Book Review of The Collectors by Jacqueline West
Jacqueline West has written another brilliant middle grade magical, beguiling story full of real and flawed characters and an eerie plot line full of magical realism. Genuinely moving with poetic hidden truths
(treasures) which are hidden in the sometimes poetic prose. This exquisitely fantastical story is immediately related to today's modern world. The story focuses on unintended consequences of wishes, and finding our own treasure in our everyday lives. Magic is everywhere, but you dont have to take my word for it. Add The collectors to your shelves or your To be read list, as soon as you read this blog! Out everywhere especially at Books Inc link is here https://www.booksinc.net/book/9780062691699
Here is my previous interview with Jacqueline West about her Books of Elsewhere series: http://www.reachandteach.com/content/article.php?story=elsewhere
Now, below is my most recent interview with Jacqueline West.
Questions in bold answers below.
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.....
Hi, everybody! I’m Jacqueline West, and I’m the author of the new middle grade fantasy The Collectors, the MG series The Books of Elsewhere, the YA novel Dreamers Often Lie, and a lot of poetry, plays, and short stories.
2. Please Introduce your new book in five sentences or less...
The Collectors is about the kinds of magic that we don’t notice—magic that might be happening around us every day. The main character is a small boy named Van who has a talent for spotting things that other people don’t see, like the tiny objects that he finds on the ground and adds to his treasure collection. But one day, in a busy city park, Van sees something he’s not supposed to be able to see…and suddenly, he is pulled into the world of the Collectors: a dark, secretive underworld dedicated to collecting people’s wishes before they can come true.
3. It seems you did hard work to get the hard of hearing young hero of your new book, Van to be readily realistic and marvelously hopeful. Explain your process in creating him.
A funny thing happened while I was writing the first full draft of The Collectors. I was halfway through the book, and all the big pieces were there—Van’s mother being an opera singer, Van’s collecting hobby, the wishes and wish-magic—and out of the blue, I realized that Van was hard of hearing. I didn’t decide to make him that way; it was like the character had told me this fact about himself. And with that one added fact, all of the other pieces fell into place, and everything made sense in a way it hadn’t before.
My first instinct was to chicken out. I’m not hard of hearing myself, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to this experience. But I couldn’t change this fact about Van—it was who he was. So I dove into research instead.
I read great books about deaf and hard of hearing experiences. I researched online. I interviewed kids and teachers in local DHH programs, as well as at Minnesota’s State Academy for the Deaf, and they gave me incredibly insightful, helpful responses. Then I took everything I’d learned and tried to weave it into Van’s experience of the world. Obviously, his experiences aren’t meant to represent every hard of hearing kid’s experiences, but I hope I did some justice to the wonderful people who helped me.
4. Personally after being close friends with Olive from your spell binding Elsewhere series, I felt Van and Olive would have been best friends especially in terms of their beliefs on wishes and magic. Explain how The new book explores the dangerous magic of wishes? How would you compare those two characters?
Oh, I LOVE to think of Olive and Van being friends! You’re right, I think they would be—they’re both imaginative, sensitive, isolated kids who have to use their human qualities to combat dangerous magic.
There are some big differences between the way magic is used in The Books of Elsewhere and the way it’s used in The Collectors. In Olive’s world, magic is being used by a malevolent force in order to control others. In Van’s world, magic isn’t used malevolently, it’s used carelessly. And of course, this can have dangerous consequences too.
Wishes can be especially dangerous because we tend to overlook them. Most of us don’t consider ourselves superstitious, or truly believe in magic as a thing that can affect our day-to-day lives. But most of us make a wish when we blow out our birthday candles, right? We make wishes when we toss coins into fountains, or blow an eyelash off of our fingertips. We’re using magic without even thinking about it…which, if that magic is real, could be an awfully risky thing to do!
5. You are quite gifted for attention to detail in you books, clearly so much is hidden in your words. I know some readers will miss some of the gems you write. In previous interviews You’ve talked about being a “story scavenger” and that curiosity and attention to detail is crucial to your work. In fact you even write about seeing the world as kids does, like your own child does. How can readers get discover the details in their lives?
Thank you so much, and what a marvelous question.
It’s hard to remember to really look at the world around us. If we’ve seen something a hundred times already—like the view out our own window—it almost becomes invisible. This might be why traveling is so useful for writers: you tend to notice more details about a place when you’re seeing it for the first time.
But you don’t have to travel to sharpen your detail-vision. You just have to slow down and look closely. Think about the colors and textures and scents and sounds of a place. Imagine that you are someone else, observing your own street or your own home with fresh eyes. Imagine that you are someone very different from yourself, someone younger or older or from a very different place. You’ll notice things that you’ve overlooked, I promise.
This kind of detail-vision is especially important when I’m writing about Van. Because he’s hard of hearing, he relies strongly on his vision. He’s also very small, and because he and his mother move around so much, he’s almost always in unfamiliar places. Asking myself what a super-observant person like Van would see in one small part of the world—one corner of a busy park, for example—and then exploring those details created a lot of The Collectors.
6. You are skilled at getting to the heart of your characters and showing their feelings. How do you capture feelings, especially those of children so well?
I can remember being a child so clearly. Often, I feel like I am still a kid—just one with a checking account and a decent computer.
For kids, every emotion is fresh and raw and deep. Everything leaves an impression. To write for kids, and to feel like a kid, you have to try to keep your heart open. You have to be vulnerable.
7. You’ve written that exploring perspectives different then our own makes the world richer.
Explain how kids themselves can do that?
By reading! As a kid, you don’t get to choose where you travel, or where you live, or the kinds of people who surround you. But you can go to a library and choose any book you like. You can visit different times and different places, you can even step inside of different bodies and feel with different hearts. It’s the greatest thing ever.
8. What would Van have to say to kids and parents today?
Well, Van is quite shy, especially with other kids. But I think he would remind everyone to keep their eyes open—treasures are waiting for us everywhere.
9. You wrote once that “there’s just nothing better than that thrilling, telling-stories-around-the-campfire feeling of shivering and laughing at the same time.” Your middle grade stories do just that. Thank you so much for Van and his world in The Collectors! Out now.
Hooray! That’s just the feeling I hope they create. Thank you.
10. Where can readers find more information about you and your work? What’s next?You can find me on Facebook and, much more often, on Instagram (@jacqueline.west.writes). I keep a pretty up-to-date website (jacquelinewest.com), where you can find my appearance calendar, my blog, and information about all of my books, including the upcoming ones!
|Jacqueline West's Digging Up Danger book to come out in January 2019|
2019 is going to be a busy year: I’ve got a new middle grade mystery called Digging Up Danger, written in cooperation with the amazing storytelling troupe The Story Pirates, coming from Random House in January 2019. On May 7, my new YA novel, Last Things, will be released by Greenwillow
(facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greenwillow )
HarperCollins . webpage: https://www.harpercollins.com/childrens/
And next October, volume two of The Collectors—A Storm of Wishes--will arrive!