Being Scared Silly to Spill a Secret, a guest post by Elizabeth Eulberg
For years, I was keeping a secret when I spoke to school groups.
I wasn’t purposely being misleading. At the time, I’d only published young adult books so during my talks, I focused on my concerns back when I was a teen: fitting in, worrying about the future, and wondering if Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block would ask me on a date. You know, the usual teen stuff.
Then two things happened. First, I started writing middle-grade and was going to start speaking to elementary students. Second, I asked my mom a question I was given for a blog interview: “What the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?” My mom looked at me for a moment, then said, “Ah, how about the fact you couldn’t read until fourth grade!”
Oh right, that.
It had been years since I thought about my learning issues in elementary school. But it’s true. Back in first grade, I was placed into remedial reading. While my friends were thriving, I struggled with reading. By second grade, I was tested to figure out what was going on. One of my earliest memories was going into this school and sitting in a room. I remember being so frustrated with myself. I felt like there had to be something wrong with me. Everybody else can read, why couldn’t I?
As I tell students now, there wasn’t anything “wrong” with me. My brain just worked different than other people. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and auditory processing issues. Whenever I share this, there is always at least one student who sits up a little straighter or throw their hands in the air and exclaim, “I have dyslexia, too!” Excited that they have something in common with an author.
Which is exactly why I talk about it now. Back in the ye olden times when I was in elementary school, learning differences weren’t something that was discussed. Truthfully, there wasn’t a lot of resources. Even the term “auditory processing issue” wasn’t used yet. We were just told that I was a better visual learner and I had to double check if I was given verbal instructions. Even my older siblings weren’t aware of how much I struggled. It was sort of my deep dark secret. My teachers knew how to help me, but I often felt like I was alone in it all. I recently found my old report cards from grade school and saw that I was nearly failing reading up until sixth grade. A few teacher comments referred to my lack of self-confidence and poor reading comprehension.
Something finally clicked for me around eighth grade. By the time I got to high school, I became a good student, eventually graduating with honors. Every once in awhile my issues would flare up, especially if I wasn’t paying attention or tired. So I sort of put it in the past. That was then, this is now.
Then my middle-grade debut, The Great Shelby Holmes, came out and I found myself face-to-face with elementary students. I remember being so nervous the first time I shared my learning differences. But the reactions I would get—not only from the students, but from teachers—made me realize I should’ve been talking about it all along.
When I started working on my new middle-grade series, Scared Silly, I decided to have one of the characters have my same learning differences. Many of Regan’s experiences in the books—from being frustrated to dreading math exams—come from my own. So many memories from that time started flooding back, like the time I had to read aloud and mispronounced cupboard as “cup-board” and my classmates laughed at me. Those scars, they run deep.
I’m proud to share these struggles now. There is no way Elementary School Elizabeth ever thought she’d one day be the author of fourteen (and counting!) books. That she’d get to tour the country speaking to school children and educators. That she’d become a full-time author and move to London. That she’d eventually meet Joey McIntyre. So yes, dreams totally do come true (although I’m still waiting on that date, Joey)!
With the character of Regan—and speaking of my own experiences—I wanted to show that no matter what label you may be given, it won’t stop you from becoming an author…or saving your town from a long-dormant witch’s curse. I’ll be real: Regan has it much worse than Elementary School Elizabeth. What with the monsters and zombies and vampires (Oh my!) that descend upon her hometown of Cauldron’s Cove. But like me, she’s not going to let anybody or anything get in her way of defeating bullies, a possessed science teacher, and those dreaded math tests.
Meet the author
Elizabeth Eulberg is the acclaimed author of over a dozen books for middle grade and young adult readers, including Scared Silly: Curses are the Worst. Her middle-grade debut, The Great Shelby Holmes, has been place on reading lists across the United States, as well as being named by the Chicago Public Library as a “Best of the Best” book for 2016. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Elizabeth currently lives in London where she spends her free time wandering the secret side streets in her neighborhood and dreaming up her next adventures—both fictional and in real life.
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About Curses are the Worst (Scared Silly #1)
Goosebumps meets The Baily School Kids in this young middle-grade series about four unlikely friends who must band together to save their town from an evil curse!
WARNING: This book contains a very scary and silly story about a long-dormant witch’s curse that’s been unleashed on the unsuspecting town of Cauldron’s Cove. It’s revenge, over three hundred years in the making. (Hey, better late than never!)
When Regan, Sofia, Bennett, and Darius unfairly get put into detention, they know something is wrong. And they’re right: This detention is far from ordinary. Their science teacher, Ms. Stein, believes that by using these kids’ DNA she can create an army of “perfect” students who have Sofia’s smarts, Regan’s heart, Bennett’s likeability, and Darius’s loyalty. Soon the clones are wreaking havoc around town and getting the real kids in trouble!
Will the kids be able to save the town or will they be cursed for eternity? There’s only one way to find out and fair warning, dear reader, you should definitely read this with the lights on.
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/07/2023
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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