Author Archives: Amie Borst

Interview and Giveaway with Erin Hagar, Author of Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures


Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures

DuoPress 2015   160 pages   Ages 8-13

Julia Child knew how to have fun, and she also knew how to whip up a delightful meal. After traveling around the world working for the U.S. government, Julia found her calling in the kitchen and devoted her life to learning, perfecting, and sharing the art of French cuisine. This delicious, illustrated middle-grade biography is a portrait of the remarkable woman, author, and TV personality who captured our hearts with her sparkling personality. “Bon appétit!”

“Full of Julia’s trademark gusto, this book serves up an excellent introduction to the life of this famed chef.” – School Library Journal

Amie: What inspired you to write a book about Julia Child?

Erin: This book  started with the idea for its structure. The publisher had the great idea to adapt the visual format of Brian Selznick’s amazing The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007) to a biography, depicting major moments in the subject’s life in visual sequences. It’s an amazing concept. We brainstormed possible subjects, and I suggested Gordon Ramsay because my family loves Master Chef, Jr. After discussing it a bit, we thought, “Why not the television cook who started it all?” Voilà–Julia it was!

Amie: How do you think this will appeal to middle-grade writers and readers? What influence do you think it will have?

Erin: For writers, I hope it sparks an interest in writing biographies. There are lots of similarities, I think, between fiction and biography. In both, you’re trying to show the arc of a person’s experience, how she grows and changes,  the details of her life that affect those changes. The main difference with a biography, of course, is that you find those details in your research. As a fiction writer, I struggle with plot, so it was great to not have to come up with the reasons behind her actions, like why she moved to France, for example. The reason was there.

For readers, my hope is that kids read this book and realize they don’t have to be an expert at something from a young age to be successful at it as an adult. Of course, lots of kids do have talents and interests that are evident early in their lives, and that’s great. But many are still figuring out what they like to do, and that’s okay, too. Julia is a wonderful example of someone who wasn’t sure what she wanted to do or be. She didn’t know until she was almost 40! And then she went on to become one of the very best.

Amie: If you could have a conversation with Julia Child, what would you ask her? If you could have her make you any meal, what would it be?

Erin: Oh, wow. I might be too star-struck to say anything at all.  But I’d have to get over that and seize the moment. I’d ask her how she was able to maintain her friendship with Simca (her co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking) after deciding she couldn’t work with her anymore.  I’d also ask how she maintained her energy into her older adulthood, but she’d probably just find that question annoying.

As for a meal, I’d eat anything she made. But I’d love to have her quennelles de broche, a labor-intensive dish that involves working pike through a fine sieve, grinding the bones and everything into a cream that you batter and poach. It was one of the first dishes she made Paul after starting Le Cordon Bleu, and it blew him away.

Amie: Time now for the all important question…or questions as it is! Jello or pudding? Snakes or spiders? Lakes and mountains or oceans and sandy beaches?

Erin: Pudding (increased chance of chocolate, as opposed to Jello.) Snakes. And I grew up on the Eastern Shore, so I have to go with oceans and beaches.

Amie: Thanks for being here, Erin! We’re excited for your new book and wish you tons of success.

In honor of Julia Child’s birthday, we’re giving away one copy of Erin’s book! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter.


Erin Hagar writes fiction and nonfiction for children and teens. After several years working in curriculum and instruction for colleges and universities, she earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and now lives in Baltimore with her husband, two children, and a few too many pets.

Find Erin at her website, twitter, and facebook. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst is the author of Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood, and  Snow Fright (coming 2016). She likes to eat all the food and given a choice, she’d have Julia Child make Chocolate Almond Cake. Then she’d eat all the cake. Visit Amie’s new websites at:,, and her blog 

Not-So-Scary Monster Middle-Grade!

What does a mom with strep throat + a child with strep throat + a soccer tournament + an archery championship + a two day SCBWI conference + out-of-town guests = ??

You guessed it.

A very late Mixed-Up Files Post!

