Interview: Kathi Appelt

I love being able to wake up in the morning and think to myself: today I get to interview a Newbery honor winning author. How cool is that? I’m super pumped to have the honor of interviewing Kathi Appelt on my blog today about her new picture book When Otis Courted Mama.

WhenOtisCourtedMama cover

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

Here are the rules:

1. I give the interviewee 5 questions

2. They have to answer

  • 1 question with 5 sentences1 question with 4 sentences
  • 1 question with 3 sentences
  • 1 question with 2 sentences
  • 1 question with 1 sentence

3.  They get to pick which question which question to answer with each number of sentences.

4. Have fun!


1. Can you tell us a little bit about the book When Otis Courted Mama?

When it comes to stories, stepparents are often featured as the villains (think Hansel and Gretel, think Cinderella). But in real life, there are a lot of great stepparents. I was lucky to have George, a terrific stepfather. Moreover, he was a great storyteller. So Otis is my tribute to him and to all the other stepparents who are working hard for their families.

2. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

The best thing? The very best? Aside from getting to work in my pajamas, it’s that I get to make stuff up. Yep, I love that.

3. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

For me, the hardest part is trying to make sense of the stuff I make up. Often, I’ll have a great idea. But an idea is not the same thing as a story, so turning an idea into a story is the big challenge.

4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

I’d choose National Velvet, by Enid Bagnold. It’s always been one of my favorite books.

5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

Write like your fingers are on fire!

Kathi Appelt photo
Kathi Appelt’s perfectly wonderful stepfather was a terrific storyteller, and she grew up to become a teller of stories, too. She is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her picture books includeOh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer, and the Bubba and Beau series, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her novels for older readers include two National Book Award finalists: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath, which was also a Newbery Honor Book. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To download a free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guide, visit or Kathi’s website at
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Tues, Jan 6
Cracking the Cover
Wed, Jan 7
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Fri, Jan 9
Once Upon a Story
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Booking Mama
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Geo Librarian
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The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog AND NC Teacher Stuff
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Thurs, Jan 15
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Jan 16
The Fourth Musketeer
Bonus! Find a full-color door hanger and other fun downloadables at
One lucky winner will receive a copy of WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (U.S. addresses only).

3 thoughts on “Interview: Kathi Appelt

  1. My eyes bugged out a bit when I saw the name “Kathi Appelt” in your subject heading, Colby! How exciting!

    Kathi, so far I’ve only read THE UNDERNEATH, and was blown away, so much so that it’s one of the first titles I think of when asked to recommend a book. No, I’m not a bookseller. I write, but spend so much time in the kids’ section at B&N, I’m always helping people select books! lol

    Thanks for the great little interview, Colby and Kathi, and I’m happy to say my ex married a woman who served as a wonderful “second mother” to my son, and she’s one of the dearest people in my life 🙂


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