Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA
Tony Johnston is a gifted author for children and young adults. She is known for her 120 plus picturebooks; however, her poetry and novels also receive positive reviews. Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with Tony about her newest novel, Beast Rider, experiences that inform her writing and her writing process.
The clear voice of Manuel narrates his powerful story of how, as a 12-year-old, he left his family in Oaxaca, Mexico to join his older brother, Toño. In Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads, Toño has gone North to Los Angeles on the freight trains know as the Beast. “The Beast is a network of freight trains that move from southern Mexico to the U.S. border. La Bestia is a deadly way to travel. Getting on and staying on are hard in themselves. Sometimes a rider goes to sleep and falls from the train, to be maimed or killed. … Gangs swarm the tops of train cars looking for victims” (from the Authors’ Note). Continue reading