‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2017 with Natalie Lloyd

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of this year’s participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Natalie Lloyd

Natalie Lloyd is the New York Times Bestselling author of novels for young (and young at heart) readers. Her first novel, A Snicker of Magic, was an ALA Notable Children’s Book and an NPR, iBooks and Parents Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014. Amazon named her second novel, The Key to Extraordinary, one of the best Children’s Books of 2016, and Kirkus Reviews called it “a bouquet of quirks, sweetness, whimsy and magic.” On February 6, 2018 her new novel, The Problim Children (a story about seven strange siblings and the family magic that binds them together), will be available from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Natalie lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee and loves adventuring with her husband, Justin, and their dogs Biscuit and Samson.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

What Christmas means to me is pirates.

Not really.

But as I thought about what I could write for Jen (whom I adore), I kept thinking about Robert Louis Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson, of course, wrote Treasure Island. Confession: I have never read that book. (But I do know there is a character named Long John Silver, and I assume he is the namesake of a delicious and highly underrated fast food restaurant.)

(Now I’m craving hushpuppies.)

Where was I?


Mostly, I know Rob because he is attributed with one of my favorite quotes. According to the tale, young Robert’s parents noticed him staring out the window obsessively every day at sunset. The lamp lighters had captured his imagination. Each night, the darkness of his shadowed Scottish street gave way to bursts of firelight. Little Robert – who was brave enough to wear enchantment on his sleeve – said it looked like they were “punching holes in the darkness.”

I don’t know if this story is true. But I believe it could be a beautiful way to see the world. I think it could also be a good metaphor for frustration. When you’re trying to do something good but haters gonna hate hate hate. When you’re neck-deep in sorrow because of loss, and loneliness. When life feels like a spinny, vomit-inducing fair ride and you just need to step off and breathe for a sec. Punching holes in the darkness does not always seem worth the fight.

Which is why you inspire me so much.

These are just a few of the ways the KidLit community punched holes in the darkness this year:

You created. And to create, you have to live bravely. You have to offer up your heart knowing someone out there will most assuredly try to smash it. Whether it was a book or a blog post or a lesson-plan or presentation. You made something beautiful and put it out in the world. You deserve all the pink Starburst.

You spoke up. You added your voice to conversations online, on Twitter, and in your communities.

You raised money for places, people, and causes who needed help.

You told kid-readers – and kid-at-heart readers – that their story matters. Whether you’re an author doing school visits or a librarian chatting with readers or a blogger interacting with your readership. I’m grateful to be part of a caring community that always finds more seats at the table, not more bricks for walls.

You kept going. And you reached out. As someone who deals with anxiety, I’m encouraged by how many folks in the kidlit community have talked openly and candidly this year about their mental health and how they take care of themselves. With the help of my doctor, my faith, and my family, I’m learning tangible ways to work through panic. Thanks to Bookworld online, I know I’m not alone.

You read new stories. You gave your imagination the freedom to fill the borders of a thousand new worlds.

You traveled. To seashores and the mountains and winding trails just to get lost in the woods. To take pictures of sunsets. You take the time to see beauty in the world, and share it, which helps me see it, too.

You planted gardens, trees, and dreams.

You voted. (All the hugs to you, Alabama!)

You sang. You screamed. You got angry.

You listened.

You comforted.

You restored, remade, repurposed and rewrote. Over. And over. And over.

And you loved. And that’s the kicker, really. That’s glue that sticks this whole hot mess of a world back together. While love shows up in a thousand ways, it was bonafide storybook love that surprised me this year.

In 2017, I got engaged and married to my best friend. (Imagine Gilbert Blythe with hot tattoos.) Justin and I are both quiet types, introverted nerds who like takeout tacos and Netflix dates and staying up too late reading. We could have had a City Hall wedding and it would have been the best day ever. But we decided to have a big-but-still-small wedding because we wanted a day of celebration, especially since both our families had been through a time of loss. That September Saturday was everything we hoped for. We all danced in the rain, drinking champagne and coffee and toasted forever with Cookie Dough cupcakes. It was a day full of Footloose and wildflowers and sacred vows and sweet reminders that love always, always finds a way. Seeping in through the cracked places. Punching holes in the darkness.

If your holidays include pirates, that’s fabulous. (If your holidays involve hushpuppies, please invite me over.) Ultimately, I think the holidays are about love in all its wild and unpredictable forms: faith and family and friends and cuddly pets and kisses under the mistletoe. Or under a Taco Bell sign. (Which I find more romantic than mistletoe but to each their own.)

You’ve been busy punching holes this year, and I hope you know that you aren’t alone. Please don’t give up. Please don’t lose heart. We’re still in this together.

Next time I get discouraged, I’m going to imagine backing away from the darkness I just punched a tiny hole through. I’ll imagine strapping a pair of neon-pink wings over my shoulders and floating backwards, upwards – up and up until I see my burning flame connect to a bright and steady stream. A thousand sparks. A field full of stars. An otherworldly trail of light. Hope still shines here, as true and flickering as it ever has.

Thanks for inspiring me this year, storybirds. Thank you for shining the way you do.

Title The Problim Children
Author Natalie Lloyd (Illustrated by Júlia Sardà)
Pages 304 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
To Be Published February 6th 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Filled with mystery, humor, and adventure, the first book in this new trilogy is an unforgettable tale of adventure, family, and finding the courage to face any problem heart-first.

When the Problim children’s ramshackle bungalow in the Swampy Woods goes kaboom, the seven siblings — each born on a different day of the week — have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift!

But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household — including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

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