Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #6:
Kelly Herold at Big A little a

h1 February 12th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

You know how with each of our blogger interviews we have explained to you, dear reader, why we love our chosen blogs so much? Well, with Kelly Herold at Big A little a, we just don’t know where to begin, honestly. There are many things to love about her and her blog.

First of all, just how professional is she? (Rhetorical question; you’re supposed to just nod and say “amen”) . . . Truly, she always writes with the utmost courtesy and respect and professionalism, yet she’s far from a stick-in-the-mud, too. She is witty, smart as hell, has a refreshing sense of mischief when needed, and can really appreciate a good joke. But you’ll never see her spewing forth negative energy or getting downright silly on her blog or saying “dude,” which we — unfortunately — slip into entirely too much here at 7-Imp (the new abbreviation for our blog’s title that has just stuck — isn’t it wonderfully naughty?). Essentially, we feel like the cheap, dollar-store knock-off of Big A little a and strive to one day be just like her. To continue with the junior high school analogy, she’s the President of the 7th grade Student Council, but she’s seriously hip and terrifically nice, too. And we all admire her and want to a> be as cool a leader as she is and b> sit next to her at the pep rally (those of us who attend pep rallies and don’t go sit in the library, as Jules did in high school. Seriously. No kidding. Nerd alert. They were just too peppy, dude . . .) and be her friend. (Um, Eisha feels compelled to admit that during pep rallies she could usually be found making out with her boyfriend in the band’s storage room. But she would have shared her fries with Kelly and Jules at lunch.)

She’s also — lucky for us — wonderfully prolific. She’s founder of and Editor and Webmaster of The Edge of the Forest, created a year ago; she’s co-founder (with Anne Boles Levy, whom we also long to interview) of The Cybils; she rounds up and brings us weekend reviews of children’s literature titles; she ushered in Poetry Friday from the academic blog world into the kidlitosphere; and she manages two to three book reviews a week. Whew. She’s also extremely friendly to new bloggers and extends a welcoming hand to kidlitosphere newcomers by introducing herself on their sites as well as mentioning them on hers.

Kelly falls into that category of Bloggers Who Have Been Doin’ Their Thang for More Than One Year (a category Jules just made up on the spot), so for that reason, we cannot help but see her as rather . . . well, maternal (and we have no idea how old she is — we see her this way whether she’s 21 or 41), as in one of the Matriarchs of All the Kidlitosphere Blogs. And we mean this in a lovely, respectful way (and hope it doesn’t make Kelly uncomfortable for whatever reason). And a hip way. Not one of those moms who has let herself go and listens to too much Raffi to know what’s going on in the outside world anymore and wears Mom Jeans that sit just under her bra line and smiles so big at everyone a little too enthusiastically but then goes home and has a martini or two while the kids nap. No, she’s the hip, smart, savagely cool Mama who is in the know, stays active, and to whom everyone goes for advice.

She is also the inspiration for our blogger interviews, though I don’t think she knows this. One day in the not-so-distant past and after many days of regularly checking Big A little a, I (Jules, that is) visited the blog once again, clicked on her profile for some reason, and saw that Kelly is a professor. I had assumed all this time that she was, like most of us, a librarian. Okay, I thought. So, she teaches children’s literature probably. No. Who knew she was an Associate Professor of Russian (as you’ll read below)? Jump back. It was then that I realized how much I don’t know about all these bloggers whose writing I admire. And Eisha said, word, dude when I shared this with her, and thus was born our blogger interview series.

And, in case you were wondering, her blog’s title comes from the first part (“Big A little a, What begins with a? Aunt Annie’s alligator A a A”) of Dr. Seuss’s ABC.

So, enough of that. Let’s find out who she’d invite to her Fantasy Author Wine/Coffee Soiree, shall we? First, of course, the Perfunctory Curse Word Disclaimer (are you as tired of reading that as we are? Well, it’s necessary, we suppose): Remember that we use the Pivot Questionnaire in our interviews. Remember that it includes the what-is-your-favorite-curse-word question. It’s optional for folks to answer, but if they do, we will not edit their responses in any way; yup, we’ll post their responses exactly as they send them to us. Some people might not use “*”s to edit their saucy words. If you’re easily offended, just don’t read that question.

What do you do for a living?

Kelly: I’m an Associate Professor of Russian at a liberal arts college in the Midwest. I teach Russian Language and Literature (the novel, Tolstoy, Nabokov).

How long have you been blogging?

Kelly: Two years in February.

Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Kelly: I’ve been writing for years. I read somewhere that if you want to write in a certain genre (for me, Middle Grade fiction), you should read 300 books in said genre. So, I went to the public library for the first time in years and began checking out books. Then I found myself alone with these books and with no one to talk about them. So I started my blog. And I found my community. Truly, blogging has brought me so much emotionally and intellectually. When I began my blog, there were only a few of us out there. Camille at Book Moot was the first to talk to me. Then I found Tasha at Kids Lit, Michele at Scholar’s Blog, Anne at Book Buds, Gail Gauthier, Susan at Chicken Spaghetti, Jen at Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations, and Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace &
A Tea Cozy
. They’ve all been blogging for about as long as I have or longer.

Each month there’s another great blog and another voice in the conversation. You guys and MotherReader make me laugh, A Fuse #8 Production just rocks, I love the ladies at Blue Rose Girls and A Year of Reading. Little Willow always knows what’s new and hot for teens. Oh, and there are the writers…Mitali, Robin, Greg…the list goes on and on and on!

Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Kelly: I’m a long time reader of academic blogs. Most of them, because of the whole tenure thing, are pseudonymous. I thought I’d start one of those first and even began one with two posts. It became clear to me, however, that all I’d do on such a blog is complain. And, I’d be BORING. However, there are a few academic bloggers I rely on to this day. The blogs I’d take to the prom are Phantom Scribbler (her Wednesday Whining is to live for), Profgrrrrl, Bitch Ph.D., scrivenings, and writing as jo(e). Besides these mainstays in my life, I love, love, love the entire kidlitosphere.

What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Kelly: Writing. Being with kids and the husband. Being with my small extended family. Traveling.

What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/ipod lately?

Kelly: Would it bore you to hear that Richard Ford is in heavy rotation at the moment? I have to admit, since the advent of the easy audiobook download, I’ve pretty much given up on music. Now I can read while cleaning! While driving! While walking to work!

If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Kelly: Oh, this one is easy for me. I have three favorite writers at the moment — no more, no less. And, I hate to say that they all hail from the British Isles. I would invite all three together, because I’m sure they’d get along like a house on fire. My three favorite writers share the same qualities — they write gorgeous, complex prose and each has a subtle sense of humor. They are:

Ian McEwan (favorite novels: Enduring Love and Atonement);
Kate Atkinson (favorite novels: Okay, I’ve read everything she’s written ten times each);
Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials comprise the best children’s fiction ever written) . . .

Can I have them for wine and coffee? How about for dinner? My husband’s a great cook. I do an okay salad. We’ll buy good wine and good coffee, I swear!

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

Kelly: I’m pretty much an open book. Does that count? No? Okay, then, here’s the drama: I’ve had three near death experiences — one on an airplane, one on the streets of Berkeley, and one on the streets of Moscow.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

What is your favorite word?

Kelly: Three-way tie: “Aegean,” “kerfuffle,” and “kvetch”

What is your least favorite word?

Kelly: “Chunk.” When I hear the phrase “chunk of X” I want to throw up. I also hate “padded,” as in “she woke up, stretched, and padded to the fridge for X.” So overused. And, buildings should no longer be “lowslung,” even if they are.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Kelly: Warm rain. Beautiful cities (New York, London, certain areas of Los Angeles or Moscow, Chicago, parks in Cologne, Paris). A long walk.

What turns you off?

Kelly: Really ugly words with short [u] or [i] — like “chunk,” “hunk,” “hug” (I know it means well . . .), “twig,” “prig” . . .

What is your favorite curse word?

Kelly: Oh, this one is easy for me! I love the British “shite.” So much better than our short-voweled American counterpart. I use it all the time.

What sound or noise do you love?

Kelly: Cliched, but rain.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Kelly: You know, my stove has a broken timer. If you forget to unplug it, it will start beeping after 1 hour and 59 minutes. Because I often forget to unplug it before I have a nap (on the couch with a book), I hate this sound most of all.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Kelly: Writer. It’s the only other profession I aim for. I like my day job.

What profession would you not like to do?

Kelly: Oh, so many. I’m truly lazy. I’d hate any position of authority. President of anything. I have a horrible gag reflex, so I’d hate to be a doctor or a nurse.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Kelly: “You were wrong. Welcome.”

33 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #6:
Kelly Herold at Big A little a

  1. Thanks for the interview, guys.

    As to the age…you’re closer with the larger number. I’m 39 and decidedly maternal. I do try to avoid mom jeans at all cost, though.

