Getting to attend the Julie Berry event at The King’s English Bookshop for her new Middle Grade novel The Emperor’s Ostrich was so much fun. I’m a huge fan of Julie’s Printz Honor YA novel The Passion of Dolssa, so I was really excited to get to meet Julie in person.
Julie shared a really neat story about how when she was young, she was a fan of Lloyd Alexander’s books, so she wrote him a fan letter. Lloyd took the time not only to respond to Julie but to encourage her to write herself. Receiving that letter from Lloyd gave Julie the confidence to pursue writing herself, and lucky for us, because she’s written such incredible books since then.
Julie also told us the story of how she got the idea for this novel, and I found it so inspirational. She was teaching a writing workshop for children and doing an activity where they all picked three words and had to come up with a story idea from those three words. The point of the exercise, of course, was that writers don’t need to wait for some divine stroke of inspiration to be able to write a novel, they can take the power of creating ideas into their own hands. The particular words that Julie came up with that inspired The Emperor’s Ostrich were “ostrich, emperor, and ghoul.”
Julie also talked about her experience with receiving the call telling her that she had been awarded a Printz Honor. Apparently, at the time she was teaching a children’s class at her church, and one of her friends text her asking her if she’d received “the call” yet. When she checked her phone she noticed she had two missed calls! She excused herself from the class and called the number back. Sure enough, it was the committee calling to tell her she had won the award. Naturally, Julie had to take a few laps around the parking lot before being able to go back in and attempt to continue teaching the class with a straight face.
One of the most exciting parts of the evening though was that my book bestie, Sarah from The Clever Reader, got engaged! Her man proposed right there in front of The King’s English, one of her favorite places (and best bookshops) in the whole world! So another huge CONGRATULATIONS to Sarah and Andrew! <3 you guys!!!
About The Emperor’s Ostrich
A classic madcap romp of a fantasy adventure from the author of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.
Young dairymaid Begonia has lost her cow, Alfalfa. So she has set off on a search across the countryside even though she has nothing but a magical map to guide her. Along the way she meets a mother and baby, a woodcutter, a very dirty young man, and an eight-foot ostrich.
Meanwhile, the Emperor has gone missing from the royal palace in a most mysterious manner. Was it murder? Was it magic? It will take all of Begonia’s wits to save the empire and get Alfalfa home safely.
Have you read The Passion of Dolssa? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? What is your favorite middle grade novel…besides Harry Potter ;)?