StoryMakers with Leila Sales THE CAMPAIGN
Politics is personal — even for kids. It affects our homes, our health, and the people we love most. On StoryMakers, Join middle-grade author, Leila Sales as she talks about her timely book, The Campaign, activism and what it takes to become an engaged citizen.
ABOUT the Book
Veep meets Parks and Recreation in this hilarious illustrated middle-grade political comedy about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign for mayor
For 12-year-old Maddie Polansky, the only good part of school is art class. And though she’s never paid much attention to politics, when she learns that the frontrunner for mayor of her city intends to cut funding for the arts in public schools, the political suddenly becomes very personal. So Maddie persuades her babysitter, Janet, to run for mayor against Lucinda Burghart, an art-hating bad guy. Soon, Maddie is thrust into the role of campaign manager, leading not only to humor and hijinks but to an inspiring story for young readers that talks about activism and what it takes to become an engaged citizen. Maddie and Janet’s adventures on the campaign trail are illustrated by copious black-and-white drawings throughout the book.
I was born on April 20, 1984, and I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with my parents and our cat. When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a writer, actress, or singer. The writing part turned out to be easiest to accomplish since it turns out I can’t really carry a tune, though I can do a not-bad karaoke rendition of “Hey Mickey.”
I wrote and illustrated approximately one million picture books when I was in elementary school, all of them about unicorns or cats or princesses, or princess unicorns who were best friends with princess cats. When I was seven, I wrote a longer story about quintuplets named Marissa, Larissa, Clarissa, Melissa, and Alyssa. The quintuplets were not princesses, but they did get invited to a royal ball.
During middle school and high school, I wrote five unpublished YA novels. I also acted in plays, competed in gymnastics meets and debate tournaments, babysat, and did an awful lot of schoolwork. My favorite school subject was math, and my worst subject was either science or Spanish.
I went to college at the University of Chicago, where I majored in psychology. I also performed in Off-Off Campus (an improvisational and sketch comedy troupe), competed in debate tournaments all over the world, helped judge the world’s largest scavenger hunt, and wrote a humor column for the school paper. And I wrote another unpublished YA novel, for which I was awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for Fiction Writing.
After graduating, I got a job at a children’s book publishing company in New York City. I worked there for more than eleven years, and I got to edit lots of critically acclaimed and bestselling books by talented authors including Max Brallier, Gayle Forman, Sally Green, Viola Davis, Greg Pizzoli, and many more.
My first novel, Mostly Good Girls, was published in 2010, and since then, I’ve just kept working on more. Now my books have been translated into a dozen different languages, and I’ve gotten to speak about writing and books to students as well as industry professionals all over the world.
In 2018, I left my full-time editorial job to focus on my own writing and to launch a book development and editorial consulting agency called The Book Engineer. Basically, I get to make books exist. What could be better? I’m now usually in Austin, but I love to travel, so I’m also often in NYC, sometimes in Boston, and occasionally anywhere else that sounds interesting.
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