On his website, he reveals that his only childhood baseball experiences were on vacant lots. I’m stunned after just one look at his Mudville novel and his “Topps League” chapter book series. He writes about the sport with an insightful, passionate hand. If this isn’t the work of someone who’s played the game, the words are from someone who’s loved it.
A veteran player or not, Kurtis is a real author. No pretending at all. Read one of his works and you’ll agree.
Kurtis, what’s right right now about children’s literature?
The quantity and variety of books being published. There has never been more for kids to choose from, and I think there’s never been more awareness that kids should choose their own books. I’m impressed when I visit schools and see the displays in the library, or the amount of books right there in the classroom. The children’s section in bookstores used to be paltry, now it’s a wonderland. There are so many books to choose from and just about any kid will find the right book.
What can be done to make that “good” better?
I’m not sure the variety is evident. A few books get all the buzz and attention. I hear from teachers that there aren’t enough of a certain kind of book—realistic books, books with boy heroes, books about important issues—I can always think of a bunch of books like that, but somehow, even though they’re getting published, the news isn’t getting out. Those books might even be at the bookstore, but the end-cap displays and tables tend to have a limited selection, so unless they’re prepared to take every book off the shelf and read the jacket copy, a parent might quickly decide that there isn’t much to choose from.
Kurtis Scaletta is the author of three middle-grade novels (Mudville, Mamba Point and The Tanglewood Terror), and a “Topps League” chapter book series that debuted in April. The Tanglewood Terror received the Minnesota Book Awards’ Readers’ Choice Award in 2012.