Q & A: Michelle Staubach Grimes

Lovers of literature with little ones: take note. Where Is Pidge by Dallasite Michelle Staubach Grimes is a delightful tale to bring to your family’s table. Grimes tells the story of Pidge, a middle child in a big family, who decides one day that she has had it and is going to run away.

In the end, Pidge is reminded of the unconditional love of her family that eventually gets her home safe and sound. I caught up with Grimes to get some behind-the-scenes details on the writer’s first book.

Q: What inspired you to write?
A: Writing evolved for me out of years of journaling. I learned a lot about how to tell a story from observing my kids learning to read and write under the instruction of their teachers at Lamplighter. The teachers fostered a great love of learning and storytelling. At the same time I was attending the Barbara Bush Foundation Celebration of Reading Event in Dallas, which focused on the importance of literacy, and I always left inspired after hearing various authors speak. And then I enrolled in the SMU Creative Writing Continuing Education Program, fell in love with creative writing, followed my dreams, and wrote this book.

Q: Where did the idea for this book come to you? Did it end up how you initially drafted it or did it evolve?
A: I opened a spiral one day at my kitchen table and started writing the story of Pidge … It’s fiction, but there is a lot of me in Pidge. And of course I drew from real things in my life. Growing up my sister got stuck in our laundry shoot just like Pidge does in the book (and yes — the
sister that got stuck in the laundry chute is now our District 13 Councilwoman … We all evolve!) And a few years ago, a friend of my daughter’s became stuck in our laundry chute. Now I tell kids “don’t go in laundry chutes.” In real life, firemen had to cut through our ceiling to get our friend out of our laundry chute.
Yes, it ended up better than I expected. And Bill DeOre’s artwork blew me away. I loved watching him take my words and bring the characters to life on the pages.

Q: Pidge is an interesting name. Is this name made up or is the character based on someone else with this name?
A: The character in the book is named Pidge Hoobler in honor of my mom. Her dad gave her the nickname “Pidge” because he said she slept like a “little pigeon.”

Q: What do you think the benefits are of being a middle child?
A: I believe there are many benefits to being a middle child, just like there are to being the oldest, youngest, or even an only child. Birth order and day-to-day interaction with siblings plays a huge role in the development of children.
There are many great things about being in the middle as it builds character. While the story of Pidge is about a middle child, I remind parents, teachers, and students – that doesn’t mean we can’t all relate to Pidge. We’re all in the middle at times in our lives.

Q: What is the message that you want people to take away from this book?
A: I want people to take away from this book the message that we are all on a journey in life, trying to find our place, and working to make the world a better place. That is the story of Pidge. She’s a young girl in her home trying to find her place and learns through her journey that she is an important, valued, loved family member. I tell children when I read the story, it’s very important to show gratitude and tell the people in your life thank you. I also like to discuss the message of “service” in the book. And I always address Pidge’s emotions in the book and the importance of validating our own children’s emotions.

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