On Wednesday, January 31, Ridley High School students had an opportunity to Skype with bestselling author Victoria Aveyard. She is the author of the Red Queen fantasy series, which will conclude in May with a fourth and final installment, War Storm. Red Queen depicts a world divided by blood: commoners with Red Blood serve the Silver-blooded, magical elite. As a commoner, Mare shouldn’t have any special abilities … but when her latent powers manifest in front of a noble court, she is forced to assume the role of lost princess before risking everything to help a growing rebellion.
From her home in California (and with a guest appearance by her dog Indy), Victoria chatted with students about how she was inspired to write the Red Queen series, the joy of plot twists, how she tackles the problem of writer’s block, and the challenges of writing a four-book series without leaving any plot holes. Our students came prepared with thoughtful questions and enjoyed Victoria’s insights into the career of a full-time, professional writer.Extra thanks to Ms. Monte, Ms. Koszarek, Mr. Breckenridge, Ms. Pena, and all of the student participants for contributing to this successful event!
On Friday, February 3, Ridley High School was privileged to welcome Jeff Giles for a presentation in the Board Room! A longtime writer for Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone, he has just released a debut young adult novel: The Edge of Everything. The novel has received rave reviews from Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, bestselling authors James Dashner and Melissa de la Cruz, and Ms. Pickett! Jeff Giles shared stories from his days in entertainment journalism, discussed how he found time to write a novel while working full-time, and talked about incorporating facts to make his fiction more realistic. For example, he studied “snow ghosts” in Montana and tried his hand at caving so these elements would be more believable within the pages of his novel. He also spoke about the importance of working closely with an editor in order to turn a good draft into a great book.
Over 150 students attended this special event and, as always, they were a wonderful audience. They impressed our guest of honor with thoughtful, insightful questions about his writing process. Thank you so much to Jeff Giles for making Ridley High School a stop on his book tour! And as always, THANK YOU to Children’s Book World in Haverford for making this event possible!
The Edge of Everything is now available in the library; you can also sample the first few chapters here.
On Thursday, November 17, Dianne Salerni stopped by Ridley High School to join the Emerald Academy Book Club for a Lunch with a Local Author! Dianne is the author of The Caged Graves, a historical mystery that’s also a Pennsylvania Reader’s Choice Award nominee. Over Double Decker inside-outs, Dianne talked with the students about how she was inspired to write The Caged Graves, her Eighth Day series for middle grade readers, her upcoming projects, and more. We especially enjoyed her insights into how she likes to end her books; the story might be over but the characters live on in the reader’s imagination. We are so grateful to Dianne for taking the time to join us in person, and we can’t wait to read what she writes next!
The Emerald Academy Book Club recently read Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta, and on April 8 they had an opportunity to Skype with the author to discuss the book!
Those Who Wish Me Dead is the story of teenaged Jace, who witnesses a brutal crime and is placed in a wilderness survival program for troubled teens while the authorities race against time to find the killers. Meanwhile, the killers are tracking Jace’s every move. It’s a fast-paced thriller, a Pennsylvania Reader’s Choice Award nominee, and the number one book here at Ridley High School this school year!Mr. Koryta spoke about the whether he will ever revisit the characters from Those Who Wish Me Dead in a prequel, writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz who have influenced and inspired him, and his extensive revising process (with as many as nine drafts!). He also spoke about how he developed the Blackwell Brothers, the book’s memorably cold-blooded villains.
As always, our students came prepared with thoughtful questions and made a wonderful, attentive audience! We extend our sincere gratitude to Michael Koryta for taking the time to virtually join our Book Club!
On March 3, young adult author Tiffany Schmidt stopped by Ridley High School for a presentation in the Board Room. Tiffany is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, Hold Me Like a Breath, and the upcoming Break Me Like a Promise. Students from Creative Writing, Art, and the Emerald Academy Book Club gathered to hear Tiffany speak about her transition from middle school teacher to full-time writer, how her students have inspired her, and her writing routine. She told students, “There is value in the things you value and enjoy, whether it’s writing, music, or science. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!” She also talked about how she fills her “creative well” by going outside and getting moving whenever she gets stuck in her writing. Hiking, swimming, fresh air, and sunshine always inspire her! Tiffany’s genuine nature and sweet personality engaged our students, and she was very impressed with their thoughtful questions. Special thanks to Children’s Book World in Haverford for making this event possible!
Ms. Pickett with 9th grader Amy, who is reading Bright Before Sunrise.
On Wednesday, December 2, Pennsylvania author Dianne Salerni stopped by the Ridley High School Library. She was the guest of honor at a “Chapter Chat” that was part of Hey-YA Needs Diversity, a Ridley Professional Institute course. All of the teachers in the class read Dianne’s historical young adult novel, The Caged Graves, and enjoyed talking with the author about how she was inspired to write the book and what other projects she has in the works. The Caged Graves is a Civil War-era novel set in Catawissa, PA, that explores the mystery of why two — and only two — graves in the area are enclosed in iron cages. These “mortsafes” are real, and right here in Pennsylvania! We truly loved the book and our time with Dianne, and look forward to sharing The Caged Graves with our students!
Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely stopped by Ridley High School on Tuesday, October 6, to talk about their brand new novel, All American Boys. Students from College Prep, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, Drama, Journalism, and World History classes packed the Board Room to capacity! Our students were an attentive audience as the authors spoke about their very different experiences with law enforcement during their teen years, how the death of Michael Brown and other recent headlines inspired All American Boys, and how their co-writing collaboration came about. Jason and Brendan were especially impressed with our students’ thoughtful, insightful questions.All American Boys has been getting rave reviews, with School Library Journal noting that “this novel promises to have an impact long after the pages stop turning.” I can’t wait to hear what Ridley students think of the book! Many, many thanks to Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA, for making this author event possible!