An Author Interview with Gwendolyn Hooks

Kristi's Book Nook welcomes author Gwendolyn Hooks!

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.

See the KBN book review of Tiny Stitches.

See her Author Exposed interview at The Neophyte Writer.


Gwendolyn Hooks is the author of the picture book biography, Tiny Stitches – The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, illustrated by Colin Bootman (Lee & Low Books, 2016). It is her 20th book for young readers. Gwendolyn grew up in a military family, living in Texas, Washington, Italy, and Georgia where she was born. She was always an avid reader, but didn’t consider a writing career until after stints as a US Census Taker, a secretary who barely passed the typing test, an accounting clerk, then a middle school math teacher (a career she loved). Now she writes full time from her home she shares with her husband in Oklahoma City.

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:

Author of 20 books for young readers
Twitter @gwenthegweat
Blog: The Brown Bookshelf (ALA Great Website for Kids)
Represented by Karen Grencik - Red Fox Literary

My Latest!
Imagination. Skilled dexterity. Hard-won medical knowledge.I
It required all three for Vivien Thomas to develop the procedure that allowed doctors to operate on blue babies (tetralogy of Fallot). He did this in 1944 without a college education, while working in a top hospital—Johns Hopkins, and living in a segregated society. If you love reading about unsung heroes full of determination to make a difference, then you’ll love Tiny Stitches – The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas. 

Booklist STAR review
“It is the work Thomas achieved, however, in spite of these enormous challenges, that will pique reader interest as they learn about his design of tiny operating tools and his role guiding surgeons through neonatal operations. Bootman’s lifelike watercolor illustrations beautifully and vividly evoke the carpentry shop, research labs, and the auditorium where, years later, Thomas was finally honored for his work and appointed to the faculty at Johns Hopkins.”

Kirkus: “. . . a rousing tribute to a man unjustly forgotten.”

Tiny Stitches – The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, Lee & Low Books, Spring 2016. Illustrated by Colin Bootman (, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award Winner.


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. Kristi,

    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

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. Thanks Karen for stopping by I really appreciate your support.

  9. 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.


  10. Crystal~

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


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

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

  13. 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.


  14. 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.


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

    Gwendolyn Hooks

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

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

  18. Thanks Cheryl for stopping by the books are wonderful.


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