Omega Writers

CALEB Early Reader and Middle Grade Winner: How Not To Be Popular

Cecily Anne Paterson was the winner of the Early Reader and Middle Grade section of the CALEB Awards in 2021, with her book, How Not To Be Popular. We sat down with Cecily after her win and asked her a few questions about her book and her process.

Q. What’s your book about?

Maddie, 11 years old and in Year 6 at Kangaroo Valley Public School would like nothing more than to be amongst it with the popular group of girls at her school, but they don’t have the same opinion. They’d prefer to use her to play ‘jokes’ on chicken-loving Tahlia, the odd girl at school. How Not To Be Popular is a story of friendship, conscience and doing the right thing – even when it’s tough, and is part of the Kangaroo Valley School series of four books for girls aged 9-12.

Q. What inspired you to start writing

At the age of 8, I won a writing competition against children older than me, and vowed one day I would write novels. After my fourth child was born, I thought I’d probably better come good on the vow and began at the age of 37. I like to tell stories of ‘braveheart’ girls. My stories are very much about real life, character and relationships. I make sure I have a mentor for all the girls in my stories, and while the ending isn’t necessarily always ‘happy’ it’s always hopeful. I wanted to make sure that there were books out there for 11 year old girls who needed a friend (because we’ve all been there!) so I decided to write them. Recently I’ve ventured down the age group into junior readers for 5-8 year olds doing the Pet Sitters series in collaboration with Penny Reeve.

Q. Who is the audience?

I write for a general, non-Christian audience, and specifically girls aged 9-13. How Not To Be Popular will do well with 9 year old who are good readers, to up to 12 or 13 year olds. I do have one committed fan who’s a boy, aged 12. This book was one of the first he read on his own, cover to cover. It’s a surprise to me, but a happy surprise.

Q. How do I hope the book will affect people?

I hope to inspire girls to think through their friendships and strive for good character and good decisions. I want them to gain wisdom, find their own voice, and be prepared to stand up for what’s right.

Q. Where can people get your book?

How Not To Be Popular can be ordered through your local bookstore. It’s also at my website, at Wombat Books, in paperback or eBook on Amazon, Book Depository and Booktopia.

We hope you’ll check out Cecily’s winning title and leave a review for her. Congratulations to  Cecily and all our winners.