What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<May 2015>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: The Indubitable Dweeb, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 104
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
An Embarrassment of Nonsense. The curious adventures of Aaron Starmer, author of DWEEB and the upcoming The Lonely Ones.
Statistics for The Indubitable Dweeb

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 1
1. Upcoming Appearances (May & June)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • Saturday, May 2, 2015:  Hudson Children’s Book Festival  (Hudson, NY) from 10am – 3pm. Appearing with dozens of picture book, middle grade and young adult authors in one of the Hudson Valley’s loveliest towns.
  • Friday, May 8, 2015: Horace Mann School (New York, NY). The students of Horace Mann were kind enough to pick The Riverman as their Mock-Newbery winner this year! So I’m stopping by for the day to thank them. Closed to the public.
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015: Unity Prep School (Brooklyn, NY). I’ll be visiting the students of Unity Prep, thanks to Word Bookstore. Closed to the public.
  • Saturday, May 30, 2015: Kids Author Carnival at Jefferson Market Library (New York, NY), time TBD. Join me and over 30 middle grade authors for fun and games and books. I’ll be playing Charades!
  • Saturday, June 6, 2015: Thousand Islands Book Festival at Cape Vincent Elementary School (Cape Vincent, NY) from 9:30am – 3:30pm. With Kate Messner, James Preller, Vivian Vande Velde, and Rachel Guido DeVries.

0 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (May & June) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Confessions of a Former Troll

Troll2At the dawn on the internet, I was kicked off the internet.

I’m guessing it was 1991. I was probably 14. My father was the earliest of early adopters and for years there had been a modem hissing through our phone lines. Email and online forums were new frontiers for us, however. So when we were enticed to give them a try compliments of CompuServe, we jumped at the chance. Oh mighty mighty CompuServe, the only game in town during the George H. W. Bush era. My family signed up for a single account because that’s all we needed. One log-in and email address to access kilobyte-upon-kilobyte of text!

I’m not sure when I found out about the forums, but as a seasoned prank-phone-caller, I immediately saw their appeal. I could chat up strangers. More specifically, I could needle strangers. I could pretend to be someone else, and I didn’t even have to change my voice. I could deceive and outwit people. It was the outwitting that really hooked me. Outwitting was addictive. Because it was a form of winning.

The forums were heavily moderated and had clear policies, even back then. No harassment, no insults, no foul language. In the beginning, I abided by those rules, even while taking on different personas, even though my goal was always to enrage and provoke. To outwit. To win.

I must note: I was a dabbler. Most of my time was still spent on school, the outdoors, TV and video games. I’d only log on when I was hanging out with a friend or my brother, because I viewed this as a spectator sport. Like a prank phone call, it was no fun to perform alone. In fact, doing such things alone seemed more than a little sad. Online anonymity was essential, but at the same time, someone else had to know about my winning.

As far as I recall, nobody used the term “troll” back then. That’s clearly what I was, though. I probably would’ve claimed, “I’m just playing devil’s advocate,” something people still claim with shocking regularity. Of course, playing devil’s advocate in the faceless world of the internet is akin to walking down the street and yelling insults at strangers. Without any context, you can never be some theoretical advocate. You will always be the devil himself.

Thankfully, I wasn’t the devil for long. I was warned by a moderator for pushing the boundaries of their policies, so I pushed them even further by calling someone a “crack baby.” The moderator immediately suspended the account. Now remember, my family had just the one account and CompuServe ran the show. So my actions basically banned us all from the internet.

My parents were not pleased. We had to wait until AOL came onto the scene almost a year later to get back online. By that time, I was either too ashamed or too busy to resume the trolling. Probably the latter.

***

I finished high school. I went to college. I played devil’s advocate in dark dorm rooms with friends who always knew when I was pushing buttons merely for the sake of pushing buttons. Feelings were rarely hurt and when they were, apologies followed. My online life at that time consisted exclusively of occasional emailing and visits to IMDB. Usenet newsgroups were popular then, but I didn’t bother with them because most of the people I knew didn’t bother with them.

That was about 20 years ago.

These days, I (and most of the people I know) spend an excessive amount of time online. I can excuse some of it as work, but certainly not all of it. Especially the hours I spend in comments sections. Yes, I have read the comments…far too many times. And yes, I have contributed to the comments…and regretted it every time.

Because whenever I comment, I feel myself turning into that 14-year-old boy. Of course, I try not to be a troll. I try to employ logic and compassion. I convince myself that I’m there to pacify the trolls, to reason with them. This is “feeding” them, of course. But it’s also feeding me. That addiction to outwitting–to winning–always surfaces. And it’s all-consuming.

Good ol’ science has proven that if an addiction takes hold of you early in life then it’s harder to beat. I’m lucky. Trolling in my formative years was a brief affair. We can thank that CompuServe moderator who slapped the addictive substance from my hand. And yet, I can’t imagine if I had been born just ten or fifteen years later. I would never have been kicked off the internet. The very notion of that is absolutely laughable now. Odds are, I’d probably be an adult man, lurking online somewhere, fixing to be vile.

Of course, plenty of people can dip in and out of online worlds without consequence. Just like plenty of people can enjoy a glass of wine without downing a bottle or two. But many can’t and like all addictions, trolling can be affected by your environment. If you hang out with smokers, then you are more likely to smoke. If most of your social interactions play out in comment sections and on social media, then you are more likely to troll. No brainer, really.

So what are today’s young trolls-in-making to do? Even for disadvantaged kids, it’s nearly impossible to step away from the online world. They don’t have the luxury that I had.

And yet, they have a perspective I didn’t. They can see the hurt they’ve caused, because people are being more vocal than ever about the hurt. I suspect that many of the trolls are probably ashamed of the hurt. Sure, there are sadists among them who get off on the hurt, but I suspect that most are getting off on the outwitting, on that addiction to winning. The hurt is an unpleasant bi-product, something they try their best to deny.

