Kate Messner has been a classroom teacher and has written a variety of books, from picture books for youngest readers to early chapter books to middle-grade novels. She lives on Lake Champlain in New York State with her family. Her most recent book is How to Read a Story, illustrated by Mark Siegal (Chronicle Books).
On your nightstand now:
I don't have a nightstand because it broke under the weight of my books and I never replaced it. But here's what's on the floor by the bed:
Already read and not put away yet:
Milo Speck, Accidental Agent by Linda Urban (MG ARC--adventurous and hilarious)
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (YA novel in multiple voices--amazing.)
El Deafo by Cece Bell (my new favorite graphic novel)
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (great NF picture book)
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Pickle by Kim Baker
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by L. Pichon
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield
The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott by David M. Wilson
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
(Those last two are for research and are all Post-It Noted up.)
Favorite book when you were a child:
Everything by Beverly Cleary. Knowing Ramona Quimby and Ellen Tebbits made my childhood better and ballet class less terrible.
Your top five authors:
Confession: I agonized over this question. I made a huge list of authors whose work I love, but every time I whittled it down to five, there were no grown-up authors left. I love Ann Patchett, Lev Grossman, Bernd Heinrich and Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces is stunning). But my favorite favorite authors all write for kids: J.K. Rowling, Rebecca Stead, Sharon Draper, Linda Urban and Laurie Halse Anderson. I've read these authors' books aloud to my own kids and my classroom kids, when I was teaching. I laugh and cry and discover something new every single time.
Book you've faked reading:
The Scarlet Letter. Sorry, Mrs. Bronson.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, because it's a fun middle school heist with a great, diverse cast of characters. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Kahn, because it's a beautiful picture book, and I believe our best hope for the future is learning to understand one another. And Laura Ruby's YA novel Bone Gap. It's one of the most stunning, powerful books I've ever read and should be getting more attention.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet by Daniella Martin was on the "new" shelf at the university library where I do research, and I couldn't leave without it. I'd just read the United Nations' statement on insects as a possible solution to world hunger and environmental issues and was fascinated. The book is great. After I read it, I ordered a big box of edible insects to sample and share, and I'm working on a proposal about the concept of entomophagy for kids. Let me know if you want to try a grasshopper.
Book that changed your life:
Words Under the Words, which is a book of poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye. I bought it at an English teachers' conference bookstore in 2006, not long after I'd mostly given up on writing for publication. I remember reading the poems in my hotel room and crying because they were so true. The next day, when I went to hear her speak in the ballroom. She invited us to write in our notebooks and share. The words swirling around that room full of teacher-writers were so powerful, and I realized that I needed to start writing again.
Favorite line from a book:
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." It's an Albus Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I want to figure it out for the first time all over again.