Secret in the Stone (The Unicorn Quest) by Kamilla Benko

Hello, Kamilla Benko! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! What have you been up to since the last time you visited on April 4, 2017?

Kamilla: Hi Mr. Schu, it’s such an honor to be back! In the last year, I’ve lived my wildest author dreams: I launched my debut novel, The Unicorn Quest (which was compared to A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia and even reviewed by the New York Times!), learned and laughed with students as we discussed our favorite fantastical creatures, and I tamed a wild beast of my own creation: Secret in the Stone, book two in the Unicorn Quest trilogy!  I’m so, so excited to share with you the beautiful, gorgeous cover by Vivienne To! 

I am a HUGE fan of Vivienne To’s illustrations. She brings so much energy to every image. What’s your favorite thing about Vivienne’s cover illustration for Secret in the Stone?

Kamilla: Vivienne is the absolute best, and I am so lucky to have her images be the reader’s first introduction into the magical world of Arden!

I don’t know how she does it, but her artwork is always luminous, seeming to be painted with light, rather than just color. I love that she set this cover at twilight, a time of creeping shadows and change. One of the major themes of the Unicorn Quest trilogy is transformation: of how pencil lines change paper into portraits; of how relationships shift within a family; and how fearful hearts grow into courageous ones. 

Vivienne’s cover captures a shift, that nebulous moment that’s not quite day, and not yet night. It perfectly visualizes the story within, where Claire and her sister Sophie are in the middle of incredible, tumultuous change, both personally and how they relate with one another.

Please share three facts about Claire Martinson.

1. Though Claire herself wouldn’t believe it, she is a Gryffindor— of the Neville Longbottom variety! She’s scared of many things that other people would find silly, but because she still chooses to face her fears rather than hide, she is brave beyond measure. 

2. Claire Martinson has curly hair…because I have curly hair! In the books I read growing up, characters rarely had curly hair, and if they did, it never behaved the way curly hair does in real life, where hair frizzes and takes on the consistency of cotton candy. Claire, like me, is very glad Hermione Granger exists and she herself is happy to build up the cannon of bushy-haired girls!

3. Claire’s favorite color is a bright, sunshine yellow...the complement of Sophie’s favorite color, purple!

Please finish these sentence starters:

Story is a bridge between past and present, reality and dreams, you and me.

School libraries are as necessary as oxygen— both grow young hearts and minds.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what are you most excited about in your sequel? The twists!!! I get such a wicked delight in surprising people, but this time, the tables turned, and my characters pulled a surprise on me 48-hours before my deadline! I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of how the story ultimately came together, and I can’t wait to hear what readers think!    

Look for Secret in the Stone on February 19, 2019. 


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