Please welcome author Laura Pedersen:
I was a slow starter, pretty much a turnip in a sleeper the first couple of years. Once I began public school, kids were separated by ability. Our first grade reading groups had cutesy inspirational names such as Cheetahs, Jaguars and Blue Jays. Still unable to form words using letters, I was classified as a Dinosaur. I tried not to read too much into it but since I couldn’t read at all that really wasn’t possible, aside from a vague feeling that I’d been marked for extinction. It was not unlike the day my teacher dropped the bomb that “y” could sometimes be used as a vowel and I was so discombobulated that I couldn’t remember more than one verse to “Kum-bi-yah” during the sing-along after lunch. And that was saying a lot since the neighborhood was 80% Catholic and everyone knew at least 18 verses and a really good elementary school teacher could do the deaf version too.
So children’s books were mostly read to me. When I finally twigged on to the whole combined letter thing, I enjoyed the Judy Blume novels, as did most preteens in the 1970s, particularly Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Next it was Encyclopedia Brown and The Great Brain series. Then I pounced on Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Treasure Island. I think these books had a tremendous influence on the Hallie Palmer series because they were all adventure stories but only the boys had the good parts. The girls just watched and waited or teased or barely had anything to do at all. So Hallie was going to have all the good parts while the guys had to stand around worrying and wondering what she’d do next. However, that didn’t turn out to be entirely the case since one of my favorite characters is Hallie’s good friend Bernard. He’s funny and interesting and actually gives good advice much of the time so long as you can distinguish between the really BAD advice he sometimes dishes out. Bernard firmly believes that he was put on Earth to help.
About Best Best: (from author's website) Since Hallie's father died and left behind ten children, money at the Palmer household is tighter than ever. And just when Hallie thought she was graduating from college, it turns out she's four credits short. A professor needs one more student for a project that will take her around the world. Only longtime boyfriend Craig has another proposition for Hallie.
Want a win a copy of Best Bet? Leave a comment below! (open to U.S. residents only, ages 13+, please leave e-mail so I can contact you, contest ends Tuesday Feb. 23 at midnight Central Time)