Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed Matt Bell, the author of acclaimed The Rounders and The Tallers (Read review here).
Matt Bell the father of nine very diverse children from all races and walks of life. From diapers to prom to meeting his new grandchildren, raising and being a daily part of nine lives has filled his life with wonder and thankfulness. He can be reached at https://www.mattbellbooks.com/
BookView Review: As a children’s author, what is your area of focus?
Matt Bell: Elementary School and reluctant middle age readers are my focus. My whimsically illustrated stories are FUN and focus on social issues through stories with a MORAL, where a child is always the hero and a lesson for the community is learned. My desire is for the youngest leaders to be enthralled by what’s happening in the illustrations while the story brings older readers into a learning knowledge of the plot. I want the young readers to feel a part of the story and identify with the main characters. With that in mind, I am thrilled to receive photos of parents reading the stories to babies and young readers reading it to their siblings. I even have teenagers laughing out loud as they see themselves in the actions of the protagonists.
BookView Review: What led you to write The Rounders and The Tallers?
Matt Bell: As a father of 9 very diverse children, some with special needs and all with different skin colors, I have seen how society has treated them differently. One day I went to the beach and was accosted by the many signs telling us what we could and could not do during our visit. I also noted how the signs changed and even were in conflict with each other depending on which governing authority ran the beach. This made me think about the power of a sign. As I watched my children play on the beach I realized that the sign that would have been there 70 years ago, (No Coloreds Allowed at the Beach) would have outlawed 4 of my children based on the color of their skin. So I wrote The Rounders and The Tallers to talk about the power behind the use of signs to control people and I wrote it in such a way that children could understand.
BookView Review: Do you have any other books?
Matt Bell: Yes. There are three books in the series. They all have similar illustrations and around 1600 words. The second book is now available. The Jellies and The Crunchers is a tale of a town sharply divided by their own personal choice, in this case, what to eat and how to eat it! The two groups of town folk become more and more critical and angry with each other, which leads to a very crazy type of confrontation that will change the town forever. It takes the heart of a brave little girl to try something new and lead the town back together again. I wrote this to highlight how people like to “hate or dislike” something without even trying it! Something every child can relate to. Parents will love it because the moral is not only about exploration but also about getting along with others with different views than you, even when they are silly views!
Book View Review: And the third book?
Matt Bell: The third book will be available for the holiday season 2020. Crazy Cats from Outer Space is a tale about a planet with two types of cats. Thinker cats and Jumper cats. One group can’t stand the other and plots to get them off of the planet. When that plan is successful, the remaining group finds out that the now missing group, was vital to the planet and that they are missed! That sends them on their own journey of space exploration as they try to get back what was given away. Kids who have read it love the story and of course, it’s got lots of cats and a few surprises about Earth History!
BookView Review: Have you always been a writer?
Matt Bell: No, by trade I am an arborist and spend most days in a tree working! But three years ago God led me on a journey to start writing. I met a great local writer’s group that encouraged me to write and share. The next thing I know I was sending out my stories and, BOOM, here I am, a published author. I would encourage everyone to follow their dreams! With guidance and hard work it can happen for you.
BookView Review: Any other new stories in the series coming up?
Matt Bell: Yes, I have almost finished the fourth book. The Easties and the Westies is a story of two groups of people living on an island. They are separated geographically and even though they are exactly the same, their ignorance of each other due to the geographic obstacles leads them to make up wild stories and rumors about each other. It will be illustrated by the same team and have a similar word count. I am very excited about it. This one even has fun and kooky monsters for the reader to imagine for themselves.
BookView Review: What does literary success look like to you?
Matt Bell: Great question. I want every classroom and every library to have an opportunity to read these books and discuss the topic questions. My desire is that my books will inspire kids to read, laugh, and enjoy reading while prompting some great discussions in the family and classroom.
BookView Review: Do you have anything for the older audience?
Matt Bell: Yes, I have a fantasy novel called Tales of the Leprechaun King. I already have 10 chapters complete and am forging ahead. The fantasy reader who loves Lord of the Rings and Sword of Shannara will love this. Early reviews are great though its taking a lot of time since, in a sense, I am world building.
BookView Review: Any Last thoughts?
MAtt Bell: I just want our children to find the love of books that social media has taken away. I see fewer and fewer children reading and I want to make the stories so fun, so entertaining and engaging that they will want to put down their phone and video game controller, and pick up a book for a few minutes.
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