By Carol Weston
February 2, 2016; Hardcover ISBN 9781492620778
Title: Ava XOX
Series: Ava and Pip
Author: Carol Weston
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publishers: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Praise for Ava and Pip
“Bold, funny, and real.” –Karen Bokram, editor of Girls’ Life Magazine
“Through Ava’s diary entries, Weston perfectly captures the complexities of sisterhood…a love letter to language.” – New York Times Book Review
“Ava Wren makes reading and writing so much fun, she deserves a T-O-P-S-P-O-T on your bookshelf. This charming dairy will inspire shy kids, young writers, and even reluctant readers. Y-A-Y for A-V-A!” –Dan Greenbury, author of the Zack Files series
“With her engaging voices, jaw-dropping word play, and tales of a good people making not-so-good decisions, she casts the perfect spell. A big W-O-W for AVA and PIP!” –Julie Sternberg, author of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
“You’re gonna fall head over heels for the new book by our very own advice columnist Carol Weston.” –Girls’ Life
Love is in the air—and Ava thinks she’s allergic
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes! What?!? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they?
To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help—but, uh oh, it’s not as easy as she imagines.
Questions and Answers by the Author:
I have asked the author Carol Weston some questions and she answered me back. Thanks
Thanks for asking me about my work!
How did you decide to write this genre?
It’s not so much that I decided to write for middle grade kids, it’s that I always wanted to write fiction, but for years, I was always writing non-fiction for girls. I have been “Dear Carol” atGirls’ Life Magazine since 1994 and had written Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You and several other helpful books for girls and teens. But I was desperate to write a novel. That was the dream! Finally a light bulb went on and I thought: Why don’t I try writing for kids instead of adults? Ta-da! I wrote The Diary of Melanie Martin and three other Melanie Martin books, and now I’ve written three books about Ava Wren. All seven books are for kids between the ages of 8 and 12.
How long did it take you to write Ava XOX?
Maybe a year? Ava XOX didn’t take as long to write as Ava and Pip, but I take forever doing revisions. I write fast but rewrite slowly. And I was extremely careful with this new book because I was tackling two tricky subjects. The first is what happens when you have a crush on a guy friend. The second is what happens when a friend comes to you for advice — in this case, advice about weight. Because of my work with Girls’ Life, I know that many many girls are confused about love and about their bodies, so I wanted to write a novel that was lots of fun to read — but that offers helpful takeaway advice too. Girls need to know that we all come in different shapes and sizes but it’s important to be mindful about eating habits too. And as for the guy friend, poor Chuck gets ambushed by an aggressive fifth grade girl and is lucky that Ava helps him speak up for himself. But it’s not an easy ride. First crushes rarely are.
How do you decide the names of your characters?
Once I realized that Ava and Pip’s parents are Bob and Anna, the whole family began to take shape. The Wrens are word nerds — in the best way. They love palindromes, from KAYAK and REPAPER to DO GEESE SEE GOD and WAS IT A CAT I SAW? How about A TOYOTA’S A TOYOTA? All three of my Ava books have a lot of wordplay, and it made sense that Ava’s middle name is Elle, and Pip’s is Hannah. I studied languages in college and was delighted when The New York Times called Ava and Pip “a love letter to language.” Like Anna and Bob, I picked Ava’s and Pip’s names because of the way that they’re spelled: the same backward and forward!
Is there an alternate ending for this story?
Did you have one in mind? Some books have endings that can be open to interpretation, but I leave Ava and Chuck (and Tanya) all in a pretty good place. And (spoiler alert), one reason I like writing for kids is that it’s okay to have a happy ending. It’s not like House of Mirth or 100 Years of Solitude or a Shakespeare play where everyone winds up on the floor in a bloody heap.
We have a love of cats in common! How many cats do you have?
Right now I have one dear old cat named Mike. I also have four “grandkits” because each of my daughters has two cats. I will say that Taco Cat is based a bit on Mike. When Ava wrote the story “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr,” it’s because it took Mike, a rescue cat, a long long long time to be able to relax and trust us and rev up his little purring motor. Oh, and did you notice that Taco Cat is a palindrome?
Excerpt from Ava XOX:
DEAR NEW DIARY,
I’m pretty upset about what happened today.
My new friend Zara asked if I’d heard about Chuck.
“No, what about him?” I said.
“He and Kelli are going out,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked because this did not seem possible, and, well, Zara has kind of a big mouth.
She said Chuck was on the bus minding his own business when Kelli hopped on and sat right next to him without asking. She was wearing one of her sparkly headbands-she has about a million-and sneaking bites of banana bread even though you’re not supposed to eat on the bus. She offered him a piece. And he took it.
Later, in homeroom, Kelli passed Chuck a note that said, “Do you want to go out?” Zara said it had two circles, one marked YES and one marked NO. At first Chuck didn’t answer, but Kelli made a sad puppy face, so he put an X in the YES circle and passed it back.
And now they are “going out”!!
I have to say, this really bugs me.
Number one: we’re only in fifth grade.
Number two: Chuck and I have been friends since the apple-picking field trip in kindergarten, and Kelli just moved here last year, and I’ve never once noticed him notice her.
It just doesn’t seem right that they’ve said about five sentences to each other-total-and all of a sudden they’re “going out”! How long has she even liked him? Did she start today?
And how can they be going out when none of us is allowed to go anywhere anyway?
Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, which I usually love, but my insides felt like cold, stuck-together spaghetti. It didn’t help that Zara and my best friend Maybelle were talking about Valentine’s Day, which is Saturday.
Our grade has three Emilys, but only one Ava, one Maybelle, and one Zara, and lately the six of us have been sitting together at lunch. Well, it’s usually all-girl or all-boy, but today, Kelli plunked her tray down at Chuck’s table! I was in shock! The Emilys just giggled, and Emily Jenkins said, “Kelli and Chuck make a good couple.” And everyone agreed!
I swear, that made me want to throw up my meatballs. (Sorry if that’s gross.)
The problem is that I’m not supposed to care as much as I guess I do. Last month, Zara asked if I liked Chuck, and I said no.
Why do I care anyway? Chuck is sweet and funny, but I think of him as a brother.
At least I think I think of him as a brother.
A sweet, funny brother.
We’re just friends.
H-U-H. That’s a weird expression, isn’t it? “Just friends.” As though years of being friends is less important than hours of “going out.”
Also by Carol Weston:
Ava and Pip
Hardcover ISBN 9781402288708
Paperback ISBN 9781492601838
Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip’s 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest.
But uh-oh, Ava should never have written “Sting of the Queen Bee.” Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?
Ava and Tacocat
Hardcover ISBN 9781402288739
Paperback ISBN 9781492620808
Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday—but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.
When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr—all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?
About the Author:
Carol Weston has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. She is the author of fourteen books including the two Ava Wren titles, The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf), three other Melanie diaries, and Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Harper Perennial, Fourth Edition). She lives in New York City. Find her at carolweston.com and YouTube.com/GirltalkWithCarol
Social Networking Links:
Rafflecopter Giveaway for 2 sets of the complete Ava & Pip series (Books 1-3)
Runs January 26th-February 29th
(US & Canada Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl