No tricks, only treats today with Iva Valentino and her middle grade fantasy BLACK CATS AND BALLET SLIPPERS. Welcome, Iva!
Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, and I am counting down the days! Even though we don’t have seasons here in Arizona, we still get plenty of Halloween festivities and fall-themed everything. Dressing up in costumes, passing out candy, listening to “Monster Mash” and “Thriller”—I love it all! Plus, all of the pumpkin flavored items that pop up in the grocery store around this time of year are absolutely delicious.
Black Cats and Ballet Slippers incorporates not only Halloween, but a mish mash of some of my other favorite things as well. The main character of this humorous middle grade book is Gemma Mayfield, a ballerina and middle school student. She is convinced that her teacher is a witch. After her crush, Trevor, has a spell cast upon him, Gemma embarks on a mission to save Middleton Middle School from witchcraft!
The idea for Black Cats came about when I was still teaching middle school science. In the book, Gemma’s science teacher, Ms. Pruett, has a really creepy classroom. The classroom has a preproom with lots of “witchy” things, such as powdered unicorn horn and other ingredients for spells. In my classroom, I also had a big preproom. My classroom was actually very nice and not creepy at all, but over time my imagination took over. I started to envision this preproom as being Ms. Pruett’s.
So, to my already existing “witch’s brew” of story ideas, I added my love of dance, which is something that I’ve done since I was a kid. I did ballet for many years, and when I began college I became interested in modern dance. After performing with different dance groups for a while, I decided to try Afro-Brazilian dance, hip hop, and Zumba. These days, I love it all! Each week I do something a little different.
Last, but not least, I simply had to include something about cats! Cats have always been a part of my family. Mungo, the black cat in the book, has a lot of similarities to an amazing black kitty I had when I was young. Gotta love the cats! As a matter of fact, my Halloween costume this year will be… drumroll please…a black cat! Complete with the tail and ears and all. 🙂
To find out more about me, please visit me at the following sites:
Thanks again, Katie, for giving me the opportunity to visit your blog! Happy Halloween to all!
Iva Valentino lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lupo. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education. She loves living year-round in the warm desert.
Iva spent many years as a middle school teacher, where she enjoyed doing fun science experiments with her students. She currently works as a science editor at an educational publishing company. She loves travel, yoga, and photography. There is nothing that brings her more happiness than a good dance class!
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