Today, I have one of the main characters from the middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead by C. Lee McKenzie.
Hi, Weasel. Why don't you tell us all a little about yourself?
I'm twelve and I'm in seventh grade. My mom and dad are research scientists in Darby City. That's about ten miles from here. My brother's in college, so I don't see him much until semester break or summer. But that's good because he used to tease me about stuff--called me a brainiac. He was the one that gave me the nickname, Weasel. It stuck and now nobody knows my real name anymore. *Smiles.* That's good, too, because I hated my name. I mean, who's named Wilbur these days?
What's it like taking 8th grade math in 7th grade?
*Shrugs and pushes his glasses higher onto this nose.* It's okay. Not as hard as I thought. The problems I don't like much are those word question ones, like, "Derick is two years older than two times Carl's age. If Carl is x years old . . . ." Well, you see what I mean. Kids in my class give me a hard time about being in a different math class from all of them, but I don't care. They gave me a hard time last year when I aced all the tests in sixth grade.
I hear you're pretty good on a bike. What's your favorite bike trick?
Slides are cool and I like popping wheelies. I was working on Bunnyhops, but my mom said I had to stop after I broke my glasses a couple of times. Most of the time Pete and I just fool around on that bike jump we made in the vacant lot next to his aunt's house. I can jump kind of far, but Pete's really got the distance on me. I'm doing some research to figure out how to beat him. I'll do it one of these days.
What was going through your head when you met Pete to ride bikes and instead of a vacant lot and a bike ramp, there was a huge house that had never been there before?
Wow, you heard about that all the way here? I'm still creeped out about it. I'd stay clear, but you know Pete. He's all about poking his nose anywhere that his aunt tells him not to. That old mansion's trouble. Big trouble. I heard about the legend, but I'm not into superstitous stuff. I mean, I didn't believe any of that story. But now, well I have some thinking to do about that place and what it's doing here after being gone a hundred years. It's got the whole town jittery.
Pete kind of seems like the star of the story, but I have a feeling you played a big part, too. How did your friendship with Pete allow you to have a role in the events that occurred?
Pete hates it in Hadleyville, and he's always getting into trouble, but he's really not a bad kid. He has some soft spots. He sort of saved me from some eighth graders once, so I owe him. That's how I started hanging with him. But you know it's hard being his only friend because he's a disaster magnate. If I had my choice I'd go it alone, but Pete . . . well, he needs me, I guess. If I'm not around to tell him, "Don't do that!" he'll do it, and then Principal Pitt suspends him and his aunt grounds him. Still I'm only one kid, and I can't always steer him in the right direction. In fact, I'm usually up to my eyeballs in his messes. Friendship with Pete is hard work.
What's the craziest thing you and Pete have ever done?
Let me think a minute. *Drums his fingers on his chin.* Well, there's the swamp. He's always trying to drag me down to see if we can spot an alligator. That's pretty crazy and if anybody finds out, we're both grounded. The swamp's off limits to us. Now, there's that creepy mansion he wants to poke around inside of. No way am I doing that.
Now for the fun questions.
Pizza or ice cream? Ice cream for sure.
Gummy bears or gummy worms? Give me bears. I'm not wild about worms.
Swimming or hiking? LOL I'd take hiking, but in this story there lots of swimming going on, so I'll choose that.
Alligators or crocodiles? Alligators. At least I know what to expect from those guys now.
Is there anything you'd like to add, Weasel?
Yes. If Pete comes by don't tell him I was here. I really need to study and he'll want me to do some crazy thing with him and I won't get a chance to say no because he'll make me feel guilty. Just one afternoon of peace would be good. Thanks.
You have my word, Weasel.
Now, enjoy the exciting trailer for Alligators Overhead:
C. Lee is writer who captures the pulse of adolescent confusion in her Young Adult fiction, Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. She admits to revealing a lot of her Old Adult confusion while doing that. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. She lives in California with her husband and assorted animals at the edge of a redwood forest.
Have a question or comment for Weasel or C. Lee?