Friday, 22 March 2013

We Sat Down For A Chat.....with Fluttering Butterflies

Michelle runs a very chatty, interesting and thoughtful book blog called Fluttering Butterflies. She's one of my favourite bloggers whom I've actually met (!!!) and she's a mum. It's great to have her here today.

M: How did you come up with the blog name Fluttering Butterflies?

Michelle: Hello, and thank you so much for having me here, it's an honour! I really wish that there was some special meaning behind my blog name. If I were to do it all again, I might have made a conscious effort to choose something literary inspired to name my blog, but I didn't. I was browsing through other lifestyle/personal blogs back before my blog became a book blog and I came across a website in which a woman had been doing gardening. She mentioned something about butterflies fluttering about her flowers and I loved the imagery of her words. I wanted something memorable and pretty for my blog's name, and I have been Fluttering Butterflies ever since!

M: You were an American teenager. What were some of your favourites teen reads then?

Michelle: Many years ago, yes! I was an American teenager. I moved to the UK nearly 13 years ago when I was only 18. I have always, always been a reader and as a teenager, I had lots of favourites. I think the two books that were the most influential to me during my teen years had to have been The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and The Outsiders by SE Hinton. I read and re-read both books constantly and both books are guaranteed to make me bawl like a baby.

I remember loving Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Night by Elie Wiesel and books by Caroline B. Cooney. I was also a huge of the Anne of Green Gables series and Anne's House of Dreams was the first book that I bought for myself. But I mostly read adult books as a teen and I really loved The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, books by Isabel Allende and the complete works of Jane Austen. I went through a big Shakespeare phase and read Romeo and Juliet more times than I can count. But I did also read other Shakespeare's plays and his sonnets, which were lovely. My dad was a big fan of James Clavell and reading his copy of Sho-Gun was a life-changing experience for me.
M: You enjoy reading with your two young sons. What books have you enjoyed reading together?

Michell from Fluttering Butterflies: Happy looks like.....
Michelle: I absolutely adore reading books with my two sons. E is 7 and The Littlest is almost 5 (!!!). I've been reading to both of them since they were still in my belly and I will continue to read to them for as long as they let me! When they were both little, I was pretty limited in what I could read to them, but luckily there are some gorgeous picture books about. Family favourites were always picture books by Julia Donaldson and Oliver Jeffers. Then there was the Bob the Builder/Thomas the Tank Engine phase which I'm glad has passed. Whenever possible, I tried to steer us towards Dr Seuss and funny poetry like Shel Silverstein's, who are both authors that I grew up with.

Now that they're both that little bit older, we've set up a Family Book Club to great success. I haven't been great about updating our progress on the blog like I originally planned, but we've been reading a whole host of books by Roald Dahl - The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach - as well as How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell and most recently, Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner.

The most popular book? Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling. E said I was reading it too slowly and would take the book into his own room to read chapters ahead. He refused to wait for me to read him the second book and decided to read Chamber of Secrets on his own. Same for the 3rd and 4th book and he's currently reading Order of the P
Phoenix by himself. He's 7. I'm so proud of him.

M: Are there any books that you are planning to recommend to your children?
Michelle: Despite E's growing confidence in reading books on his own, I am still determined to keep up with our nightly bedtime routine. And I'm so excited that he seems to have taken up my bookish ways. I've put a small stack of books that I've received for review from publishers aside to read with the boys soon (including Itch by Simon Mayo, The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver and North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler) but I still have a whopping great pile of books that I want to read with them, which includes Holes by Louis Sachar, Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett, The Princess Bride by William Goldman and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I am filled with excitement at the idea of sharing these wonderful books with my beautiful boys!

Already my chats with E about Harry Potter have quickly become one of my favourite parts of the day. He loves to retell bits of the story to me and he asks the most thoughtful questions that I would have never considered before. I love hearing his opinions on a series of books that I've loved so much and his passion for reading and learning and questioning things absolutely inspires me.
M: One of your blog features this year is British UKYA (Young Adult). Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Michelle: Sure! A few years ago now, I signed up for the British Books Challenge that Becky from The Bookette set up (this challenge has been ongoing and the host for it has changed over the years from Kirsty at The Overflowing Library last year to Sarah at Feeling Fictional this year). In doing so, I became more aware of how many (and in this case, how few) books by British authors I was reading. I wanted to do more to support British authors and reading and reviewing their books seemed to be the best way I knew how. Over time, I wanted to do more. So I held my first British month during November of 2011. It was actually overwhelming how much support I received during that month, so I held another smaller event the following year.

In December of 2012, as I was sitting down pondering what changes I could made on my blog in the New Year, I began thinking of ways in which I could hold a British month EVERY month on the blog. It seemed crazy, but why not? I started by creating a list on Goodreads of all the books by British authors that I'd heard of which were being published in 2013. Then I got some friends to add to it. And then as publicists began emailing me of all the wonderful new books coming out this year, I thought 'hey! they'd know more, wouldn't they?' And I began thinking about the possibility of guest posts or interviewing some of these wonderful authors. I contacted a few authors and publicists and everyone was very willing and enthusiastic.

My UKYA in 2013 feature now has a snazzy new button that my husband, N, helped me to create and the plan is to post a list of books that are published every month by British authors. I've made it my personal challenge this year to read and review as many new UKYA books as I can and I have had the great pleasure of already having agreed guest posts and interviews by British authors such as Sangu Mandanna, CJ Flood, Holly Smale and CJ Skuse amongst many more to come!
M: Finally, the big philosophical question of our time, do you like ketchup?

Michelle: It's only been in the last few years that I've been able to eat any sauce with my food, actually! I was quite the fussy eater when it came to ketchup growing up, but I've since seen the error of my ways and can't eat a plate of chips without anymore :)

Thank you so much for having me here! It's been such fun!

M: Thank you, Michelle! I loved Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden too and I'm planning on re-reading those soon. Lots of great books on your lists: Little M's read Holes in both primary and secondary school. Lots of books on your planned reading lists that are on mine too.

You can find Michelle on her book blog Fluttering Butterflies and on Twitter: @cloverness

Has anyone else read any of these books. And do you read the same books as anyone else in your family like we do?

1 comment:

  1. I think it's so inspiring that you read to your children like you do because I know so many kids that would benefit from that and who don't get the attention.
    Lovely interview! :)


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