Interview with the author,
New Book Phenomenon:
Wherefore Art Thou Lindsey?
Even before hitting the bookstores, Lindsey and the Jedgar
is stirring up excitement. Pitched at kids—or
is it?—this rollicking
adventure story is turning elementary school children into Shakespeare
buffs. Author Elizabeth Wahn tells us why.
You're already getting fan mail?
Yes, it's incredible! My purpose in writing Lindsey and the
Jedgar was to hook kids on Shakespeare, but it looks like
they've gotten hooked on Lindsey too.
How did that happen?
I was still editing the book and wanted to get some feedback from
kids so I got permission from a couple schools to pass out a few
copies of the manuscript asking for comments and suggestions.
When I returned to collect them, I discovered that the kids had
formed a waiting line for Lindsey. They were reading
over two hundred pages at a sitting in order to pass it on to
their friends, and I wound up with almost a hundred readers. Their
enthusiastic responses bowled me over—fabulous.
Some kids said they stayed up all night reading it. Since then
I've been receiving emails clamoring for a sequel: Lindsey
Returns to Elsinore.
The setting is an imaginary, whale-shaped island called Elsinore,
a topsy-turvy place where visitors are required to recite a poem
to pass through immigration, and nobody between the ages of twelve
and seventy is permitted. The only characters on Elsinore are
poetry-loving oldsters, resourceful kids, exotic animals, and
Sounds like a fantasy adventure?
Yes. But Lindsey and the Jedgar is basically a comedy,
and who's more playful (pardon the pun) than Shakespeare? He's
a stitch, and I've freely quoted him. Young readers are positively
gleeful when they discover the humor and realize that the awesome
William Shakespeare is within their grasp. And when kids get excited
about learning, it opens up their worlds.
How much poetry
I've used quotes from twenty Shakespearean plays and sonnets plus
verses from eighteen other major poets. The long quotes are easy
to pick out—they're
integral to the plot—but
I've also interwoven dozens of short ones into the fabric of the
text. I expect poetry fanatics will have a heyday dredging them
As a former English teacher, I believe in exposing children to
quality, and let's face it, he's the best. But you can't simply
tell youngsters that Shakespeare is great; you have to get them
to see it for themselves. My goal was to open their eyes. As Lindsey
and her friends unlock the mystery of the dreaded Jedgar, all
the clues point to Shakespeare who turns out—to
be or not to be—the
Lindsey and the Jedgar is for tweens?
I wrote it mainly for 10–12-year-olds. There are five main
characters, two girls and three boys, and my young readers really
seem to identify with them, claiming that they're "just like
us." Nevertheless I couldn't resist playing with two levels
of meaning, and adult readers catch the satire as I poke fun at
baby-boomers. Elsinore parodies small town America just as Hogwarts
is modeled on British boarding schools.
like Harry Potter?
No, but there is a basis for comparison. One enthusiastic young
reader put it beautifully: "(Lindsey is) like nothing
we've ever read. Harry Potter was like that in that way."
Both books create a unique new world that's hard to classify.
The common traits are that they're fantasy adventures which strike
universal themes, stretch the imagination, and reinforce values.
Lindsey and the Jedgar is funnier than Harry
but not as scary—no
witchcraft but lots of gadgets and high tech apparatus. A final
similarity is the presentation. Lindsey is coming out
as a beautiful, high-quality hardback before it goes into paperback.
It's going to be a limited edition, a collector's item, and the
artwork is absolutely charming.
Who did the illustrations?
Ivy Steele, a tremendously talented British artist. She's done
dozens of drawings, a color cover, plus a wonderful map of Elsinore.
Some of the pictures will also be on the Lindsey website:
What's a Jedgar?
I'm not telling. Read the book!
EYP website: www.englishyellowpages.it
Lindsey's author to visit!
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