Scope for the Imagination: Anne of Green Gables revisited with Katie Stewart

Anne of Green Gables Katie Stewart Owl's Nest Publishers Homeschool Conversations

Few books had such a profound impact in my childhood as the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery. Anne’s passionate curiosity and wonder-filled approach to the world around her, fierce loyalty, and delightful imagination continue to delight readers of all ages. So I was beyond excited for the opportunity to chat with author and publisher Katie Stewart. Katie is a fellow Anne-lover who recently published an annotated edition of Anne of Green Gables, bringing Anne to a new generation of readers. Whether you love Anne already or are new to the delights of Prince Edward Island, this is a conversation you won’t want to miss!

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Anne of Green Gables Katie Stewart Owl's Nest Publishers Homeschool Conversations

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Meet Katie Stewart

Katie Stewart has a master’s degree in Communication from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. She is a professional writer and certified editor with over 12 years of experience in writing creative nonfiction, sales copy, and marketing copy for a major nonprofit. She also has extensive social media book marketing experience and relationships with several big New York publishing houses. She has curated a platform across social media sites, and as a result is a trusted voice in the book review world, developing relationships with authors and readers alike. At Owl’s Nest, Katie is the COO and Managing Editor as well as one of their Classics authors.

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Amy: Hello friends. Today I am joined by Katie Stewart. Katie has a masters degree in communications, and is a professional writer and certified editor with over 12 years of experience. She also has extensive social media book marketing experience, and relationships with several New York publishing houses, curating her own platform across social media sites, as a trusted voice in the book review world at Owl’s Nest Katie is the COO and managing editor, as well as one of their classics authors. She is also a lifelong reader, and it wasn’t long into her reading life that she was introduced to Anne of Green Gables.

It was true love from the very first. Since then, she has read Anne more times than she can count, and every time she opens the pages new insights spring fourth. I cannot wait to dive into more Anne of Green Gables, talk with you, like you expressed in your bio, that is a pivotal book in my own life as well. Before we just jump right into Anne of Green Gables, tell us a little bit about yourself, and your family, and then your own literary life, even maybe beyond Anne of Green Gables. When did you first consider yourself a reader or a lover of books?

Learning to love books

Katie: A little about myself. Like you said my name is Katie. I have been a lifelong reader, my family, my current family, my nuclear family now, is me and my husband Steve and our three kids. I have a nine year old, a six year old and a three-year-old Fox, Wilder, and Marigold. Also think that I am instilling in them a love of reading as well. We do lots of read alouds although my experience reading aloud to them in my head is always very magical, and in reality, it’s a little bit more chaotic, but yes so that’s my family life.

I come from a family of also three kids. I have two brothers and I’m the oldest. My family and then the family that I come from are switched. In my family I’m the oldest with two younger brothers, and then in my family now I have two older boys and then my youngest is a girl. In my own literary life, my mother instilled a love of reading in us. She read aloud to us so much as a kid.

It’s hard for me to remember when I first started to love books, because they were always a part. Actually, you know what? I take that back. I remember being three years old and I had this really beautiful copy and illustrated like a picture book of Cinderella by Susan Jeffers.

It was so beautiful, and I was probably about three at the time. I remember going to my mom, my mom read that book out loud to me so many times that I assume I had memorized it. I don’t think I’d act, there’s a lot of words, so I don’t think I’d actually memorized it. In my three-year-old head, I believed that I could read it. I remember going to my mom very excitedly and saying mom I can read this book. I didn’t teach myself to read or anything. I couldn’t actually read it, but I remember that Susan Jeffers Cinderella.

In my own reading life, I remember the book that I give a lot of credit to turning me into a reader was Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

I read that book probably when I was in second grade. I was a pretty strong reader and I probably read that in second grade and I remember falling in love with it and I would just read it over and over, and over, and over again. I’d read it in a day and then I would read it again the next day. That was my first bookish love probably.

It was actually later that I first read Anne or was introduced to Anne of Green Gables. The books that my mom read out loud to me… she actually recently, she was lamenting, that she didn’t introduce Anne to me, but she wasn’t familiar with it.

