Growing A Reader
by Alison Cherry
I’ve been a book-lover since the very beginning. My first word, at the age of eight months, was “book.” My mom still rues the day she introduced me to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and But Not the Hippopotamus as a toddler; I fell completely, head-over-heels in love with them. The moment she finished reading them, I’d demand them again, and she’d have to start over from the beginning or face my wrath. (This could repeat as many as five or six times.) Somewhere, there’s a home movie of two-year-old me, playing on the floor as my mom reads me One Fish, Two Fish; halfway through every sentence, she stops, and I recite the rest from memory.
At the end every school day, my fourth grade class listened to our teacher read one chapter of a book aloud. In November, she read us Gwinna by Barbara Berger, and I was captivated. I remember stumbling out to the carpool line after one particularly intense chapter, physically dizzy because I was having trouble pulling myself out of story-world and back into real life. It was the first time I felt a compulsive need to own a book, and I begged my parents to get it for me as a holiday gift. They did… and I opened the present so enthusiastically that I ripped the beautiful jacket right down the middle. We went to the bookstore the next day to get another one, but the pain of accidentally causing harm to a book I loved made such an impression on me that I still remove every book’s jacket before reading.
The first literary heroine I remember strongly relating to was Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She was quiet and conflict-averse, she loved to learn, she had an inappropriately large vocabulary for a child, and she thought the library was magical. Unfortunately, I couldn’t replicate her telekinesis—it wasn’t for lack of trying, but that glass of water just wouldn’t tip over, no matter how long and hard I stared at it. But even if I couldn’t use magic to bring down an evil authority figure, Matilda taught me that smart girls are powerful. She made me believe that if I tried hard enough, I could change the world with the power of my mind.
About the Author
I grew up in Evanston, IL, then went to Harvard and got a degree in photography. (Yes, that is possible. Although they like to call the visual arts “Visual and Environmental Studies,” for some unknown reason.) Then I spent the next three years as a freelance lighting designer for various theaters throughout the Northeast. Eventually, I got tired of hanging out on ladders and wrestling with faulty electrical equipment for 80 hours a week while getting paid almost nothing, so I spent the next four years working as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera. Now I live in Brooklyn with my two kitties, Vivian and Sophia, and write full-time. I’m represented by Holly Root at Waxman Leavell.
About The Classy Crooks Club
Twelve-year-old AJ dreads spending an entire month living with her strict Grandma Jo. Not only does her grandmother dictate how she walks, what she eats, and which rooms she can enter, she fills all AJ's free time with boring sewing lessons. Grandma Jo wants nothing more than to transform her adventurous, fun-loving granddaughter into a prim and proper lady.
But AJ’s dull summer takes a sharp turn when she discovers that her grandmother's "bridge group" is actually a heist club. When Grandma Jo offers to let AJ learn lock-picking instead of embroidery in exchange for help with a few capers, AJ is happy to join her grandmother's madcap band of thieves, who claim to steal only for ethical reasons. But even the most respectable ladies can hide truly surprising secrets, and AJ finds she must decide for herself what it means to be one of the good guys.
About Look Both Ways
The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.
A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.
Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?
Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here!