NEWBERRY — Aspiring journalists honed their craft at Newberry Elementary School recently as the student news crew from the NES Morning Show interviewed NY Times bestselling author Joseph Monninger.
Connecting from their school Media Center, students conversed with Monninger at his New Hampshire home by using Google+Hangout. This is the first event of its kind for Newberry Elementary School, and the author agreed to conduct another interview with next year’s students.
To prepare for the 25 minute interview, Tazmyne Holley, Asia Wheeler, Jacob Wilber, Christopher Tellez-Lucas and Rayahna Lindsay each read a book from Monninger’s Stay Alive Series of survival books.
Under the direction of Coach Peggy Cwiakala, the fifth grade team prepped the interview for three weeks, reading from articles about the author’s life and background. They learned that Monninger’s family had a sled dog business and raced in the New England Sled Dog sprint races. They also learned he served in the Peace Corps and is currently a professor of English at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.
NES students prepared three questions each and practiced their interview format. Time was allowed for follow-up questions, and students engaged in a lively banter with the author. NES students questioned him about his many awards, his teaching, fly-fishing and sled dog business and his magazine writing for Scientific American and Sports Illustrated.
Students were invited on a video tour of his farm and writing shed, his ceiling level library accessible only by catwalk, and his open fields. They talked with his son Justin, a dog musher and sled racer and aspiring author, and they particularly enjoyed meeting the family cat and the retired sled dog, Laika.
NES students wanted to know why Monninger preferred cold weather, and they asked him a variety of questions about his early morning schedule and his personal interests.
The Morning Show Crew was interested to learn more about the author’s Peace Corps background where he served in Africa, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) from 1975-77 as a well digger. There Monninger’s experiences with snakes and car accidents formed the basis for some of his plotlines.
His advice to NES writers was to put in their 10,000 hours of practice, and to accept failure and move on and not become discouraged. In response to their questions about his favorite books, he referenced at least 10 authors, including Joseph Conrad. This month Monninger signed and donated two new books to the NES Media Center. His work will be featured next year for a special exhibit.