It wasn’t a book that her parents introduced to her, and with a lot of I think classic literature you’re handed those books or read those books too by her parents. She read Laura Ingalls Wilder to me, and The Chronicles of Narnia, and those classic books, but she didn’t read Anne to me. She just recently within the last several months read Anne for the first time and was like why didn’t I introduce Anne of Green Gables to you? I feel like I shirked my responsibilities as your mom. I said well you know what? I was still introduced to it, so all is Well.

I was probably about 11 or 12, and it was my best friend growing up or one of my best friends growing up who introduced me to Anne of Green Gables.

Her family had taken a trip to Prince Edward Island, and she came home with these beautiful Anne and Diana dolls, and she was talking about the book, and she wanted me to read it. I read it and then she got all of our friend group to read it. That was my introduction to Anne, and where that love was instilled for Anne was them.

Amy: Oh man that, it’s interesting though because there’s the flip side of it, where I was very young when I first read Anne of Green Gables. Read it over and over and over all through my growing up years, the whole series and everything. I was so excited to introduce it to my children, that I made the mistake that a lot of excited moms make with a book we loved as a child. We maybe introduce it a little too young, where then the child is like I didn’t really like that book. I’m like, how could you not like this beautiful book? Thankfully she has read it since and now enjoys it, but so sometimes it’s a mixed bag when you do know and love book and then you get a little overexcited to share it with your children.

Katie: A little too zealous. I’ve thought about when to introduce it to my kids. There’s a graphic novel version of Anne of Green Gables, I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s really lovely, and my son read that a few years ago, and that it made a big impact on him. A graphic novel is a totally different format, totally different reading experience. I’ll be interested if he even wants to read Anne as he gets older, we’ll see. I’ve thought about when am I going to introduce, when am I going to try and read this book out loud? I don’t know, I don’t know.

Amy: It’s always a hard thing. We actually listened to it as an audiobook, and so it was too young for my daughter but my son enjoyed it at the time. This is probably oh maybe 10 years ago or so now. One of the funniest memories I have as a mom of reading aloud or listening to an audiobook with my kids. We were driving in the car listening, and it was about to be the chapter where the tragedy occurs with Matthew. I stopped the CD and I was like okay guys, I just want everyone to know (I had some sensitive kids who need some preparation)…

I was like I just want you to know something really sad is going to happen in this chapter, so just be prepared but it’s all going to, we’re going to be able to talk about it after. I always feel like I know it’s going to happen, I’m not going to cry, and so as the chapter goes on, I’m sobbing uncontrollably. As we’re driving in the bank, I’m going through the teller line and the teller’s like ma’am are you okay?” “I’m fine. Mathew died.” She looked at me like I was crazy person. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you know it’s going to happen or not, it gets me every time.

Katie: It’s just sad every time, I know. Even that so the graphic novel when my son read the graphic novel, he cried during that scene even in the graphic novel. It is very heart wrenching.

Anne of Green Gables and Lucy Maud Montgomery

Amy: It’s a very human story in many ways. Well, before we just completely go off and just tell our favorite memories of Anne of Green Gables, I would love to hear about why you chose to work on this annotated version. I don’t even know if I mentioned this, you have a new annotated version of Anne of Green Gables that’s relatively recently been published. I want to talk about that but let’s first just go back and talk about the author. Can you tell us a little bit about Lucy Maud Montgomery and her life, and how this particular title of course that we’re familiar with, fits into the rest of her life and work.

Katie: L. M. Montgomery, Lucy Maud Montgomery, she likes to be called Maud in her life spelled without an E, and she made that very clear. I always think that’s an interesting connection because she made Anne very insistent that Anne was spelled with an E and she was in her own life very insistent that Maud was spelled without an E. Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables. It was her first published novel. She went on to write, okay now I’m not going to remember how many books she wrote. She wrote many books after Anne of Green Gables including eight books in the Anne series that follow Anne’s life, and then into her children’s lives.

