It’s been awhile since we met here, but I just had to share AFTER-SCHOOL SUPERSTARS with all of you! My dear sweet friend, Claudia Mills, is launching this new chapter book series today published by Holiday House. The first starring character in the series is: Nixie Ness, Cooking Star. It’s a perfect pick for summertime reading about cooking and friendship and sure to be served with a large dollop of humor! And YES there is a comment contest, that's so super easy to enter! All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of **NIXIE NESS** COOKING STAR. Spread the word on twitter and FB and you’ll get more chances to win. Now enjoy the rest of the post brought to you by NIXIE and Claudia!
"Likable Nixie creates a terrific recipe for winning back old friends and making lots of new ones.” – Kirkus
Junior Library Guild Selection
WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT. . . by Claudia Mills
I love school.
I’ve always loved school. Even as a child, I loved school so much that instead of crossing off the days left of school until summer vacation, I’d cross off the days left of summer vacation until school started again.
So when I became an author, I specialized in writing school stories. I drew inspiration from my own school memories, but especially from school activities and projects at Mesa Elementary, which my two sons attended in Boulder, Colorado. Their fifth grade biography tea was the seed for my chapter book Being Teddy Roosevelt. An assignment to write a diary in the persona of someone who lived through the Civil War became The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish. The third-grade space sleepover provided the culminating scene for How Oliver Olson Changed the World. My recent chapter-book series, Franklin School Friends, features a school reading contest, spelling bee, and track-and-field day. Yay for school as an endless source of material for authors like me!
But after writing literally dozens of school stories, I found myself yearning to branch out a bit. And so I decided to write about . . . . after-school! Millions of kids in America attend after-school programs that offer their own rich array of activities that could provide fodder for fiction. Like school itself, after-school programs bring a disparate group of kids together and provide great opportunities for kids to learn and grow – the two things I loved best about writing school stories. But after-school programs can offer learning possibilities that go beyond the test-driven school curriculum. If I set a series in an after-school program, what fun it would be!
Thus was born my new chapter-book series, After-School Superstars, with each book featuring a different month-long after-school “camp,” with the same diverse group of kids, with each book starring a different protagonist. I did a lot of brainstorming to come up with camp topics that would provide material for entertaining scenes that would be different from what kids would be doing during a typical school day. First up: cooking camp! Next up: comic-book camp! Third in the lineup: coding camp! I haven’t yet settled on the topic for the fourth camp: ideas welcome!
This month I’m introducing the first book to the world: Nixie Ness, Cooking Star. In the course of a month jam-packed with cooking activities, Nixie and her comrades – Vera, Nolan, and Boogie – make a wide array of yummy lunchbox offerings, pet treats, pumpkin recipes, baked goods for a huge bake sale, and international cuisine for the camp’s concluding around-the-world banquet. But it’s also a friendship story. Nixie’s mother’s new job means that Nixie will no longer spend afternoons at home with her best friend, Grace – and that Grace will now be spending afternoons instead with “best-friend stealer” Elyse. So as Nixie chops up carrots for pita-pocket fillings, bakes Morning Glory Muffins, and learns how to make saag aloo, she’s also trying to figure out how to keep her best friend – and even how to expand her ideas about friendship.
Claudia Mills is the author of almost 60 books for young readers, including most recently the Franklin School Friends series from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and her new After-School Superstars series from Holiday House. In addition to writing books, she has been a college professor in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University in Roanoke.
Visit Claudia at www.claudiamillsauthor.com.