Jo Watson Hackl

Jo Watson Hackl

I grew up just outside a real ghost town in rural Mississippi where storytelling is a favorite form of entertainment. I spent my childhood exploring the piney woods, inventing characters, and creating tiny worlds out of acorns, rocks, and moss. Today I live with my husband, children, and Pupper, who just happens to closely resemble the character of Percy in the book, in Greenville, South Carolina. I write next to a window overlooking the woods. I love the outdoors and spend as much time there as possible. To help others get outside more, I founded Outdoorosity, a free resource that provides information and ideas for outdoor adventures. You can find it at In the book, you, the reader, get to solve the clue trail right alongside the main character, Cricket and I’ve included lots of activities and resources on my website, There, you can find: - An Activity Guide with activities that you can do in your home, classroom, or community gathering; - An interactive map with a links to the real places that inspired parts of the book; - A “hidden objects” search featuring items from the clue trail in the book; Book Club Discussion Questions; - A series of “Cricket Challenges” so you can extend your reading experience into the real world; - Bookmarks with fun, free things to do outdoors and ways to make reading more adventurous; and - An interactive clue trail that you can solve using things that you learned in the book; once you solve the clue trail, you can print out a clue solver badge. One of the many great things about being a writer is that you can collect unusual and interesting facts and, if you can make them work, you can put them in your clue trail. Fun things I learned while researching Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe: - How to build a fire from scratch at least five different ways. You can read about one of them in the book – it’s called “fire out of water.” - About a secret room that a mysterious Southern artist left when he died. I used it as inspiration for the “Bird Room” in the book. - About the secret code Leonardo da Vinci used to write some of his notes- look for it in the clue trail. - About a rare, color-changing bird called the scarlet tanager. If you pay attention to this detail, it just might help you solve the clue trail. - How to use a madstone; - How to get water out of a birch tree; and - How to make rope out of a honeysuckle vine. I’m always on the lookout for more unusual and interesting facts. If you have any to share, you can contact me through my website. Find more at
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