I always, in all of her books, in many I shouldn’t say in all, in many of her books she explores very similar ideas, themes, character situations. A lot of her books deal with some form of orphanhood in a way. If not orphanhood, if the character is not an orphan, they are certainly dealing with some family situation, family circumstance, that is difficult. When I first read about Lucy’s life, it was actually in the middle-grade biography by Liz Rosenberg called House of Dreams. I remember finishing that book and thinking, “Oh, Lucy, or Maude, really?”––

In all of her stories seemed to be working out her own childhood trauma and, in a way that–– She had a hard time reconciling her own life, her own past, her own difficult relationship with her father. Her mother died when she was very young. She lived with her grandparents, who were very strict, very Victorian grandparents, and felt very unloved.

She was really sensitive, very dramatic. Very sensitive, much also like the characters in her books. She felt very misunderstood by her grandparents, very unsupported, unloved, whether or not that was actually true.

I think in many ways it may have been, but also, we only have her account, her journals that tell us about her experience with her grandparents. I feel like I’m rambling a little bit, but yes, she wrote lots of poetry before Anne. When you learn about her life and then you read Anne of Green Gables, or you read The Emily books or, The Blue Castle, or really any other of her books, you can see portraits of her own life, but they usually end so much more happily than she viewed her own life. She led a very sad life with lots of mental illness and, it’s really tragic to read about her life. Actually, when you read these beautiful, beautiful books that she put into the world.

Amy: Yes. I actually recently read House of Dreams, the biography you mentioned. My teen daughter read it first and then told me I needed to read it as well. It was so sad to read how tragic and broken and isolated in many ways her own life was, but then it made me appreciate this hope that she didn’t lose in her stories. How she was able to take these very hard things and difficult emotions and mental illness and be able to then craft these beautiful stories that have given hope to people for generations since in the midst of challenging situations.

If anyone wants to know more about her, I would encourage you reading that biography. I probably wouldn’t give it to a child.It was odd to me that it was in our juvenile biography section, especially depending on if you have a sensitive child. I wouldn’t necessarily hand it to a child, but I definitely for teens.

Katie: Exactly. Because her life is so dark and ends very tragically, I would not hand it to a young child. It is interesting that it is–– When it came out, it was marketed as middle grade, but I would say really it is more teen probably than middle grade. It reads more teen and thematically is more teen. Yes. It’s a difficult book, but you can really see. That is actually one of the things that I was really struck with. I mentioned it, but you touched on it even more. When I read, it made me appreciate the beauty that she put into the world even though she herself was so tortured.

You can see glimpses of that, but it’s like she was like working out her own. It was like she wanted to write a world that she hoped for herself that she never got. That’s what I took from it when I read the book. It made me so desperately sad for her, but also so grateful for the books that she wrote.

Amy: I think now having read the biography and knowing more about the author, I will read the books in a different way. There’s a bit of a loss of some innocence of how I will read the books, but I’m also thankful for that. That doesn’t mean that, I want my nine-year-old to have that experience reading a book, but I think as an adult, I will understand them in a deeper way. I’m looking forward to rereading them now knowing more about the author.

Katie: Yes. There’s also an adult biography that–– Oh, I’m not going to remember the name of off the top of my head, but for adults looking to really dive into her life, it’s like the most well-respected biography of her life. It’s really going to bother me that I can’t think of the name of it right now.

Amy: Well, if you think of the title, you can send it to me, and I can add it to the show notes when we’re done.

Anne of Green Gables timeless themes

Ok. Specifically related to the book, Anne of Green Gables, what are some of the themes that particularly draw you to that title, and why do you think it is still relevant and worth reading for modern readers?

Katie: Well, think there’s value beyond Anne of Green Gables itself, I think there is value in all of the classics. The classics are classics for a reason. Even if there are things that are a little bit unsavory that we find in them, I still think they’re worthwhile because they represent a time and place in history with authors from a certain time and place in history. We can learn a lot from their experience and the stories that they tell. I’m a big proponent of the value of modern readers reading classics because usually, they’re telling a story of the human experience that is relatable no matter the generation that is reading it.