I don’t know if I hurt someone when I called him/her a “crack baby,” but I realize long ago that I wasn’t particularly witty. I certainly didn’t win anything. So while I’m not going to take sympathy on the trolls out there, particularly the ones who have moved from provocation into the despicable world of harassment, I am going to make a suggestion to the young ones.

Print out some of the very best comments you’ve left anonymously online. Hand them to your parents or to the person you have a crush on. Tell them that these are your trolling masterpieces, the things you are most proud of in your life.

That is, if you are proud of them. If you aren’t, well, then perhaps there are better ways to spend your time.

Comments are, of course, closed.

0 Comments on Confessions of a Former Troll as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Giving Thanks for THE WHISPER

Today is the release day for The Whisper. I wrote the darn book, but you better believe I didn’t write it alone. It exists because of the many people who inspired it, helped create it, and supported it and The Riverman. Since the acknowledgements are buried at the end of the book, I thought I’d post them here. That way, even if you don’t read the thing, you’ll know who was essential to its very existence.

Second volumes in trilogies are notoriously tricky things. They often feel like they’re, for lack of a better term, all middle. When I wrote The Whisper, however, I focused on the new. My daughter Hannah arrived in the world as I was trying to figure out how to make a crazy, unwieldy sequel come together, and her beautiful, babbling presence inspired me to treat it as an origin story–not just of the Riverman and Aquavania, but also of Alistair and Charlie’s relationship and of Fiona’s reluctant journey into adulthood. I wanted to show why the first volume was told the way it was told, and I wanted readers to anticipate the third volume with a fresh perspective on events. If I achieved that goal, I certainly didn’t do it alone. The following people guided and encouraged me along the way:

Joy Peskin was the first person who read The Whisper and she infused it with her brilliance and a healthy dose of confidence and clarity, which is what all books need. Therefore, in my humble opinion, she should edit all books. I’m not sure she has the time, though. Maybe with Angie Chen’s help she can do it. Actually, together, they definitely can.

Michael Bourret, the man I’m honored to call my agent, continued to trust me, advise me, and keep me sane through the entire publishing process. Why? It’s because he’s a sorcerer. Everyone at Dystel & Goderich, including Lauren Abramo, dabbles in sorcery, actually. How else would they understand these byzantine contracts and represent such an awe-inspiring group of authors?

Beth Clark had an even trickier job designing this book than she did with the first volume, considering all the multiple narratives and their unique appearances. Did she pull it off? Come on! Of course she did.

Yelena Bryksenkova created yet another stunning cover that I’m sure people will tell me is stunning, when they really should be telling her. Now they have no excuse. Tell her: yelenabryksenkova.com

Mary Van Akin has been an advocate like no other. She’s tireless and talented and you better watch out, because she will make you read this book. Perhaps she already did, by handing you the copy you’re holding right now. If so, thank her and the rest of the gang at Macmillan Kids for me.

Kate Hurley and Karla Reganold have taught me a lot about writing with their essential copy edits. I would look like a fool without them. I really wood (sic).

Some other authors read The Riverman and said some amazingly kind things about it. Jack Gantos was the first, and I’m still flabbergasted that his words graced the cover of volume one. Following in his sizable wake were Kurtis Scaletta, Laurel Snyder, Nova Ren Suma, Bryan Bliss, Steve Brezenoff, Kelly Barnhill, Kim Baker, Stephanie Kuehn, Kate Milford, Robin Wasserman, Jeff Kay, Laura Marx Fitzgerald, Stephanie Bodeen, Dan Poblocki, and many others I’m sure I’m forgetting. I hope they read this book too. And I hope you read their books, because they are better books than this one.

All the bloggers, librarians, teachers, journalists, booksellers, festival organizers and fans who have reached out to me and helped me share my stories, I don’t know what I’d do without you. Probably pursue a career in break dancing, which would be unwise.

Finally, thank you to my family. To Jim, Gwenn, Pete and the extended Wells and Evans clans. To all the Amundsens and Starmers out there. To Tim, Toril, Dave, Jacob and Will, because this is a story of siblings and kids. And to Mom and Dad, the finest and most caring creators I know.

Finally, Cate and Hannah, you inspire me every day, and I love you dearly. Now put down this book and let’s go get into some more adventures together!

This is what is printed in the book, but there are so many people who I forgot, as well as people who came on the scene after this was written, like Claudia Howard at Recorded Books, who produced the audio version, and Graham Halstead, who provided the voice for Alistair. Not to mention all the other loud mouths and online advocates for The Riverman and The Whisper, including Angie Manfredi, Alex Dawson, Betsy Bird, Caitlin Luce Baker, Matthew Winner, Beth Panageotou, Brooks Sherman, Alex London, Mary G. Thompson, Michael Northrop, J.A. White, Nikki Loftin, Andrew Karre, Sarah LaPolla, Sean Ferrell, Jordan Brown, Laura Ruby, Josh Berk, Ted Sanders, Claire Legrand, Clay McLeod Chapman, Justina Ireland, Barry Goldblatt, John Zeleznik, Jonathan Wlodarski, Mark Bobrosky, Sylvie Shaffer, John Farrier, James Riley, Sarah Hawkins Miduski, Julie Faltko, Colten Hibbs, Jean Giardina, Dana Langer, Joshua Whiting, Marcy Beller Paul, Susannah Richards, Travis Jonker, Lindsay Currie, Victoria Coe, Rebecca Zarazan Dunn, Tara Dairman, Shelley Moore Thomas, Edith Cohn, Stephanie McKinley, Donalyn Miller, John Schu, Colby Sharp, Katherine Sokolowski, Kellie DuBay Gillis, Carrie Gelson, Colleen Graves, Jenna Krambeck, Judi Evans, Stacy Dillon, Michael Specks, Chris Dexter, Chrystal Ocean, Jenn Estepp, Julie Jurgens, Beth Sanderson, Tracey Petrillo, Anthony Paull, Maria Selke, Ilse O’Brien, Marianne Knowles, Emily Toombs, Melanie Conklin, Niki Ohs Barnes, Dan Dooher, Mike Lewis, Jason Lewis, Kayla King, Joy Piedmont, and I’m forgetting others and of course I am sorry for that. But a nonillion thanks to everyone who has read and shared these books. You. Are. So. Cool.

