Boy do I have a terrific way to start off your week!
An interview, a giveaway of a personalized signed book!, and a chance to ask questions of the newest author on the block!
Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Erik, writer of the blog ThisKidReviewsBooks. At age 11 he has just published his first chapter book for middle grade readers, and I have to tell you, I have read work by adults that is not as good as what this young man has written! He's in the middle of an extensive blog tour. I will post the complete list at the bottom, so if you're interested in reading reviews of the book or entering other giveaways for it, you may follow the links.
But I have the privilege of interviewing Erik so we can get to know him a little and have a glimpse into the mind that created The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea Book 1: A Bad Idea, so fasten your seat belts everyone! :)
(Susanna in black, Erik in blue)
So, Erik, tell us a little about yourself...
I’m 11 ¾ -years-old and in 6th grade. I started reading comic books when I was very young (my mom said around 4). I love books and reading! I write a blog where I review books (ThisKidReviewsBooks.com) and I write a monthly book column for the Upper Bucks Free Press. I have a black belt in Taekwon-Do. I also study Okinawan Karate and Jiu-Jitsu. In my spare time I like to fish and build with Legos. I’d like to be an inventor and a published author when I grow up.
|Meet Erik, published author!|
When did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think I ever actually decided to be a writer, it is just something I like to do. I always liked making up stories. I have notebooks filled with ideas and stories that I made up ever since I could write.
Can you share any of your earlier work?
Well, I’ve always loved superheroes (I STILL love superheroes, but that’s beside the point). Ever since I can remember, I came up with my own superhero characters. I had over 500 superheroes in my head and I wrote about 20 (or so) of them. I constantly was telling my superhero stories to my parents and they got me a journal notebook and convinced me to write the stories down. After I filled the first journal with stories and drawings, they got me another one, and I just kept writing. Here is the opening of a story about one of the first superheroes I made up. I wrote it when I was five. Sorry that there are a ton of typos (but I was five). :)
Mountain team beginning
When Mountain Man was a boy he was called Mountain boy because he liked mountains. He lived with his family on a mountain. He liked to go fishing up in the mountains and swimming up in the mountains. Then one day there was a
It was a gray tornado but it was made of power not wind. It sucked up … MOUNTAIN BOY! He changed. Then he was a grown up. He called himself…
Inside the tornado he saw his, future of his team. He found out what his powers were. They were, turn into a rock, make mountains, and speed, but still he wasn`t happy, he needed friends.
|This is Erik's illustration of "Fireball" who was the villain in the Mountain Man story!|
I am actually still working on this story but I changed the main character from Mountain Man to a guy named Techno and made a bunch of changes (Mountain Man is still in there, just under a different name and is a minor character with a big temper).
I wrote my first “picture book” in 2nd grade. It’s a collection of folktales from different countries. I interviewed a bunch of people from different countries at my mom’s work (and I got to miss a day of school to do it!). I asked them questions about their home country and what their favorite folk tale from their country was. I made it in Microsoft PowerPoint. My second grade teacher let me do it as an outside project because I wanted to learn how to use PowerPoint. My school liked it so much they posted it on their website. J
|Cover of Erik's 2nd grade book|
|The part about Norway :)|
I’m actually using the folktale idea right now to try to make it into an actual picture book. I am also working on the next Tomato and Pea adventure. It will take off from where Book 1 ended.
Has anyone been particularly helpful to you in your writing journey?
I want to thank everyone who helped me in some way, whether they know it or not. My blog followers help with all of their encouragement and constructive criticism. My teachers for helping me be a better writer. My Aunt, for being one of my proof-readers! My Dad, for reading tons of drafts of my book and telling me what he thinks. I thank my Mom, who helps me stay organized and tells me when something I write doesn’t sound right. I won a critique from Julie Hedlund and she pointed out (in a very good way) where my characters were weak. Her comments really helped me make the book better. Author Michelle Isenhoff was very helpful and encouraging too. Mrs. Isenhoff, helped me edit the book. She gave me great lessons on grammar and writing conversation. She also really supported me when I didn’t think I could do another re-write. The whole Kid Lit community has been very nice and helpful to me. Whenever I had a question, someone was always there to answer it! Thank you all!
Your book, The Adventures of Tomato and Pea Book 1: A Bad Idea, features "super crime stopper, Tomato and his sidekick, Pea". How did your heroes come to be named after vegetables? Are tomatoes and peas your favorites? If you had to describe yourself as a vegetable, which one would you be?
My Uncle Dave (Dave Costella) made me two stuffed toys and told me their names were Tomato and Pea. He named the toys after the color of the material he made them from. Dave challenged me to write a story about the stuffed toys so I did!
|Here they are! The Superheroes, Tomato and Pea!|
I like tomatoes and peas, but now, I don’t feel right eating them. That would be cannibalistic.
I think I’m a tall thin asparagus. An asparagus is not usually the first vegetable you think of, but when you do, you think, “Yes, I really like asparagus!”
