This BookPage Icebreaker is sponsored by Candlewick.
Mega-bestselling author Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series is beloved by readers all over the world—Judy made her big-screen debut in 2011’s Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer and she now stars in two additional spin-off book series. The 14th installment, Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party, follows the outspoken third-grader on her quest to complete her family tree. But when Judy uncovers her family’s English roots, she gets a little (or a lot) carried away with dreams of royal relatives and fancy tea parties.
We spoke with McDonald about Judy’s enduring popularity, what she loves about her fans and her ideal tea party fit for a queen.
Judy Moody is such a beloved series for young readers. What was the initial inspiration for the character?
The original idea was to showcase moods. What better way to demonstrate a range of moods than through an 8-year-old? I combined that idea with stories inspired by my own childhood growing up with four older sisters.
Judy has been having adventures since 2000! After all these years, what do you love most about her?
Her resilience. No matter how many setbacks and disappointments she goes through, she always seems to bounce back with enthusiasm and creativity.
What are some of your favorite interactions you’ve had with young readers while on book tours or during school visits?
Third-graders crack me up! I meet a lot of readers who have created their very own “I ATE A SHARK” shirts. My heart skips a beat when I see this because it points to how much they connect with and relate to Judy Moody in their own lives.
Judy throws a tea party fit for royalty—and she gets a bouncy castle! What would your ideal tea party be like?
At my ideal tea party, they would serve hot chocolate! Hardee-har-har. There would be miniature teacups, purple streamers, fortune cookies and cool party favors (like sock monkey keychains and troll doll pencil-toppers), and cootie catchers would complete the party. Oh, wait, did I mention Hula-Hoops?
Do you have any royal relations in your own family tree?
As far as I know, no royal rat catchers in the McDonald family tree!
What’s the most rewarding part of writing for young readers?
Discovering that one of my books has turned a child into a reader.
What lesson do you hope young readers take away from Judy’s brush with royalty?
Family and connection with one another is what’s important, royal or not.
Any idea what Judy’s next adventure will be?
Judy, Stink and company go crazy for books as they prepare to face a formidable opponent in a funny book-quiz competition.