Caroline Starr Rose, Author of MAY B, Talks Laura Ingalls Wilder and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN

21 Feb

My Book Today’s guest post is from Caroline Starr Rose, author of MAY B, which hit stores January 10th, 2012. Here’s a little more about the book: 

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

Today, Caroline writers about her favorite female character in literature, and where she got the inspiration for her fantastic main character, May Betterly. 

Also, can we all take a second to admire that cover? Beautiful! Now, without further ado, here’s Caroline: 

I have a lot of favorite heroines. Anyone know there’s a character out there that would have made a great friend, if she’d been real? That’s how I feel about Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. We would have swapped books and talked about school, but mainly, I think, we would have sat comfortably together in companionable silence because we’d get each other that way.

As far as a heroine who influenced my own protagonist, May Betterly, I have to go with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up reading the Little House books and used Laura’s life as my touchstone — Laura did this or experienced that, knew this or was unfamiliar with that. I’d talk about her so often, that my mother was sure I was talking about someone in my class.

When I decided to write a middle-grade novel set on the frontier, I knew she’d be strong, like Laura.

May Betterly lives on the Kansas frontier and longs to someday be a teacher. Unfortunately, she finds school a challenge and isn’t always supported there (May is dyslexic, and while modern-day readers will be familiar with her struggles, May — and those around her — don’t understand). She’s pulled from school and hired out to a newly married couple from the East. The marriage is fragile, and when the unhappy bride runs off, her husband leaves to bring her home. They never return. May is left stranded for months, with dwindling food and winter coming on.

In writing May B., I was curious how someone writes about solitude (answer: do not try this at home — it’s hard!). I also wanted to examine the idea of worth and what conclusions a child might draw about herself from the opinions of others. I knew, going in, that May was strong, was smart, was resourceful. But she didn’t know this. Trapped in a sod house all alone, she is able to face who she is and what she is truly capable of.

Even though she’s not real, I’m proud to know May Betterly (and I think Franice would have loved her, too).

Learn more about Caroline and MAY B here.


2 Responses to “Caroline Starr Rose, Author of MAY B, Talks Laura Ingalls Wilder and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN”

  1. Marissa March 8, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    There are SO MANY CHARACTERS I’ve wished could be real! I love how re-reading a story brings them right back into my circle of friends once again. And confession: I’ve never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Time to remedy that!


  1. About this Blog « Ellie Rollins - March 7, 2012

    […] excited about the conversation that’s happening on the blog right now, whether it’s Caroline Starr Rose remembering the great Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Marissa Burt introducing us to the fantastic characters in her new book, STORYBOUND, or the […]

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