Really that is so true of Anne of Green Gables. It is in so many ways a classic bildungsroman. It is a coming-of-age story about a girl finding her place in the world, figuring out who she is, what she wants, and working out her relationships with her friends and her family, found family mostly. It’s a coming-of-age story that’s relatable to everyone, to all teenagers from all time because teenagers–– Even though the concept of teenagers didn’t exist during Anne of Green Gable’s time, the age is tumultuous no matter when you lived. I think it’s very relevant to teenagers.

I would also say that Anne is a really unique story, I think for Victorian literature, because a lot of Victorian books for kids written at the turn of a century or before were very moralistic. One of the things that I love about Anne of Green Gables so much is that Anne isn’t a perfect character, and she’s not meant to be a perfect character. None of the characters are perfect. Well, maybe except Matthew, but even Matthew has some foibles. I so appreciate that, like Anne makes mistakes. The whole book is her making mistakes and learning and growing from her mistakes and becoming wiser, but even at the end of the book, she still has growing to do.

I love that L. M. Montgomery created a character that is believable because she isn’t perfect. She has a raging temper. She holds a grudge, she is so winsome and lovable. I love her for that. I love her for her imperfections and not just that. I know there are some people who read Anne of Green Gables as an adult and find Anne Shirley really annoying because she talks all the time. She uses big words and––

Amy: Hey, it’s me.

Katie: I know, me too. I don’t relate to their annoyance because I relate to Anne so much. Even if those things are annoying about her, it’s one more thing that makes her a more realistic character. Some of the themes though that I love about Anne are things like friendship, beauty. I know there is not another author that I have come across that writes about the natural world and the beauty of the world better than L. M. Montgomery. She is just the most–– Her descriptions of Prince Edward Island are so beautiful and lush. I could just live in those descriptions.

Sometimes if I’m reading it, I’ll just reread those descriptions over. I’m not someone who loves to read descriptions of the natural world in most of my books, but L. M. Montgomery can really turn a phrase when it comes to her description. Beauty, and Anne is preoccupied with beauty and what beauty means and whether or not she’s beautiful. I think that makes her very vain, actually. She’s very vain, even though she thinks she’s not beautiful. Her obsession with her lack of beauty is itself vanity.

Beauty, friendship, family. As an adult, one of the things that as you grow up– When you read children’s literature as a kid, you always focus on the kids in the book, but as you grow up, especially as I’ve read Anne and loved Anne as a child, and then I’ve continued to read it as I’ve aged and now reading it, I always am struck by Marilla’s growth especially. The theme of growing and changing goes beyond just Anne and includes Marilla too and Matthew.

Amy: I think that’s one of the things I love about returning to my favorite books from childhood as an adult, start seeing other characters and what they’re going through and a totally different way. The book hasn’t changed, but it’s almost a new book because you are a bit of a new person reading it. Marilla is so much more relatable to me as an older, more grumpy person than she was when I was a bright-eyed child and saw all the world with imagination and wonder. Then reading it as a homeschool parent and reading about Miss Stacy and the way she approaches education.

I’m like, “Is Montgomery writing a whole treatise about the nature of education in this book?” I think she is. I never picked up on that as a child, but now I’m like, “Oh my goodness, there’s all this other stuff going on that I can understand now.”

Katie: Yes. It is interesting. That’s exactly right. I love, as an adult reading the book with fresh eyes and getting a picture of these other characters that were important to the book when I was a kid, but I didn’t relate to them. I didn’t think about their journey. I didn’t think about Marilla’s journey when I was a kid. I thought about Anne, and now as an adult, I think about the journeys that these adults are taking in a much more profound way.

Amy: I’m going to ask you a question about your annotated edition, but I have to tell you, this is so funny. My last name is Sloan. Before I got married, one of the first things that came to my mind I was dating my to-be husband was, I’m going to be a Sloan, not a Sloane, which only someone who’s read Anne of Green Gables will understand, but we don’t have an e on the end of our name, so my daughters and I are determined. We’re a totally unrelated family.

Katie: You’re Sloan without an E.

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New annotated version of Anne of Green Gables from Owl’s Nest Publishers

Amy: Exactly. What were some of your goals or reasons, motivations for creating your annotated version of Anne of Green Gables, and what would be the value of this book for someone who already loves Anne or for a new reader, and what exactly is an annotated version of Anne of Green Gables?

