In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Why Kimba Saved The World by Meg Dendler – Animal Fiction/Science Fiction, 3rd grade and up! Goodreads Summary: “How can a young cat pick between everything she has ever wanted and everyone she has ever loved? Kimba lives the care-free life of a much loved house cat, but what she really wants is freedom and the wild life for which she was born. Then she learns a secret that changes everything, including her destiny. Will she join this mysterious cat conspiracy? Kimba must choose between the freedom she craves and the human family she loves.”
My thoughts on this lovely book:
This is a special book for readers to enjoy. I’d say it is a combination of animal fiction and science fiction with humorous situations mixed in throughout. I really enjoyed Kimba’s point of view, how her turmoil was presented, how the humans interaction and growth of the kittens was developed in the first few chapters, and interaction between species was amusing as well… Loved that there were precious pictures mingled throughout the book too. Since there were some real pictures mingled in the book, I was able to picture every bit of the story in a way I haven’t with other animal fiction books. I am not certain why but I was quite fixated on this title: Why Kimba Saved the World… not HOW. Completely made sense why the title is as it is by the end of the book, but it certainly made me curious, which is appropriate since it is a book about a cute little cat.
Quotes I enjoyed reading in the book:
“They would know nothing about the grand plan and their own destiny. Life would be simple and carefree.”
“It would take some firmness and absolute determination.”
“Kimba sighed and curled up in a tighter ball. She wished she could go back to her kitten days when she lived a blissful, clueless existence- when her biggest decision had been about whether to eat or sleep or play..”
“It frustrated Kimba to the tip of her tail.” – can you see the tail twitch like I did?
Since Why Kimba Saved the World is an animal fiction book, I asked Meg to list a few of her favorites:
Favorite animal fiction books of Meg Dendler’s:
#1 all time is Socks by Beverly Cleary. I have lost track of how many times I read it as a child or read it aloud as a teacher or to my own children. It’s really a very simple book, but I just adore it.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White– just a couple of years ago, I read this aloud to a first grade class and could barely make it through Charlotte’s death. To say out loud that she was alone when she died was too much for me. I was a blubbery mess. The kids thought I was silly.
Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White- as a librarian, I read this to a second grade class and brought in a trumpet so they could hear what it sounded like. I bet they remember that!
Stuart Little by E.B. White- it may be a little dated for kids now, but I still love it.
E.B. White (just like Meg I am a huge fan of his books!)
Dick King-Smith – The Hodgeheg, Babe the Gallant Pig, and Pigs Might Fly are some of my favorites but I’ve loved 10 other titles as well!
Avi – Tales of Dimwood Forest Series
Kate diCamillo – Mercy Watson Series
Beverly Cleary – Ralph S. Mouse Series
James Howe – Bunnicula Series
Erin Hunter – Into the Wild Series (Warriors books)
Ursula K. Le Guin – Catwings Series
Kathryn Lasky – Guardians of Ga’Hoole Series/Wolves of the Beyond Series
Kenneth Oppel – Silverwing Series
Eleanor Estes – Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye
Brian Jacques – Redwall Series
Jim Kjelgaard – any of his dog books especially Big Red, look out, they always make me weep as much as Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Marguerite Henry – I just love her Misty Series. I have a few fans of horse books that love them too!
Meg Dendler Interview:
Continuing favorite books discussion:
On the grownup side of things, I LOVE the Anne McCaffrey Dragonrider series. Dragons like that, who bond with people instead of trying to kill them, fascinate me. My mom read them aloud to me at bedtime when I was 9 or 10 (she would edit the mating flight stuff a bit), and I have been hooked every since. My husband bought me a stuffed golden dragon that I immediately named Ramoth and put on my desk to keep me company. McCaffrey also has a series of books about alien cats, but I have avoided reading them until I’m done writing my own series. I also love Watership Down by Richard Adams (we had a cat named El-Ahrairah who was rescued from the woods) and the Chanur series by CJ Cherryh.