0 Comments on Giving Thanks for THE WHISPER as of 3/17/2015 4:56:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Come to the Official Book Launch of THE WHISPER: Tuesday, March 17th at McNally Jackson Books

0714AR2Let’s take a moment to shed a tear for the Book Twos in trilogies. Not the beginning, not the ending; no one ever throws parties for them.

Until now!

We will be celebrating the release of The Whisper, Book Two in the Riverman Trilogy. And you can join us! Here are the details:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
(between Lafayette & Mulberry)
New York City, NY 10012

Feel free to RSVP via Facebook. Or just show up!

If you can’t make it, but are still interested in ordering a signed, personalized copy, then you can do that right here. And if you are my nemesis, remember this: the more you order, the more my hand will cramp up.

0 Comments on Come to the Official Book Launch of THE WHISPER: Tuesday, March 17th at McNally Jackson Books as of 2/17/2015 9:39:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. A Visual Guide to the Characters of The Riverman

Okay. This is insanely cool. Insanely cool. I’ve seen a little bit of fan art inspired by my books, but nothing compares to this drawing by a young reader named Bridget. In it, she depicts every character from The Riverman. Every single one. I’m not joking when I say that my editor is using this guide to keep the characters straight. Heck, when my memory starts to go, I’ll be using this thing.

In any case, check it out and please give Bridget a round of applause if you see her. Now I just have to get her to do the same thing for The Whisper!

Click on the image to get a clear, high-res image:

riverman chars

0 Comments on A Visual Guide to the Characters of The Riverman as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Upcoming Appearances (March & April, 2015)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2015:  The Whisper Launch Party! at McNally Jackson (New York, NY) at 7pm. Celebrate the official launch of The Whisper. Open to the public, but if you can’t attend, you can order a personalized copy of the book here.
  • Friday, March 20, 2015: NYC Teen Author Festival (New York, NY)  at 42nd Street New York Public Library at 2pm. “Crafting Something Out of Nothing” panel with Selene Castrovilla, Sarah Cross, Amalie Howard, Claire Legrand, Mary McCoy, and Jennifer A. Nielsen. More panels with more amazing authors to follow.
  • Sunday, March 22, 2015: NYC Teen Author Festival, Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder (New York, NY), at 3:30pm. With myriad and sundry young adult book royalty. Officially signings begin at 1pm, but I will be appearing at 3:30pm.
  • Wednesday, April 1, 2015: Teen Author Reading Night at Jefferson Market Library (New York, NY) at 6pm. With Elizabeth Eulberg, Kathryn Holmes, Elisa Ludwig, Kass Morgan, Danielle Paige, Shani Petroff, Darci Manley, Marie Rutkoski, Kieran Scott, and Nova Ren Suma
  • Saturday, April 25, 2015: YA Fest Junior at Bethlehem Public Library (Bethlehem, PA) from noon-3pm. With a variety of middle grade authors.

0 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (March & April, 2015) as of 2/4/2015 9:56:00 PM
Add a Comment
7. Upcoming Appearances (October & November, 2014)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • AaronStarmerAuthorPhotoSunday, October 19, 2014: Book Court  (Brooklyn, NY) at 2pm, Skullduggery with Alex Dawson, Mikki Knudsen, Clay McLeod Chapman and Kate Milford
  • Saturday, October 25, 2014: McNally Jackson (New York, NY) at 6pm, with Jonathan Auxier, Kate Milford and Laurel Snyder
  • Monday, November 10, 2014: The Browning School (New York, NY)  at 11am
  • Saturday, November 15, 2014: Rochester Children’s Book Festival (Rochester, NY), all day (presenting at 12:30pm in the Brighton Room) with middle grade and picture book authors galore
  • Sunday, November 23, 2014: Metuchen Library (Metuchen, NJ) at 2pm, with Alex Dawson, Claire Legrand and Clay McLeod Chapman

0 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (October & November, 2014) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Thalia Book Club Camp

Last week I visited with the talented, friendly and inquisitive readers and writers at Symphony Space’s Thalia Book Club Camp. Was a good time had by all? Well…a good time was had by me, at least. I hope everyone else enjoyed my stories and evasive answers!

Check out the entire gang I was lucky enough to meet and click through for an account of the day. It’s a fantastic take on summer camp and I encourage any young folks in the NYC area to apply:

ThaliaBookClubCamp

And if you’re an author in the metropolitan region, do what you can to get involved!

0 Comments on Thalia Book Club Camp as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Introducing…The Whisper

It seems like only yesterday I was telling you about The Riverman. If you’re one of my Twitter followers, then it probably was yesterday. Be thankful. Because I’ve given such shameless promotions a rest.

So I can shamelessly promote this bad boy!

0714AR2

That’s right. The Whisper is in the can and has a gorgeous cover created by Yelena Bryksenkova. Do you want to hear more about it? Well…SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read The Riverman, then you might not want to read the following description of its sequel. Or maybe you hate surprises. I respect your strange decisions.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart.

All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning.

To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.

