Questions from a Kid: Raina Telgemeier

img_0786

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions from a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with best-selling graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier.

Raina burst onto the scene with 2010’s Smile and then followed that up with Sisters, Drama, and this year’s Ghosts. All four books have dominated the best-seller lists and have won nearly every award for which they’re eligible. And in the process, Raina has become a superstar talent in the industry.

Just how big has she become? At this year’s National Book Festival, she was one of six presenters to take the main stage. The others? Stephen King, Bob Woodward, Shonda Rhimes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Salman Rushdie. Not too shabby.

Continue reading

Questions from a Kid: Conductor Justin Freer

IMG_0591

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions from a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with conductor Justin Freer.

We recently attended a performance of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: In Concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and yeah, it was pretty much as awesome as you’d expect. However, the highlight of the evening actually came before the doors even opened.

Zoey had the chance to sit down with conductor Justin Freer (who we also saw conduct Dreamworks in Concert at Wolf Trap a couple months ago) and geek out about music a bit. But even before that, she was treated to a guided backstage – and on-stage – tour!

Continue reading

Questions from a Kid: Dr. Scott Sampson

IMG_9779

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions from a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson.

If you have young kids with even the slightest interest in dinosaurs, chances are very good you’ve heard of Dr. Scott the Paleontologist. If you’ve ever seen an episode of the PBS Kids / Jim Henson show Dinosaur Train, then you’ve seen Dr. Scott. He appears at the end of every episode, talks about the science behind each story, makes connections between the prehistoric world and the more familiar world in which kids live, and ends every episode by encouraging kids to “get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!”

Continue reading

Questions from a Kid: Tom Angleberger

IMG_1500

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with author Tom Angleberger.

To say that Zoey is a fan of his is a massive understatement. We first encountered the Origami Yoda books on a roadtrip. We had gone to the library to stock up on some audiobooks, and Zoey grabbed the first two books in the series: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back. She was already a Star Wars fan, and she was really intrigued by the covers of each book.

That turned out to be the easiest road trip ever. Both kids were riveted to the stories and barely spoke at all. Heaven.

Continue reading

Questions from a Kid: Jennifer Holm

IMG_1497

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with author Jennifer Holm.

Zoey first became aware of Jennifer through Sunny Side Up, a recent graphic novel from Scholastic/Graphix that tells the story of Sunny Lewin, a young girl who spends the summer of 1976 with her grandfather in Florida. Jennifer worked on the book with her younger brother, Matthew Holm, who did the art.

Continue reading

Questions from a Kid: Buzz Aldrin

IMG_1485

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

It’s not hyperbole to say that this is her biggest interview to date. It’s not every day that you get to meet, much less chat with, someone who walked on the moon. Only 12 humans have ever been able to claim that accomplishment, and Buzz was part of the historic first manned moon landing.

Continue reading

Questions From a Kid: Giant Panda Keeper

IMG_0232

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with Jennifer Becerra, panda keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

After chatting with two other animal keepers, Zoey knew she wanted to talk to someone with a connection to pandas. A recent trip to San Diego yielded results.

The San Diego Zoo is rightfully one of the most famous and popular zoos in the country, but the animal collection is actually spread over two different complexes. The zoo itself is in downtown San Diego, and the Safari Park occupies 1,800 acres north of the city near Escondido.

Only four zoos in the United States have giant pandas, and their number totals only 12 (not counting the twins recently born at the National Zoo). It was therefore a real pleasure for Zoey to chat with one of the keepers responsible for the care of three of those pandas.

Continue reading

Questions From a Kid: Norton Juster

IMG_8861

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with legendary author Norton Juster.

Juster is most well known for his first book, The Phantom Tollbooth, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary! The Phantom Tollbooth is perhaps the ultimate book of puns, wordplay, and double meanings. First published in 1961 (with illustrations by Jules Feiffer), it is the story of Milo’s adventures through the Kingdom of Wisdom to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason.

Along the way, he is joined by Tock the watchdog and the contrary Humbug, and they all travel through places such as Dictionopolis, the Doldrums, and Digitopolis. They conduct the sunrise, and they traverse the Mountains of Ignorance.

Not a sentence in this wonderful book is wasted, and it takes several readings to fully appreciate the craft and connections that hold The Phantom Tollbooth together.

Continue reading

Questions From a Kid: Jim Cummings

IMG_8708

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with legendary voice actor Jim Cummings. Jim has given life to hundreds of characters, but he’s best known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, and Pete.

He’s also the voice behind Hondo Ohnaka on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Tasmanian Devil, Tantor the Elephant on the Tarzan TV series, various characters on Sofia the First, Curious George, and on and on and on. The list is seemingly endless.

It’s no understatement to say that Jim Cummings is the voice of many childhoods. Scroll through his filmography on IMDb and you’ll undoubtedly find a show or movie you know and love. Many of the roles for which he is most well known are not original to him. He took over Winnie the Pooh in 1988, Tigger in 1990, and the Tasmanian Devil in 1991 (after Sterling Holloway, Paul WInchell, and Mel Blanc created those distinctive voices).

Continue reading

Questions From a Kid: Jess Harnell

IMG_8700

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with voice actor (and all-around great guy) Jess Harnell.

Zoey knows him best as the voice of Wakko on Animaniacs, but Jess has given life to hundreds of other characters, including Chilly on Doc McStuffins, Cedric on Sofia the First, Ironhide in the Transformers movies, and dozens and dozens more.

Zoey had the chance to chat with Jess at this year’s Awesome-Con DC. In a weird twist, it was at last year’s Awesome-Con that Zoey began this journey by interviewing Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche. Almost a year later exactly, she comes full circle back to Animaniacs.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Cece Bell

IMG_6102

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with Cece Bell, author and illustrator of (among other things) the graphic novel El Deafo.

