Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 3: Life and What Gives It Meaning

Text: Author Interviews, Underdog: Life and what gives it meaning. Image: xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing a purple flower hat, reading a book 'underdog'.

You think back to the last two weeks, fondly remembering of the wonderful conversations you’ve listened in to between Xiaolong and the authors of Underdog! And it looks like Xiaolong has another four more visitors at The Quiet Pond!

When Xiaolong enters the Pond, she’s ushering in a new group of friends! There’s a green snake wearing a little straw hat with a tattoo on its chest, a magpie wearing glasses and a beanie, a smiley koala wearing an orange dress, and a fluffy cat wearing a bandanna! Now an expert at welcoming guests, you approach and give them your biggest wave and your warmest welcome.

“Hi friend,” Xiaolong says to you. “These are my newest friends! This is Cassi, Felicity, Kaneana, and Sarah! Remember when I interviewed their friends last week and the week before? And remember when I told you about the Underdog anthology? Well, they’re here to discuss more stories today!”

You give Xiaolong your biggest grin and you tell her you’re excited to listen to another round of interviews. So you sit down by the Pond, part of their small circle, and talk about the big things: stories and life.

Welcome back to the Pond, friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far and that you’re reading for the final round of author interviews for the Underdog anthology.

Today is my third round of interviews with the authors at Underdog, an amazing #LoveOzYA anthology that I had the pleasure of reading and absolutely loved. I thought this anthology was splendid and profound; it explored a variety of experiences, from everyday teenage experiences to the very big questions that teens may be grappling with.

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Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 2: Exploring The Choices We Make

Text: Author Interviews, Underdog: Exploring the Choices we make. Image: an illustration of xiaolong, her arms raised above her, holding a physical book copy of UNDERDOG.

Last week when you visited the Pond, Xiaolong had four visitors; four of the authors from Underdog anthology! You hadn’t seen so many visitors at the Pond before, but the magic at the Pond felt like it was warmer and merrier with all the good company.

And it seems like today, there are four more visitors! When Xiaolong enters the Pond, leading and talking to a group of new friends, you approach to give another round of warm welcomes. (You’re getting used to this!) Behind her is an orange octopus who, upon seeing the Pond, rushes over and dives in! The water and magic of the Pond invites him, and the octopus gives a sigh of contentment. Also behind Xiaolong is an orange fox wearing a red scarf, and an orange cat wearing a red cape!

“Friend!” Xiaolong greets when she sees you. “Please meet Jes, KM, Sophie, and Stacey! They are authors from the Underdog anthology that I told you about, and they’re here to discuss their stories with us! Isn’t that exciting?”

It sure does! You help Xiaolong usher the visitors to a comfortable and sunny spot at the Pond, and listen intently to the questions that Xiaolong will ask today.

Friends, welcome back to the Pond and I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far!

Today is my second round of interviews with the authors at Underdog, an amazing #LoveOzYA anthology that I had the pleasure of reading and absolutely loved. This anthology is one of the few that really explores meaningful and relatable teen experiences, and I think teens everywhere will find a piece of themselves in this anthology.

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Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 1: Discussing Relationships and How They Shape Us

Text: Author Interview, Underdog: Discussing Relationships and how they shape us. Image: Xiaolong the pink axolotl, holding a copy of UNDERDOG edited by Tobias Madden, walking towards you and waving.

You’re sitting by the Pond, talking to Amina about her travels across distant lands and the many different magical beings she’s met, when you hear Xiaolong calling to you in the distance.

You know by the sound of her calling your name that there’s probably a visitor at the Pond today. So when you turn away to see her, you notice that it isn’t just a visitor – there are four visitors trailing behind her! You’ve never seen so many visitors at the Pond before.

“Friend, come meet my new friends!” she calls to you.

You get up, and shuffle over. There’s a meerkat wearing a blue plaid shirt, a red panda wearing glasses, an otter wearing a red shirt, and a bunny wearing a black shirt! They were chatting among themselves, but now they’re waving over at you, introducing themselves.

“These are four of the twelve authors that contributed to the Underdog anthology! Remember how I told you about the book? I loved it so much that I had to ask them to come and visit me so we could talk about it more!”

That sounds like a lovely idea, and a nice way to spend your day. You help Xiaolong welcome the visitors to the Pond, help them make themselves comfortable by the Pond, and listen as Xiaolong asks them big questions about the book.

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The Pond News! Issue #4 – Food, Dragons, F/F, and Sisters; An Exciting Week of New Books!

Text: The Pond Book News; Issue 04. Food, dragon, f/f, and sisters; an exciting week of new books! Image: An illustration of Xiaolong the pink axolotl, dressed up as Stella the dragonfly behind a booth, holding up a roll of newspaper.

Welcome to Issue #4!

Oh? You walk up to ‘The Pond Book News’ stall, expecting to see your friend Stella the Dragonfly for your weekly update of book news, except… it isn’t Stella! It’s Xiaolong, dressed up as Stella!

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, dressed up as Stella the Dragonfly; wearing a purple newsy cap, dragonfly wings, and holding up a roll of newspaper.“Hello friend!” she greets, handing your roll of book news to you. “Here’s your book news for this week!”

“Where’s Stella?” you ask as you take your weekly copy of The Pond Book News.

“She’s sick,” she says, her gills a little droopy. “She’s been working so hard, so I decided to help her with the book news this week! I bet you almost didn’t recognise me with my amazing dragonfly costume. I guess we’re just such good friends that you knew right away, didn’t you friend?”

Uhhhh. Yes Xiaolong. That’s the reason why.

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Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai – An Unexpected, Emotional, and Charming Middle Grade About Family, Immigrating, Grief, and CAKE!

Text: pie in the sky by remy lai. image: a shorter asian boy with a short buzzcut holds a pie to his mouth, about to eat it. a taller boy with longer hair, looks at him at the corner of his eye.

This time when you visit the Pond, the air smells… sweet? You follow your nose, and find Xiaolong by an… an oven? (You’re sure it wasn’t there before!)

XL pieinsky 1.pngWhen you call out to her, she turns around holding a bowl in one hand and whisking vigorously with her other.

“Hello friend!” she greets. “I just read this amazing book, which included a recipe! Isn’t that amazing? So I decided to bake this cake for you so we had afternoon tea while we talked about it, but it’s taking a big longer than I thought.”

When you offer to help her, she magics you an apron – just so you won’t get your clothes all dirty! You follow her instructions – you sift the flour, you add the water, you crack the eggs over, and she even lets you add the colouring too!

An illustration of a rainbow cake on a plate.After the cake is done, you wait next to the oven, both you and Xiaolong giddy and excited for the cake to be finished. When the cake is finally done, Xiaolong magics it out of the oven – so none of you will get burnt! – and she gives you a slice.

“Well, now that we all have some food to eat,” says Xiaolong, helping herself to a slice as well, “let me tell you about an amazing book that I read, friend. It’s called Pie in the Sky…”

Blurb:

When eleven-year-old Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.

To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.

CW’s review:

I received a review copy from the author. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

When I discovered Pie in the Sky by chance and listed it as one of the books I was most excited to read in 2019, I had no idea – no idea – that I was about to read one of my favourite books ever. I say this with absolute honesty and with my whole heart: I thank all the stars in the sky, the fabric of the universe, and the chaos of life for aligning and allowing me to cross paths with Remy, the author of Pie in the Sky, who gave me an advanced reader’s copy of her incredible quiet book.

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