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The Value of True Friendship and Forgiveness

Janice Laakko Author Interview

Gloppy follows a fifth-grade girl who becomes rivals with a new girl at school; friends and school staff work to help the girls overcome their differences. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for Gloppy came from watching interactions between elementary-age students. Mistake-making, teasing, and pranking are common experiences for kids.

I wanted to write a book with believable characters whom readers can identify with. As kids follow the main character’s journey, I hope that they will enjoy the story and develop some helpful strategies for dealing with their own problems.

Dee thinks she has everything figured out when she starts school, only to discover she does not. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Dee is highly intelligent and competitive, but that doesn’t make her immune to social challenges. She makes a big mistake and learns that there are unpleasant consequences for her behavior. As she navigates through the subsequent difficulties, she learns about the value of true friendship and forgiveness. These are some of the ideals I hoped to convey.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are several themes showcased in Gloppy:

  1. How to build and keep friendships.
  2. The importance of making amends to those one has hurt.
  3. The power of forgiveness.
  4. Learning to accept guidance from parents and teachers.
  5. Dispelling the notion that intelligent kids have no problems.
  6. To balance life with a generous dose of humor.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The sequel to Gloppy, called Addition Problems, is already available! Dee’s family is having an addition built, and crazy things start happening! Plus, there is a mystery unfolding; can the reader figure it out? Dee has some interesting and funny experiences in this wild, upside-down summer!

Also, I am now working on Book 3 in the series!

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Fifth-grader Dee Lanson has had it with Samantha’s weird stares! To make matters worse, Samantha wheedles her way into Dee’s friendship circle and flips everything upside down. Dee seeks revenge against her enemy and finds herself in the deepest trouble she has ever been in. On top of that, she’s bored at school and called to the principal’s office so often that the path leading there likely has her name on it! She must find her way out of trouble and win her friends back. But how?

Meanwhile, the fifth-graders are competing in girls vs. boys kickball and softball games. Each team is determined to outscore the other. Things become pretty wild both on and off the field! At home, Dee mixes it up with her little brother, Joey. Will there be any peace?

Gloppy is a heartwarming tale of friendships and forgiveness that will stick with a reader long after the last page has been turned.


Eleven-year-old Dee Lanson has just begun her last year of elementary school. Greeting the new year, Dee looks forward to spending time with her friends and friendly sports competitions between the boys and girls of the fifth grade. But when new girl Samantha seems to be spending more time with Dee’s closest friends, Sue and Ronnie, than she is, Dee begins to feel the deadly stirrings of jealousy deep within her heart. Finding the perfect opportunity to vent her frustrations, Dee takes it upon herself to teach Samantha a lesson she’ll never forget. But when events spiral out of control, Dee finds that there is much more to her rival than she ever thought possible. With the guidance of teacher Ms. Hersh, school counselor Mr. Kent, and Dee’s parents, Dee and Samantha both learn more about each other and themselves as they work towards a solution to solve a problem that can only be described as “gloppy.”

A wonderful slice-of-life story that covers the last year of elementary school, Dee’s coming-of-age adventure is a lighthearted tale that explores the host of new emotions that come with being eleven. Although Dee and Samantha are the indisputable stars of the show, there is also a rich supporting cast of fellow students and teachers. I liked the vibrant personalities of the students, ranging from stalwart Sue to practical joker Pete. I also liked the interactions between Dee’s parents and the fact that there was more to Ms. Hersh than met the eye. Dee is easy to identify with, as she struggles to understand the complex emotions roiling within her. The only detraction I really had was that I wish Dee was a little nicer to her kid brother, but arguments between siblings are normal, and their parents were good mediators.

A tale of friendship and solving problems brought on by overwrought emotions, Gloppy by Janice Laakko is a lighthearted journey through the fifth grade. Gloppy has a joyful tone, excellent storytelling, and a satisfying conclusion, and it’s the perfect choice for readers eight and above who love a solid school-year adventure full of discovery, mischief, and fun.

Pages: 129 | ASIN : B09BW479M9

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