Spencer’s the smart kid. Shelly’s the diva. Miranda’s the scaredy-cat. Matthew’s just average (so far). In fact, there’s nothing about any of the nine middle-schoolers on Mrs. B’s bus route that screams “fame.” But before the end of the year, somebody on this bus is going to be famous.
Every morning, their school bus waits at an empty bus stop. Nobody ever gets on. Nobody ever gets off.
And Mrs. B refuses to answer questions about it. Strangest of all, it’s Bender the bully who decides to investigate the mystery. But it will take all nine students to find out the truth, for each of them has a clue to the mystery that will change their lives forever.
Award-winning author J.B. Cheaney’s new middle grade novel weaves nine distinctive narratives into one fascinating read. Part detective story, part tale of self-discovery, this funny and touching novel is destined to be a modern classic.
Amie: Welcome J.B! I noticed on your website that you’ve written quite a few books for children. Why do you write middle-grade books?
J.B.: I never thought I would want to write middle-grade books. That age was terrifying for me when I was in it! And middle-graders terrified me as a grown-up, too, until I got to know them. I see it now as a magic age, that transition from childhood to adolescence, when they’re struggling between sweet and hip, eager and cool. They’re vulnerable, yet sharp and funny. And besides, the novels I wrote for middle-graders are the only ones that publishers have wanted, at least so far.
Amie: Well, that definitely speaks for itself! What was your inspiration for your latest book, Somebody on this Bus is Going to be Famous?
J.B.: Brad Pitt. No, seriously: I lived in Springfield, Missouri, for a short time in the 1980s, about the time that he was becoming a major star. Springfield is where Brad grew up and where his parents still live, and I would hear of Brad-Pitt sightings from time to time. It made me start thinking about what it would be like to encounter him, or any other famous person, before they became famous. Like, way back in middle school. Suppose we rode the same bus. A title drifted into my mind: Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous. The title demanded a story. So I gave it one—over a period of many years and many rewrites, I’ll have to say.
Amie: Oh. Well, can Ben Affleck be my inspiration? *school girl giggles* Tell me about a favorite character in your book.
J.B.: You know how to ask hard questions, don’t you? Okay, this book has nine protagonists—more than most epic novels, even—and after spending so much time with them it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love all of them for different reasons. But since you asked, I’ll tell you about Kaitlynn. I met the real Kaitlynn—not her real name, of course—when she stomped into my classroom on a Saturday morning during a Young Authors literary conference. I had no idea what she was mad about, but I didn’t take it personally. She was a skinny little girl with long straight hair and glasses and a headband, just like I described her in the book. By the time we got to my planned activities she was over her funk, and after class she had to tell me her story about a superhero spider. A few months later, when I started the first chapter of this book, Kaitlynn stepped right up and joined the kids getting on the bus.
Amie: I’ve never met a Kaitlynn before in my life. Nope. Never. And I certainly wasn’t one either. Nope. Never. One final question. Eggplant parmesan or Sesame chicken?
J.B.: I’m no vegetarian, but eggplant parmesan every time. When do you expect me for dinner?
Amie: We eat at six. Dessert is at seven. Table is set, stop on by! Thanks for telling us about your book and inspiration, J.B!
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