ElDeafo_NewberyCece Bell already had several picture and chapter books under her belt before El Deafo hit the shelves. Among them: the Sock Monkey series, Itty Bitty, and Rabbit and Robot. But it was El Deafo that made the biggest splash.

El Deafoin case you’re unaware, is an autobiographical graphic novel that tells the story of how Cece lost her hearing at a very young age (from meningitis), struggled to appear “normal” and fit in throughout elementary school, and ultimately discovered her own superpowered altar ego in the guise of “El Deafo.”

It’s a charming, honest, warm, and funny book that’s a pure delight for all ages. And it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. To name a few, it won the 2015 Newbery Honor, was a Kirkus Prize finalist, and was recently nominated for an Eisner Award.

Continue reading

5 Questions with a SeaWorld Dolphin Trainer

IMG_3410

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jeannie Carder, a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld Orlando.

Let’s not beat around the bush. SeaWorld (and places like it) arouse a lot of passion in people…to both extremes.

Personally, I’m conflicted about how I feel. I recognize the criticism against keeping animals in captivity, particularly the dolphins and killer whales, but SeaWorld also does a lot of great work. They champion a host of conservation issues and do an incredible amount of education well beyond the confines of their parks.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Astronaut Marcos Pontes

IMG_4185

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Marcos Pontes, the first Brazilian astronaut in space.

It’s not every day you get to meet someone who’s actually left the planet. Over the past year, Zoey’s had some incredible opportunities to meet and chat with truly remarkable people. However, astronauts—just from the nature of their work and what they’re able to do—are in a league of their own.

She therefore jumped at the chance to meet a real, live astronaut. I have to admit, it was quite a thrill for me, too.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde

IMG_5397

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Disney imagineers are like LEGO master builders. Almost everyone has heard the term but relatively few know what it really means. Who are they? They’re the designers behind Disney theme parks, attractions, shows, resorts, and cruise ships, and they’re self-described “dreamers and doers.”

What do they do? Surprisingly, Walt Disney Imagineering is composed of more than 140 unique disciplines. They’re not all artists and designers. Imagineers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include architects, illustrators, graphic designers, writers, engineers, interior designers, multimedia gurus, project managers….even corporate and administrative support positions are considered imagineers.

Joe Rohde is currently one of the top guys at Walt Disney Imagineering. But he’s been around for a long time and has had a hand in a whole slew of Disney Parks projects dating all the way back to the development of Epcot in the early 1980s.

Continue reading

5 Questions with a Legoland Master Builder

IMG_3929

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jason Miller, Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND Florida.

Having previously chatted with master builder Chris Steininger, Zoey went into this interview with a bit of existing knowledge about LEGO master builders. Still, I don’t think she was prepared for what waited inside the LEGO Factory.

Continue reading

Backstage at Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion + 5 questions!

IMG_1229

We recently attended one of the final performances of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion (in Charlottesville, VA), and Zoey had the opportunity to interview one of the performers before the show…who was also kind enough to give us a backstage tour after the show!

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to tour Cirque du Soleil’s International Headquarters in Montreal. The kids loved the tour and seeing how everything was made, but this performance of Dralion was the first time they saw a live Cirque du Soleil show in person.

Surprising no one, they loved it. Read our review for details of the show itself.

Before the show, Zoey sat down with Alejandro “Toro” Cuenca, who is one of the main performers in the trampoline act. During the act, Toro and three other aerialists use trampolines to seemingly float through the air and walk up walls. It looks like a blast, and I’d love to try it sometime.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Kevin Conroy

KevinConroy

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Kevin Conroy, voice actor best known as the voice of Batman on Batman: The Animated Series.

For my money, Kevin Conroy is Batman. Pure and simple. He’s the best Batman that ever was and probably ever will be. It’s his voice that defines the character for me—and for many, many other people. Not Christian Bale’s ridiculous growl. Not Michael Keaton’s ominous tenor. No.

Through 85 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (and the renamed The Adventures of Batman & Robin), Kevin Conroy and his impressive baritone delivered not only the seminal Batman voice but also one of the classic Bruce Waynes.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Abby Cadabby

AbbyCadabby

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with the one and only Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street’s resident fairy-in-training. Be sure to also check out Zoey’s chat with the woman behind the voice, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph!

Believe it or not, Sesame Street has been on the air for 45 incredible years. It’s one of the few pieces of popular culture that has truly stood the test of time and become a touchstone for several generations. I grew up with it, and my children are growing up with it.

When you think about it, that’s amazing.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph

LeslieCarraraRudolph

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, the amazing Muppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby. Be sure to also check out Zoey’s chat with Abby!

Yes, Leslie is the voice and talent behind (under?) everyone’s favorite fairy-in-training, Abby Cadabby. Both Leslie and Abby debuted on Sesame Street in 2006 (Season 37), and Leslie has since gone on to voice several other characters.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Peter Beagle

PeterBeagle

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Peter Beagle, author of the classic The Last Unicorn.

Originally published in 1968, The Last Unicorn is a fantasy novel about a unicorn who thinks she is the last of her kind and sets out on a quest to discover what happened to the other unicorns. Along the way, she teams up with the magician Schmendrick, gets attacked by the demon Red Bull, becomes human, falls in love, attacks the villainous King Haggard, and saves the kingdom.

Not only is it a classic work of fantasy literature, but the 1982 Rankin-Bass animated film solidified its place in popular culture and became a classic for the 80s generation. Despite the fact that the novel has been in print for more than 45 years, for many people my age, the movie is the only version of the story they know.

Continue reading