2015 Young Readers One Book Announced
Megan McDonald is 2015 Young Readers One Book South Dakota Author
South Dakota students can look forward to twice the usual fun with the 2015 Young Readers One Book.
The South Dakota Humanities Council is pleased to announce that Megan McDonald has been has been selected as the 2015 Young Readers One Book South Dakota author. Next spring, second-graders throughout the greater Black Hills area and beyond will receive special edition copies of two of McDonald’s books bound into a single volume: Stink the Incredible Shrinking Kid and Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker. The stories are the first two installments of the award-winning author’s “Stink” series, a spin-off of her popular Judy Moody books. In the fall, when the students who receive her book are third-graders, McDonald will speak to them and other interested readers at the 2015 Young Readers Festival of Books in Rapid City on Sept. 24 and Deadwood on Sept. 25-26. The newly created Young Readers Festival drew large crowds to Sioux Falls and Brookings this past fall. McDonald’s appearance at the second annual event is sure to create a buzz among young readers across the state.
“Megan McDonald’s books are really popular with younger readers,” said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book. “They’re full of puns and other kinds of wordplay that make students laugh, while at the same time they’re learning about the creative possibilities of language.”
Author of More Than 60 Children’s Books
The author of more than 60 books for children, McDonald first made her name as the author of the Judy Moody series, about a third-grader who is independent, strong-willed and, yes, moody. Judy’s younger “bother” James, whom she nicknames Stink, soon got his own series. In the first book, Stink, already the smallest kid in second grade, worries that he is shrinking and finds a role model in James Madison, America’s shortest president. In the second, he learns the power of the pen by writing letters to companies and getting free merchandise in return.
Liz Venenga, elementary literacy coordinator for the Rapid City Area Schools and a member of the 2015 Young Readers Festival steering committee, said the group was drawn to Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker because of its strong appeal to second- and third-grade students.
“From a kid’s perspective, there are engaging topics related to candy, free things in the mail and the ongoing squabbles between a brother and sister,” Venenga said. “From a teacher’s perspective, there are opportunities to learn more about idioms, persuasive letter writing, illustrating with cartoons and consideration for others. This book provides a wealth of possibilities for classrooms and has the potential to introduce young readers to a series that will hook them into reading more.”
McDonald: Stories About Entertainment, Education
For McDonald, stories have always been about both entertainment and education. She grew up as the youngest of five sisters in a house full of books in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, an ironworker, built bridges across the city and was known to his coworkers as “Little Johnny the Storyteller.” Every evening at dinnertime the family would gather around the kitchen table, talking and telling stories. But with four older sisters, McDonald remembers barely being able to get a word in edgewise. “I’m told I began to stutter,” she says. “That’s when my mother gave me a notebook, so that I could write down everything I wanted to say.”
Pretending to be a pencil sharpener was McDonald’s first experience as a writer. She was 10 years old when she wrote the story for her school newspaper. “Anything can become an idea for a story,” says McDonald. “Even a pencil sharpener!”
Before she became a writer, McDonald worked in museums, libraries and bookstores. She has also made a living as a storyteller and a park ranger. But writing books proved to be her dream job.
“I am lucky to be a writer, because I get to live in my imagination. And I get to go to work in my pajamas!” she said.
“I spend my days thinking like a hermit crab or a little blue penguin or a girl who loves bugs. Or pretending I’m a bossy big sister with a little brother named Stink. Or traveling back in history as a young girl who journeys across the Santa Fe Trail in 1848. Or solving a mystery in 17th century Jamestown. I spend my days looking at things upside down, inside-out, sideways, wondering, imagining, questioning everything, always wanting to see the inside.”
McDonald’s books have earned recognition ranging from Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year to the International Reading Association Children’s Choice Award. One of her books, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, was released as a movie in 2011.
McDonald lives with her husband in Sebastopol, California.