Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Giveaway and Author Interview with E.S.Farber

Wish YOU were having summer adventures? Fish and his friends have some, so if nothing else, you can read about them. Joining us today is E. S. Farber, the author of Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles, which was published in April by Chronicle Books.

If you'd like to win a copy, comment below, and my certified Awards Awarders (aka, the children) will pick a winner!

For more on this blog tour,  http://middlegrademafioso.blogspot.com; Brookefavero.blogspot.com; http://www.theresabook.com 

Fish and his friends have some fun adventures. Where did you get your inspiration for these? Do you think that children in the real world should be encouraged to do more exploring?
Much of my inspiration for Fish Finelli came from the town where I live now and where I spent summers as a child being independent, free to explore and discover.

I was also very influenced by re-reading Beverly Cleary with my son, who loved to hear all about the adventures of Henry Huggins and Beezus and Ramona in their charming Fifties’ neighborhood (he even attempted a paper route at the age of six). Then there was the fact that my son was so interested in facts, wanting to know how to do things, how things worked…I thought, hmm, how about incorporating interesting facts in an adventure story in which the characters (the main one being super smart and the son of a plumber) are living in a somewhat retro yet modern small-town world where they are free to explore and expected to problem solve on their own without relying on adult intervention…

I think children today should definitely be encouraged to explore whether in the city or the country…either by going outside and making forts, climbing trees, biking, skateboarding, building sand castles, going to museums, playgrounds, riding busses and subways, or just walking and observing the world go by, having hands-on experiences of self-discovery in which they learn things first-hand versus listening to an adult explain why something is so, or why to do or not do something.

The big topic of discussion among language arts teachers is the Common Core and its concentration on nonfiction reading. What can you say to reassure these teachers and make them feel better about giving children more nonfiction to read?

I think nonfiction can be just as fun to read and just as well-written and “literary” as fiction. Kids love to learn, and so long as it’s not the laundry-list approach to teaching facts about a topic, books with real information presented in engaging, intriguing ways are powerful tools. I particularly like the mixing of facts and fiction, as I see how much real understanding of a time period and how people lived, of inventions and how they revolutionized the world, or a different culture and its traditions, can be absorbed through well-researched historical or fact-based fiction. I also think good biographies can be an excellent way to teach history, science, and even mathematical thinking, presented in the context of the story of someone’s life, replete with the drama of all of its trials and triumphs.

Fish Finelli includes lots of interesting facts. Do you have any books would you recommend to readers who want more information about nonfiction topics?

 The Who Was? biography series is a fun introduction to nonfiction  for younger readers who want an easy yet informative read. David Macaulay’s How Things Work is a terrific book for explaining science principles, introducing physics and mechanics, as well as all of his other books on architecture and building. Visual dictionaries are also useful to have around, so kids can look something up easily and get a brief but well-expressed answer to those inevitable and hard-to-answer questions about gravity, light, atoms, etc. A book I read aloud to my son which he thoroughly enjoyed and from which we both learned an incredible amount about history and the rise and fall of civilizations, as well as the impact of inventions on the development of the modern world is E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World.

What's up next for Fish and his friends?
 Next up is Operation Fireball, the second Fish Finelli adventure, which is coming out in Spring 2014. This time the “bet” Fish and bully Bryce Billings make is that the Fireball, the old Whaler Fish and his friends are fixing up, will beat the Viper, Bryce’s brand-new, top-of-the-line Whaler in the annual Captain Kidd Classic boat race.

Before they can race, however, Fish and his friends have to get the old Seagull motor they purchased at the end of Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles to run, learning lots about boats and motors in the process. They also wind up learning more about Bryce and the meaning of friendship, and Fish finds out in the end that winning or losing a race isn’t what makes someone a good mariner.    

And here's an excerpt. Thanks for joining us, Ms. Farber!


  1. Anonymous9:21 PM EDT

    This sounds like a fun one. And I agree with Ms. Farber that kids need more hands on exploring. I'll be watching for this book in my library. Thanks for the interview!

  2. Anonymous9:22 AM EDT

    I really enjoyed this one and am now wanting to read it again, will be sharing it at my summer reading program. No need to enter me in giveaway as I already have a copy . Thanks for the interview!