Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Brianna DuMont's WEIRD BUT TRUE KNOW-IT-ALL: US PRESIDENTS!  Brianna also write another quirky nonfiction kids' series for Sky Pony, called The Changed History series.  The School Library Journal said of the series, "Prepare to be disillusioned as independent historian DuMont debunks many of history’s legends...[Her] lively, breezy style often descends to the snarky and sarcastic and may spark a healthy skepticism about textbook history. DuMont lists sources for each chapter, most of which are reliable, even excellent."  

With all this in mind, I'm super excited to have Brianna talk to us about her project with National Geographic!

First off, tell us about this project!

National Geographic Kids approached me to write a book about the U.S. Presidents because of my unique approach to history—humor! It was a spin-off of their popular Weird But True series, which is all about the weird, fun facts of the world. We wanted to cover every president with a short bio, big pictures (as Nat Geo is known for), and a scattering of weird but true facts to break up the text. Informative but funny!

What was researching this book like?  What was the funniest discovery you made? 

I fell even more in love with American history thanks to this project. I dug into so many biographies and even read Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography, which is considered one of the finest presidential autobiographies. We also had the White House historian look over the book! How cool!

Did you know: Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electricity in the White House but was so scared of it that he had the staff turn on and off the lights?

(I’m *super* fun at parties.)

Was it different to write a book that you were brought on to do, rather than create your own project?

Before I started PRESIDENTS, I thought it would be different. But I tend to throw myself fully into any project and especially research—my favorite part. That’s the only way to produce a good book; you have to really love what you’re writing so I treated this book baby like any other book baby concept I come up with myself.

Which president is your favorite?  Did it change after writing this book?

I’d always appreciated super intelligent Pres. Garfield before writing this book—he could write ancient Greek with one hand and Latin with the other at the same time—but I came to appreciate Herbert Hoover after. A rags-to-riches story, Hoover was a self-made man that got his start in engineering. He became a dedicated humanitarian during WWI, instituted the original meatless Mondays and wheatless Wednesdays to help with food shortage, and secretly spoke Mandarin with his wife during boring state dinners. Unfortunately, some of his bad rep is justifiable. As president, he saw the economic woes as a small recession, but it wasn’t. It was the Great Depression.

How do you feel nonfiction for kids differs from nonfiction for adults, besides hiding more salacious facts?

It can be more lighthearted. You’re right that adult nonfiction doesn’t shy away from the scandalous, but it can sometimes feel like that’s what it mainly focuses on for the shock factor. Kids’ nonfiction can’t rely on that, so we rely on things like humor.

What are you working on now?  

A middle-grade fantasy adventure story about estranged twins unleashing ancient Mesopotamian gods. I love mythology and quests!

What's a fun fact about yourself?

I can read three variations of Ancient Greek. I am so confused about modern Greek. 

And Happy Fourth of July!