Pretty rad, right? My parents think so. If you’re one of the few to come across an ARC, then read it and sing praises or air grievances. As for the rest of you: wait until March 17, 2015. All good things…

0 Comments on Introducing…The Whisper as of 7/30/2014 12:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • AaronStarmerAuthorPhotoSaturday, March 22, 2014: Books of Wonder (New York, NY) from 1-3PM, with Laura Marx Fitzgerald and Rebecca Behrens
  • Sunday, March 23, 2014: Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, NY) at 4PM, with Kari Sutherland
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014: Foxborough Regional Charter School (Foxborough, MA) from 5:30pm-8pm
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014: Easton YA Festival (Easton, PA) from 10:30am-3pm, with Josh Berk, Michael Northrop and a metric ton of YA authors
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014: Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) from 10am-1pm
  • Saturday, May 3, 2014: SCBWI New England Conference (Springfield, MA), with Laurel Snyder and Kate Milford
  • Saturday, May 17, 2014: Rochester Teen Book Festival (Rochester, NY) from 9am-5pm, with Jonathan Auxier and assorted YA royalty
  • Tuesday, May 27, 2014: McNally Jackson (New York, NY) at 7pm, with Tony Abbott, Christopher Healy and J.A. White.
  • Saturday, May 31, 2014: Jefferson Market Library (New York, NY) from 5pm-8pm for the Kids Author Carnival, with dozens of other middle grade authors

0 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014) as of 4/1/2014 9:24:00 PM
Add a Comment
11. Giving Thanks for The Riverman

t-hanks

The Riverman comes out tomorrow. In the back of the book there are a handful of acknowledgements. That lists represents only a small percentage of people responsible for inspiring, creating and sharing a book like this. I’d like to thank those people again, as well as expand that list. I know I’m still missing some folks. So I’m also including these photos. You should be on there somewhere. Thank you, if I haven’t already told you, for all the small and big things you’ve done. And I mean, you:

Thank you.

2 Comments on Giving Thanks for The Riverman, last added: 3/17/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • AaronStarmerAuthorPhotoSaturday, March 22, 2014: Books of Wonder (New York, NY) from 1-3PM, with Laura Marx Fitzgerald and Rebecca Behrens
  • Sunday, March 23, 2014: Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, NY) at 4PM, with Kari Sutherland
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014: Easton YA Festival (Easton, PA) from 10:30am-3pm, with Josh Berk, Michael Northrop and a metric ton of YA authors
  • Saturday, May 3, 2014: SCBWI New England Conference (Springfield, MA), with Laurel Snyder and Kate Milford
  • Saturday May 17, 2014: Rochester Teen Book Festival (Rochester, NY) from 9am-5pm, with Jonathan Auxier and assorted YA royalty

1 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014), last added: 3/17/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
13. Reviews and Accolades for The Riverman

riverman_reading_img

The Riverman arrives in just a few days but a few people have already read it. They’ve got some things to say, so hear them out, okay?

PRESS REVIEWS

  • Wall Street Journal:  ”…an ominous awareness of loss flows all the way through Aaron Starmer’s riveting and sophisticated novel for younger adolescents…There is plenty of surprise, though, and it resides in almost everything else that happens in this emotionally complex tale…The story of what follows…unfolds with disarming naturalness, yet every page feels so carefully written that, although we can’t predict what will take place, we feel certain that the author knows exactly where he is taking us.”

TRADE REVIEWS

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review): “Lines between reality and fantasy blur in this powerful, disquieting tale of lost children, twisted friendship and the power of storytelling.”
  • Booklist: “In this dark, twisting tale, readers are never sure if Fiona’s story is true or not, and they won’t want to stop reading until they find out…this magical tale is sure to please readers of urban fantasy, and with its theme of missing children and changing friendships, it will be perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, too.”
  • School Library Journal: ”This novel built of stories yields nightmares…This writerly, chiaroscuro book is replete with the portent of violence, and thick with ideas about the psychological need for stories, all while questioning the ability of stories to redeem the tellers. Readers will find themselves confronted with deep, unanswered questions regarding the relationship of collective imaginary worlds to reality, the evolving nature of memories and friendships, and the unknowability of people. Those ready to explore darker realities will devour this book.”
  • The Bulletin of the Center For Children’s Books (recommended): ”Somewhere between Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone in audience and tone, this blend of magical realism and mystery blurs the line between reality and fantasy, setting up a creepy unease that both disturbs and propels the reader forward…the deliciously tangled web of a plot defies categorization.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly (pick of the week): ”Starmer explores the relationship between creation and theft, reality and fantasy in this haunting novel…the novel’s strength is in the pervasive aura of unknowing that Starmer creates and sustains.”
  • VOYA Magazine: “The Riverman contains plenty of boisterous action—mischief nights with “eggings”—and dialogue peppered with enough “greasy farts” talk to entertain middle schoolers. Alistair, Fiona, and Charlie are memorable characters. The amazing Fiona-controlled Aquavania where chocolate-chip-mint ice cream covers the ground will also delight fantasy readers. But this story also incorporates deeper story threads ripe for exploration…There is a lot to ponder and recommend in this unusual tale.”

