A Conversation with Carol Weston:
Is this book a continuation of the story we read in Ava and Pip or does it stand on its own?
Like Ava and Pip, the second diary-novel, Ava and Taco Cat is set in Misty Oaks. But if a reader wants to start with Book Two, that’s fine. I work hard to subtly re-introduce the characters so that new readers won’t be confused, but fans will enjoy easing right into the next round of adventures.
Where did you get your inspiration for Ava’s character?
Confession: I was a fifth grader who kept diaries and loved cats and read Aesop fables (rather than Harry Potter-sized books). I was also the baby in the family, and my dad was the family cook. Yes, some autobiography in there! In this book, Ava gets her name in the local paper, and I will say that the first time that happened to me, I was 11 and new in town and I won a swan-naming contest in Armonk, New York. I suggested “Puff and Petticoat” for the male and female swans, and next thing I know, there was a big photo on the front page. It was exciting and embarrassing. Both!
Do you have plans for future books about Ava?
I’m already working on AVA XOX which will come out around Valentine’s Day next year. Note the palindromic title! I won’t say much except that Ava suddenly notices that her feelings for her friend Chuck are more complicated than she realized. And she also makes a new friend who asks for some weighty advice…
Is there anything about writing for children that you find particularly challenging?
I have two daughters and I’ve been the Dear Carol advice columnist for Girls’ Life Magazine since 1994 and I like visiting schools, so I’m very comfortable with children. I suppose one challenge is that I want my books to be really fun for kids but also to have depth and a sound takeaway message or two. I want my books to be delicious and nutritious, so I just do a zillion revisions until I’m satisfied that young readers will be satisfied.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
No plain vanilla for me. I prefer Rum Raisin or Chocolate Chip or Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey or Mocha Walnut or Vanilla Swiss Almond or…. I like ice cream with things in it! I don’t think I have just one favorite flavor.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I think we all have so many superpowers and we need to strive to be our best selves and put more of them to good use. But if I’m allowed to be greedy, I will say that I have a terrible sense of direction, so a pair of wings with GPS implants would be pretty cool. Yes. I’d like to fly. As I child, I flew in my dreams.
This is my cat Mike. He is ambivalent about my writing.
Thanks for the interview Carol!
About the Book:
- Age Range: 10 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 – 8
- Series: Ava and Pip (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 7, 2015)
Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.
When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?
The New York Times called AVA AND PIP “a love letter to language. ” With this second diary, Girls’ Life advice columnist Carol Weston hits another home run.
About the Author:
Carol Weston is a writer and speaker. The author of fourteen books, she has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life Magazine since 1994. Her new book is Ava and Taco Cat (April, 2015). The New York Times Book Review called Ava and Pip (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2014), her last novel about the fifth grader, “a love letter to language.” Carol’s first book, GIRLTALK: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (HarperCollins), now in a fourth edition, has been in print since 1985 and was translated into a dozen languages. Her first novel, The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf), became a four-book series. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale with a master’s from Middlebury, Carol has appeared on Today, The View, 48 Hours, Oprah, and given talks at schools around the country. Newsweek calls her a “Teen Dear Abby.” Carol and her husband, playwright Rob Ackerman, live in Manhattan and have two daughters and one cat. Carol has taught writing at Middlebury and at the New York Society Library. Carol speaks excellent French and Spanish and not-half-bad Italian and has had 40 letters published in The New York Times, two of which were about cats.