Monday, March 24, 2014

Loved to Pieces . . . with Lynda Mullaly Hunt!

Look who's joined us in the cottage today! It's the fabulous Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of the award-winning middle grade novel One For The Murphy's and Fish In A Tree (forthcoming from Penguin in 2015.)

Lynda brought with her the book she refers to as THE book. It's the book she loved-to-pieces; so much so that she recently tracked down the very same edition she had as a child.

Tell us about it, Lynda. . .


On my journeys to visit readers, I speak with students and teachers about the reasons behind my avoidance of reading as a kid. Another reminder of those days is working on my next book entitled, FISH IN A TREE, about a struggling student.

The more I think about those struggles, the more I love THE CAY by Theodore Taylor.

Kids are usually surprised when I tell them I have not been writing and reading since I was young. Since school was a challenge for me, reading and writing were both to be avoided. Part of that reason was the curse of low expectations—low expectations from both my teachers and from myself.

However, my sixth grade teacher changed that. He asked me to read TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING by Judy Blume which I liked very much. I still remember its opening pages as a vivid movie in my head. However it wasn’t THE book for me. Readers know what I mean by that—the book that you become a part of. And it becomes a part of you.

Later that year, I stumbled upon THE CAY by Theodore Taylor in the school library. I liked the cover, so I checked it out. Once I began, I was hooked and I read it over and over again. I carried it around with me. It was the first book that I ever insisted on owning.

Unfortunately, I lost track of that original copy during a move years ago, so I bought a new paperback when my kids were young. However, I recently began to get itchy about owning the very same edition as the one I discovered in sixth grade. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find one (complete with the same plastic library cover) and when I opened the cover and read the first line, I was taken back to those early days of discovering and loving the world of Timothy, Phillip, and the cay. I could even feel the scratchy bedspread that I used to hide underneath to read it.

This copy now sits in a prominent spot in my office, reminding me—as I work on novels for children of the same age as when I first found THE CAY—that a book can have a far-reaching impact.

Deeper and wider and higher than one may ever imagine.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt is the author of middle-grade novel, One For The Murphys (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin), winner of The Tassy Walden Award: New Voices in Children’s Literature, an ABA New Voices Pick, A Nerdy Book Award Winner, and an Editor’s Choice Book with Scholastic Book Clubs. It also appears on 21 state lists. Lynda has directed the SCBWI-NE Whispering Pines Retreat for eight years and is a former teacher and Scenario Writing coach. Her second novel, Fish In A Tree, will be released in winter, 2015. Lynda lives with her husband, two kids, impetuous beagle and beagle-loathing cat.
Find Lynda online here: and here:  and on Twitter: @Lynmullalyhunt. Also check out the amazing nonprofit Lynda runs which helps put books into the hands of foster children:  

“An astonishing debut! Lynda Mullaly Hunt's direct style of writing has readers rooting for Carley Connors and all of the Murphys from start to satisfying finish.”

Leslie Connor, ALA Schneider Family Award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch.

“This is a beautiful book, filled with hope. You’ll cry and laugh along with Carley as she learns to lower her defenses enough to love—and, more surprisingly, be loved.
It’s a story you’ll long remember.”

Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor-winning author of Pictures of Hollis Woods and Lily’s Crossing

Watch the book trailer:

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