Thursday, July 10, 2014

Slinky in the middle

February 17. 2013 12:49AM

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Author: Dave Webb, a native of the Mountain Top area who published his first book in 1996, when he was a fifth-grade teacher at St. Jude School in Wright Township. He also has taught in Virginia and North Carolina and now resides in Monroe County.

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Available: Through as an e-book as well as paperback or at Barnes & Noble

Suitable for: Readers 8 to 12.

Characters: This is the third in a trilogy of books about 11-year-old Slinky Inkerman and friends.

Plot: While adjusting to middle school, Slinky runs for class president and helps solve a mystery that's disrupted school for weeks.

Q: How much of what you write is based on actual events?

Dave Webb: I'd say about half of them are actual situations as they happened; some of them are things I see in my subconscious that I just put on paper. Slinky Inkerman was the nickname of my brother's friend growing up.

Q: So, are the kids on the cover students of yours?

DW: Those are actually some kids I taught in fourth grade in Virginia. They're all in their 20s now. I sent them all a copy of the book with a little note, "Nothing like old childhood photos coming back to haunt you."

Q: You were a reporter. How did you get into teaching?

DW: I graduated with an English degree from King's College. I got an internship with the Times Leader and then corresponded for a little while at local papers. I went back to school to be a teacher. It was just a calling. Then I thought, well, I work with kids and was a writer professionally, so how could I combine the two? Children's books.

Q: Can you describe Slinky?

DW: He's just your average kid. There's nothing crazy about him, it's just that crazy things around him keep happening.

Q: What do you hope kids who read this book take out of it?

DW: I want kids to see that things are going to happen in life but it's all in how you deal with it. There's also a moral dilemma. I want readers to ask themselves if Slinky made the right choice.

Q: Do you think kids are straying from books?

DW: It can be harder to get kids to read these days, which is why I don't see this as selling books but as selling reading. One of my favorite quotes is from Beverly Cleary. "Children should learn that reading is a pleasure and not just something teachers make you do in school."


What: "Middle School Mania" book signing by author Dave Webb

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Library Express bookstore, Steamtown Mall, Scranton

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