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An Evening With Our Fall Rep Pick Author Laurel Snyder

June 20, 2011

I love my job because every day is different and often full of fascinating people and interesting conversation.  A few weeks ago during a work trip to Atlanta, instead of checking into my hotel and ordering pizza I got to spend an evening with author Laurel Snyder.  Laurel’s latest book, out Sept. 27th,  is called Bigger Than a Bread Box and was chosen by our group as the fall ’11 Rep Pick title.  We unanimously agree that this middle grade novel has something very special – read on to find out more.  You can also click here to read Tim’s early thoughts about Bread Box in one of our Fall 2011 Sneak Peek posts, and here to read about Laurel’s backlist books. Plus, Kate raves about Penny Dreadful, winner of the E.B. White 2011 Middle Reader Honor Award  here.  

So back to my lovely evening with the author.  I met Laurel at her house and we made our way to one of her favorite local restaurants, Holy Taco, which also doubles as her office most days. We sat outside and ate and talked about books (hers and others), our jobs, and life in general. Eventually we headed back to her house and spent the rest of the long evening between the back patio and front porch. Neighbors wandered by and stopped for a friendly chat, the kids hung out with us and the night felt delightfully magical (just like Laurel’s books).  By the time I finally dragged myself off the front porch it was after 9pm and we had talked about a million different things.  Here’s the condensed version:

“Top 10 Things I Learned About Laurel Snyder”

  1. She mostly writes in the mornings when her boys are in school but she’s really a “whenever I have childcare” writer.
  2. She grew up in Baltimore and now she lives in a funky neighborhood just outside of Atlanta with an urban community garden a couple of block away, a ton of great local shops and restaurants, and the boys school. What a cool locale.
  3. Her husband plays bass in two different bands. Such an artistic family!
  4. Her boys, Mose and Lewis, are so adorable that they make people (me) want to have kids.
  5. In many respects Bread Box is autobiographical. Her parents have both read it and approve.
  6. She’s working on new novel, Seven Stories Up, which is a prequel to Bread Box but can also stand alone.  It’s set in 1937 Baltimore and it follows two girls who live in an abandoned hotel. Laurel lights up when she talks about it but she also says it’s been a daunting project.  It sounds wonderful!
  7. A few of her favorite authors when she was 12 were Madeleine L’Engle , Cynthia Voight and Katherine Paterson.
  8. Bread Box is for tween girls who want to read books with what Laurel calls emotional sophistication. Here’s a great piece she wrote on her blog about how her books are “aging up”.
  9. She makes balancing a career, a husband, two kids, a dog and a home look easy!
  10. She plans to convert the little white shed in her backyard into a writing cottage. (see the update at the bottom of this post)

    Laurel on the patio of Holy Taco, one of her favorite spots for eating and writing!


The future writing cottage.

Lewis, Laurel, and Mose hanging on the back deck.

Here’s some pre-pub love for Bigger Than a Breadbox:

Rebecca’s mother uproots her away from father, friends, Baltimore, and everything she knows and transplants her in Atlanta. At twelve years of age and living at her grandmother’s house, Rebecca tries to cope with the help of a magical bread box which produces anything she wishes — as long as it fits inside. Laurel Snyder’s fourth middle-grade novel is, despite the fantasy aspects, an oftentimes achingly sad coming of age story in which Rebecca has to come to terms with the limits and consequences of her wishes, and with life’s circumstances beyond her control. This is balanced by the great sensitivity Laurel has for the protagonist and a wonderfully written sense of place. Bigger Than A Bread Box is a superb book that has continued to resonate long after the last page was read. – Dave Shallenberger, co-owner, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Georgia

By the time I picked up the galley for Bigger than a Breadbox, I had heard from no fewer than five colleagues that I had to read it. I’ve long been a fan of Laurel Snyder, and I truly believe this is her best book yet. It’s funny, it’s sad, and even though there are hints of magic, it gives a very realistic depiction of a tween girl struggling to fit in at school, find herself, and deal with her parents’ separation. I think young girls and their moms would benefit from reading and discussing this together.” – Erin Zlotnik, RH Children’s Field Rep

Like PENNY DREADFUL before it, BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX has the charming old-fashioned feeling of middle-grade stories from the 60s, but with a contemporary bent. Rebecca’s parents’ sudden separation forces her to move to Gran’s house, where she discovers a magical breadbox that seems to produce anything she wishes for from thin air. But as is always with wishes, something is amiss. This simple magic-realist story is really about a girl trying her best to deal with some of the toughest parts of growing up, and grappling with some important ethical questions in the process. – Hannah Manshel, Children’s book buyer, 57th Street Books, Chicago IL.

Check out Laurel’s goodreads page and enter for a chance to win a finished copy of Bread Box.

Update: I just heard from Laurel that they’re breaking ground on the shed renovation on Wednesday. If you have suggestions for things you’d do to your own writing space if you had a blank slate, please comment here, she’d LOVE to hear!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 8:05 am

    Ooh, Bigger Than a Breadbox sounds wonderful!

  2. June 20, 2011 10:37 am

    I’m so looking forward to this newest book — I love Laurel’s writing style. Thanks for sharing the details of your evening!

    Also, if I had a blank slate for my writing space? There would need to be lots of light, and lots of shelf-space.

  3. Stacy permalink
    June 20, 2011 12:33 pm

    writing shed: make sure there’s a big blank wall to hang cork up for an inspiration point–where you can tack up any number of disparate &/or related things that inspire, provoke, or speak to you.

  4. June 20, 2011 12:55 pm

    Yes, Stacy, yes! Thank you! I keep mulling over cork/bookshelves vs windows.

    And thanks so much to the reps! Sarah in particular, but really to all of you. I’m so honored, and touched that you like the book. And it was SO much fun, and such an unexpected treat to have Sarah step into my little universe. I hope she’ll come back. I wish you could all come over. We now have an eight-foot inflatable pool. (fancy shmancy!)

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