Publishers' Preview: Spring 2022: Five Questions for Dhonielle Clayton

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2022, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Ella knows she has certain powers but never considered that she might actually be among The Marvellers. A special school helps her find out just how extensive her talents might be.

1. Which Paragon would you most likely be?

I believe I would be a Paragon of Vision. They are big nerds, studious, disciplined, and reliable. They have marvels related to knowledge and wisdom. Many can see the future and make predictions based on what they foresee. Their motto is: the eyes are wise!

2. What is your favorite magic-school story?

There are so many beautiful ones that have been foundational to the canon of children’s books. But if I had to pick one that continues to live in my heart, I’d have to shout out The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Originally published in 1974, it features the most lovable little clumsy witch named Mildred Hubble, whom I adored as a young reader.

3. Your most memorable roommate?

A hedgehog named Samosa. My college roommate was studying to become a vet tech, so there were always loads of creatures in the house, including this pesky hedgehog who would get stuck in many places.

4. Who was/is your Masterji Thakur?

When I was in middle school, my favorite teacher and mentor was my sixth-grade social studies teacher, Ms. Zolghad. She patiently answered every annoying question and challenged me to investigate all of my interests. I still remember all the fascinating things we learned in her class. My favorite project was researching the history and culture of Ukraine, and the fruits of that knowledge show up in The Marvellers in the form of highly prized pysanka-like eggs that hatch new universes.

5. Tell me one thing about the next book in the series that will make readers want to read the first.

Prepare for Marvel Combat, the Marvellians’ sport! A duel of light where young Paragon champions “battle it out with bright stapiers [think magical rapiers] until they reach the final rounds and get to use their very own channellors to best their opponents.”

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Photo: Jess Andree.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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