BLOG REVIEWS

  • Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 Blog (at School Library Journal): “As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best of 2014…Once everyone’s read it, I’m going to have SO much more to say. A good book does that. It gives your tongue wings. The Riverman may creep you out and make you want to hide under the covers for a good long while, but just TRY to set it down. Can’t be done. And that is what I look for in a book.”
  • The Off-Topic Blog of Kurtis Scaletta: “Like When You Reach Me and BreadcrumbsThe Riverman is about real people with real problems who find a twist in their reality. And like those books, I would find it deeply engaging even without the fantastic angle. It is the nuanced, believable children dealing with mundane crises that make it a great book.”
  • Smell of Wine and Cheap Perfume: “I not only burned through this one, but wanted to start reading again immediately as soon as I was finished.”
  • Great Imaginations: “The Riverman is at once an entertaining fantasy, a coming of age tale, and scary glimpse of what can happen when one is stuck in one’s own head for too long.  With dark, dry humor, and a smart protagonist, The Riverman is a book that will be stuck in my head for a long time to come.”
  • A Reader of Fictions: “Do you have a vast imagination and love to think about the worlds it could create? Do you like middle grade novels that will creep you out and make you think? If yes, then you need The Riverman in your life, I promise.”
  • Reed Reads Book Reviews: “The story unfolds slowly and beautifully, the reader never sure of where it is going. When I reviewed Aaron Starmer’s The Only Ones, I said it was “weird, in the most literary way.” After reading his second book, I can say that Aaron is one of the most creative children’s writers out there. There is nothing formula about either books.”
  • Hidden in Pages: ”This is an incredibly engaging read and very hard to put down…This is a truly unique book and I really enjoyed it.”
  • Bibliomantics: “Sure on the outside the novel seems like a book about a boogie man that children need to fear, but it goes so much deeper than that, exploring the flawed nature of memories…and even more so about how the unbelievable stories people tell themselves in their own imaginations are merely coping mechanisms to deal with the world at large.”
  • Three Storey Books:  ”Aaron Starmer brings us on a dark, atmospheric fantasy adventure that deals with friendship, belief, love and all of the challenges these bring to a 12 year old boy. Not your typical coming of age story, The Riverman is infused with a sense of foreboding and more questions than answers as Starmer’s exceedingly well crafted characters lead us on Alistair’s well meaning, insightful journey into what could be either a menacing alternate reality or the mind of girl trying to make sense of fear and abuse.”
  • Cougars Book Blog: “The Riverman is odd and intriguing, suspenseful and absorbing. Middle school readers, as well as juvenile and YA fiction readers of any age, will not be able to put this down.”
  • Lust and Coffee: “This book is a page turner. Every chapter is so tense that I really wanted to finish it in one night, but my eyes wouldn’t compromise.”

SELECTIONS

1 Comments on Reviews and Accolades for The Riverman, last added: 3/17/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
14. 99 Inspirations for The Riverman

99Luftballoons

Over two years ago, before The Only Ones came out, I did a countdown of 99 things (books, movies, art, places, etc.) that inspired it. It was a fun way to revisit some stuff I was actively thinking about when I wrote the book, as well as some stuff I didn’t realize influenced me until I had some time to reflect.

Well, it’s 99 days until The Riverman hits shelves and I figured, why not do it all again? So, without further ado, here is my list of #99inspirations that I’ll be counting down daily on Twitter. This doesn’t represent all of my favorite things (sorry, no bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens here), though it does include some stuff that I truly love. And hopefully it sparks some conversation about the stuff you love and the stuff that leaks into your creations.

0 Comments on 99 Inspirations for The Riverman as of 3/2/2014 10:07:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. 99 Inspirations for The Riverman

99Luftballoons

Over two years ago, before The Only Ones came out, I did a countdown of 99 things (books, movies, art, places, etc.) that inspired it. It was a fun way to revisit some stuff I was actively thinking about when I wrote the book, as well as some stuff I didn’t realize influenced me until I had some time to reflect.

Well, it’s 99 days until The Riverman hits shelves and I figured, why not do it all again? So, without further ado, here is my list of #99inspirations that I’ll be counting down daily on Twitter. This doesn’t represent all of my favorite things (sorry, no bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens here), though it does include some stuff that I truly love. And hopefully it sparks some conversation about the stuff you love and the stuff that leaks into your creations.

2 Comments on 99 Inspirations for The Riverman, last added: 2/28/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. Things Teens Are Into These Days

 

Happy_days_motorcycle_richie_fonzie_1977

Times have changed. Members-Only jackets and Z Cavaricci pants are out. Sock hops are few and far between. The kids don’t buy the latest Mister Mister cassingle down at the Sam Goody. So what are they into? Well, for the last two years, I’ve been hanging where teens hang, researching their behavior, their likes and dislikes and so on. I’ve been learning, friends, and now I’m passing on that knowledge to you. Why? So you can write Young Adult novels that will be timely and will resonate with the youth of today. Cool? Cool.

Here it is, a list of Things Teens Are Into These Days:

  1. Lists
  2. Worrying about whether everyone will notice the ketchup stain on your shirt
  3. Getting wasted
  4. Listening to music, alone, in a dark room
  5. Procrastinating on chemistry homework
  6. Sitting next to a phone, tapping fingers nervously, waiting, waiting, waiting
  7. Not getting wasted and feeling superior to the teens who are getting wasted, while being a little curious about what being wasted is like
  8. Ennui
  9. Driving down dark country roads, a little too fast, with the windows open
  10. Walking four abreast down a sidewalk, laughing, and oblivious to the fact that other people are trying to pass you
  11. Corn chips, in a variety of shapes and flavors
  12. Telling people that you love them when you don’t really love them
  13. Definitely keeping secrets
  14. Being uncomfortable with your parents’ sex lives
  15. Body dysmorphia
  16. Attempting to grow facial hair
  17. College guys
  18. Practicing dance moves in the mirror
  19. Kissing the mirror
  20. Yelling at the mirror
  21. Seeing your parents pull up in the Subaru and sighing because they’re your ride home
  22. Frenching
  23. Movies with crossbows in them
  24. Saying, “oh yeah, I do that all the time,” when you haven’t done that even once
  25. Coming up with band names that are not good band names
  26. Telling it like it is
  27. Parties where a guy pisses into something he shouldn’t be pissing in
  28. Pajama bottoms
  29. Figuring out exactly where your crush is going to be at a certain moment and then lingering in that spot and nodding hello when your crush walks by and then walking away
  30. Knowing that while some jocks are jerks, some are actually really nice and smart people
  31. Believing that you’re a nerd when you’re not a nerd, not really, or at least you won’t be in a year or two
  32. Chuck Taylors
  33. Running at inappropriate times
  34. Young musicians who are the object of your parents’ loathing
  35. Old musicians who are the object of your parents’ affections, but you totally discovered on your own
  36. Boners
  37. Gym teacher impressions
  38. That kid who’s kinda your friend but has a pool and it’s June already so you laugh a little louder at that kid’s jokes
  39. Thinking Ayn Rand is a good writer
  40. Playing cards on Friday night with the same group of friends because that’s what you prefer doing and there’s nothing wrong with that
  41. Spontaneous eating contests
  42. Creative touchdown celebrations
  43. Audrey Hepburn
  44. TV shows where people brag a lot
  45. Living in Eastern Standard Time but sleeping on Mountain Standard Time
  46. Complaining that there’s never anything to do in this shit town
  47. Hating to gossip, but having to at least tell someone that crazy story you heard about what that girl you hardly know did with that guy you don’t know at all
  48. Nunchucks
  49. Drinks the size of which would be deemed illegal under the Bloomberg administration
  50. Huey Lewis and the News

0 Comments on Things Teens Are Into These Days as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Win an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) of The Riverman

RivermanBanner

I have a confession.

