word craft


Avi’s 2024 Summer Blog Series

Ellen Oh

From Avi: As I did in the sum­mer of 2023 and the sum­mer of 2022, I’ve invit­ed 13 admired mid­dle grade authors to write for my blog for the next three months. I hope you’ll tune in each Tues­day to see who has answered these two ques­tions we’re fre­quent­ly asked by read­ers. You should have a list of ter­rif­ic books to read and share by the end of the sum­mer … along with new authors to follow!

Where did you get your idea for a specific book of yours?

Haru Zombie Dog Hero

I love dogs. I have two of my own that I spoil more than my human chil­dren. Kiko is a very sweet gold­en doo­dle and Tok­ki is a grumpy coton. And their favorite thing to do is to sit very close to me and stare at me with their big adorable eyes when­ev­er I’m eat­ing any­thing, but par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­corn, which they love. One day as I was eat­ing pop­corn and Kiko and Tok­ki were sit­ting so close, they were lit­er­al­ly in my lap, and I thought to myself, “If there was a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse, Kiko and Tok­ki would always pro­tect me, even if they turned into zom­bies. As long as I had popcorn.”

And that is how the idea of Haru, Zom­bie Dog Hero came from. And even though it can be scary, I mean zom­bies are fright­en­ing!, at the heart of the book, it is real­ly about that deep and mutu­al love between a boy and his dog best friend.

What’s your best writing advice for young writers?

If you real­ly want to be a writer you have to per­sist and fin­ish. Per­sist against all the self doubts and obsta­cles life can throw at you. And fin­ish the sto­ry that you start­ed to write. To be a writer, it isn’t just about writ­ing, it’s about hav­ing a fin­ished prod­uct whether it is a poem, a short sto­ry, or a nov­el. You must finish.


Avail­able Oct 22, 2024,
edit­ed by Ellen Oh:

On the Block: Sto­ries of Home

Wel­come to the Entra­da, home to these every­day Amer­i­cans, includ­ing the new kid on the block, who is both home­sick and curi­ous; a Pop­si­cle-bridge builder, a ghost hunter, and a lion dancer; their fam­i­lies, friends, and neigh­bors from all around the world!

Pub­lished in part­ner­ship with We Need Diverse Books, this anthol­o­gy fea­tures award-win­ning authors Tracey Bap­tiste, David Bowles, Adri­an­na Cuevas, Sayan­tani Das­Gup­ta, Deb­bi Michiko Flo­rence, Adam Gid­witz, Erin Entra­da Kel­ly, Minh Lê, Ellen Oh, Olugbe­miso­la Rhu­day-Perkovich, Andrea Wang, and Jas­mine War­ga. These inspir­ing sto­ries cel­e­brate fam­i­ly, friend­ship, cul­ture, and Amer­i­can immi­grant life today.

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