Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

Lizzie K. Foley

Lizzie K. Foley has an MA in Education from Harvard and has taught Womenís Studies at Northeastern University, but this novel was inspired by her experience as the unremarkable little sister of two exceptionally remarkable big sisters. Lizzie didnít have her oldest sisterís photographic memory or the coolness of her middle sister, who was a model, but, in her own words, she ďmade it through junior high and high school without being noticed by anyone or achieving anything of noteówhich is kind of an accomplishment in and of itself.Ē Lizzie currently lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband and son and four poorly trained dogs.

For more information on Lizzie, please visit www.lizziekfoley.com .

If you are interested in having Lizzie K. Foley make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.

 

Author Appearance Q&A with Lizzie K. Foley:

What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

Despite the fact that I was a shy child who took everything much too seriously, I have somehow managed to grow up to be a class clown. I talk a lot, I try to be funny, and I tell lots of stories. I always want to find ways to connect with whatever audience Iím speaking to. With both kids and adults, I love asking questions about favorite books and story characters. I love asking kids random questions too, such as if they have swings on their playground, because most kids are natural storytellers, and most kids have great stories about falling off the swings. (Most adults have great stories about falling off the swings too, but they are much less likely to remember them). I do my best to keep my presentations interactive partly because I think itís more fun for everyone, and partly because it keeps me from getting nervous (when Iím nervous, I talk really, really fast). More importantly, it gives me the chance to gauge my audienceís interest and adjust my presentation to meet it.

Occasionally, I may come across an audience that is shy or venue that really doesnít lend itself to an informal presentation. And if I canít work around this, Iím perfectly happy to switch to more of a lecture-style presentation.

What makes your author appearances unique?

The process of writing can often seems strange and abstract. I like to find ways to make it concrete. This means I will always try to bring relevant objects to my presentations, such as galleys, editorís notes, photographs, handwritten outlines, and different versions of my bookís cover art. Iíve found that the ďshow-and-tellĒ aspect of the presentation is often what kids (and adults) respond to the most.

I also find I get a lot of response from kids like to talk about my own experience in elementary school. Oddly enough, reading and writing were the bane of my existence when I was a kid. For some unknown reason — and despite the best efforts of a lot of caring adults — I wasnít able learn to read until I was 8 Ĺ years old, and I also had tremendous problems with handwriting and spelling. And because of this, I was actually held back a year in elementary school. I eventually outgrew these problems (well, I mostly outgrew them. I am still a truly terrible speller and my handwriting is only mostly readable), but I still have a lot of empathy for kids who struggle, and kids whose abilities havenít quite caught up to their potential.

Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

As much as I enjoy situations where Iím one of the taller people in a room, I am also always really happy to talk to other adults. I have advanced degrees in both sociology and education, and Iíve worked as a volunteer reading tutor and writing coach in elementary schools. I love to talk about how kids interact with narrative and story creation and about educational strategies that help kids become more comfortable with reading and writing. I also really enjoy talking to adults who are writers themselves. I can talk about the craft and practice of writing as well as the query, submission, and publication process for childrenís books.

Additionally, I am passionate about the importance of having strong, well-funded schools and public libraries. A large number of my relatives (including both grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt, most of my great aunts, several cousins, and many others) are teachers. My mother was supposed to train to be a teacher too, but sheís a bit of a rebel, and so she decided to become a librarian instead. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for these professions, and I try to support them in whatever way I can.

What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?

Before I make an appearance, Iíd really like to get a chance to communicate with the people organizing it — either by phone or by email. Itís important for me to know what kind of presentation theyíd like me to give. For example, I might give a book club talk to a classroom where the students are familiar with my work. I could give a career day talk to an audience that wants to know what it is like to work as an author. I could also talk about the process of writing and story creation. Or we could brainstorm about what kind of discussion would best suit the needs of the organizers.

Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?

Absolutely! This makes perfect sense to me. I am also willing to do Skype visits if thatís easier for organizers.

What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?

I hope, at the very least, that I can leave people feeling more enthusiastic about reading, writing, and story creation. And if people leave feeling more enthusiastic about education and libraries too — well, thatís okay by me.

 

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