In Luv Ya Bunches (2009), Milla, Yasaman, Katie-Rose and Violet became not just BFFs, but FFFs—Flower Friends Forever. Now the girls are back in the second book of the Flower Power series, Violet in Bloom, and they are determined to use their flower power for good. But doing good is a lot tougher than they anticipated with all the distractions—cute boys, nefarious girls, squirmy hamsters—that pepper their fifth-grade existence. The book brilliantly contrasts the thrills of adolescence with the realities of life beyond the playground, like social activism and mental illness. Lauren Myracle delivers a charming read that will delight preteen (and even adult) readers.
The Flower Friends go on a crusade against Cheezy Nips, their transfat-laden school snack. What made you decide to make nutrition and the food industry one of the themes?
Well, it wasn’t because of my own grownup/parental concern about nutrition, even though of course I do care as a parent and a sometimes grown-up. I got the idea for the girls’ crusade after witnessing my son’s horror as he read a book called Eat This, Not That! He was genuinely shocked at the crap adults sell, buy and consume as “food.” And being a mom of two kids in elementary school I know how passionately kids that age fight for things. I love their noble impulses, and I wanted to honor that. I also wanted to honor the goofiness that results when passion for a cause turns into passion for the sake of passion, at the expense of all else.
What’s the most difficult aspect of writing from the point of view of a fifth grader?
Honestly, the most difficult aspect of writing from the POV of fifth graders is having to reject certain “perfect” words because they aren’t words fifth graders would use. Because I love words so much, it’s a little wrenching to rein myself in. But it’s far more important to capture the girls authentically than to use the expression “visceral agita,” just for example.
Luv Ya Bunches was removed from Scholastic Book Fairs’ elementary-school offerings because of the home life of one of the characters—who, it’s important to note, is in elementary school. What was that experience like?
It was pooey. It’s not my first time dealing with censorship and negative attention, but it sure took me by surprise this time around I was like, “Wheee! Finally a book that won’t get in trouble!” And then BAM. Two sweet mommies raising their daughter, and all heck breaks loose.
Do you think Violet in Bloom will face the same censorship issues?
Oh, Lord. Ask my friends Sarah Mlynowski and E. Lockhart, who read drafts of Violet and helped me make it better. Once again, I thought I’d written a totally easy-peasy delight of a book that couldn’t possibly make people growl, but Sarah and E. both expressed opinions to the effect of, “Lauren? We love you, but you are crazy.”
Kirkus found quite a few novels with great girl characters to feature in our Best Children's Books of 2010. See them all here.
For a complete list of all of the great fiction set in the here-and-now that made our 2010 Best Children's Books, click here.
Violet in Bloom: A Flower Power Book
Amulet/Abrams / October / 9780810989832 / $15.95 / ages 9-13