Your villain is named Wintergreen. What diabolical qualities of wintergreen prompted this name choice?
After I made my first Tomato and Pea story up (it was only like 500 words long), I showed it to Dave. He liked it and made me more characters including the villain Wintergreen. Dave thought it was funny to name Wintergreen, because he’s actually blue. I thought it was great because the other characters could point that fact out and annoy him. J Wintergreen is pretty cranky because he looks a lot like his arch-enemy Tomato and his color is all wrong.
|I'm pretty sure this is what Erik looks like when he's writing the scenes|
with the evil villain, Wintergreen! :)
Do you share characteristics with any of your book characters? If so, which character would you say is the most like you and why?
I think the character I most relate to, is Poppy Cornelius Lobster. I am full of random facts (that usually come at the wrong time). I made Tomato into the hero I would like to be; brave, athletic, and awesome. I am good with computers and figuring out how electronic stuff works so that’s where I got the idea that Pea is good with electronics. Skew loves to cook because I love to cook. I also want to take over the world just like Wintergreen.
What was the easiest part of writing your book?
The funny parts. I would get “on a roll” when I wrote a funny scene. The words just came out.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Also, when I decided to make my story into a stand-alone book that didn’t need any pictures. I had to add many details without overdoing it and boring the reader. It was hard to write down what I was picturing in my head.
Which is your favorite scene/moment in the story?
My favorite is after the bunch crash-lands on EAR-TH and they are looking for somewhere to take shelter. Here it is –
“We are in some sort of book depository,” Tomato observed.
“It’s called a library,” Poppy replied.
“Is this one of those facts that you just know?” Tomato asked.
Poppy pointed up. “No. The sign says it up there, see? ‘Public Library, Free Wi-Fi.’”
“Oh. Well, this could be very useful,” Tomato said.
The library was humongous. Huge shelves stacked with books with strange titles lined the walls. “Look, over there,” Tomato whispered pointing to a very large desk. “That female creature must be the commander of this book depository. The minions at their work terminals must be doing something top secret because the commander keeps SHUSHING them and won’t allow them to communicate with each other. I think we should set up camp here. It is very quiet. Most of the giants in this building are too interested in their research to notice us,” Tomato observed.
(See? I told you he wrote well! :))
To help our readers figure out if they would enjoy your book, are there any books that you could say, if you liked that book, you'll love The Adventures of Tomato and Pea?
I think that if you like silly books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Big Nate, Clueless McGee, etc., you’d (hopefully) like Tomato and Pea. I tried to write it at a chapter book level so young kids can have a fun adventure if they read it.
Well, I know I want to read it! (Oh wait. I have read it... :))
If any of you have questions for Erik, he will be checking in to the blog (after school!) and will be happy to answer them, so fire away!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Erik! It's been great learning a little something about you and your book! And I am thrilled to announce that we have one copy of the book to give away, which Erik will personalize and sign for the winner!
Now, I know you're all going to enter the giveaway, but alas, only one person can win. For those who don't win, you can buy your copy of The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea Book 1: A Bad Idea at the following online booksellers (and I recommend you do it now... if you end up winning you can always give your extra copy to someone as a gift :)):
In order to enter the giveaway, all you HAVE to do is leave a comment on this post. But if you WANT to join in the spirit of fun, Erik and I would LOVE it if you would tell us what vegetable you are most like and why :)
I'll go first (well, second, because Erik already told us he was asparagus :))
I am a potato. I am small and a little rounder then is absolutely necessary. I am pretty gosh-darn white (that Dutch Friesian heritage :)). And I'm pretty down to earth. I don't think you can get much more down to earth than a potato :)
Okay! Your turn! Please enter your comment by Wednesday September 18 at 11:59 PM EDT. The winner will be announced on Perfect Picture Book Friday!
And if you'd like to read reviews of Erik's book and explore what he has to share on the other stops of his blog tour, some of which took place last week and some of which are still upcoming, you may follow the links below:
September 8 Erik’s blog – cover reveal and announce blog tour
September 9 Michelle Isenhoff’s blog – Book review
September 10 KidLit Reviews – Book review
September 11 Mother Daughter Book Reviews – Book review
The Story Reading Ape – Guest post by Erik
September 12 Catherine Johnson’s Blog – Book review
September 13 Julie Grasso’s Blog - Book review
By Word of Beth – Book review and giveaway
September 14 Diane Tulloch’s blog – Book review
September 15 Picture Books Help Kids Soar – Book review
September 16 Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – Interview – Q&A with Commenters and giveaway
September 17 Reading with Rhythm – Book Review
September 18 Julie Rowan-Zoch’s blog – Interview
September 19 Dr. Niamh Clune’s blog – Book Review in rhyme
September 20 S.W. Lothian’s blog – Book review
Thank you all so much for visiting with me and Erik today! We can't wait to see what kind of garden develops in the comments and who will be the lucky winner of Erik's book!
(And remember, if you have questions for Erik you can ask!)