Saturday, March 28, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 66: Author Anne Bustard

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Anne Bustard and I discuss her newest book, BLUE SKIES, and its 20-year journey from a picture book to a middle grade novel. She tells me about her life as a perpetual student, earning a BS, MLIS, PHD, and an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, as well as devising her own learning program utilizing WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass. We talk about her time as an elementary school teacher and a bookstore owner, how attending a writing workshop taught by previous guest Kathi Appelt changed her life, and so much more.

Born in Hawaii, author Anne Bustard is still a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk by the ocean every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. Growing up, Anne took years of hula lessons and spent many happy hours wearing a facemask and breathing through a snorkel. Her small sea glass collection from childhood is one of her most treasured possessions.

Anne loves school. And she has a lot of degrees to prove it. Three came from the University of Texas at Austin (BS, MLIS, PhD). Her most recent one, and she believes her last, is an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Children’s books have always been central to her life. When she taught in elementary schools and universities, she always used literature. Anne co-owned Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, too. As a bookseller, she loved opening up new boxes of books, telling others about them and running a summer writing program for children.

Anne is the author of several works for young readers including award-winners Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers) and Anywhere but Paradise (Lerner).

In Spring 2020, her next middle grade novel, Blue Skies (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers) and RAD! her first fiction picture book, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (Abrams Books for Young Readers) will be published.

Anne recently married her college sweetheart and divides her time between Ontario and Texas.

Ten-year old Glory Bea Bennett believes in miracles. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them so far.

Now, Glory Bea wants a miracle of her own—her daddy’s return.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned from the front in France. Though he was lost on Omaha Beach, deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.

When reports that the Texas boxcar from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.

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