I want you to read my books. Shocking, but true. For years, I’ve told people that I write these things for the sole purpose of creating such a big demand for paper that we have to deforest Saskatchewan. And while we all hold our grudges against Saskatchewan, I haven’t been completely honest. Because, yes, I also want you to read these things.

Before you curse me under your breath and plan your revenge, please put it all in perspective. I’m not asking much. 5-15 hours of your time, maybe? If you live to 100 (and I know you will, because you eat yogurt and take spin classes and look stunning for your age), then at most you’ll have spent .0017 % of your life with my silly little stories. Considering that a recent study showed that, on average, we spend 8% of our lives flossing, then I think you can spare a tiny fraction of a percentage, right?

And once you read my book, you know what will happen? You will tell five friends about it, who will tell five friends, and so on and so forth, until the book is sitting on the desk of the director of the FBI and I’ll be up on charges for running a pyramid scheme. But it will all be worth it.

So, in an effort to get this chain of events started, I’m offering a signed advance reading copy (ARC) of The Riverman to one person (or sentient being). What is The Riverman, you ask? Here’s a teaser:

riverman coverTo sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here’s mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger.

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here’s the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair’s doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there’s a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there’s a creature called the Riverman and he’s stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else…something even more terrifying.

Every culture has a magical river story. Some rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative. Dive into this book and you may never resurface.” – Jack Gantos, Newbery Award-winning author of Dead End in Norvelt

Like When You Reach Me and Breadcrumbs, The Riverman is about real people with real problems who find a twist in their reality. And like those books, I would find it deeply engaging even without the fantastic angle. It is the nuanced, believable children dealing with mundane crises that make it a great book.” – Kurtis Scaletta, author of Mudville, Mamba Point and The Winter of the Robots.

Intrigued? I wish I had enough copies to shower them from a building Henry Sugar-style, but alas, I have but one to spare. For now, at least. And what do you have to do to get it? Here are the rules.

To enter to win a copy of The Riverman, you must:

  1. Write a comment, any comment, on this blog post.
  2. Live in the USA and possess the ability to receive US mail.

That’s it. I’ll pick a commenter at random, assuming there’s more than one commenter. And I’ll mail that moderately lucky person the book. Contest closes on Thanksgiving (November 28), because…why the hell not?

If you’d prefer an e-copy, try your luck at NetGalley. And if you’re a good reader, then go on and add the book to your Goodreads shelf. It will all help the cause, which is sharing a story. Beats deforestation.

Thanks!

 

UPDATE: A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN! (using Random.org)

Commenter #14 (aka Mark) will receive a signed ARC! Well done, Mark. Your commenting skills have served you well.

0 Comments on Win an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) of The Riverman as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. The Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta

winteroftherobots

I was about 10 years old when my brother and I went to see the original Back to the Future. It may seem like a relatively harmless movie, but it warped our minds. Not due to all the Oedipality, mind you. No, it was because we returned home convinced we could build a time machine. Out of a model train. All we had to do was get it chugging, zap it with an electric current, and bingo, bango, next stop Mesozoic Era. Of course, a few hours later, tangled up in wires and scratching our heads, we learned that our goal was a bit too lofty. But it was a pleasure to have those warped minds, if only for a short while.

Young readers of Kurtis Scaletta’s latest novel, The Winter of the Robots, will find their minds similarly warped. It’s a book where kids build robots that battle each other, and it will surely inspire tinkerers and dreamers to build similar robots in their garages. And maybe a few industrious young folks will actually accomplish their goals, but I suspect most will simply muse over the possibilities. Sometimes that’s equally fun.

Kurtis Scaletta has a voice. In the marketplace of middle grade fiction where there are far too many coattail riders, it is refreshing to stumble upon an author crafting distinct stories that are personal and nostalgic, but also contemporary and slightly magical. Scaletta specializes (at least for now) in tales of boys who live in worlds that are almost like ours. But there’s always a slight bend in those worlds. A town where it always rains. A boy who is like catnip to deadly snakes. An invasion of glowing fungi. In the case of The Winter of the Robots, it’s those kids building those robots, obviously. These things aren’t walking, talking C-3POs. They’re more of the Battlebots variety, but they’re also more sophisticated than what most adults are capable of creating. They’re programmed to react in clever ways, and if the book is about anything, it’s about reactions.

There are any of number of things that inspire reactions in the main character, Jim. The attention of a smart and attractive girl. The emotions that arise when that girl starts dating the school tough. The exploits of a mischievous but loyal sister. The mysteries of a rough-and-tumble family. The yo-yo-ing friendship with a brilliant boy who has lost his father.

Jim is a good kid but, like any kid in the throes of puberty, some of his programming is a bit faulty. His reactions run the gamut from foolish to callous. At the same time, he’s trying to negotiate the reactions of others, most importantly those of his father. This relationship is a small part of the story, but an essential one. Jim’s father has a temper and the tiniest things can set him off. Since his father has been programmed to attack (verbally, at least), Jim has programmed himself to defend. It’s what Jim is best at, but it requires deception and flight more often than not. He needs to find an even better way to deal with this, his biggest of problems.

