Chris Barton talks with Anne Bustard

Anywhere but Paradise, is a new chapter book by Anne Bustard. It tells the story of Peggy Sue, a girl who has to move from Texas to Hawaii in the 1960s. She is definitely not happy about the move — she faces a bully at school, her cat is in quarantine, tsunamis threaten her family, and racial tensions are high during the period soon after Hawaii’s statehood.

The book is garnering glowing reviews —

“adeptly weaves elements of Hawaiian culture, lore, and history into an emotionally rich story.”
Publishers Weekly

“ . . . this coming-of-age tale offers a vivid, accessible portrait of a fascinating time and place.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Written in lyrical prose that echoes the songs of the Hawaiian Islands themselves, Anne Bustard’s debut novel is a love letter to anyone who has ever felt out of place, homesick, or just plain scared.”
–Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor Award Winner for The Underneath.

anne bustardYou can meet Anne Bustard at BookPeople on Sunday, May 3! She’s visiting the store to speak about and sign Anywhere but Paradise. Read more about the event, including how to order a signed copy.


Local author Chris Barton has allowed us to share his conversation with Anne. To keep up with all of his great conversations with authors, and to be eligible to win free books from him — it’s Anywhere but Paradise for this month — sign up for his newsletter.

Chris Barton: Anywhere but Paradise (Egmont USA), the new middle-grade novel by my friend Anne Bustard, has not had a quick or easy journey from its origins more than 15 years ago. But that just makes its arrival this spring all the more worth celebrating. Let’s hear directly from Anne herself about her book. What drew you toward the story you tell in Anywhere but Paradise?

Anne Bustard: I love stories about underdogs and stories of survival. Stories where a character must grapple with change, not necessarily of their own doing. Big change. Moving is a huge event in children’s lives. One that is totally out of their control. I could relate.

Moving is my very first childhood memory. I was born in Hawaii, and two years later, we moved to California. I vividly recall whooshing down a wardrobe-sized moving box my cousin turned into a slide in my grandmother’s foyer. The emotion — pure joy!

Over the next several years, we lived in Sacramento, Los Gatos, and then Oakland. And during that time, we took a vacation to Hawaii. I dreamed of living there.

After my fifth grade year, we returned. I was surrounded by cousins and grandparents, and friends of the family. Life was good, except for seventh grade.

So I wondered:

  • What would happen if a seventh-grade newcomer didn’t want to move to paradise?
  • What if her cat had to be quarantined?
  • What if she was bullied from the first day she arrived, late in the school year no less, and was paired with the bully for a class project?
  • What if her parents were clueless?
  • What if it happened shortly after statehood in the year 1960, when a huge climatic event occurred?
  • What if this character was the ultimate worrywart, like me?

CB: Tell me about the kind of kid you think Anywhere but Paradise will appeal to the most.

AB: The novel is about hope, fear, and change. About aloha, love. It speaks to our longing to belong. To find home.

It’s not always easy, but it is possible.

It’s for readers asking, will I survive and find aloha?


For more about Chris and his books, visit his website. You can sign up for his enewsletter and have his conversations with authors delivered directly to your inbox.

Copies of Anywhere but Paradise are available on our shelves and via


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