New York Times bestseller and Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate is one of the featured children’s authors at the Miami Book Fair International.
Millennials know Applegate as K.A. Applegate, author of the hugely successful Scholastic series, Animorphs, which she co-wrote with her husband, Michael Grant. The series sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.
Independent readers know her for the beautifully written, heartwarming book, The One and Only Ivan. Ivan has been a Sunshine State book and won the 2013 Newbery Medal, the top literary award for middle grade books. It also hit the top spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Ivan is the story of a gorilla that lives in a glass cage in a shopping mall. It was sparked by a true story of a gorilla that lived in a cage at a mall for 23 years before being moved to the Atlanta Zoo.
“I found Ivan’s story in the NY Times 20 years ago,” Applegate said. “It took a long time between that moment and when it turned into a book.”
Ivan’s story also is being turned into a picture book called Ivan: The Remarkable True Story. It is being illustrated by Brian Karras. Applegate is thrilled with the illustrations.
Applegate has another picture book in the works that is being illustrated by Marc Rosenthal and an animal fantasy middle grade book called Crenshaw.
“It touches on questions of hunger and homelessness you see in our country with kids,” she said. “It’s part of the story. Most importantly about the return of an imaginary friend who is very real.”
She’s also working on a middle grade fantasy series called Endling.
“My son came across this word on Reddit,” she said. “An endling is the last animal in a species. That’s such an interesting concept. I pitched it to HarperCollins as a trilogy.”
Applegate says Endling is more of an old fashioned kind of fantasy set in an alternate world.
“There is more action, as would be expected in a trilogy,” she said.
Moving from the 50-plus Animorphs series to single titles was quite a change for her. She said she made the switch because she wanted to experiment with form more. Her first big middle grade solo title was Home of the Brave, which won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award and was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.
Now that she’s going back into the series mode for Endling, she said she is a tad nervous about going into that long form again.
What is scarier is writing picture books.
“I have done three picture books,” she said. “Man those are harder. It’s poetry. There’s not a lot of room for error. And you are collaborating with an invisible partner (the illustrator).”
At the book fair, Applegate is participating in the Generation Genius school group events and will be reading with elementary school students on Friday, Nov. 21. She will be reading at Mr. Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytorium in Children’s Alley on Saturday, Nov 22, 11 a.m.
More than 600 authors will take part in the 2014 Miami Book Fair International which runs from Sunday, Nov. 16, to Sunday, Nov. 23, at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, 401 NE Second Ave. in Downtown Miami. The Street Fair is Nov. 21-23.
For more information go online to www.MiamiBookFair.com or call 305- 237-3258.