Katie: Actually there are a couple of annotated versions in existence already, but they’re geared more towards adult readers. Also, the ones that I looked at, they didn’t feel very engaging or even very fleshed out. There are a lot of gaps that even as an adult reader, I would have liked to know more. When I created it, I created it with that in mind, but also thinking specifically about a younger audience. I wanted to make the book more engaging and accessible for kids and teens who are picking up the book for the first time, who may or may not have a good foundation with the classics.

Certainly, anytime you pick up a classic, the world is different. The language used is different. Cultural references are different. It is not, I think a lot of kids can open classics with a bit of trepidation or uncertainty thinking that it’s going to be too hard or it’s not going to be fun to read, or too challenging. Those were the things I had in mind when I created the annotated classics. You asked what an annotated book is, and I totally skipped over that very important part of the question.

An annotated book, as you’re reading a book that’s annotated, it will comment, there’ll be a little number by a word or something, or a paragraph, and then you look down at the bottom of the page and it’ll elucidate whatever, something about that text. It’ll either define a word or it will give a little bit of historical context, or in my annotated edition, I also give some personal anecdotes. That’s very broadly the kind of thing that an annotated classic would do. She references historical events too, in passing? I will comment on that. Sometimes I’ll make connections for the reader to help to say this passage is– this is the reason that she wrote this here.

It connects to something else in the book, or it connects it some literary device or something like that. There’s lots of ways that an annotated classic can illuminate things for the reader make it a more engaging experience or help the reader so that they don’t feel so out of water.

Amy: If someone was new to the book, they could come in and not feel intimidated by maybe vocabulary or references that were unfamiliar. If they already know and love the book, then they’re going to find out all these other little details and Easter eggs that they didn’t know were hiding in there.

Katie: Exactly. Hopefully, if a reader is coming to the book for a second or third, or however many times they’ve read Anne of Green Gables, this annotated edition will still help to deepen their reading experience and give them some more things to think about.

The other thing we did in this annotated edition was include discussion questions. We broke the book. Anna of Green Gables didn’t have natural, parts 1, 2, and 3, so we had to figure out where to stick the questions. We offered discussion questions too. If kids were using it in a homeschool classroom, for example, or using it in a book club or something like that, they would have ways to engage with the book even further.

Amy: Okay. I just had this vision a year or a semester of Anne of Green Gables book club and everyone could come in puffed sleeves and have lemonade and cookies. Oh yes. Actually my in-person book club. We go away for the weekend in the fall when we can. Two years ago we actually did, we had raspberry cordial, we had the cake with a little sign that said, not made with liniment, and we had a whole thing. It was very fun.

Katie: Oh, that’s amazing.

Amy: Very special.

Katie: Yes.

Other resources from Owl’s Nest Publishers

Amy: This is just one of the titles that Owl’s Nest Publishers offer. I hadn’t really heard about your publishing company until about a year ago. I’ve listened to some of your podcast episodes, but can you tell me a little bit about how Owl’s Nest Publishers came to be and what’s the vision of the company for the books you’re going to publish, and what makes you different from other publishers?

Katie: Yes, my best friend Karen and I we’d been talking about creating a publishing house, starting a publishing house for a long time. A couple of years ago we were talking and we were lamenting the state of the publishing industry, especially for mostly teen, but also somewhat middle-grade and more middle-grade books. There’s a lot of things that we could lament about the state of publishing for young people, but one of the things that we saw was a real gap in between stories. Books that bridge those middle-grade years and YA right now are a whole thing.

Amy: It’s really just for adults but–

Katie: It’s really for adults. Exactly. Most of the teen characters are 17 or 18 years old. They can be put in very adult situations and make very adult decisions. The audience for YA is not really teens, it’s really adults. It’s really 20 and 30-year-old women mostly. Karen is an author and she’s written many, many books at this point. She’s very knowledgeable about the industry because she’s been part of it in many different ways. She’s been independently published, she’s had literary agents, she’s been on sub with the big publishers. She’s independently published her books.

