Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All About Middle Grade Interview: Yona Zeldis McDonough (Author of Little Author in the Big Woods)

Guys, I am so excited to welcome Yona Zeldis McDonough to the blog to talk about her biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder! I'm especially excited because not only is her biography, Little Author in the Big Woods, an excellent read I just so happen to be a long-time fan of the Little House on the Prairie books.

About the author:
Yona Zeldis McDounough is the author of many books for children, including Sisters in Strength; The Life of Louisa May Alcott; and The Doll with the Yellow Star. Ms. McDonough lives in Brooklyn, New York.

You can haunt Yona Zeldis McDonough at-
Website| Goodreads |


  • What drew you to wanting to write a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books for children? 
I thought that kids would be interested to learn about the amazing life behind the stories, and to discover the parallels between them. I know I was! 
  • Going out on a limb, I'm guessing that you've read her books. Could you share with us what you loved about the Little House of the Prairie books; and which was your favorite? 
I loved the careful, exacting detail that fills these books. When you read the Little House books, you learn how to churn butter, build a cabin, and plant crops—and so much more. There is so much rich description in these stories, and so much texture. All these things really make the time come alive.

I’m a big fan of all the books but I think my favorite is Little House in the Big Woods because it establishes the voice and sets the tone for all the others.
What do you hope readers will take away after finishing Little Author in the Big Woods?

A sense of a different life—harder in some ways, but purposeful, balanced and joyful. There are lessons to be learned here, and an example to be followed.

  • What book and author did ten-year-old you love? What was it about the book and author that made you love them? 
I loved A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was so moved by the story of Sara Crewe and how she remained true to herself, even through the most difficult times. I read that book over and over. 

  • If you could meet any author, dead or living, and ask them one question about one of their books who and what would it be? 
I would want to meet Burnett and ask her about the inspiration for her story; she seems to have so much compassion for Sara and I am curious to know how she created this memorable fictional character. 

  • The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 
Laura Ingalls Wilder of course! After all her years on the prairie, she’s plucky and courageous enough to deal with robot invasions and plenty more! 

  • Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)? 

I work in a small room on the second floor of my house that overlooks the backyard. The people next door have a beautiful magnolia tree and I can see a bit of it from my window; when it blossoms in spring, it is as beautiful as a bride. I’ve painted the room a pale sky blue and it is filled with my books, pictures, a wonderful old desk and lots of dolls; they keep me company as a work.

Yona, thank you so much for stopping by to discuss Laura Ingalls Wilder, her books, and your wonderful biography of her.

Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDounough, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, September 16, 2014. Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR).
Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

Don't forget, you can add Little Author in the Big Woods to your Goodreads shelves.

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