Book review and interview with children’s author @kylemewburn of Dinosaur Trouble Book 2: The lava melt shake.by booktrailers4kidsandya
The lava melt shake
Dinosaur Trouble book 2
By Kyle Mewburn
Illustrated by Donovan Bixley
Rumble, whoosh, phhhht! The volcano spews out a red-hot lava melt shake. Can Arg save the day in his mega-messy way?
The latest book in the Dinosaur Trouble series about cave boy Arg and his stone age family has heaps of humour but also quite a bit of danger. What makes these books perfect for younger readers is not just that they offer a good adventure to read but there is the awareness that family is important and always there to help and support. No matter what danger Arg gets himself in to, he knows he can rely on family.
Donovan Bixley captures the antics with wonderfully funny illustrations. In fact, as a team, author and illustrator work perfectly together. This series and its format with large text, lots of illustrations and short chapters is great for newly independent readers. Perfect for getting readers ready to read the Dinosaur Rescue series after this one.
I was enjoying reading the latest adventure of cave boy Arg and laughing along at all the funny bits when I began wondering if the author might just be a bit like Arg. Arg certainly has his share of trouble but with a bit of clever thinking he always finds his way out of danger so I thought I would ask author Kyle Mewburn a few questions to see if there were any similarities between himself when he was young and his mischievous character Arg.
Check out his answer to this and other questions below.
There is a lot of humour in your chapter books. The Dinosaur Rescue and Dinosaur Trouble chapter books have a real sense of mischievousness in them. What were you like as a child? Mischievous perhaps?
I never considered myself mischievous, but for some reason I was always getting into trouble. Personally I think I was simply too clever for my own good - much like Arg. I also had a low boredom threshold, so was always coming up with ingenious ways to amuse myself, whether in class or at home. Unfortunately not everyone could see how ingenious I was. Though Dinosaur Rescue and Dinosaur Trouble aren't autobiographical per se (apart from the neanderthal parents and jealous sister - haha!), the underlying sense of alienation and different-ness Arg feels certainly is. Having a strong emotional element underpinning the storyline is so important for this age group, I think.
We know you live in an isolated area of the country but you often travel to schools all over NZ and even Australia. Is it difficult having to travel so far. What it is like living where you live and does it get very cold?
Millers Flat isn't as isolated as it seems. It's only 90 minutes drive to Dunedin or Queenstown, both of which have airports. You could actually argue I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but halfway to everywhere. But while travelling isn't difficult, it certainly is expensive. The fact I have to pass on travel costs to schools often puts a visit out of reach of a school's budget. Which is why I try to make the most of any trip and cram as many visits in as possible, so schools can share costs.
I can't imagine living anywhere else. The lifestyle suits me perfectly. I require almost total quiet to write - even a fly makes me lose focus. So I couldn't imagine living in a city. And there's nothing better for clearing the cobwebs than pottering in the garden. Living in an isolated area also fits in nicely with my greenie philosophy. We have a composting toilet and a worm-farm grease-trap, so almost no food is wasted.
When we first moved to the area in 1990, we used to get bitterly cold, extended winters. Temperatures could remain below zero for months on end, freezing the ground several inches deep. But recent winters have been positively balmy in comparison, thanks to climate change. Either way, we manage to stay snug and warm in our little, extremely well-insulated (thanks to our grass roof) house with a very efficient wood-burner.
What does an ordinary writing day look like for you?
I try to write most days - at least when I'm at home. I haven't quite mastered the art of writing on the road. Basically I wake up, make coffee and, at this time of the year, put on the fire. Then I head up to my desk and start writing... or at least trying to write. Often that involves trawling social media and playing a lot of solitaire. I'm a fits and starts kind of writer. I generally write in inspired bursts. But the inspired bursts don't appear unless I chain myself to my desk for extended periods of struggling to write a single decent sentence.
What key advice would you give to children who want to write?
Enjoy your writing! There's often no concrete reward to writing - the odds of getting published are incredibly low. Unless you are enjoying the journey and the process, you're more likely to experience frustration and angst rather than joy.
What genre of books do you read in your spare time and who is your favourite author?
I used to read a lot of literary fiction - Graham Greene, Peter Carey etc - but recently I've returned to reading a lot more speculative sci-fi. I've been slowly working my way through The complete works of Theodore Sturgeon the last few years. It's been a fascinating journey following the development of a key sci-fi writer from his early days of churning out "800-word stories with a twist" for a magazine, right through to the complex classics of his latter years.
If you could be any character from any book, yours or anyone other book, who would you be and why?
The character from H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I've always had a fascination with the notion of time travel - and the moral implications of it all.
Thank you so much Kyle for sharing your thoughts.