What do you think about the process of self-publishing?
It is a really freeing way to get your book out to the public, but you have to take it seriously. As a self-publisher, you have to do all of the work of a publisher, not just write something and send it off to CreateSpace. I worked with two editors and hired a “book guide” who did all of the formatting and worked with a professional artist to create the cover and a different professional to format the ebook. There are companies who will do that for you, but I was really grateful to have one person I trusted overseeing the whole process. We still went through four formatting versions before we were done. It takes time and energy away from the new writing you can do, but in the end you have a book that looks exactly like you want it to. There are no shortcuts. Then comes the marketing, which you will also have to do yourself or pay someone to do. Just finding book stores to carry your book will be daunting. It is not for the faint of heart, but I am glad I started this journey and have more books on the horizon that will also be self-published.
How do you get your work edited?
I taught middle school English and Language Arts at an independent school for several years, and some of that time I team taught with a grammar specialist. She does professional editing and agreed to edit Why Kimba Saved The World. Before I sent it to her, I did my own “edit only” read-throughs several times. That friend has gotten too busy with her family to take on Vacation Hiro, so I am taking recommendations from other trusted writers for a professional editor for the sequels.
It’s really helpful to read the text out loud so you can get a sense of how it will flow when it is being read to a child, as well as catch errors that way. If I stumble on a sentence, or have to take a breath in the middle, it needs some revision. I know a writer who reads her whole manuscripts backward, one sentence at a time, to catch mistakes. My mother was a professional technical writer for decades, so she is always the last set of eyes on my work.
I was really fortunate to have some good connections in the publishing world from my years of freelance writing work. It can be scary to trust a stranger with your manuscript. Talk to other writers and be sure you are working with an editor and book guide who know the business well and will take you down the right paths. When your book hits the shelves, it should look exactly like any other traditionally published book. Otherwise, people will think it is not worth their time.
Were there any favorite children’s literature that inspired you when writing Kimba’s story?
Beverly Cleary’s Socks is certainly always in my heart, but I’m not sure that book would even get published today. Sad, but true. I think my writing is more in the style of those authors I loved as a child (Judy Blume, L. Frank Baum, E.B. White), and I believe there is still an audience for stories that are more about the characters than any large events that happen to them. I prefer writing for the middle grade age and younger because I’m not required to have horrible things happen to my characters. That seems to be the trend in books that win awards and are at the top of everyone’s reading list. The subject matter is often very dark, filled with traumatic events and huge social issues. That doesn’t appeal to me as a reader or in TV or film, so that’s not what comes out of me as a writer. I prefer the lighter side. There is an audience for that, and I so grateful for the great feedback I am getting from those parents and kids.
How do you feel about reaching out into the world with social networking?
It’s tricky as a writer for young children because they are not the ones you are reaching through most of those avenues (Facebook, twitter, google, etc.). You are really talking to their parents. I tweet as @KimbaBaby and have two Facebook pages + https://www.facebook.com/WhyKimbaSavedTheWorld and a web site – http://megdendler.com – and blog, but social networking is most useful for meeting parents, teacher, other writers, and those who work with children (like The Styling Librarian!) who are able to decide they like my work and want to share it with the kids in their lives. I have made some great connections through social media, and there is just no way to function in the world today without it.
Any question I didn’t ask that you’d like to answer?
My favorite part about writing children’s books is the reactions I get from both adults and kids when they make a connection with the picture of Kimba on the book cover. I have heard so many wonderful stories about much loved cats. The small tourist town where I live has lots of opportunities for me to set up a booth and sell Why Kimba Saved The World so I get to have that face-to-face time with potential readers that many authors miss out on. At one festival, a young girl bought my book and then had her face painted to look like a white cat with a pink nose. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Curious to read Why Kimba Saved the World?
You can enjoy a read aloud YouTube version on Meg Dendler’s channel here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsNTatjqteAtCq0kxkJlIf4He1qVA3AI8
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