‘Wild Bird’ by Wendelin Van Draanen | Bookends

Donna Lee Anderson

This week, I interviewed an author in a new way.

Wendelin Van Draanen gave a presentation of her YA book “Wild Bird” to middle-school students and I was invited to attend too. What an experience. I sat on the bleachers in the gym surrounded by about 600 students. This audience’s ages ranged from 12-14 and I don’t think any of them sat still for more than 30 seconds at a time. I don’t mean they were noisy or disrespectful or weren’t paying attention, but I do mean there was arm movement — folded, by the side, then back to folded — as well as legs stretching, foot swinging and shifting of position.

Wendelin herself was in constant movement. She had a podium set up with a microphone, but after she was introduced she took the mike into her hand and started her presentation. She walked around, did a few jumps, made lots of funny remarks and generally entertained the group with stories about how she started writing, about how her life was as a child, about camping in the desert, and about her books — including her latest, “Wild Bird.”

She has written more than 30 books in the Young Adult genre. “Wild Bird” addresses an out-of-control teenage girl. Because of their fear for her future if she keeps on this path she seems to have chosen, her parents arrange for an intervention. She is taken to a sort of rehab camp in the California desert where, hopefully, she will be reprogrammed in her thinking of what is important in life.

This book is written in first person as though Wren, the main character, is telling you what happened to her, what is happening to her at this point of her life, and how the many things and people she’s encountered helped put her in this position.

This Young Adult book is geared to the age that this book certainly addresses (middle school), and is so well-written you feel like you are just talking to this girl as she leads you through her experiences. You can see more about Wendelin Van Drannen at www.wendelinvand.com. The photo on the Home Page looks exactly like her, and you can see the fun in her eyes.

Wendelin also writes the Sammy Keyes series, about a young girl who is the “hottest sleuth to appear in children’s books since Nancy Drew,” The Boston Globe reports. These are written for ages fifth- to eighth grade to enjoy, and they are fun and exciting books to read. The first book of the series is “Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief.” Her other series is called the Shredderman Series and is geared for the second- through fifth-grade reader. The first book of this series is called “Secret Identity” … parents, you just might enjoy all of these well-written books too.

Now, don’t forget to check the web sites of the Kitsap Regional Library at www.krl.com, Liberty Bay Books at www.libertybaybooks.com, and Eagle Harbor Books at www.eagleharborbooks.com for upcoming events.

Quote for today: “When you grow up, son, never ever go to bed at night knowing that there was something you could have done during the day to strike a blow against injustice and you didn’t do it.” — from “My Song” by Harry Belafonte.

— Donna Lee Anderson teaches writing and is the author of two novels and a reference book for writers. Contact her at welltoldtales@aol.com

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