Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author spotlight: Michael Scotto

Reader Girls welcomes author Michael Scotto to our blog today to celebrate the release of his  contemporary middle grade novel, Latasha and the Little Red Tornado.

Book blurb: Eight-year-old Latasha Gandy cannot wait to grow up. Her puppy, Ella Fitzgerald, on the other hand, absolutely refuses to! When Ella’s antics push the Gandys’ landlady to wits’ end, Latasha realizes that she must turn her mischievous mutt into a model dog. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this tale of friendship and maturity chronicles Latasha’s efforts to train Ella as she struggles with school and her mother’s demanding new job.


First, I'd like to thank Readergirls for inviting me to celebrate my book's birthday with them. Latasha and the Little Red Tornado is my first novel, and the book blogging community has shown such incredible support. It's really put a lot of wind in my sails.

I've spent a lot of time deciding what to share in the space I have. I'll begin with an anecdote: about a month ago, I was in Battle Creek, MI for an elementary school visit. It was the first big assembly I had ever done, and believe me, there is quite a difference between standing before a classroom of 20, and a gymnasium of 120. The room was large, and I felt quite small at the front of it. To be honest, I'm not sure how the presentation went. I know I made it through, and I think it even went well. But despite it lasting a full half an hour, I can hardly recall a single detail about it. It's an adrenaline-drenched blur. The Q&A session that followed, however -- that, I can safely say, I will remember always.

It began as I'd imagine most elementary school Q&As do. "How long have you been writing?" (For a living -- five years; for fun -- over 20.) "Are any of the characters based on real people?" (Only loosely.) "Do all of your stories have dogs in them?" (No, but my next book has a horse in it.) But then, I got a question that gave me pause. A young girl raised her hand and asked me this: "Mr. Scotto, how did you know how to write a book that was just for me?"

It was the most beautiful question I'd ever been asked...and one of the trickiest. After a pause, I tried to answer it, but I don't believe I did so adequately. The girl's question has lingered in my mind ever since. So here is what I have to share -- a month late, my answer.

But then, I got a question that gave me pause. A young girl raised her hand and asked me this: "Mr. Scotto, how did you know how to write a book that was just for me?" 
"It was a leap of faith to write Latasha. I wrote about the things that were at the forefront of my own mind -- both back at age eight, and now, at age 28 -- and hoped that it would resonate with others. At eight years old, I wanted to be independent, just like Latasha. And just like Latasha, despite my large vocabulary, I wasn't quite as ready to be grown up as I believed. At 28, I was concerned about the troublesome puppy that my wife and I had adopted, a real-life little red tornado that was the source of both my greatest joy, and my greatest frustration. I took these different threads that meant the world to me, and I wove them together in the hope that young readers would find truth in them. When I started, I didn't know how to write a book just for you. But I'm so very glad that I did."

May every young reader who opens Latasha and the Little Red Tornado find a book that is written just for them.

About the author:
Author website  Goodreads
 Twenty-eight-year-old Michael Scotto graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an MFA in Dramatic Writing in 2007. Since then, he has worked in the elementary education field as a creative writer. 

He wrote his first story when he was four years old. Today, Mr. Scotto is the author of a series picture books for young readers called "The Tales of Midlandia." In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and photography. 

In 2011, Scotto was honored as one of the "Pittsburgh 40 Under 40," which recognizes difference makers in the Western Pennsylvania region. He currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife. Latasha and the Little Red Tornado is his first novel.

About the publisher: Midlandia Press books and apps fulfill a child’s need to learn, which makes it no surprise that they find their way into the hands of families everywhere. When a child connects with a book, it plants the seed for a lifetime of reading and learning. Our team of writers, illustrators, animators, designers, and developers are passionate about creating the products that make this connection.

But in addition to crafting stories of the highest caliber, Midlandia Press also aims to make its products useful in a classroom setting. To that end, our team regularly consults with top-notch educators at various points in the production process. Midlandia Press is a proud partner of the Lincoln Interactive online curriculum, which currently features the Midlandia Press catalog as part of its elementary supplemental reading list.

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