As the youngest of five daughters, life was never boring at Megan McDonald’s house. There were pranks, and antics, and moods galore—all of which inspired the story lines in many of McDonald’s books, especially the Judy Moody and the Sisters Club books. The Toad Pee Club in the first Judy Moody book? That was from her sisters. The scab collection? That was her own.
“I wanted to be a scientist when I was Judy’s age. For my eighth birthday I got a microscope, and I remember thinking it would be really cool to look at skin under the microscope. Of course, I couldn’t fit my hand under there, so I peeled off a scab and I looked at it. It was so interesting to look at it up close! I saved it so that way I could look at it any time I wanted. Pretty soon I was collecting them, but I kept them in my jewelry box so my mom wouldn’t know what I was doing.”
Always inquisitive, McDonald was also an avid reader. “My sisters and I all love to read which I think we got from our parents. My dad had to drop out of school after eighth grade to support his family. I think to make up for the lack of formal education, he read and read and read all the time. Reading was really valued at our house. We always had tons of books spilling out of the bookshelves.”
“I so appreciate what teachers do during the year to keep kids reading. I do worry a little bit that kids think of reading as school related. I don’t want reading to be a chore for kids. I want it to be exciting and fun and humorous and entertaining.”
It wasn’t until McDonald was in fourth or fifth grade that she began her journey as a writer. As the youngest daughter, she remembers it being difficult to get a word in during family conversations. Her sisters tell her it was around that time that she began to stutter.
In order to understand the stuttering issue, McDonald’s mother went to the book section at Kaufmann’s Department Store. Instead of coming back with a book explaining stuttering, she returned with Harriet the Spy and a notebook. “The genius of the bookseller was to recommend Harriet the Spy because the main character was a reporter who wrote everything down. So my mom gave me this book and a little notebook and I just started writing things down. That is what I remember as the beginning of becoming a writer.”
Today, McDonald is an award-winning children’s author with more than 60 books published in over 20 languages. Her books include the Sisters Club series, American Girl titles, and picture books. However, she is probably best known for her Judy Moody and Stink book series. In fact, there has even been a Judy Moody movie; and this summer, Judy embarks on a new adventure in Judy Moody, Mood Martian (August 2014, Candlewick Press).
Another exciting event this summer is “MOOO-dy Summer Mania.” Characters Judy and Stink are teaming up with Borden® milk and Candlewick Press for the “MOOO-dy Summer Mania” summer reading campaign from June 9 through July 31, 2014. “Borden came to Candlewick saying ‘we feel like we build strong bones and strong bodies but we also want to build strong readers.’ That immediately captured my attention because they wanted to encourage summer reading. I think Judy and Stink are a good fit for connecting kids with books, so I created support materials and an exclusive short story.”
“We didn’t have a library in our town, so my parents would take us to the bookmobile. It was just a big green truck that would come to the shopping center. One summer my sisters and I got this idea that we were going to try to read all the books on the bookmobile. That was a loftier goal than the five of us imagined. I didn’t really understand until I became a librarian that the bookmobile goes home to the library and gets more books every night.”
The new Judy and Stink mystery adventure is available only through the “MOOO-dy Summer Mania” program. Why is Stink digging holes in the backyard? What is he up to? And why is Judy so worried? The answers can only be found by bringing home specially marked containers of Borden milk with codes to unlock the special content at www.bordendairy.com/moodymania. There is also a no purchase necessary sweepstakes for an entire Judy Moody and Stink hardcover collection signed by McDonald and the illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds.
“There is something about summer reading that is uplifting and fun. You just stick a book or an eReader in your bag when you are on your way to the pool or in the car or on the way to the beach. It is a chance to have fun with reading. You don’t have to write a book report or answer questions about comprehension. You just get to sink into the story.”