I read a super-fun middle grade novel this week--check out the hilarious Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man by Julie Mata! Check out my review, a Q&A with the author, watch the trailer, and enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter widget below.
About the book:
After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.
With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.
But between the cutthroat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big-screen.
Kate Walden is a girl after my own heart, studying filmmaking books and taking steps to make her dreams into reality--er, well, real films about weird and fictional things. (I can relate--at her age I was trying to adapt The Hobbit into a two-hour stage play.) Her friends help her out--er, well, they put their own unique spin on things with their skills and foibles. Her family, including her sometimes annoying little brother Derek, is supportive, if occasionally preoccupied with their own creative endeavors.
Of course, what middle grade novel on school and friendship is complete without some cute boys to crush on? Things get complicated when the new kid turns out to be a rival in the world of filmmaking, and some bullies get in on the act. As if things weren't SO complicated already.
I really enjoy funny middle grade novels with a little seriousness lying under the skin, so I found Bride of Slug Man really entertaining. The characters are warm and varied. Kate can't just get what she wants--she has to think hard and muddle through confusing feelings to solve her problems. Her mix of enthusiasm and immaturity comes across as authentic tween exuberance, even if the situations are still somewhat cartoonish.
I'd definitely recommend this to young readers with a creative bent and an interest in realistic school fiction about friendships, family, and of course, filmmaking.
About the author:
Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.
Q&A with Julie Mata
RNSL: Kate Walden is my kind of geek. What inspired her character?
Julie Mata: My daughters were a big inspiration. They didn't dream of making it in Hollywood when they were Kate's age, but they did enjoy making movies. I think a lot of kids can relate to that. Kate loves filmmaking, but she also loves spending time with her friends, and making movies together is a great way to do that. Kate may be a bit of a geek, but she's also very smart and sharp, and she's not afraid to pursue a big dream.
RNSL: Kate is looking for a collaborator, but finds a competitor instead. I've been in her shoes before! What gave you the idea for this plot setup?
JM: I thought giving Kate a rival would add some fun conflict, especially if the rival is a cute boy who also likes to make movies. Giving Kate a competitor causes her problems but it also causes her to change and grow throughout the story, as she tries to figure out the new boy's motives. Kids sometimes tend to make snap decisions about people, and Kate does too. She thinks she has the new boy pegged but finds out the hard way that it's dangerous to make assumptions.
RNSL: What's your favorite kid-appropriate Bride of Slug Man-type movie? Non-kid-appropriate?
JM: Plan 9 from Outer Space is the perfect kid-appropriate sci-fi flick. It's a black and white movie from 1959 directed by Ed Wood. Wood thought audiences were only interested in the big picture and wouldn't notice little details like terrible special effects, bizarre leaps in logic, and props falling over. The result is a movie that's hilariously bad and great fun to watch. For non-kid-appropriate movies, I would have to go with the original Alien. Now that's a nasty, slimy slug creature. It doesn't get much scarier than that.
RNSL: If you could have a dream cast for a film or TV adaptation of your books, who would you get?
JM: I think that either Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes would have been perfect as Kate Walden back when they were child actors.They were both extremely talented and funny. They grew up, of course, and their lives got complicated, but if I could commandeer a time machine, I'd go back and cast one of them as Kate and the other one as popular girl Lydia.
RNSL: If you could take any book you love and produce the film version, which would it be?
JM: I would have picked A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, but it sounds like Frozen director Jennifer Lee beat me to it and is currently working on a new adaptation. Can't wait to see it! So I'm going with a real dark horse candidate--Precious Bane, written by Mary Webb and published in 1924. I loved it when I was young, and often wished someone would make it into a movie. The main character, Prue Sarn, has a harelip and suffers widespread scorn and distrust, but encounters a man who sees past her defect and recognizes her inner beauty. I found the characters, the stark setting, and the tragic tale so haunting and compelling that I read it many times and still have a copy of it.
Follow along on the blog tour!
Monday, May 18 - GreenBeanTeenQueen
Wed. May 20 - Once Upon a Story
Thurs, May 21 - Read Now, Sleep Later
Fri, May 22 - Curling Up with a Good Book
Tues, May 27 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, May 28 - BookHounds YA
Thurs, May 29 - The Brain Lair
Fri, May 30 - Kid Lit Frenzy
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