    I’m flattered with the pep analogy flight of fancy, but have to admit that I was either a) in the band (I was a total band geek; or b) suffering in the bleachers. In fact, the only time I’ve ever had a true float-on-the ceiling, out-of-body experience was during a pep rally.

    Dudes! You rock!

  2. Make that:

    “I’m flattered with the pep rally flight-of-fancy, but I have to admit I was either a) in the band (I was a total band geek); or…

  3. What a great interview! I’ve been emailing with Kelly for more than a year now. We’ve even met. And still I learned things. But you’re right about Kelly. She should be our student council president in the kidlitosphere. She also started wikis for children’s book reviews and one for a collaborative book. I’m convinced that she owns a time turner. Thanks for the interview!

  4. I’m lucky enough to have met Kelly in person (gasp! no cyberspatial barrier!), and IRL she remains someone you wanna hang out with. I do agree with Jen, however, that she seems to manage her time way more efficiently than possible. Either that, or she knows how to get extra hours.

    Thanks for posting the interview….

  5. Reading this excellent interview reminds me of why I refer to her as Indefatigable Kelly!

  6. Yes, I’d say Kelly manages to accomplish a lot more than the average individual. She’s like the Rachael Ray of the kidlitosphere. What doesn’t she do? She could be the star of a television series called Children’s Bookstores on $40 a Day. Then she could do another weekly program in which she takes viewers across the country to different locales where popular children’s stories are set. And, of course, she’d have to do a 30-Minute Story Hour!

    Kelly is one mighty fine children’s literature blogger. She’s truly a “leader of the pack.”

  7. Wow. It’s 7:29 a.m., and I’m barely awake, stumbling towards some coffee, and there are already a slew of messages. There is much love for Kelly, and I can see why.

    Yes, Elaine. Other bloggers have been doing their thing for longer than a year — like Kelly — but I think all the stuff Kelly does is also why I see her as the Kidlitosphere Matriarch. I mean, The Edge of the Forest for one — that is awesome (and now I sound like I’m at a junior high school pep rally).

    And she’s so nice. She was one of the first people to reach out and say hello to us back in July/August/whenever it was when we started this blawg adventure.

    Let’s all wiggle our fingers high up in the air like cheerleaders do at pep rallies (I always wondered what they were pointing at) for Kelly . . .

    {Oh and, Kelly, I saw your note on your blog about you not liking your photo. I think it’s beautiful} . . .

  8. Thanks for all your kind words, folks! I always think of myself as lazy, so it’s interesting to read this!

    And, Jules, thanks for your comments on the photo!

    Finally, I really wish I had remembered to mention Chris of Bartography and Melissa Wiley of Here in the Bonny Glen as 2 of the bloggers I’ve known since for ever and enjoy reading on a daily basis!!

  9. Let’s hear it for K-E-L-L-Y! *waving fingers*
    And a giant shoutout to 7-Imp! *screaming insanely*

    Thanks for the great interviews!

  10. Kelly, I linked to and bolded those two sites you mentioned in your last comment so that it’ll be easy for folks to find them.

  11. First of all, whichever of you wrote this line: “and wears Mom Jeans that sit just under her bra line and smiles so big at everyone a little too enthusiastically but then goes home and has a martini or two while the kids nap” gets my salute this morning.

    Second, thanks, Kelly, for the nod my way. The feeling’s mutual.

    Third, I guess I knew Kelly was smart, but didn’t really get before what a brainiac she is. And so productive and creative and outgoing–man, once again I feel grateful that there are people out there doing all those things we want done and never seem to get around to ourselves.

    Thanks for another great interview, E & J!

  12. Can I also join in the Kelly-love (never been to a pep rally, mind, so feel free to ignore me if I get it wrong !) ?

    I had the chance to meet Kelly and drag her round half of Oxford last year – I had a ball ! And I want her Time-Turner NOW!

    She always takes my teasing about her typos very well, too!

  13. Okay, I’m sitting here in my Mom Jeans feeling very inferior right now. Kelly is indeed a brilliant organizer, fascinating person and excellent advocate for all things kidlit-related, and her kids, hubby and students are all lucky ducks.

    Our first encounter was an email out of the blue asking a bunch of us if we were interested in a Webzine for kidlit, which became The Edge of the Forest. I remembered her blog but couldn’t keep the name straight (“Is she the spaghetti one or the tea cozy?”)

    You see why I’d have been useless getting Cybils off the ground without her. When she emailed to say “let’s do it!” I thought “Gah, what am I getting into?” So Kelly was really a midwife, helping birth this baby with relatively little pain.

