Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Children’s Book author Kate Messner. Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books for kids who wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books like Over and Under the Snow, How to Read a Story, and New York Times bestseller Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor; novels like All the Answers, Breakout, and Chirp; engaging nonfiction like The Next President and Tracking Pythons; the Fergus and Zeke easy reader series, the popular Ranger in Time chapter books, and the new History Smashers illustrated nonfiction series, aimed at unraveling historical myths and sharing hidden truths. Learn more at her website, www.katemessner.com
Kate, my first question to you is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
My books should be available at your favorite bookstore or library, and signed copies are always available at my local independent bookseller, The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, NY.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Readers can learn more about my books at my website, www.katemessner.com and follow me on Twitter @KateMessner.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor?
I write a wide variety of books for young readers, from nature picture books to historical adventures to engaging novels and nonfiction for older readers, but the one thing all of my books have in common is a sense of curiosity. I love the way kids have so many questions about the world, and my goal is always to invite them to wonder. That’s highlighted in my new picture book biography, Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor (which illustrates how Dr. Fauci was once just a curious kid, too!) and my History Smashers series, which takes a closer looks at the myths we sometimes learn about history. Our newest book in the series, History Smashers: The American Revolution, also shares some great stories about heroes who got left out of history books.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
When I was doing research for our picture book about Dr. Fauci, I started by reading everything I could find that was already available, online and in print – from news stories to interviews and speeches from Dr. Fauci himself. Then I reached out to Dr. Fauci’s office at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to request a Zoom interview, so I could ask him questions about the parts of his life that weren’t covered in those other materials. It was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in America, and I realized how busy he was, but I also know how important education is to public health, so I hoped he might find time to help me share his story – and some facts about vaccines – with kids. I was able to do two interviews with Dr. Fauci – one as research for the book and another to talk directly with kids about how vaccines work. Readers can watch that interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pyye1HtWdQ
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite thing about being a writer is the research and discovery that comes with writing books for young readers. I get to learn new things every single day, and then I get to share that sense of wonder and discovery with kids who are just as curious about the world as I am.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
I always offer two pieces of advice to aspiring writers, no matter their age. The first is to read. And read and read and read. Nothing makes you a stronger writer like reading, because the more stories we read, the more we come to understand how stories work and appreciate the music of language. And my second piece of advice is to carry a notebook. I’d be lost without my writer’s notebook. It’s where I collect ideas for stories and tiny details that might find their way into books someday. Keeping a notebook teaches us to pay attention, which is not only important for writing but also a lovely way to go through life.
Thanks very much, Kate, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions!