Interview and Giveaway with Author Erica S. Perl, A Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner!

The Mixed-Up Files is  thrilled to be a part of the Sydney Taylor Book Blog Tour:

Named in memory of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series, the STB award recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.


Huge congratulations to author Erica S. Perl for her Sydney Taylor Honor Award

in the Older Readers category for her book,


All Three Stooges  (Knopf BFYR) 


An unforgettable coming-of-age story about comedy, loss, and friendship for fans of Jennifer L. Holm and Gary D. Schmidt.

Spoiler alert: This book is not about the Three Stooges. It’s about Noah and Dash, two seventh graders who are best friends and comedy junkies. That is, they were best friends, until Dash’s father died suddenly and Dash shut Noah out. Which Noah deserved, according to Noa, the girl who, annoyingly, shares both his name and his bar mitzvah day.

Now Noah’s confusion, frustration, and determination to get through to Dash are threatening to destroy more than just their friendship. But what choice does he have? As Noah sees it, sometimes you need to risk losing everything, even your sense of humor, to prove that gone doesn’t have to mean “gone for good.”

Equal parts funny, honest, and deeply affecting, All Three Stooges is a book that will stay with readers long after the laughter subsides.



“Perl has created a moving coming-of-age journey steeped in Jewish traditions and comedic history, elegantly balancing humor with an honest look at the impact of suicide. Noah’s genuine voice and tricky situation will have readers pulling for him.”–Publishers Weekly

“This novel is excellent on multiple fronts. A satisfying story that will appeal to all middle grade readers.”–SLJ

“Watching Noah repeatedly sliding on a banana peel (even, once, literally) gives readers plenty of occasions to wince, to chortle, and ultimately, to applaud.”–Booklist

“A welcome portrayal of a very difficult situation’s impact on someone not ready to deal with it—and there are plenty of funny moments to make it all easier to take.”–Horn Book


We are delighted to welcome to Erica  to the Mixed-Up Files blog:

Erica, Your book looks delightful. Can you tell us how you came up with this idea? Does it relate to anything growing up, etc?

 All Three Stooges is about two comedy-obsessed seventh grade boys, Noah and Dash. I started writing this book when my younger child was preparing to become a bat mitzvah. When she was little, her best friend’s father died by suicide. So, I knew very early on that Dash’s dad would take his own life and that his death would affect Noah as well as Dash. This allowed me to tell the story through Noah’s perspective and show him making a series of misguided choices in a desperate attempt to reconnect with Dash. Noah, whose comfort zone is being a funny guy, has to learn empathy and how to be a mensch through a painful trial-and-error process.


Tell us a little about the story and how your characters evolved. They seem so funny and real.  

I researched the book by hanging out at my temple’s mid-week religious school, taking notes and trying to be a fly on the wall. I also drove the Hebrew school carpool a lot. And I volunteered at a grief camp for kids, and interviewed several teens who had lost loved ones to suicide. It was important to capture their pain, but also to capture the levity that is a defining quality of most kids this age – even those who are grieving.


Your book deals with some pretty heavy topics, but does so with a bit of comedy. Do you feel its important to balance the emotions of the book? 

Absolutely. In writing All Three Stooges, I needed to make sure it never felt like I was trivializing loss or pain. But at the same time, I deeply believe in the power of laughter to connect people and to heal. At grief camp, our tradition is to start off by giving the kids cans of seltzer and letting them shake them up, then explode them on themselves and others. That release – of fizzy water as well as laughter – gives them permission to also let out the darker bottled up emotions. That was precisely the balance I wanted to strike in this book (and why I made seltzer Dash’s dad’s favorite beverage).


I have to ask, are you a Three Stooges fan? 

 Not exactly. BUT I do have favorite Stooges clips. And I discovered after the book came out that I had a relative named Paul “Mousie” Gardner who was one of many original Stooges in their vaudeville days (before the Three Stooges went on to stardom in Hollywood).


What does it mean to you to win the Sydney Taylor Honor Award? 

It means the world to me. When I was little, All of a Kind Family was one of the first books I read about a Jewish family (the other was The Carp in the Bathtub). As a writer and a reader, I care deeply about the importance of accurately showing the Jewish experience to the world, so to see a Sydney Taylor silver medal on All Three Stooges makes my heart soar.


The Sydney Taylor Book Award is sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries 

More information about the award  and a list of all of the winners can be found here: The Sydney Taylor Book Site

Learn about all of the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners by reading about them on the other Blog Tour sites listed here


But wait, there’s more, Erica has graciously offered to do a giveaway of her book. Please post your  comments about the book or congratulations to Erica below to be entered for a chance to win a free autographed copy of  All Three Stooges 


Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas + Giveaway

Today is World Cancer Day, devoted to raising awareness of the disease and supporting those individuals and their families who are facing it head on. And that’s exactly what MUF contributor, Andrea Pyros, has done with her newly released novel, Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. We’re pleased to interview Andrea and to shine a light on this heartfelt and important book, especially today:



Twelve-year-old Josephine has a lot on her plate―best friend issues, first crush issues, divorced parent issues, twin brother issues . . . and then her mom hits her with news that shakes her to her core: a breast cancer diagnosis. Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know―not even her best friend. Sharing the news means it’s actually real, and that’s something she’s not ready to face. Plus it would mean dealing with the stares―and pity―of her classmates. She got enough of that when her parents split up. Unfortunately for Josephine, her twin brother, Chance, doesn’t feel the same way. And when Chance dyes his hair pink to support his mom, the cat is out of the bag. Suddenly Josephine has to rethink her priorities. Does getting an invite to the party of the year matter when your mom is sick? And what if it does matter? Does that make her a monster?



Andrea Pyros is the author My Year of Epic Rock, which was called “a perfect read for anyone who feels BFF-challenged” by Booklist and “a charming addition to upper elementary and middle school collections” by School Library Journal. Andrea has written extensively for young adults, starting with her stint as co-founder of the pop culture website Girls on Film and then as a senior-level editor at a variety of teen magazines. A native of New York City, Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children. For more information, visit her at


Read the interview and scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win a signed copy of Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. Good luck! (This giveaway is only available in the United States.)

Why was it so important to you to write a book about cancer?

When I was in sixth grade, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. On top of feeling worried for her and scared about what might happen to me if something happened to her, I also felt guilty, because I still had regular middle school kid concerns, like about friends and crushes and school. That seemed wrong, somehow. I wrote Pink Hair… because I wanted kids like me to know it’s totally normal to still think about themselves when a loved one is sick. Life keeps going!

Aside from your own experiences in middle school, was there anything else that sparked the idea for Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas?

The idea was born when I saw an article about a student who’d dyed his hair pink in honor of his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and his school suspended him. I was shocked. Like, here’s someone coping with a parent’s illness and trying to do something positive and he was being punished for it. I was nowhere as brave as this kid. When my mother got sick I was embarrassed to talk about it and didn’t want people to know. That’s why I gave Josephine a twin brother who copes in a vastly different way than she does to their mother’s news—none of us deal in the exact same way when facing a hard time.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

I drew quite a bit on my own experience as a child and my memories of my mother’s surgery, and how scary that time was for her and for me. I also spoke with a breast cancer surgeon to learn more about how breast cancer is treated today, compared to back in the 80s. Things have changed quite a bit in how we speak about and understand cancer.

What was your greatest challenge in writing this story of Josephine?

Josephine is a confusing and messy person. She loves her mom and twin brother, but she’s also mad at them and frustrated, and doesn’t always behave the “right” way with them. I wanted to make her real and human, but it’s hard when your main character sometimes does things you don’t approve of.

Have you ever dyed your hair pink?

I WISH! I’ve been thinking about it, but I’m intimated by the upkeep. 🙂

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process with this book?

Sure! I had a writing group, which is a fantastic motivator. We’d meet every other week and share pages and give each other feedback on our projects. Their notes really helped, as did the enforced deadlines, because otherwise it’s too easy for my fiction writing to get pushed to the side by other job projects, time with my family, or just goofing off. I worked on the first draft with them, and then wrote the first revision with my writing group, as well.

What are some of your favorite writing tips?

My writing tips that work for me (but may not work for you, so take these with a grain of salt): 1) When I’m writing, I block social media on my computer so I’m not distracted quite so easily. 2) I remind myself that a first draft is going to sound clunky and stilted. Don’t panic, it’s going to take shape over time! 3) People write in all sorts of ways—between work and family obligations, or they write during lunch breaks or just on weekends or for thirty minutes in the morning. Whatever it is you’re doing to get words onto paper, you do you. There’s no wrong way to write.

Thanks so much, Andrea, for taking the time out to share a bit about Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway