You are in for another treat this week!
Not only did I get a chance to read an advance reader copy of SURELY, SURELY, MARISOL RAINEY, but I got to interview Award Winning, Best-selling, author Erin Entrada Kelly!
You know her from her amazing books, including the following:
She's one of my favourite authors, so it was a real treat to ask her about her latest book, a chapter book that continues the adventures of Marisol Rainey, who is one of the most delightful characters you will ever meet.
About the book:
1. First of all, I adored SURELY SURELY MARISOL RAINEY! It’s the perfect follow-up to MAYBE MAYBE MARISOL RAINEY!
As a kid who often heard “Nice try”, I could one hundred percent relate to Marisol’s reluctance to participate in kickball! For many kids who aren’t very athletic, gym class can be traumatizing. Did you pull on experiences of your own to make it feel so accurate?
Absolutely. Marisol is the closest autobiographical character I’ve ever written. Everything about her—except for some elements of her family dynamic—are all Erin. This includes the things she loves, like cats, silent films, and her best friend, along with all her fears and insecurities.
One of my biggest struggles growing up was being in the shadow of my older sister, who was more athletic and didn’t seem afraid of anything, much like Marisol’s brother Oz. With SURELY SURELY, I drew on my childhood fear of playing team sports. In my case, it was softball. I tried all these tricks to avoid going up to bat, like sneaking to the back of the line, but my time eventually came. I struck out the first time. The next time, I kept my eye on the ball and hit it. Not very hard, but I hit it. I made it to first base. Then the bell rang. I still remember what it felt like when the bat hit the ball.
2. I love the metaphor of a brain train — it’s the perfect way to describe how our thoughts can race and hurtle us down the tracks to places we really don’t want to visit. What I love about it especially in this book is that kids (and adult readers like me!) will really see themselves in Marisol. She’s a worrier, like so many of us. Why do you think it’s so important for kids to see beloved characters struggling?
We—and by “we,” I mean adults—often have an idealized concept of childhood. We grow up and suddenly all the problems we had as children seem small in comparison. But they weren’t small. And they certainly don’t feel small to the children experiencing them. Adults can be incredibly patronizing and condescending. When kids have crushes, we call it “puppy love.” When kids cry too easily, we say they’re “too sensitive.” We toss their problems aside and give them lectures about the “real world.” Their worlds may seem small and silly to us, but they’re very real. This includes their triumphs and their heartbreaks. Adults forget how difficult it is to grow up.
I still remember the first time I felt truly seen as a young reader—it’s when I read The Very Worried Walrus, which was part of the Sweet Pickles collection. I loved that Walrus. It was the first time I met a character who worried all the time, just like me. It made me realize I wasn’t alone.
3. One thing I truly loved about the book was Marisol’s friendship with Jada. They so have each other’s backs, though they are human. How difficult is it to write realistic friendships?
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have wonderful friends, it’s not that difficult at all.
4. Felix’s empathy for animals is both delightful and an amazing lesson in the book. As someone who is pretty sure the squirrel in her backyard understands her, inquiring minds want to know: do animals speak to you like they speak to Felix?
If I’m being honest, I do most of the talking. Ha!
5. The illustrations are so good! Do you have a particular favorite?
My favorite is the final illustration of Marisol in bed with all her stuffed animals. It’s such an accurate depiction of how I fell asleep when I was her age. I slept with a mountain of them.
6. When will we get to read more Marisol? She is a delight!
Yes! Another book will be out next year.
Want to learn more about Erin and her books? Visit here!