Author Cynthia Voigt speaks to students at Butterfield Elementary School. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A class of Maricopa fourth graders received a visit from a Newberry Medal-winning author Oct. 23.

One of Cynthia Voigt’s best-known books is called “Homecoming,” but it was only coincidence she appeared in her grandson Max Voigt’s classroom at Butterfield Elementary on Maricopa Unified School District’s Homecoming day.

Voigt took questions from the students, who had prepared their own lists with guidance from teacher Jeewon Chung.

Chung said she told the students to write questions “they actually wanted to know the answer to.”

“They were very good. They were prepared,” Voigt said afterward. “They gave me a good time.”

Some asked questions about plots and characters in her books. Aspiring writers asked about the publication process.

Is writing hard? “Yeah, but it’s never hard enough to make me want to stop,” said Voigt, who has written more than 30 books for children and young adults.

Author Cynthia Voigt reads from her book “Young Fredle” for Mrs. Chung’s class at Butterfield Elementary. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Author Cynthia Voigt reads from her book “Young Fredle” for Mrs. Chung’s class at Butterfield Elementary. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“Part of the reason I don’t get tired of it is I only do it in the mornings,” Voigt said. “It’s what I call a part-time job. If I tried to write full time, I think I would get seriously tired.

“My favorite life was when I had two children and a husband and I was a teacher in the afternoons. In the mornings they all went to school, and I wrote my books. So I had my writing time, my teaching time and my family time. I had everything I wanted,” she said.

Chung also asked her to read from her book “Young Fredle,” published in 2011.

Voigt said she drew inspiration for plots and characters from anything and everyone. “I’m interested in everything,” she said.

Voigt lives in Maine. This was her third trip to Maricopa since her son and his family moved to Arizona from the East Coast last October.

She said she knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she was 14. Her first book was published when she was 39.

That was “Homecoming,” and it was 1981. It was also the first of seven Tillerman books and was made into a film in 1996. The second book in the Tillerman series, “Dicey’s Song” won the coveted Newbery Medal.

Voigt has won 10 more awards since.

Her latest book is the third in the “Mister Max” series and was released in September. The “Max” trilogy is about a 12-year-old boy searching for his missing parents. But wait. Is “Max” based by her grandson Max?

Max Voigt slowly shook his head at the sudden attention from classmates while his grandmother waved her hands. “No, no. I just liked the name,” she said.

Are you famous? “Not as famous as I used to be.”

This story was published in the November issued of InMaricopa News.


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