Interview with Author, S.J. Henderson

S.J. Henderson is the author of Daniel the Draw-er and Daniel the Camp-er (Daniel the Draw-er, Book 2), the first two books in her middle grade series that I highly recommend. 


 Daniel the Draw-er was a 2015 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest Finalist, and her books have been compared to the 'Captain Underpants' series (minus the "potty humor") and is "hailed as the younger sibling" of the 'Wimpy Kid' series. 

I recently listened to Daniel the Camp-er in my car (and I don't have kids!). As I drove, I kept imagining the chuckles I'd hear from the backseat if boys were in the car listening with me. Audio books are a great way to re-shape reading for boys so they will read and thrive. Click to read "Girls Outperform Boys: 3 Reasons to Worry.  

Here's my five-star review to give you a sense of what people are saying about S.J. Henderson's books on Amazon: 

One of my passions is finding books that 9- to 14-year-old boys will want to read. Because reading for 30 minutes a day is critical for boys to thrive, I'm always looking for books in a variety of mediums and forms that they may like. For that reason, I purchased the audio book of 'Daniel the Camp-er' and listened to it in my car over the last three weeks. I wanted to see if it was a book that would engage a boy while he was sitting in a car driving from one activity to another. 

I have to say, I really like Daniel, and I know boys ages 9 to 11 will too. S.J. Henderson captured the essence of this age group with the humor she uses and the way she has Daniel question and reflect on the world around him. Without a doubt, 'Daniel the Camp-er' is definitely a book I will be recommending to parents and educators who want to get boys reading. ​

Hillary Tubin
Best-Selling Amazon Author

I interviewed S.J. Henderson to find out her inspiration for the 'Daniel the Draw-er' series, and it definitely didn't surprise me to find out that she is the mom of four boys. I hope her answers (and humor) inspire you to check out her books and share them with the boys in your life. 

1. Did you read for pleasure growing up?

S.J. Henderson: I absolutely loved to read, and I remember spending every dime I had on books from the Scholastic order form. I would have been in huge trouble had Kindles been a thing when I was a kid.

I loved the Narnia books, pretty much everything by Beverly Cleary, and a book called BEHIND THE ATTIC WALL by Sylvia Cassedy. That last one was about a girl who discovered a creepy haunted doll family in her aunt’s attic. So good I read it a few times, and I’m not a repeat-reader.

I don’t remember having a favorite reading spot. I read wherever, whenever I could. This may or may not have included during math class (oops!).

2. How has reading books opened your world to what’s possible and shaped your life?

S.J. Henderson: Anything is possible in books—especially for younger readers who embrace the impossible so much easier than adults. I love living other lives and visiting places I wouldn’t get to otherwise.

3. What made you decide to become a writer for middle grades?

S.J. Henderson: Writing for middle graders was never in my plan. I began writing Young Adult novels, which is my favorite to read. The shift to middle grade happened when, once upon a time, I took part in an online writing class where I was given the task of writing a short story for my audience.

I had a hard time determining who my audience was, so I decided to write a story for my boys. Feedback on the story was so overwhelmingly positive, I decided to see where it would lead. Two years and two books later, here we are.

4. What was your inspiration for writing the 'Daniel the Draw-er' series?

S.J. Henderson: My boys were (and still are) the inspiration for my Daniel the Draw-er series. The main character, Daniel, reflects little bits and pieces of each of my children: William’s love of drawing and his female best (and, for a while, only) friend; Ethan’s love of pizza; the social issues we face as a family living on the autism spectrum; the unanimous hate of my meatloaf (even though is really is sooooo yummy).

My son Ethan sat next to me as I wrote the first chapter of the first book, and as I wrote he laughed at all of the funny parts. That’s when I knew I was on the right track. Not much better inspiration than that!

5. When middle grade boys read your books, what do you hope they come to understand about what it means to be human?

S.J. Henderson: My goal with the Daniel the Draw-er series was just to be silly! Kids have such a short time to be young—why not tap into their imaginations? Unintentionally, and quite organically, the books end up teaching lessons about friendship, sharing, and not being afraid of things (or people) that are different. But, mostly, it’s just good, clean fun.

6. Can we expect a third book in the series?

S.J. Henderson: Yes! There will be another book—and hopefully more than that!

7. If so, would you mind sharing a bit about what this book has in store for us? 

S.J. Henderson: I’m still very much in the planning stages of book three, so I promise it will be just as goofy and just as magical. There’s not much more to say yet. Stop by to sign up for my e-mail list. I’ll update subscribers with all the latest Daniel happenings as they… happen.

8. Final Question: what are a few of your favorite things? 

S.J. Henderson: I lovelovelove horses, foo-foo coffee, going to the movies, and singing. I’m also a big fan of yoga pants and silly t-shirts.

Your Turn : Let me know if you and your son checked out S.J. Henderson's humorous and imaginative books and what you thought.

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Hillary Tubin

Hi, I’m Hillary Tubin, the straight-talking Boy-Responsive Literacy Consultant for parents ready for a different approach so that their 9-14-year-old sons WILL read books: no gimmicks, quick fixes or one size fits all.