I’m REALLY digging the Debut Author Bash this year. I’m in Middle Grade heaven! Yes, I’m older than a middle grader (by a lot), but my heart still likes to travel there every now and again.
The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society
by Janet Sumner Johnson
Publication: April 2016
Category: Middle Grade
Some things are better together. Like peanut butter and jelly. Or Annie and Jason. So when her best friend’s house is threatened with foreclosure, Annie Jenkins is bursting with ideas to save Jason’s home. She could sell her appendix on eBay. (Why not?) Win the lottery. (It’s worth a shot!). Face the evil bankers herself. (She’s one tough cookie, after all.) Or hunt down an elusive (and questionably real) pirate treasure. Whatever the plan, it has to work, or this is undoubtedly THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY.
Where did the idea for The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society come from?
Originally, this story was a series of chapters, each telling a story from my childhood. After setting it aside for years, I came back to it and fell in love with the characters. At that time, the housing market crashed and foreclosures were hitting our country pretty hard. I had a friend facing foreclosure, and I remember seeing the look in her kids’ eyes. They were facing foreclosure, too, and they had zero say in anything. It was pretty awful.
So when I pulled the book back out, and I was working to give the characters an actual plot to participate in, the foreclosure situation was at the forefront of my thoughts. And I really wanted to remind kids who face hard, adult things that they aren’t powerless. I hope that’s what kids take away from my story.
Do your characters reflect any real people in your life?
Definitely! When I started this book, I was simply telling stories from my own childhood, so Annie is a version of me. She’s not 100% me, but I could be rather stubborn, and maybe a little bossy. Plus, just like Annie, I had a lot to learn about life.
Also, Jason was my best friend/neighbor when I was really young. We had a blast doing all kinds of things together. But again, this isn’t an exact replica. I took some of the characteristics I admired in him and then formed his character around that.
And finally, I may have had a big sister growing up, and she may have pulled a few tricks on me over the years. Little did she know I was going to grow up to become an author and write about those things!!! Mwahahaha! But again, Kate isn’t 100% my sister. I just used some of the things she did to make the story more interesting!
Why did you decide to write Middle Grade books instead of another age category?
When I first set out to write, I planned to write Young Adult. I finished the whole book, and when I showed it to an agent, that was one of the first things she pointed out. It wasn’t YA, it was MG!! I started looking at my own reading habits, and realized that my favorite books are all Middle Grade! Funny I hadn’t noticed that before. Since that moment of discovery, I’ve embraced it. I fully believe that a person should write what they love to read, and MG is what I love to read.
And if you want to take it a step further, I love to read Middle Grade because there is so much hope to be found. Tweens and pre-teens have such an optimistic outlook on life! They haven’t learned to think things are impossible. That is something I always try to remember in my own life . . . most tasks aren’t impossible. They are simply really, really hard to accomplish. There’s a big difference.
What is your favorite activity to do with your own children?
It’s really hard to choose a favorite! We love to kick a soccer ball around. We had a great time flying kites in the park the other day. I’m lucky that all my kids love reading, so sometimes we will sit around and read books together. We like to go on walks, and ever since that first camping trip, they’ve been begging for more. We love playing games as a family like Monopoly and Skip-bo. Recently my children have discovered the game of croquet, and we’ve been having a blast playing that out in the backyard. I guess you might say that my favorite activity is just hanging out with them when we don’t have anything we HAVE to do!
What can your readers expect to see from you in the future?
My readers can definitely expect to see more middle grade books. And definitely more humor! I’ve been working on some fairy tale re-tellings, and I hope they will get to see those, too. I’m out on submission as I type, so crossing fingers there will be more to come soon!
Thanks so much for letting me drop in on your blog!
Thank you so much for being here, Janet! It’s been great getting to know a bit about you. I look forward to reading The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society. In case you missed it earlier, I’m a HUGE an of MG as well. And, by the way, I’m also a huge fan of the short bio on your website. I didn’t publish that one below because I’d love for readers to take a quick trip and read it for themselves. 🙂
~About the Author~
Janet Sumner Johnson lives in Oregon with her husband and three kids. She bakes a mean cinnamon twist and eats way more cookies than are good for her, which explains her running habit. Though her full-time occupation as evil tyrant/benevolent dictator (aka Mom) takes most of her time, she sneaks in writing at night when her inner funny bone is fully unleashed.
Janet’s Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
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