Your patience (and my persistence) paid off though, because I have an awesome book list just in time for Halloween!

Not all readers enjoy scary books. If they did, I could recommend quite a few bookst. Neil Gaiman’s CORALINE, and just about any ghost story ever written by Mary Downing Hahn. Or more recently two hits by Claire Legrand: THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS and THE YEAR OF SHADOWS.

But since many of us feel our skin crawl a little too easily, might I suggest some lighter faire?


My daughter read this book and loved it. She says it reminds her of Monster’s Inc. I’ll be taking this off my shelf to read this week!

the creature departmentIt’s a tentacled, inventive, gooey, world in there. . . .
Elliot Von Doppler and his friend Leslie think nothing ever happens in Bickleburgh, except inside the gleaming headquarters of DENKi-3000—the world’s eighth-largest electronics factory.  
Beneath the glass towers and glittering skywalks, there’s a rambling old mansion from which all the company’s amazing inventions spring forth. And no one except Uncle Archie knows what’s behind the second-to-last door at the end of the hall.
Until Elliot and Leslie are invited to take a glimpse inside.
They find stooped, troll-like creatures with jutting jaws and broken teeth. Tiny winged things that sparkle as they fly. And huge, hulking, hairy nonhumans (with horns). It is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
But when Chuck Brickweather threatens to shut down the DENKi-3000 factory if a new product isn’t presented soon, the creatures know they are in danger. And when Uncle Archie vanishes, it’s up to Elliot, Leslie, and every one of the unusual, er, “employees” to create an invention so astonishing it will save the Creature Department.

GOBBLED BY GHORKS by Robert Paul Weston

Okay, okay. Don’t get too excited. This one doesn’t release until November 13th, but that gives you plenty of time to read the first book and drool in anticipation as you await book two!Gobbled

When a singing telegram arrives with some seriously stomach-churning news, the Creature Department is once again thrown into an invention frenzy. Rumor has it that monstrous ghorks have taken the creatures of Heppleworth’s Food Factory hostage. And worse, they are threatening to turn them into tasty treats!

The Creature Department and their human friends, Elliot and Leslie, sneak into Heppleworth’s disguised as performers in an all-singing, all-dancing dinner-theater cabaret. There they discover the five types of ghorks that had previously caused them a whole lot of trouble: nose ghorks, eye ghorks, ear ghorks, mouth ghorks, and hand ghorks—one for each of the five senses. But then they stumble upon something else: a sixth ghork, equipped with a mysterious sixth sense!

When the sixth ghork’s sixth sense is finally revealed, it is even more outlandish than anyone imagined; and the only way to save the day is to make a dangerous deal. But if the deal goes wrong, Elliot, Leslie, and every last creature will be… gobbled by ghorks!


I read this book last year and absolutely fell in love with the laugh-out-loud humor, the awkward memories of making friends, and the lesson learned about friendships. I’m thrilled to see there’s a sequel to add to my list!

how to make friends and monsters

Some Friends Are Just Worth Making

For Howard Boward, science genius, making friends in middle school is hard. The other kids have more fun creatively expanding Howard’s name than actually hanging out, as in How-weird or How-Lame. . So, why not actually make a friend? A little wonder putty, some DNA, a few accidentally spilled chemicals and—boom!—instant friend. Monster friend, that is. Franklin ends up being cool in middle school, and he helps Howard climb the uber-popular ladder, becoming How-Cool.  But the new fame and friendship isn’t exactly everything Howard hoped. Turns out real friendship might not be so simple, even when you create your own friends from scratch.


monster bots

Sometimes, being smart just isn’t enough

It s been a rough semester for Howard Boward, science genius. Not only is he having to dodge winter s most feared weapon (snowballs), his close friend, Winnie McKinney, is barely speaking to him. If that weren t enough, he s the favorite target of some bullies who seem determined to make life at Dolley Madison Middle School as miserable as possible. But then Howard learns about an upcoming robot-building contest finally a chance to show off his science skills and beat archrival Gerald G-Force Forster Unfortunately, the only way to win is by using his secret monster goo, a formula that has terrifying side effects. Can Howard resist the temptation? Or will he unleash a robot rampage that could destroy the town and ruin the school dance?”