She has across the board and so when we were talking and as a reviewer and someone who loves books for young people kids and teens. We were like, “Well, okay, let’s take our experience and just create a publishing company that publishes the books that we want to see for kids and teens, that tell the stories of real teens that aren’t marketed and written for adults, that are written for teenagers,” and so that’s what we did.

We are very new. You only heard us about a year ago because we’ve only been around for a little over a year and we have published a few books. Anne of Green Gables is the only classic that we’ve published but we have more coming. A Christmas Carol is coming out this year and then Little Women is also coming out in about a, maybe a year from now. I can’t remember when that’s going to be released but the editor is just getting started on that but we have lots of other books that have come out and will be coming out over the next months.

When we started, we had to start somewhere, so we published a couple of Karen’s books first before we signed other authors. Now, we have lots of outside authors that we’ll be releasing books from. When we started, Karen wrote we were published, we released some of Karen’s books and then also the classic that I edited wrote the introduction and annotations for.

Helping parents decide what book is appropriate for their child

Amy: Great. Okay. That’s really, I’m glad I hadn’t just completely missed it. I was like, how have I missed something this cool but it’s just new and exciting. One of the things you mentioned is something I have definitely noticed as a parent and that’s when you go to the library. Actually, I mainly don’t take my children to the library anymore but if you go there and you’re willing to brave the shelves, it can be really difficult to know which books are actually age and developmentally appropriate for your children. I found out a long time ago, a YA book I need to pre-read or do some research about before handing to my children.

Wven with the middle grade, it can just be really difficult to know is this book worth taking home, so what are some tips you would have for a parent who’s wanting to pick a good book, they’re doing some research online or they’re at the bookstore at the library, are there some questions we can ask or how can we decide if a book is worth taking home for our middle grade or our teen readers?

Katie: Oh, my gosh. I mean this is such a hard question because I feel like I’m muddling through this myself as a parent and it’s hard when you feel like I don’t have time to read every book that I’m handing to my kids. I do think that and also every parent has a different standard too for what they find acceptable for their kids.

Amy: Every child is different too. Some are super sensitive to one thing and some to another, so I think giving age recommendations.

Katie: I know it’s so I do too actually. That’s one of the things that we have avoided at, so this is how, let me just tell you how we’re approaching it at Owl’s Nest because we get a lot of parents who come to us and say is this book good for my eight-year-old and we always have to say that is up to you. We can’t tell you what’s good for your eight-year-old only your eight-The Great Book List Roundup: Books and Websites to Inspire Your Next Reading Adventureyear-old but we can tell you what the content is in the book. What are some of the things that you’re going to find in this book and you get to decide as a parent whether that is something that you want your kids to read or not.

roundup of best book lists

On our website, we have content descriptions, so you get to, and we do have an age range. We’ve thought, we’ve actually wondered whether we should get rid of them because they can be unhelpful sometimes for exactly the reasons that we’re saying but we do have age ranges of that we suggest. As a parent, what I do is I just do a lot of review reading, like reading what other parent or reading what other people are saying on Good Reads or Amazon or whatever because you can usually figure out what content is in the book that way and whether you want.

Sometimes it’s really hard when you are like at the bookstore or at the library but I will get out my phone and do reviews or read reviews when I’m there because I don’t have time to read the book myself always. I don’t know, it is such a hard question and I don’t know that I feel like I’m an expert at it but I do know what I would appreciate as a parent and it is always like those content questions, what am I going to find in this book and is that appropriate for my kid or our values or whatever.

Amy: I’ll make sure to put in the show notes too for this episode. A link to a blog post I have which is essentially a roundup of book lists about books. I link up a lot of reputable and trustworthy review sites and other places you can go to get lists of books for your children or do that thing like you would do for a movie, common sense media and scroll through the quick like, wait, can we watch this with all the kids tonight?

Katie: Right. I wish there was a place like that for books.

Amy: I know like Redeemed Reader a lot of friends use that as a good source where they have a ton of book reviews and there’s several others but I’ll link that list of book lists up in the channel.

