Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Strong girls . . . don’t let others define who they are or what they are capable of. They keep trying, and striving, and they don’t give up.

Who was your first “author idol” and why?

When I was young, I wrote letters to my favorite authors. James Howe was the only one to write me back, and I couldn’t believe it. I loved his books Bunnicula, Howliday Inn,and The Celery Stalks at Midnight. The envelope he sent had a bunny stamped on the outside, for Bunnicula, and inside was a letter typed on yellow paper and a signed pamphlet about him and his books. He wished me a happy birthday (I was almost 11), and he gave me writing advice because I had asked how I could become an author like him one day. I remember all these details because I still have his letter framed and hanging in my office.

Why do you think the main character in your book represents a strong girl?

This is interesting to consider because when I set out to write Book Scavenger I wasn’t consciously thinking of making Emily a strong girl. What I thought about as I wrote was making her seem real. Emily struggles and she doesn’t have it all figured out, just like each one of us in real life. And like many kids, Emily’s parents have made choices on her behalf and she’s wrestles with how she feels about those things. Emily is a strong girl because she doesn’t use the obstacles she faces, both internally and externally, as an excuse to give up. Whether she’s trying to solve a puzzle, navigate a friendship, find a hidden book, or something else, Emily is willing to rethink her approach and remains determined to find her own way.