So while the tinkerers and dreamers will be drawn into the book by the robots, it’s the kids who are constantly on the defensive who will find the strongest emotional bond with it. And while it might warp some young minds into believing that garage robotics are as easy as Legos, it will also remind some young minds that relationships can be as hard as anything in life. There are no easy answers about how best to deal with human reactions, but Scaletta provides something as important: the hope that as we all grow and learn, our reactions will change. Unlike robots, we can reprogram ourselves.

0 Comments on The Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. School Visits!

Speaking to students for “Read Across America Day”

Whenever I attend a book festival, people invariably ask me the same question: “Do you ever do school visits?”

I do. I do indeed.

Like many authors of children’s literature, I find that the best way to share my love of books is to talk about them with curious young readers and enthusiastic teachers. But how would people know this about me? Because, until now, I’ve barely mentioned the fact on my web site. Well, it is a fact, my friends. And if you’re a parent, a teacher, an administrator, a librarian, an independent bookstore owner, or anyone else who’d like to arrange for me to visit your local school(s), then please drop me a line. I am available for any or all of the following:

  1. Presentations — Give me 40-60 minutes, a podium, and a whiteboard/screen with a digital projector and I will do my darndest to keep a cafetorium full of kids not only awake but enthralled by pictures of me in footy pajamas and tales of inspiration, embarrassment and poisonous snakes. Please note: unless contractually obligated to, I will not enter the room to the tune of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.
  2. Readings — I will happily read passages from DWEEB, The Only Ones, and even the soon-to-be-published The Legend of Fiona Loomis. These passages may involve humor, intrigue and/or a character named Chet.
  3. Q&As — This is always the easiest way to connect with inquisitive students. They can ask me almost anything about my books and my life as a writer and I will answer honestly, only occasionally uttering the phrase: “Wouldn’t you like to know, tough guy?”
  4. Workshops — Does your English class want to discuss and practice writing and revision techniques? Learn about the publishing industry? Cook some top-notch enchiladas? I’m there.
  5. Signings — If you have a local bookstore on board, I will definitely stop by to sign and sell inventory and meet readers one-on-one. Be warned, though. My handwriting is abysmal and still haunts the nightmares of my middle-school teachers.
  6. Skype Talks — If you don’t have the time or resources, an alternative to an in-person visit is a virtual pow-wow. Quick. Easy. Fantastically futuristic.

So there you go. Every school and situation is different, but I can adjust to your needs. Just contact me and we’ll hammer out the details. The only thing I require is that your students read, or start reading, at least one of my books. It makes the experience much more enjoyable for everyone. And, let’s be honest, you’re not inviting me to your school to show off my tap-dancing skills. (Or are you?)

0 Comments on School Visits! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Collingswood Book Festival: Saturday, October 6, 2012

Apparently, this week is Banned Books Week. I’ve never participated, but according to Wikipedia, it’s a week when children dress as Holden Caulfield and parade through streets lined with illiterate PTA members who pelt them with rotten tomatoes. It all culminates in a barn dance, where a bespectacled college comp lit major stands on a bale of hay and shouts, “You know who also banned books? Stalin!” And then an animatronic Stalin descends from the rafters and the Caulfields and the PTA members join together to smash the commie robot to smithereens.

Now, if you’re a book lover (as I’m sure yo are), you could participate in such festivities this weekend or…you could come visit me and a whole bunch of other great NY/NJ/PA authors at the Collingswood Book Festival. Here are the details:

Saturday, October 6
Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ
10AM-4PM: I’ll be signing and selling copies of DWEEB and The Only Ones
2PM: I’ll be on a panel called Reaching Out to Young Adult Readers

I attended the 2010 festival and it was a beautiful day in a charming town full of friendly people. I’m expecting more of the same!

0 Comments on Collingswood Book Festival: Saturday, October 6, 2012 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. My Admittedly Biased Holiday Book-Buying Guide

What to read, what to read?

There are a ridiculous number of books out there. It’s beyond intimidating. It is to me, at least. I’m not a particularly fast reader. I linger. I soak in the language and the story. I give up on a lot of books, not because life is short but because some books are damn long. And boring. I read from the bestseller list occasionally, and I check off a few cultural touchstones. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn √ The Fault in Our Stars by John Green √ Life by Keith Richards √ Rin-Tin-Tin by Susan Orlean √ A Song of Fire and Ice Vol. 1-3 by George R.R. Martin √√√ But most of the time, I flounder. I hardly ever know what to read next.

Sometimes I force noble projects upon myself. Read some classic mysteries, try some Booker Prizer winners, delve into some epic poetry from East Timor–you know, that sort of thing. I don’t always enjoy it. So recently I tried a different tack. I decided to go local. By local I mean I focused on books by authors I personally know, have met in my online social media adventures, or have heard about through the gossipy cabals that secretly rule children’s book publishing. I was so glad that I did.

Below I will share some of the engrossing and oft-overlooked middle-grade and young-adult books that I have enjoyed during the last few months. You can find their plot summaries anywhere, so I’ll focus on a few thoughts and feelings these books stirred in me. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to buy one or two for your friends, family or self. I realize this humble post won’t generate tons of sales for the authors, but if I can help at least one of them become a rich and ruthless media mogul with the ability to make and break men with a snap and a whistle, then it’s all worth it. So, without further ado…

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. I knew of Kate’s book before I knew of her. That cover! A man with fire for hair! Burning fairgrounds! Miscellaneous creepiness! When I met Kate, I had to apologize. “I’ve been meaning to read that book,” I told her. She was kind. She didn’t say, “Well then get to it, Champ! I need more money for bourbon.”  (Or perhaps she did say that–details are hazy). In any case, when I did get around to reading the book, I was greeted with an elegant slice of Americana. A headstrong girl learns to ride a very difficult bike while finding time to challenge the devil himself. Automata, demon dolls, guitar pickin’ contests, what’s not to like? The book has received the inevitable comparisons to Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes but I like to look at it as historical fiction run through a hand-cranked nightmare projector. Yes, it’s world building, but it’s also world restoration–wiping the mud off the weird bric-a-brac and giving it new uses. Kate has two companion volumes currently out: the novella The Kairos Mechanism and the just-released The Broken Lands.

