Monday, September 8, 2014

Be A Changemaker ~ Blog Tour! Author Interview! Book Giveaway!

Today I'm kicking off the BlogTour for a brand new book - and offering readers a chance to win a copy of... 

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters
by Laurie Ann Thompson
240 pages; ages 12 & up
Simon Pulse/Beyond Words, 2014

We’ve all done it: thought, “someone should do something about (fill in the blank)”. But here’s the secret: if you want something to change, you might have to be the changemaker.

The cool thing: you don’t have to be a president or congressman to be a changemaker. You don’t even have to be “old”.

In Be a Changemaker, Laurie Thompson profiles young people who saw a need and took action. One 12-year old boy, appalled at how children were forced into labor in slave-like conditions, founded a group that became Free the Children. Another kid formed a club at his school that he called Earth Savers, which grew and evolved into Greening Forward, a group that helps kids develop their own Earth Savers clubs.

Thompson writes about kids who’ve created gang-free community centers, raised money to feed the homeless, developed an acting company focused on preventing accidents, and more. In each chapter she also focuses on specific skills needed to bring about change. Want to know how to conduct interviews and surveys? Check out the chapter on researching your ideas. Need advice on how to raise money through donations and grants? Thompson’s got a chapter on that, too. She also includes personal reflections about everything from raising money selling Girl Scout cookies to taking the plunge to become a writer.

As if that’s not enough, I asked her Three Questions – which she most graciously answered.

Sally: Why did you want to write this book?

Laurie Thompson
Laurie: When I was a child, I desperately wanted to do something important that would make the world a better place. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do something like that… or any inkling that I even could! I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could go out and make a difference. I didn’t end up realizing that dream until I was in my 30s, and by then I wanted to help make sure no one else would have to wait so long.

Sally: I really like the structure: profile of a change-maker; a "how you can do it"; and your reflections. Can you talk about the process of writing the book and how you came to this structure?

Laurie: I knew all along that I wanted each chapter to have a profile of a young person or team who was already doing it, followed by hands-on how-to sections so readers could emulate the changemakers profiled, but the “In My Experience” sidebars grew organically during the revision process. There were a few chapters where I kept slipping into a first person point-of-view. I was trying hard to fix and/or remove them, but I was having a hard time saying what I wanted to say in the way I wanted it said. My editor liked those sections and suggested pulling them out and making them sidebars. Once we did that, we decided to make it consistent by doing one for every chapter. I’m a shy, private person, so those sidebars were the hardest parts of the book for me to write! In the end, though, I’m glad we did them. I wanted the book to feel like an honest conversation, and I think those personal experiences add a touch of vulnerability and authenticity that helps keep it real and engaging.

Sally: So, are you a "change-maker?" 

Laurie: I never would have thought that I would be, and despite having important roles at big companies, co-founding a technology startup, volunteering countless hours at many organizations, and a commitment to philanthropy, I never used to feel like one. Now, I do. Being the co-regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators of Western Washington for three years was my first taste of really being a changemaker. I had the good fortune of inheriting a strong, healthy organization, so I didn’t have to build anything from the ground up, but we did make a lot of small changes and put our marks on it, and I know it made a difference in the lives of writers and illustrators in our region and also in the lives of the children (and adults) who will get to enjoy their great work. And, of course, I hope that putting this book out into the world will have a wide-reaching ripple effect of positive change around the world, both through the projects readers launch now and in the changes in their later lives as a result of that early empowerment.

Sally: Question three-and-a-half ~  What’s your next book? 

Laurie: My first nonfiction picture book, Emmanuel’s Dream, comes out in January of 2015. It’s a biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born in Ghana with one leg. In his early twenties, he rode a bicycle nearly 400 miles to change the way disabilities in his country were perceived.

Sally: Wow! He sounds like a changemaker!

You can learn more about Laurie at her blog, 

Book Giveaway Rules: All you need to do is leave a comment. Then email me so that if you win I can contact you. send email to sueheaven (at) gmail (dot) com. Book giveaway is open only to US residents.

And Please visit the rest of the stops on Be a Changemaker blog tour

Tues, Sept 9 ~ at Girl Scout Leader 101 
Wed, Sept 10 ~ at Unleashing Readers 
Thurs, Sept 11 ~ at Teen Librarian Toolbox
Fri, Sept 12 ~ at The Nonfiction Detectives
   and Kirby's Lane   
Sat, Sept 13 ~ at The Styling Librarian  
Mon, Sept 15 ~ at NC Teacher Stuff   
Tues, Sept 16 ~ at The Hiding Spot 
Wed, Sept 17 ~ at Kid Lit Frenzy   
Thurs, Sept 18 ~ at GreenBeanTeenQueen   
Sat. Sept 20  ~ at Elizabeth O. Dulemba  

Whew! I hope I got everyone on the list. Have fun! Review ARC provided by Blue Slip Media.


  1. Sue, thanks so much for profiling Laurie and her brilliant-sound book. I know many young people who are anxious to make a bigger difference in the world around them . . . . This book will be an inspiration (and practical guide) to them -- and many of their elders. Can't wait to read it!

    1. I just love the idea that we can be changemakers at any age. So if kids aren't too young, then I'm not to old!

  2. This book sounds like it could be wonderful inspiration for kids thinking about Scouting or other community service projects. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Wendy... your suggestion that it could be useful for scouting projects has merit.

  3. Thank you so much, Sue! I loved answering your interview questions. :)

  4. I can't wait to read this book. I love to read good news about people, especially kids, who are helping others and their world. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  5. Wow! Just - Wow! What an incredible young lady and a great interview Ms Heavenrich. I love seeing things about kids doing good instead of kids gone bad. Thanks!

  6. Sounds like a terrific book Sue! I look forward to reading it--wish I'd had it as an idealistic teen!
    Lindsey McDivitt

  7. Congratulations to Rhythm for winning a copy of the Changemakers - it'll be on its way to you shortly.