Best-selling author Margaret Peterson Haddix took students at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School to places they never imagined Wednesday — odd and sometimes spooky places, such as plane full of babies.
“Where are they going? Where did they come from?” Haddix asked sixth-graders in the school’s media center, describing how a book can begin.
She’d thought of a plane full of babies after the movie “Snakes on a Plane,” she said.
Haddix’s books have been consistently popular with young readers. She is the author of more than 41 titles, including the new “Children of Exile,” the first in a series of three works. One volume is scheduled for release later this year, with the third coming in 2018.
The sixth-graders got to ask questions after Haddix talked to them for a while about her life, ideas, imagination and writing books.
Haddix also spoke to the schools’ seventh- and eighth-graders in a gymnasium assembly Wednesday morning, but the sixth-graders got most of her time.
“Overall, I feel like I have the greatest job ever,” said Haddix, 52.
One student wanted to know who Haddix’s favorite authors were when she was their age.
E.L. Koningsburg and Zilpha Keatley Snyder, said Haddix.
Another wondered if Haddix is making a movie of any of the books she’s written since she started writing them at the age of 26.
Not yet, she said — but there’s been talk of it, especially regarding her 1998 book “Among the Hidden,” she said.
That book is set in a world where overpopulation has gotten so bad that there’s too little food and a totalitarian government has made it against the law to have more than two children.
Her recent “Children of Exile” also takes readers into a spooky world — one in which “Haddix brilliantly scrutinizes racial violence without mentioning physical characteristics beyond eyes and nose,” according to Kirkus Reviews.
Nowadays, school librarians can bring in book authors via the Internet, but Skype is no match for in-person talks - especially when the author spends the whole day with students as Haddix did, said Burney-Harris-Lyons media specialist Anne McLeod.
“Any time we can bring an author to school, it lets the students see the person behind the book, and the story behind the story,” McLeod said.