Motherhood & Words

our first mother-daughter book review

I’m sorry for my long silence this summer. I’ve been juggling so many things, and I just couldn’t get here and catch up. I’ll be better this fall, blogging about my ghostwriting gig, and teaching and posting a few reviews. But today I’m happy to revive the blog with my first mother-daughter book review!

The fabulous Emily Hedges (of Hedges Virtual Tours) contacted me a couple of months ago asking if I’d be interested in being a part of Michael Perry’s tour for his first middle-grades novel, The Scavengers. I like Perry’s writing, but I was/am so behind on reviews/interviews that I was going to gracefully decline. But then I read that Emily’s daughter (a self-declared non-reader) loved the book, so I popped over to Perry’s website and saw the cover, and I knew Stella would also love it.



Right? What’s not to love about a bad-ass girl on the roof of a Ford Falcon with a wild rooster? And in the background what looked to be cities under bubbles. And then Perry himself described the book as “Little House on the Prairie meets Mad Max.” So I asked Stella if she was interested in reviewing it with me and she smiled that huge smile and said, “YES!” So then I said “yes” to Emily and not long afterward, the advanced reading copy arrived and I pressed it into Stella’s hands. “Your first book review!”

Stella fell in love with reading two years ago, in third grade when she fell under the spell of Harry Potter, the beloved series that my friend Margie calls “the gateway drug to reading.” It certainly was for Stella. More recently she has fallen in love with Percy Jackson and has read just about everything written by Rick Riordan. I honestly can’t keep up with her. She read The Scavengers in one day.

“What do you think?” I’d ask periodically.

“I LIKE it!” she’d say, her face lighting up. “Do you want to…”

“Don’t tell me anything,” I said, knowing she was about to give me a plot blow-by-blow.

Because my plate overfloweth, I had to wait until Labor Day weekend to read it. We went up to my mom’s cabin in Northern MN, one of the only places I don’t feel guilty planting myself on the couch and reading for hours. This time, Stella kept checking with me: “What do you think? What part are you reading?”

I, too, loved the book.

So I’m happy to welcome Stella today. We’re just going to have a short conversation about the book, something I hope we’ll continue to do here at Motherhood & Words and, of course, in real life.

Kate: So, Stella, what was your favorite part of The Scavengers?

Stella: My favorite part was when Toad, Toby and Maggie/Ford Falcon went to town in the Scary Pruner and had to fight the GreyDevils.

Kate: Oh that was scary. What about that part did you like?

Stella: You know I like battles, Mom.

Kate: That I do, my dear. What other parts of the book did you love?

Stella: I liked it when Maggie met Toad, and Toad helped them rebuild their shack because it was such a relief for Maggie and her family to finally have a neighbor and to stop moving around.

Kate: I loved that part, too. But my other favorite part was when Ma first read Emily Dickinson to Maggie. I love these line: Maggie says, “I love when we read Emily together. Her poems—even the weird ones—do something to me. They’re short and some have strange punctuation, but sometimes they make me burn inside like each word is a spark.”

Stella: Oh yeah, I remember that part. I liked that too.

Kate: Toad switches his letters around so the words get all confused. I sometimes had trouble deciphering them. What about you?

Stella: At first I was a little confused because it went from pig latin to the discombobulated letters, but then I understood it. My favorite words that Toad switched around were “knull dife.”

Kate: Ah yes, I like that one too. I did seem to get better at it figuring out what he was talking about as the book went on.

Stella: I think it’s easier for kids. (Eye roll.)

Kate: You might be right about that. I’d love to hear from some more readers on that front.

Stella: I also liked it when Toad gave Maggie The American Boy’s Handy Book and she made all sorts of things like boomerangs and jack lights.

Kate: And I love that she was disgusted that it was a book for boys only. She showed them, didn’t she?

Stella smiles.

Kate: What did you think about the ending? (We won’t give it away.)

Stella: I think he set it up for a sequel.

Kate: Oh yes, I’d certainly read the next one.

Stella: It should be called The Founders.

Kate: I love it!

Stella, thanks for reading and talking about The Scavengers with me! Let’s do it again soon!

Stella: Maybe, Mom.

Kate: Alright then!

Check out Michael Perry’s website for information about his book tour and for more information on The Scavengers!

Posted in


I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Marilyn Bousquin on September 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I LOVE this, Kate & Stella. A mother-daughter book-review conversation is now my favorite book review format, thanks to you two. I sure do hope this becomes a regular gig. What are you reading now, Stella?

  2. Sue on September 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I love reading and books and was thrilled when I could share both with Abbey. I adore that Stella used the word discombobulated. Great idea and you will inspire other moms and daughters to read and discuss.

    • Kate on September 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

      I know! It’s one of our favorites. She’s always trying to get me to read the books she’s reading, but she’s so fast that I could never keep up (and read the stuff I want to read, too)!

  3. Andrea on September 11, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Awesome! Sounds like a fun book and I love your conversation (and that your kid has more to say about a book than “good” “Okay” “boring”!!!)

    • Kate on September 11, 2014 at 9:18 am

      She loves to give me plot details for every book she reads. They all blend together in my mind, which, I think, is very frustrating for her. Ah well.

  4. Emily on September 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Kate, this was so great. I loved hearing Stella’s voice. She sounds like the coolest kid ever. I hope Michael sees a lot of success with this book. I’m sure he is very grateful. Good luck with all of your exciting projects!

  5. Nina on September 12, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Love that Stella is talking books here!

    • Kate on September 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Me too,, Nina!

  6. Joy Riggs on September 16, 2014 at 8:46 am

    This was a treat to read, Kate! I hate to tell you this, but it’s only going to get worse as she gets older. She’s going to outread you by leaps and bounds, and it will be impossible to keep up! That’s when you let her do the work for you and read only the books that receive her highest recommendations.

    • Kate on September 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Yes, Joy! That’s a great idea! She already out reads me by leaps and bounds. I pre-ordered the latest Percy Jackson book as part of her birthday present, and she’s desperate, asking each day whether it arrived. (Even though it’s not due for another week.)