighborhood. Rosie is three years older than Millie. Theyre interested in very different things and yet theyre still friends. Did you have a Rosie in your life? What did you want this friendship to do for the story?

I was pretty much a loner growing up. We moved to LA when I was ten so all my friends were left behind. I was sent to a school many miles away from home and most of my schoolmates. I like to read, imagine, dream, and put on plays in the garage. There was not a Rosie in my young life. I would have loved a friend like that. I wanted Millie and Rosie’s friendship to open Millie’s eyes to a different way of looking at the world, filled with hope, trust, confidence, and fun.

friends

War and Millie McGonigleWar and Millie McGonigle, written by Karen Cushman and published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, is available on April 6, 2021, from your favorite bookseller and your closest library. 

Read more “behind the book.”

War and Millie McGonigle #5

Buy War Bonds

What kinds of parallels do you see between Millie experiences in 1941 and what children are experiencing now?

Right now there is no impending war threatening our children, but there certainly is fear, confusion, and uncertainty about the future. Covid, unemployment, homelessness, political turmoil loom over us, and I expect our children are especially unsettled. I hope we all discover a place of peace, joy, and solace such as Millie found.

War and Millie McGonigleWar and Millie McGonigle, written by Karen Cushman and published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, is available on April 6, 2021, from your favorite bookseller and your closest library. 

Read more “behind the book.”

About a Boy

Will Sparrow's RoadWhy did I write a book about a boy? I had in mind a story about a child alone and on the road in Elizabethan England. I knew a girl likely would not survive there in those somewhat brutal times. And I don’t believe that in a world with so little privacy, she could successfully disguise herself as a boy for long. She wouldn’t have access to a private bedroom or dressing rooms or bathrooms. London did have one public restroom—a plank with 18-holes, emptying directly into the Thames River. In fact using the whole world as a toilet—streets, fields, the halls of great houses—was so common that a book of manners from 1731 stated that it was impolite to stop and greet someone who is urinating. So it had to be a boy, and Will Sparrow was born.

It was important to me to build a Will who was believable, true to his character, his gender, and his times. My first attempts made Will more like a girl in britches so I had to do a lot more research. I read books on psychology and child development. I spoke to boys and mothers of boys. I watched boys at the bus stop and my husband and his friends at play. The resulting Will has boundless energy, his voice is changing, he distrusts displays of emotion, and he longs to grow facial hair. But he lives in a time that was more chaotic and dangerous so he is extremely vulnerable. There was no concept of adolescence so a boy of thirteen, no longer a child, was considered a man, with the responsibilities of a man.  

I hope I have managed to construct a Will who is believable, not a stereotype, and wholly entertaining.  Let me know what you think.

This article originally appeared on the Green Bean Teen Queen blog.