Welcome, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts ... including those with and without fleas! You are in for a howling-good time today. We are officially kicking off our annual Trick-or-Treat event with NYTs Bestselling Author Ame Dyckman and her fang-tasticly fun book, The New Kid Has Fleas! When a new kid starts schools, rumors swirl that she is different than the others...and probably has fleas and could be dangerous. So, when a child gets paired with the new kid for a school project, he begins to wonder what his friends will say at his funeral or if he'll survive the project. What better way to open up spooky season (am I right)? Want to know about Ame and find out if the new kid does have fleas, PLUS want a chance to win a splendidly sweet treat from her? Read on...
Q: Hi, Ame! Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! We’re thrilled to have you Trick or
Treat with us and hear all about your and Eda Kaban's book The New Kid Has Fleas. Please share a little about this book’s journey. How did you come up with the idea? What inspired you to write about wolves?
A: Thanks so much for having me! In The New Kid Has Fleas, there’s a New Kid in class, and she’s… different. As our Narrator Kid notices, the New Kid dresses different, talks different, eats different… almost as if she’d been “raised by wolves!” And when a classroom assignment forces them to work together after school at the New Kid’s house, Narrator Kid realizes the truth: THE NEW KID WAS RAISED BY ACTUAL WOLVES! IN AN ACTUAL CAVE! But when Narrator Kid let’s go of his preconceptions, he finds the completely different experience—and the New Kid herself—to be interesting and lots of fun! By the end of the book, the New Kid is a New Friend. I had an absolute blast playing with the “raised by wolves” concept, and the utter strangeness of going to a classmate’s house for the first time where their home and family and snacks—squirrel, anyone?—are nothing like your own. And as a frequent former New Kid myself (my family moved a lot), I wanted to do a book with a gentle reminder for us to be kind to all the New Kids out there—not just in a classroom setting, but everywhere.
Q: The New Kid Has Fleas is such a sweet and funny story! How did you decide what to leave out of the text? Did you have art notes? Or did the illustrator add those bits of humor? What is your favorite humorous spread and why?
A: AWWW, thank you! And AH, art notes! I try to write picture books where the text tells one half of the story, and the art tells the other. I keep the text short to let the art speak, too. But sometimes, that means the art on a certain page has to contain a specific object, detail, expression, etc. for the sentence or joke or later plot to work, and that’s where I’ll insert an art note. For example, in one of my favorite spreads in The New Kid Has Fleas, our Narrator Kid is thinking how it’s hard not to stare at the New Kid:
Especially during Gym.
And Music. AROOO!
And Lunch. (New Kid chases a squirrel.)
I didn’t want to write that last line as And when the New Kid chases a squirrel to eat for her lunch. because that’s not allowing the art to tell that part of the story. (And illustrator Eda Kaban did such a WONDERFUL job of visually telling our story!) But our main characters encounter a squirrel again in a later scene, so I had to make it clear that this foreshadowing-lunch-in-question was a squirrel. Thus, the art note. (But if it hadn’t needed to be a squirrel, it would’ve been fun just to see what Eda would’ve come up with!)
(There’s another scene where our Narrator Kid needs to use the bathroom, and the New Kid just wordlessly points outside their cave. So that scene had an art note, too! HA!)
Q: So cool! Thanks for sharing that behind-the-scenes peek with us, Ame.
We must know, what’s the secret Easter Egg that the good folks at Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan let you put in your book?
A: If you look, really, really closely in the fine print of the credits, you’ll see this line:
No squirrels were harmed in the making of this book.
I was SO HAPPY when editor Connie Hsu and crew agreed we could include that!
Q: What is one of your favorite things about Halloween?
A: We love ALL things Halloween—especially haunted houses! If an October weekend passes where we weren’t chased through a circus tent by a clown wielding a chainsaw, that weekend was a waste! (Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a REALLY spooky picture book someday! Heh-heh-heh! Horror-loving editors, please HIT ME UP!)
Q: BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite Halloween Candy and/or What candy pairs the best with your book?
My favorite Halloween candy is ANYTHING by Reese’s—I’d even eat a Reese’s Broccoli Bar!—but I think the Halloween candy that pairs best with The New Kid has Fleas is a Baby Ruth. (It’s brownish, it’s bumpy, it’s full of nuts, and if you squint, you can almost pretend it’s a squirrel! HA!)
Thanks again for joining us today, Ame, and for kicking off our event! We can't wait to read The New Kid Has Fleas and all your other titles coming soon.
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A Treat! I'm offering TWO signed copies of The New Kid Has Fleas!
So cool! Thanks for such spook-tastic treats, Ame!
Contest Details: Ame is offering a giveaway of TWO signed copies of The New Kid Has Fleas! (One for you, one for a friend—if you’re the winner!) Please see her Twitter account (@AmeDyckman) for details and how to enter. (It’s easy—just Retweet her Tweet to be entered to win!)
Ame's winner will be announced October 8th!
*Books will be shipped in the US only*
Readers, please leave a Halloween or wolf-inspired GIF below to thank her for stopping by!
Note: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes, perfect for quick MS feedback, provided by Agent Mentee Lynne Marie & Author Heather Macht. All other prizes will be drawn and announced on or about November 5th!
About Ame Dyckman:
Ame Dyckman writes kidlit when she SHOULD be sleeping! She's the award-winning author of the picture books Boy + Bot; Tea Party Rules; the New York Times bestselling Wolfie the Bunny; Horrible Bear!; You Don’t Want A Unicorn!; You Don’t Want a Dragon!; Read the Book, Lemmings!; Misunderstood Shark; Misunderstood Shark: Friends Don’t Eat Friends; Dandy; That’s Life!; The New Kid Has Fleas; Tiny Barbarian; Tiny Barbarian Conquers the Kraken; the Wee Beasties board book series (Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard; Roary the Lion Roars Too Loud; Touchy the Octopus Touches Everything); How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide; Don’t Blow Your Top! (10/17/23)… and MANY MORE picture books and early readers in the works! Ame lives in beautiful central New Jersey with her family—and LOTS of coffee! Follow Ame on Twitter (@AmeDyckman), where she shares book news and reviews, goofy poetry, goofy photos, and pretty much EVERYTHING that pops into her head!
For more about Ame, check out the below links:
For more about Eda Kaban, check out the below link:
To purchase Ame's book on Amazon, or to leave a review for them, click here.
To purchase Ame's book from MacMillian, click here.
A special thanks to David Rodriguez Lorenzo for the amazing custom-signatures!