Q & A with Anjali Banerjee: SEAGLASS SUMMER

seaglass-summerLet’s welcome Anjali Banerjee today at Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a dog story for kids.

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

SEAGLASS SUMMER, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House (hardcover and library binding, 2010; trade paperback, 2011), realistic middle grade fiction. Cover art and interior chapter spot openers by Ann Boyajian.

AOB: Who is your key dog character and what kind of dog is he/she? Tell us a little more about him/her.

*Stu is the main dog character, short for “Studebaker Chatterji.” When Poppy Ray, the 11-year-old main character, arrives on Nisqually Island, in Washington State, to spend the summer working at her veterinarian uncle Sanjay Chatterji in his animal hospital, his dog companion, Stu, comes with him to greet Poppy at the ferry landing. Stu is a large, affectionate yellow dog, perhaps a Labrador mix, who loves to go for walks, pee on mailbox posts and slobber on people.

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story?

*Eleven-year-old Poppy Ray has always wanted to be a veterinarian, even though she has never had a pet. So when Poppy spends a summer month with her Uncle Sanjay in his veterinary clinic on Nisqually Island off the coast of Washington, she is in for big surprises. She learns about life and death, love and compassion, and the pain and joy of working with animals.

AOB: Starred reviews or blurbs you wish to share:

*—Nominated for 2014 Illinois Bluestem Award

—One of Scholastic Teacher’s 18 Road-Trip Reads
—One of PBS Parents’ Four Special Summer Books
—Nominated for the 2012 Texas Bluebonnet Award.

“This novel…reflects a quiet contemplativeness that leaves readers both pensive and satisfied.”
—Chicago Sun-Times

“Sometimes amusing, sometimes gross, and always true to itself, this should find a wide readership.”
—Booklist

“This engaging and realistic tale is a top pick for reluctant readers and anyone with an interest in what veterinary care entails.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Animal lovers will appreciate the warm, fuzzy moments, cry at the sad times, and feel at home in this rural island community off the coast of Washington state.”
—School Library Journal

abanerjee-2l-bioAOB: What inspired you to write this story?

*I read an article in India Abroad about an Indian veterinarian who moved to the U.S., faced formidable obstacles to practicing his profession here, and eventually succeeded. He now owns and runs two busy veterinary hospitals. He also performs community service helping local animal companions and wildlife, and he makes house calls. I interviewed him as research for my novel. Plus, I’ve always loved animals.

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

*As research for the book, I sat in on appointments at a local veterinary clinic, but I wasn’t sure how to assemble anecdotes and observations into a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end, and featuring a single protagonist who learns something and matures by the end of the story. It took several drafts to find a central story thread.

AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones? AOB: What are these stories about?

*My other middle grade novels for Wendy Lamb Books/Random House are MAYA RUNNING and LOOKING FOR BAPU. While I love animals, these two stories do not feature key dog characters. However, my novel for adults, ENCHANTING LILY, is written partly from the viewpoint of a wise and charming cat.

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

*My next book is not about a dog, but I have a special love for animals, so you can be sure animals will appear in my books in the future.

AOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

*During her month at her uncle’s veterinary clinic, Poppy encounters other dogs and puppies, quirky humans, and she befriends a boy named Hawk, who works at the clinic. In the end, Poppy and the dog, Stu, face a crisis on a beach on the island. Read the book to find out what happens.

Also, my husband and I live with five rescued cats. They’re wonderful companions with lively, individual personalities.

AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

*I don’t remember the first one. There were many. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved Aslan the lion in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I checked out Curious George books numerous times from the library. Growing up in Canada, I read many adventure and mystery novels by English author Enid Blyton as well. When we moved to the U.S.A., I discovered that many people here had not even heard of Enid Blyton! I also loved a hardcover called The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep. I’ve always loved the animals in children’s books.

Abanerjee-authorphoto-199x300AOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

*My web site, http://www.anjalibanerjee.com, Random House Children’s Books: http://www.randomhouse.com

 

Thank you for joining us today! We look forward to hearing about your future dog books!

 

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