Jacket Flap Copy from Book:
Rube Goldberg was a real cartoonist who got
really, really, really famous by inventing a
WHOLE lot of crazy, brilliant, impractical
None of which ever got made.
Does that make any sense?
It will after you read the book!
Like all publication stories, my story starts with some longing. It is bolstered by back story. And has an amazing open ending that I hope will make you think.
First, the longing.
I’ve written about this many times. It is a story I tell when I talk about the power of play.
It was Sept 2014. I had just received a really rough rejection for a YA novel that I had poured my heart into. That novel, Strong Girl, represented the kind of writer I yearned to be—the writer of important books and tough topics.
As we all know, rejections are not created equal.
This one was tough.
But I was lucky. I was teaching at the Highlights Foundation. I had no time for wallowing. I was doing my favorite work—helping others find their stories.
So I walked. I probably cried. And then I decided to change the way I did things. I decided to write what made me happy. I gave myself six months to play—to write for fun—not for publication.
Just Like Rube Goldberg came from this challenge!
When I think about it now, I could have found this idea a lot earlier, if I’d been looking. I have this memory of the first time I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the Rube Goldberg-style breakfast maker in that film. I love Back to the Future. And I’m pretty sure I read Rube’s Foolish Questions at an impressionable age.
But the spark (or should I say sparkle!) came after hearing Tami Lewis Brown read from her picture book biography. Do we really ever know why an idea finds us? All I know: I worked hard. The voice came naturally. (I think my career has been a bit like a Rube Goldberg contraption!) I sent it to my agent. I begged her to hurry—I had a feeling that this book was being written by others.
And it worked out!
Allyn Johnston bought it. Robert Neubecker agreed to illustrate. We did not talk about Rube AT ALL, but somehow, he knew how to illustrate my words. I still can’t look at the book without getting a bit weepy, and for the record, when I’ve read it to kids, they giggle like crazy! Someone usually falls out of his or her chair!
I can’t wait to bring this book to classrooms! I know that the power of play—and some Goldbergian magic—changed how I approached writing for children. Not all my ideas sell—not by a long shot! But when I sit down to imagine, I think like Rube Goldberg. Creativity is a gift. Revision is a challenge. A Rube Goldberg chain reaction may disregard the laws of physics, but they always make sense on paper! Just like our stories!
Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published three stand-alone novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe. Her most recent books are part of a new young MG series, The Wish List (Scholastic, 2017-2019) as well as the picture book biography, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Robert Neubecker.
When Sarah is not writing or reading (or cooking or riding her bike), she is talking to readers about creativity, writing, social action, and of course, sparkle power! She loves working with other writers in one of her classes at the amazing or Writers on the Net ( She serves as the PAL coordinator for Illinois as is heading up the Read Local initiative. She loves sports. She overuses exclamation points. When she’s excited, she talks with her hands.
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