I have partnered with The Children’s Book Review and Rebecca Laxton to bring you a special author interview. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview for your chance to win a swag bag filled with a signed hardcover copy of The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry, a puzzle, word search, and stickers.
The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry
Written by Rebecca Laxton
Illustrated by Gracie Laxton
Ages 10+ | 252 Pages
Publisher: Warren Publishing, Inc | ISBN-13: 9781960146236
Publisher’s Book Summary: Thirteen-year-old Emma Murry has three goals for summer vacation: finish her art terms project, land an ollie, and help the environmental club save the monarchs.
But then her Instagram crush Jeb Scott and his celebrity dad Chester make a surprise visit to Black Mountain. At first, Emma is thrilled, but then she overhears their plans to destroy the monarch butterfly garden to build a ski resort. She and her best friend Sophie add a new summer goal: STOP. THE. SCOTTS.
Emma ignores Sophie’s warnings and makes friends with Jeb, convinced she can change his mind. Then when Chester receives a mysterious death threat, Emma teams up with Jeb to investigate. She slowly discovers people are not what they seem as she attempts to untangle friendships, organize a protest, and uncover supernatural secrets hiding on the mountain.
Emma will have to go through her own metamorphosis by overcoming her fears and facing what she dreads. If she fails, she could jeopardize everything—butterflies, friendships, and her family.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Laxton has served school communities as an afterschool program director, reading specialist, and school psychologist. While working for Boone County Schools, she was named the Kentucky School Psychologist of the Year for collaborating with teachers and administrators to write and evaluate an emotional intelligence curriculum.
Rebecca is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Charlotte Literary Arts, and the North Carolina Writers Association. Her short memoir, “Throw Like a Girl,” about playing on a mostly boys Little League team can be found in The Love of Baseball (McFarland 2017). Currently, she is a dyslexia practitioner and enjoys reading, writing and spending time in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three dogs.
Rebecca invites you to visit her online at www.rebeccalaxton.com.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Gracie Laxton is a freelance graphic designer and dance choreographer from North Carolina but is currently based in New York City. A 2021 graduate of Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Monroe, NC, she studied art as part of The Savannah College of Art and Design’s high school joint enrollment program. Currently, she attends Marymount Manhattan College, pursuing degrees in dance and art.
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR REBECCA LAXTON
Tynea: What inspired you to write The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry?
Rebecca: For my birthday recently, my kids gave me a mug that says, “I am a writer anything you say or do may be used in a story.” I laughed out loud at this because it’s so true. I was inspired to write the book by the kids I’m around. The kids I know are very into environmental causes, stemming from posts they see on social media about small things everyone can do to help the environment. Things like using reusable straws and water bottles, recycling, buying items used with sustainable products, and shopping in second-hand stores. Many Gen Z kids use their knowledge and connectivity every day to try to make their world a better place, and I attempted to capture that phenomenon with my characters. We often hear about the negative side of kids being connected, but there is also a very positive side which I presented in the book.
Tynea: What is one thing you hope people take away from reading this story?
Rebecca: One of the best things about writing is that every reader takes away something different. So I hope readers will be able to personalize the story and find their own take away that is meaningful to them. As I wrote the novel, the two themes that kept emerging for me centered around the preservation of pollinators and the flowers that support them. The main reason to protect pollinators is of course because we need them for the survival of the human race and our planet, and in the book those reasons are championed by the main character’s best friend Sophie. The other reason to protect pollinators and their habitats is the main character Emma’s point that nature is also valuable simply because it’s beautiful. Emma is an artist, and she sees beauty in every flower, insect, and tree. The beauty of nature is all around us; it’s for everyone, and Emma wants everyone to see it the way she does.
Tynea: How did your childhood shape your love of nature?
Rebecca: When I was a kid, my dad was a camp director, and he instilled in my siblings and me a love of the outdoors. I spent a big part of my childhood hiking, climbing trees, and swimming in lakes at various camps. It was a wonderful way to grow up, and something we continued with our own kids who spent years attending camp in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, which is the setting of the novel. We’d return to the mountains with them during different seasons to hike the trails they’d hiked over the summer as they relived their camp experiences by telling us stories of their adventures. I wrote many of the book’s scenes during those hikes using real landmarks and some of their camp stories.
Tynea: You have lived in the mountains in various states. What is it that draws you into the woods?
Rebecca: I love the serenity and peacefulness of the woods, but also, when I was a kid, the forest always seemed magical to me. It seemed like if I’d hike far enough and for long enough, I’d enter a magical and mysterious land where things are not as they seem. One of the characters in the book is named Mr. Zauber, which means magic in German, so there’s a lot more for my characters to discover in the Black Mountain forest. Stay tuned for book two J
Tynea: What is one of your favorite childhood memories of exploring the Pocono Mountains?
Rebecca: One of my earliest Pocono Mountain memories is from when I was really young. My mom and dad and I used to go on little hikes in the woods around the lake, and sometimes we’d find places to stop and have a picnic and make a campfire. I’d make little “houses” for me and my dolls under the trees at the side of the lake. My dad also loved to tell stories, and he’d tell the best stories around the campfire. I have a lot of wonderful memories of hearing his deep booming voice while watching the firelight flicker.
Tynea: You were named the Kentucky School Psychologist of the Year. Congratulations! How does your background in psychology help you write books for this age group?
Rebecca: The BookLife review of The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry said, “Writing teenagers who sound like teenagers is hard, but Laxton, drawing on her teaching experience, achieves this with aplomb. It’s easy to cringe along with Emma when she gets tongue-tied in front of her crush, worries if she’s a good enough friend, or faces her nerves over public speaking. She’s alive on the page…”
So, I think my background as a teacher and a school psychologist has probably given me a unique perspective into the minds and lives of middle-schoolers, which helped me create believable characters. The book is titled The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry because it refers to a conversation that Emma’s mom has with her about that growth in cognitive development when kids begin to realize the world is complicated. Emma’s mom uses the metaphor of the metamorphosis of a monarch to explain those cognitive developmental changes. Emma is trying to figure out how to navigate the grayness of a world she previously thought was black and white. It’s a fascinating developmental time and I think my background in psychology helped me write the book from the first-person perspective of a thirteen-year-old.
Tynea: What is one piece of advice you have for kids and teenagers?
Rebecca: For my own four kids, I’ve always advised them to be kind and patient. Some people seem to think kindness is a weakness, which I find interesting because it’s really a lot harder to be kind than not. It takes a strong person to show self-restraint and an awareness of others that can be hard to conjure at times. It’s pretty easy to be mean and spiteful. Kindness takes discipline, but the payoff is so much better. It’s the same with patience. People can be hard to deal with, but you can’t take their actions personally. I think the main character Emma shows both of these traits. She’s patient with Jeb—the boy who wants to destroy the butterfly garden that she loves—as she tries to win him over to loving nature as much as she does. She also tries very hard to be patient with her best friend Sophie, who is angry with her for befriending Jeb. It’s not easy, but she tries. Emma is also very kind in the way she interacts with the natural world and the people around her. The Kirkus Review said that the book has a “laudable adolescent cast,” which I think is such a nice thing to say about the characters who are trying very hard to exemplify both kindness and patience.
ENTER HERE for a chance to win a SWAG bag with a signed copy of The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A SWAG bag that includes:
– A signed hardcover copy of The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry
– A tote, puzzle, word search, small skateboard sticker, small butterfly sticker, and large vinyl butterfly sticker made with the illustrator’s graphics.
Five (4) winners receive:
– A signed paperback copy of The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry