Somebody on this Bus by J.B.Cheaney

 

SOTB final

From Amazon:

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!

J.B. has moved over twenty-three times, is the author of eight books, and is the mother of two children. You can find her at the following places: blog and website.

We’re giving away a copy of Somebody on This Bus is Going to be Famous! Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway below.

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Amie Borst is the author of Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood. You can find her on her blog, twitter, and facebook. She’s not famous. Yet.

Mentors that matter

This morning I started working in the ASPIRE program at my local high school to mentor juniors and seniors through the college application process. It’s much more daunting to get into college these days and since I’ve been through the process with three of my four children it seemed like a natural fit. It has also gotten me thinking about all the people who have mentored me and my children over the years.

The one person who has mentored me more than anyone in my professional life is my cousin Kathleen Delaney. She has spent her entire teaching career in some of the lowest income schools in the Chicago area. She has told me stories about her students my entire life–stories about the ones that have inspired her, worried her, made her laugh, made her cry, and sharpened her understanding of the injustices so many face every single day. This August as she was preparing for the school year she stepped across the hall to introduce herself to a new teacher in her building. She was met with a shout of joy and a warm embrace from this new teacher.

The woman had been an 8th grader in my cousin’s school decades ago. Kathy taught 6th grade and after school she coached the girl for the district speech competition. They chose the address of Chief Seattle from 1854 and worked on it together after school for several weeks. Before the competition my cousin gave her the picture book version of Seattle’s speech written by Susan Jeffers. What she didn’t realize at the time was that the girl’s family had come to this country illegally. The mother was struggling to raise five of kids on minimum wage. That book was the first one the girl had ever owned. The first book anyone in her family had owned. They read it until it fell apart. 61gaPRmd8hL._AA160_This girl decided to become a teacher, in part because of my cousin’s example. Her younger brothers and sisters who had Miss Delaney in 6th grade reported that she was the “hardest” teacher in the school, the one who assigned the most homework. She was the one who believed that they could do all that work, even though they were new speakers of English.

This former student took her college classes one at a time over many years because her immigration status made her ineligible for financial aid. But she stuck to her goal year after year and now after all this time, she and my cousin will be teaching side by side. I’ve done author visits for my cousin in recent years and her students are quick to tell me that she is still the hardest teacher in their school. They feign agony in reporting all the writing assignments she’s given but it’s easy enough to see their pride underneath all that complaint. Some of them come voluntarily to school an hour early every day to work in her room before school starts.images

I mention all this at the start of the school year because my cousin cheerfully points out that there is nothing unusual about her. Most teachers mentor students before and after school. Many have very high expectations for even their most impoverished students, and almost all of them give away hundreds of books over a teaching career. So this is my thank you to all of you for all you do to change lives, to raise up one literate generation after another, and encourage those who enter school powerless to leave it with something to contribute to the world. It’s easy to get discouraged and in the minutia of daily work and lose sight of your power.

You make history every day. When a child learns to read, you change that entire family’s economic fortunes forever. Our economy cannot function without you.  I’m grateful–to my own teachers, my children’s teachers and all of you everywhere who work with students wisely and generously every day. Thank you!

 

Winner – Always, Abigail!

The winner of Always, Abigail is….

Krusheta Wiley!!

Please contact me at Amie (at) fromthemixedupfiles (dot) com and we will make sure your book is shipped to you!

Congratulations and enjoy!