    I’m going to hitch my Mom Jeans up now (I really let myself go. Must be Raffi’s influence). Martini shaker’s around here someplace … must find olives …

    Thanks for a great interview.

  14. Anne, if only I could find a You Tube link (or something similar) to the old “Saturday Night Live” Mom Jeans commercial. This is what I speak of. Very funny. Alas and alack, I could not find it to link to.

    You’re definitely not one of those moms, though I’d like to have a martini with you and the other hip mama kidlit bloggers. The el husbandos can watch the kids while we all have a drink and gab.

  15. Okay, I’m an idiot. Just looked and found it easily. I just looked in the wrong place before.

    Mom Jeans. I remember seeing this years ago on SNL. Harsh, I know. But, hey. I have a whoooole new body since my second daughter was born. It’s the pinch-way-more-than-an-inch in my middle that I used to not have that I now have which I speak of. But I at least don’t emphasize it with Mom Jeans.

  16. Ah … Now I see. The three Moms they show? I’m the one on the left who barely fits in the screen. Thank God for those elastic waistbands, eh?

    Anyhow, getting back to Kelly, whose taste in jeans definitely would not run to self-parody. I still maintain she is a superior life form.

  17. Oh, and martinis actually make me barf.

  18. Franki over at Year of Reading has the Mom Jeans commercial and a very interesting post about books from our childhood.

    Thanks for having this interview on Kelly. Whoa…she’s a professor of Russian literature. How cool is that? Loved this interview and getting to know Kelly better. Thanks!

  19. Okay, now you guys are making me blush.

    And, I’m with Robin that the mom jean comment is classic.

    I also can’t drink martinis, Anne. Beer or wine, anyone? We can imbibe along with my favorite Raffi song, “Down by the Bay (where the watermelons grow).”

    Serious love to you all!! You’ve made my day.

    P.S. I wish I could hire Michele to just edit all my typos, so I wouldn’t have to think about them at all!

  20. Props are due: Jules wrote the Mom Jeans line, as well as the entire intro except for my pep-rally confession, which you probably already deduced.

    And thanks to Kelly for being such a willing subject. It was really cool getting to know you better.

    And thanks to everyone for reading these interview thingys and being so kind about them. We’re really having a ball doing them.

    I’m also not so much of a martini fan – Cosmopolitans maybe, but vodka and I aren’t always on the best of terms. Beer and wine will do nicely, but I may have to turn down the Raffi. Because just reading that line is enough to start the autoplay loop in the back of my brain for the next three days.

  21. A great interview with a great lady! Happy double blogiversary for both Big A little a and The Edge of the Forest this month. 🙂 Thanks for the mention. So sweet you are.

  22. Love the interview–I am a HUGE Kelly fan. Still laughing that she thinks she is lazy!? Crack me up-I can’t imagine what she’d accomplish if she were not lazy.

    Cracking up about the mom jeans. My jeans are close to mom jeans than they used to be, I must admit. My 16 year old thought she was very funny sharing the clip with me.

    The great thing about blogging is that we can all be sitting around in mom jeans and pretend we’re not–who would know?

  23. Great intro. Great interview. Great person.

    Kelly’s da bomb.

  24. Fabulous interview. Such a treat to get some inside scoop on one of my favorite bloggers. And Kelly, thanks for the kind words about Bonny Glen in the comments!

  25. Great interview! Kelly’s is one of my MUST READ blogs every day, and it’s fun getting this chance to learn more about her.

  26. Oh, dear. I almost missed the pep rally entirely. May I please do a cheer?

    Whomp. Up. Side the head,
    Gonna whomp ’em up side the head,
    hey, hey hey.

    Oh, wait. that’s really not appropriate. My saddle-oxford polish must have gone to my head.

    Great interview, y’all.

    2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? Kelly!

  27. This is Kelly’s mom in her mom jeans! Kelly’s first words were “Please put down the side of the crib so I can get out” and yes,she read before two years old.She hasn’t stopped trying to get out(traveling)and reading.

  28. My sister is so cool. I am reading the Golden Compass now and love it. What 38 year old gets that book for Christmas?

    (My mom stretches the truth (re kelly’s first words)

  29. Kara,you weren’t alive then. I should know! Love,MOM

  30. Mom and Kara: You guys are TOO funny. I do think you’re pushing it with the reading, Mom. Closer to 4, I think 🙂

  31. […] series have cited Tasha’s Kids Lit blog as being an inspiration of one sort or another: Kelly Herold of Big A little a; Sheila Ruth of Wands and Worlds; Jen Robinson; and Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 […]

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