All right. I know. It’s technically a science book, but c’mon! With a title like Frank Einstein, I just had to put it on the list!

Frank Einstein

Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor . . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! Using real science, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers.

THE LITTLE VAMPIRE SERIES by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg

Forever a classic for those children who like monsters along with a good laugh!

The little Vampirethe little vampire 2







While we’re talking about vampires, have you read the TOTALLY LAME VAMPIRE SERIES by Tim Collins? That’s not an insult! It’s the title of the series! See for yourself.

Lame vampirelame vampire 2lame vampire 3

Finally, a series of fairy tale/monster stories with themes of friendship, self-acceptance, peer pressure, and fitting in.

MONSTER HIGH by Lisi Harrison and EVER AFTER HIGH by Shannon Hale

Monster high

ever after high








And yes, I would even include my own books in this list.
The SCARILY EVER LAUGHTER series by Amie & Bethanie Borst

Cinderskella Cover

little dead riding hood









So that’s my list of not-so-scary books perfect for the timid readers among us. What are some of your favorites? Do you have a recommendation to share? Leave a comment for us!

Amie Borst likes not-so-scary books, not for her kids, but for herself! Goosebumps aren’t for the faint of heart. She writes not-so-scary middle-grade books. Find her on her blog.

Little Dead Riding Hood by Amie Borst

little dead riding hood

You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!

Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret.

When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day. Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in.

Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?

Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Goodreads


I hold the awesome job of being the interview coordinator here at The Mixed-Up Files. It means I meet wonderful authors, interact with publicists who go above and beyond the call of duty to promote books for their clients, and I have the opportunity to read many incredible middle-grade books.

The downfall?

It’s really hard to interview yourself. But…that’s what I’m going to do!

Amie: Hi Amie! *waves to reflection in the mirror* It’s great to have you here at MUF today! Tell us a little about your book.

Self: *rubs arm awkwardly* Little Dead Riding Hood is the second book in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. It’s a companion novel to Cinderskella. Both books are co-authored by my 14 year old daughter (who, btw, was only 9 when she came up with the idea for the series). Scarlet Small (dead riding hood) is a vampire trying to fit in at her new school, but with a werewolf intent on destroying her afterlife, that’s pretty difficult.

Amie: Whoa. So you’ve got vampires and werewolves? *scratches head* Isn’t the whole Twilight thing over?

Self: That’s probably true. But don’t worry. The only relation LDRH has to Twilight is mocking it. In a nice way of course. *sparkly unicorns are the best*

Amie: Oh. I see. So what’s it like to write with your daughter?

Self: You know, I think most people would dread writing with their kids but I enjoy it. Bethanie is a hard worker, she’s dedicated and creative, and she’s not intimidated by deadlines, mistakes, or the writing process in general.

Amie: So you fight a lot.

Self: Who said that? Weren’t you listening?

Amie: *quickly changes subject* One last question. Chocolate or cupcakes? Chimichanga or chicken pot pie? Mountains or ocean?

Self: First of all, you can’t count. That was THREE questions.

Amie: Hey, I never said math was my best subject. Just answer the question. I mean questionS.

Self: Well that’s easy. All of the above!

Thanks for being here Amie!


Amie…I mean, I have a few contests happening, ’cause I’m a happenin’ kind of gal. The first is a giveaway for a copy of LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! You can enter by filling out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  The second is a scavenger hunt on my blog! This week’s prize is a free SKYPE VISIT! Wahoo! So if you’re a teacher (or know one) who’d love to have Bethanie and I virtually visit your classroom, be sure to enter the rafflecopter form below. You can also go to my blog and visit all the stops during my blog tour as well as follow the scavenger hunt for lots of great prizes through November 7th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst is the author of Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood. She frequently talks to herself. You can find her on facebook, twitter, her blog, and two soon to be released websites – and