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'Judy Moody' author shares experiences and advice

Megan McDonald has been a bookworm her entire life. Her childhood memories are largely filled with black ink on paper worn by fingerprints and bookmarks. Even today, McDonald is buried in books.

But now those books are filled with her own words.

McDonald has penned more than 70 books, many of which are part of her "Judy Moody" series. The film adaptation of "Judy Moody and the not Bummer Summer" premieres in theaters June 10.

After years of writing children's books, McDonald reflects on her first experiences with getting lost in fiction.

"I started as a reader first. I just loved reading, then being a writer grew out of that," she said, adding that she later went to college to be a librarian. "I worked in a library where a children's conference was held, and that drew me in as well. I got an inspiration that it would be fun to try and write my own book."

And that's when it all began. By turning her passion for children's fiction into an exploratory writing career, McDonald shared her childhood experiences through Moody.

"I grew up with four sisters, so I wanted to tell some of the funny stories," she said. "It started out with stories of my own life, but then Judy took on a character of her own."

Through the series, McDonald has drawn readers to love and grow with Moody, a third-grader with a vibrant imagination and named for her range of moods. And now, McDonald has made Moody a movie star.

Regardless of the medium, McDonald has molded Moody's fictional life as close to reality as possible, while hoping to instill real-life values, lessons and experiences.

"If things don't go according to plan, Judy just turns the situation around and has fun," said Jordana Beatty, a dedicated fan of the book series who stars in the film role of Moody. "In my own life, I'm doing what Judy does. When things don't go like I want them to, I'll just turn it around and I'll still have fun."

In many ways, Moody symbolizes children caught in their elementary school years. Not only does her mood change with the wind, but she and her parents see the world in different shades as well, which often makes communication difficult.

However, McDonald tries to look at every angle to find the happy medium in parents' relationships with their kids.

"Certainly Judy would be a challenging kid, but her parents are so patient with her and they really understand her," McDonald said. "Sometimes she's in trouble, but I think they meet her with a sense of humor. A lot of parents come up to me and say, 'Thank you for writing these wonderful parents in these books.'"

McDonald will undoubtedly continue the book series as her fan base continues to grow, but she also hopes more screenwriting is in her future, especially with Moody being brought to life by Beatty.

"Jordana knew Judy inside out and had so many wonderful expressions," McDonald said. "I certainly do have more ideas, and it is such a different kind of writing. In a good way, it stretched me and I'd love to see Judy come back to the big screen."

Caitlin is a feature writer for the Deseret News and a journalism student at Brigham Young University.