Leah Henderson is the author of several books for young readers, including The Magic in Changing Your Stars; Your Voice, Your Vote; The Courage of the Little Hummingbird; and Together We March. Gary D. Schmidt is the author of the National Book Award finalist Okay for Now, the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. In their new anthology, A Little Bit Super: With Small Powers Come Big Problems, featuring stories by top middle grade authors, each character is coping with a minor superpower—while also discovering their power to change themselves and their community, find their voice, and celebrate what makes them unique. We asked Henderson and Schmidt to discuss the inspiration for the collection and their collaboration as co-editors.

Gary D. Schmidt: So Leah, I’m holding my advance copy of A Little Bit Super: With Small Powers Come Big Problems, and I’m thinking about all the time and energy we put into this collection, and then I’m noticing that our names aren’t on the front cover! Isn’t it good that we have embraced humility and anonymity and forsworn all human fame and fortune?

Leah Henderson: Ha! I totally agree. And my life is probably richer for it.

Now you have me pulling out my copy. And almost like a superpower of its own, this little anthology makes me smile. Not just because of the way we came to the project—I mean, who doesn’t love discovering a book idea over mystery meat?—but because we got to explore something I think everyone wants: a superpower.

Schmidt: Absolutely. I think most kids want to be good at something—fishing comes to mind. Basketball. Butterfly collecting. Trivia contests in some arcane knowledge. But to be not only competent, but super good at something—that’s a big deal. I really wanted to be supergood at shortstop—as good as Bud Harrelson, who was kind of a little guy, like me.

Henderson: I always wanted to fly. But yes, you’re right. Kids want to be super good at something, but even more than that, most want to have something magical. Something that can’t be ignored. The superpowers that kids—and even adults—wish for tell us something special about the person, especially if we’re paying attention.

Schmidt: And I love your line about a kid wanting “something that can’t be ignored.” That’s a powerful insight, Leah.

Henderson: Thanks. I really do think it’s true.

Schmidt: We have 14 artists in A Little Bit Super who I think would agree with you. And actually, you make me think of your own story, where you have a character who can

understand the animals in a pet shop one day a month. I mean, how poignant is that? That’s a real superpower, but it’s so limited, because it’s only for a short time. So you’re right: you can tell a lot about a person by the superpower they yearn for. Now I’m worried: What can you figure out about me for wanting to be Bud Harrelson?

Henderson: Oh, so many things *winky face.* But the twist we joked about over that mystery meat and limp broccoli dinner oh so long ago is what I really love about A Little Bit Super. Even though our kiddos have a superpower, none of them have Superman-like powers or abilities most people would consider “super.” This twist got me excited and so curious about the possibilities.

Schmidt: And once we started thinking about the kinds of superpowers our writing friends might come up with…

Henderson: The idea got wings!

Schmidt: It definitely did. Remember when we tried to come up with an example of a minor superpower, and I instantly said, “A character who always smells good.” It wasn’t my finest moment.

Henderson: I blame that on the mystery meat.

Schmidt: Maybe we should make it clear that the mystery meat/limp broccoli dinner was not at either of our houses. It was at a conference that was lovely in all ways but that dinner.

Henderson: So true. But I give the mystery meat props. It started us on this journey to creating a super fun anthology filled with stories about a claw arm, jumping through time, ripe avocados, crossing fingers, figuring out a perfect romantic match, and shape-shifting but only until midnight.

Schmidt: And who could have imagined, when we started, that Jarrett [J. Krosoczka] would weave all of these together with his graphic storyline and its startling ending?

Henderson: I know, right? It was awesome to see how his story brought everyone’s characters together. I love it. And such a great ending!

Schmidt: Leah, we’ve weathered lots of small technical details to make this all happen, but I never came away from a session working on this book without a grin on my face.

Henderson: The biggest. I mean how could we not? We got to work with super cool people on a super cool project. And you weren’t too bad either.

Schmidt: Well, my grin has an awful lot to do with you, and your writerly skills, and your vision, and your patience!

Henderson: I appreciate that.

Schmidt: Maybe we should end with shout-outs to all of the artists who made us grin!

Henderson: Of course! We have to give a huge thanks to Nikki Grimes, Meg Medina, and Linda Sue Park!

Schmidt: And Pablo Cartaya, Ibi Zoboi, and Mitali Perkins!

Henderson: Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Brian Young, and Kyle Lukoff!

Schmidt: And Remy Lai, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Daniel Nayeri!

Henderson: Such an awesome line-up. And here’s to our next mystery meat dinner!

Schmidt: Maybe lima beans instead of broccoli this time around, though.

A Little Bit Super: With Small Powers Come Big Problems, edited by Leah Henderson and Gary D. Schmidt, illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Clarion, $18.99 Apr. 23 ISBN 978-0-358-68342-1