Katie: Yes. I also always, I’m sure you’ve got a list of books but I love to get recommendations from Sarah Mackenzie as well from read-aloud revival.

Amy: Yes, that’s a great website and actually Sarah was a previous guest too, so.

Katie: I’m so jealous. You got to talk to Sarah.

What Katie is reading lately

Amy: I know. I’ll put that link in the show notes too. It was a very exciting moment. Oh Katie, this has been just as a light to chat with you and I’m excited that other people get to hear about the annotated Anne of Green Gables and Owlsnest publisher. I look forward to seeing the books you guys come out in the years ahead but here at the end, I’m going to ask you the question that I ask all of my guests and so it is just, what are you personally reading right now?

Katie: Oh, my gosh. I am actually right in between books. I just finished reading The Parker Inheritance, which is a middle-grade book. I run a middle-grade, well, I host middle-grade March in the month of March with a couple of my other friends which is a month-long, read-along where we encourage people to read adults and children to read middle-grade books and then this year we were like, let’s extend this and start a middle-grade book club. The book that we read this month was The Parker Inheritance which is, oh my gosh, it’s one of those genre-bending books that it’s a little historical fiction. It’s a little bit contemporary because it’s dual timeline.

It’s also a mystery very based on the Westing Game takes place in the South. The previous timeline takes place around the Jim Crow era and then the modern day. as modern day. Anyway, it was good. Wasn’t a five-star read but I enjoyed it.

Then I think I’m going to pick up next a book called The Secret Book of Flora Lee by Patty Callahan Henry and she wrote Becoming Mrs. Lewis, I’m pretty sure, and some other books that have garnered some attention over the last couple of years. This one I think is like her biggest, most popular release probably and it is also a World War II historical fiction which I think maybe a touch of magical realism in it. Maybe I’m not really sure. A little bit of magic in it but it’s not a fantasy, it’s historical fiction, so we’ll see. I haven’t even started it yet.

Amy: Well, if you like that genre, I don’t know if you’ve read anything by Susanna Kearsley but her books are similar. It’s like there’s, it’s historical fiction. Sometimes there’s a dual timeline and then there’s always like this hint of a little bit of not magic but something fantastic that’s happening.

Katie: Yes. Something fantastical. I know Susanna Kearsley but I have yet to read any of her books. She’s on my shelf but I haven’t read her. I know I’ll like her. People have told me that I would enjoy her because I like some of that. I really love historical fiction with a little bit of genre-bending in it.

Amy: Definitely check that one out next. I’ll also say if you have not yet read The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary Schmidt, it’s his newest book.

Katie: I have it. I’m so excited to read it.

Amy: Oh my goodness. I started reading it earlier this week while the kids were swimming. I was crying at the side of the pool. I came home, I finished it that night. It just destroyed me like any Gary Schmidt book will but just the way he can deal with real human issues, these very dark, difficult ideas but in a way that is hopeful and true. Actually, come to think of it, similar to L. M. Montgomery.

Katie: Yes. Gary Schmidt. If I were to list my top middle-grade authors, Gary Schmidt is right up there at the top. I am so excited to read Hercules Beal, so excited and he like L. M. Montgomery, he has dealt with a lot of tragedy in his own life.

Amy: I need to get him on the podcast. I can’t get L. M. because…

Katie: Well, I have a connection if you need it.

Amy: I would love to have to talk to Schmidt.`

Katie: Yes. My brother went to Calvin College, or I think it’s Calvin University now, and Gary Schmidt was one of his teachers, so I have a connection if you need to.

Find Katie Stewart Online

Amy: Okay, we’ll talk about that after. Katie, where can people find you all around the internet?

Katie: You can find me on let’s see. I have a Facebook or not, well I do have a Facebook account, but it’s just connected to my Instagram account. Instagram, I have a very inactive Tik Tok. I’m also on YouTube. My content is sporadic these days, but everywhere I am is life between words.

Amy: Wonderful. I’ll have links to all of those places in the show notes for this episode over at Thank you so much, Katie. This was really fun.

Katie: Oh, thank you for having me.

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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