Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's from curiosity that we learn, invent, discover, and create.
From this premise and author Tory Christie's passion to encourage young people--especially girls--to explore science, The Curious McCarthy four-book set was born.
Ten-year-old Curious, whose real name is Curie (after Marie, the scientist), is one of seven kids with an English teacher mom and an engineer dad. The family and other characters are introduced with humor in illustrations by Mina Price at the beginning of the books.
In Curious McCarthy's Electric Ideas, the electricity goes off at the McCarthy home, leading Curious to be, well, curious, about electricity. Where does it come from? How does it work? She develops a hypothesis and tries to beat her trouble-maker little brother, John Glenn, in figuring it out. She also tries to beat a schoolmate in the annual arm wrestling championship. You'll have to read it to find out what happens.
This is a fiction book, yet the author includes footnotes. You say you skip those? Oh, don't! These are full of humor and tangential information. Be careful as you read, though, or you might learn something about electricity. Kids will love the school and family situations and great humor throughout.
Each book can stand alone, but contains the same family of characters. Other books in the set:
Author Tory Christie, pen name of Victoria Christensen and Dakotas-Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) member agreed to answer a few questions.
Jane: What would you like our readers to know?
Tory: I think science should be fun and I hope that the Curious McCarthy books reflect that. I'd love to see more kids (and adults) approach the world with a sense of curiosity and wonder.
Jane: I love Curious McCarthy’s Electric Ideas and look forward to reading the other 3 titles in this set! Which one did you write first and what was the spark (pun intended) for the characters and plot?
Tory: Thank you so much for the feedback. I hope you love the other three titles just as much! I wrote the Power of Observation first. It was based on the true story of when I went to a new school. I don't want this to be a spoiler, so I won't spill the beans on what happens in that first book. You'll just have to read the story! Every book is loosely based on true events and the characters are based on my family. Oh ... wait ... the books are fiction ... really. Let's just say that my childhood and my large family gave me a lot of inspiration for the characters in the Curious McCarthy books. As for the plot, that is based on my quest to become a real scientist, even though I didn't have any science role models as a kid.
Jane: Usually when an author turns a manuscript in to an editor, it takes a year or more before it’s actually ready for publication. Your story is much different! Tell us about it.
Tory: Curious McCarthy started out as a picture book in the spring of 2016, believe it or not. I sent it to an agent who loved the voice, but thought it was better material for a chapter book. So, I spent a few weeks revising. In June of 2016, I brought the book to a SCBWI in Fargo to have it critiqued by editor Julie Gassman of Capstone Publishing. She introduced herself as the youngest in a family of nine, and I knew right then that she would "get" the humor of being part of a large family. She asked for the full manuscript right away. I wrote Family Chemistry and Electric Ideas as I waited for an answer. Before I knew it, I had a four book contract and spent much of the fall of 2016 working with Julie and Capstone's team on editing the first three books and writing the fourth, Not-So-Perfect Pitch.
Jane: Are you working on more science-related books? What should we watch for from you?
Tory: Right now I am working on two children's non-fiction books that are more closely related to my career as a scientist. The first is on Renewable Energy and the second is called Where's the Water? They should be published some time this spring.
Jane: Are you more like Curious McCarthy or like John Glenn? ;)
Tory: Really? John Glenn and I have nothing in common!
Jane: Hmm...I'm curious about that, Tory. I'll have to read the other books and get to know you better to find out if you're telling the truth! I'll watch for your other books, too! Thanks for the interview!