Monday, January 3, 2011

Gwendolyn Hooks - Author Highlight

Gwendolyn Hooks has written eleven books and several magazine articles for
children. She writes in a variety of genres including eight fiction easy
readers and three nonfiction books and sells articles to magazines such as
Highlights for Children and JAKES. In 2011, Stone Arch Books, Red Chair
Press, and Bebop Books will publish seven more of her easy readers. Her
Mystery of the Missing Dog, Three's A Crowd (Scholastic Book Fair
selections) and Can I Have a Pet (Bebop Books) have sold over 230,000
copies. Gwendolyn lives in Oklahoma City. She writes to encourage young
readers to explore their world.

Tell us about your book(s) and illustrations.
I have 11 published books with seven more scheduled for 2011. People are surprised when I tell them I don’t know the illustrators. I think my editors have done an amazing job of finding the perfect illustrators for my books. My four latest books are part of a new series, The Pet Club Stories: The Best Trick, Find the Cat!, The Noisy Night, and Pets at the Party. They’re all illustrated by Mike Bryne. He did a fabulous job. He made the kids and their pets fun to look at and I hope I made the books fun to read.

How long did it take you to get this idea to where it is now?
The books are easy readers with about 300 words each. I am a plotter and an outliner. Once I have those two things in place it doesn’t take me long to write the story. I knew there would be four books, so I decided to focus each book on a different character and their pet, but all of the kids would be in each book.

What will kids love most about your book(s)?
The books are a fun read. And they feature pets. I don’t know if I ever met a kid that didn’t want a pet. I even stretched myself and included a pet that I’m too scary to have in my house—a rat!

What will parents and teachers love most about your book(s)?
Because they’re easy readers, kids will be able to read the books themselves. The illustrations will help. Each book introduces the characters and their pets which means a person can read them in any order. Plus there is a word list in the back of each book that parents and teachers can use to strengthen the reader’s vocabulary.

What's your next project?
I am working on a picture book biography. I watched an HBO movie, Something the Lord Made and fell in love with Vivien Thomas. I had never heard of him before. Vivien was an African American man who lost his college savings in the Great Depression and became a laboratory technician instead of a medical doctor. At Johns Hopkins Medical School during the 1940s, he developed the equipment and technique that made open-heart surgery on Blue Babies possible. In 1976, Johns Hopkins finally honored with an honorary doctorate degree of medicine. His portrait now hangs in the university.

 Thanks Gwen for sharing with us. If you would like to learn more about Gwen please visit her at:

The Neophyte Writer, Get Kids To Read and at



Crystal Allen said...

Great Interview, Kristi!
Gwen, so honored to call you my friend. You are such an inspiration to so many new authors. If you ever give a workshop on outlining and plotting, let me know! I've seen Something The Lord Has Made at least four times. Mos Def was excellent playing Vivien Thomas. I, too, had never heard of him until the HBO special, but it's kind of like the movie "Pretty Woman" for me; If I see it on, I don't care how much I've missed, I'm watching it to the end! Thanks so much.

Kristi Bernard said...

Thanks Crystal for stopping by. Gwen is so awesome and I would love to take classes from her too.

Kelly said...

Hey Kristi,

Another wonderful interview! Thanks so much for featuring Gwen. She's an amazing writer and person. I always smile when I see her books on library shelves. I can say, "That's my friend." Gives me bragging rights ;).

Thank you, Gwen, for using your gifts to delight and inspire children. Happy New Year to you both.

Nicole weaver said...


What a wonderful interview! Thanks so much. I am so very happy to see women of color get published! This is simply awesome. Thanks for sharing this gret news.

Nicole Weaver

kathy stemke said...

Your books look wonderful, Gwen. As a retired teacher and author i love to see great reading material available to teachers. God bless.

Thanks, Kristi, for featuring this successful writer on your blog.

Kristi Bernard said...

Thanks Kathy for stopping by. Gwen is wonderful and I can learn a lot from her.

Karen Strong said...

Great interview Kristi. Gwen is definitely an inspiration. And it's always great see working writers in action. The books look adorable and I can see kids really enjoying reading them.

Kristi Bernard said...

Thanks Karen for stopping by I really appreciate your support.

Gwendolyn Hooks said...

Thank you all. Your comments are so uplifting and inspiring. And they are from people that I admire!

To make this day even better, the last four books in my Pet Club series just arrived. I just love those big-headed kids.


Gwendolyn Hooks said...


I'd love to learn outlining and plotting from you. Teach me! Teach me! Teach me!


Gwendolyn Hooks said...

Thank you Kelly. I wish that "gift" would pop up now with this manuscript I'm working on now.

Gwendolyn Hooks said...

Thank you Nicole. I will be heading over to your blog!

Gwendolyn Hooks said...

Karen, you are too kind. When I read your blog, I marvel at your way with words. It seems so effortless. But I know you put a lot of thought and care into it.


Gwendolyn Hooks said...

Kathy, thank you for your comment. I was a teacher, too and remember how you're always pressed for time. So I've tried to make it easier on teachers by providing teacher guides.
I hope they use them.


Gwendolyn Hooks said...

You have been so generous and supportive. Thank you for all that you have done for me.

Gwendolyn Hooks

Kristi Bernard said...

Thanks Gwen for sharing your knowlege and books. I appreciate your support as well.

Cheryl Ann Wills said...

I wish I had little kids to read these books to. I know they would make reading time a totally fun experience for all!

Kristi Bernard said...

Thanks Cheryl for stopping by the books are wonderful.


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