Please join me in welcoming Kimberly Willis Holt, author of Piper Reed Navy Brat. "It's not easy being the middle child, especially when your dad is a Navy Chief. Meet Piper Reed, a spunky nine-year old who has moved more times than she can count on one hand." You can learn more about Kimberly at her website. You can purchase a copy here.
I read Piper Reed last week. It brought me right back to my childhood, snuggled into bed, soft pillow behind my head, eager to jump into another kids' world. When I was nine, I'd have identified with Piper. At 9 times almost 5, I can still identify with her, which I think is the mark of a terrific and timeless children's book. And I adore Christine Davenier's illustrations. I asked Kimberly a few questions that are relevant to the world of special needs, because Piper has dyslexia.
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Why did you give Piper Reed dyslexia?
I didn't plan to create a character with a reading disability. It just happened. Many times when I write I discover things I didn't know about the character. Sometimes that happens during rewrites. But in this situation I realized she was dyslexic on the first draft. I think it had something to do with her sisters' love for reading.
Also my mom was a special ed teacher and had many students with dyslexia. Over the years she told about their challenges. And though I don't have dyslexia(nor do any of my sisters) I am a slow reader. I'm more of an auditory learner. Sounds are important to me. I read at the speed that I speak. When I was in school, I thought I was stupid because I couldn't finish my tests in time. I think that gives me empathy for a dyslexic person.
Does Piper feel jealous toward her younger sister Sam, who is particularly bright and not challenged by dyslexia?
Although, Piper accepts her dyslexia, I believe she is insecure about what she believes to be Sam's supreme intellegence. Sam is smart, but she is not a prodigy. But Piper thinks her sister is and that's what matters.
What is Piper most afraid of when she moves?
Like most military kids, she's going to have to face being the new kid. She's done it before, but always had the advantage of making friends over the summer before the school year started. Now she's moving in October. She not only has to make new friends, but she is anxious about the possibility of the teacher making her read in front of the class.
Would Piper invite a child with a disability to join her Gypsy club?
Absolutely. Piper is a people person. She is a very accepting soul. Great idea!
Piper has a great catch phrase, "Get off the bus!" How does Piper feel about adding, "Get of the Van-bus!"
I love it! If I introduce a child with disability into the story, that might become a possibility. That's what I love about writing a series. Piper can meet more friends and have more storylines, because more books will follow.
You're welcome, Kimberly. Thank you!