Trapped by Michael Northrop. I’ve tossed back a few beers with Michael in my day. A fine lad with a gregarious laugh. He’s also the creator of a remarkably taut and realistic thriller. Growing up in the snowbelt of upstate New York, I know a thing or three about blizzards and the existential yearnings of suburban youth from cloudy communities. I also know more than enough about survival–we did, after all, have a “Survival Unit” in my seventh grade science class. So I can tell you that when Michael traps a bunch of teenagers in a snowbound high school, his details are spot on (n.b. Michael only traps fictional teenagers in snowbound high schools…as far as I know). I was expecting melodrama. What I got was far more surprising. Michael’s latest, Rotten, will be out in the spring and stars a rottweiler named Johnny Rotten. I just hope there’s a “never mind the bullocks”/neutering joke in there.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. Nova is truly a friend to all writers (as her never-ending and always-fascinating blog series attests) and one of the most dedicated authors of young adult fiction out there. Her lyrical, haunting tale of ghosts and sisterhood and the recklessness of rural youths is unlike anything on the market. In a way, you could call it a romance, but it’s not the girl-meets-swoonworthy-monster-man treacle we’ve all tired of. It’s about the romance of power, of being a big fish in a small pond (or reservoir, in this case). It’s about the twists of love and jealousy that bind together and choke families and small communities. It’s about 350 pages long. Nova’s new novel, 17 & Gone, is on the horizon. I’ve read the first chapter. Beautiful, scary stuff.

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill. I remember reading a fantastic early review of this book and since Kelly was someone I followed on Twitter, I thought I should check it out. I read the first chapter online and…gulp. This is the brand of middle-grade fiction that most people don’t know exists: dark, risky and intellectual. The set-up seems typical enough: new boy in town, mysteries to uncover. But when the perspectives start shifting and things get botanical and pagany, you realize you’re reading a story about the gnarly roots underneath, and not just the literal type. It’s a modern folk tale, but not in a jokey or revisionist way, which means it has guts to spare (as well as some tree sap). Kelly’s new fairy tale, Iron-Hearted Violet, is also getting great buzz.

The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody. Matt and I met when we were both debut authors, in the long ago year of MMIX (I’m pretty sure they only used Roman numerals back then). He told me that he was working on a book inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and featuring time travel, monsters in the closet and dinosaurs. I was obviously intrigued. When I finally had the chance to read the finished product, I was thrilled to find a yarn that was both pulpy and dripping with Victorian ambiance, a rip-roaring adventure of the old mold. If they make a movie of it, they should resurrect Ray Harryhausen to do the special effects. In case you haven’t heard, Matt’s Super is now out. It’s a sequel to his delightful anti-superhero tale Powerless.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. I don’t know Andrew, but my agent recommended I check out one of his latest. The cover promises some sort of steampunky or sci-fi adventure, along the lines of this or this. But it’s not really like those other books at all (at least I don’t think it is). It’s a psychological horror tale, about how trauma lays waste to our worlds. People are undoubtedly calling it dystopian fiction, but that’s not accurate either. What’s disintegrating here is not society, but the mind. And the book has one of the most spectacularly tense openings of anything I’ve read in years. Andrew’s sequel, Passenger, just hit shelves. Not for the faint of heart or stomach I bet, but riveting I’m sure.

Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder. I’d been meaning to check this one out for a while, ever since I noticed it was being published around the same time as The Only Ones. But I lollygagged, and Laurel beat me to the punch by reading my book first and writing a lovely review of it. So I immediately went out and got a copy of hers. I fired through it in three evenings and found myself nostalgic for my early reading experiences. I was weened on the junior versions of magical realism like The Indian in the Cupboard and Laurel’s book certainly lives up to that tradition. But its real magic is its plainspoken and intimate portrayal of a family falling to pieces and it made me remember what I’ve always truly cared about in fiction: emotion, confusion, difficult questions that don’t always have answers. I’ve never met Laurel, but I’ve learned through her Twitter feed that she’s working on a prequel of sorts. If it’s as poised and well-crafted as this one, I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, we can all pick up her picture book The Longest Night when it arrives in February, right before Passover.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. I sat next to Rob at the Collingswood Book Festival in October. He was passing through, on his way north to join his wife for their wedding anniversary, and he only had a couple of hours to meet his fans. He was greeted by an enthusiastic class of local 5th-graders who were reading this debut novel and were desperate for the author’s autograph. He signed a few dozen copies and prepared to hit the road. I trusted the kids’ endorsement, so I also had Rob sign a copy for me as he left. I read the book a few weeks later, by candlelight during the Hurricane Sandy blackout. I understood immediately what made him such a rock-star to these kids (and to their teacher). Rob has written an ideal book for the classroom, a story about a variety of children with conflicting perspectives and motivations, about mistakes, about the importance of forgiveness and understanding. It’s a thoughtful tale and he continues it in his second book, Mr. Terupt Falls Again. Assign this one to your fourth or fifth grade class and you’re sure to have hours of discussions.

So there you have it, my admittedly biased holiday book-buying guide. Each of these novels is available in paperback, so they can be had for less than ten bucks. Stuff a stocking, why don’t you?

1 Comments on My Admittedly Biased Holiday Book-Buying Guide, last added: 12/5/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
22. The Riverman, a Novel

It’s been almost two years in the making, but I can finally reveal more about my latest book, The Riverman. It won’t officially bust out into the world until March 2014, but a few advance reader copies have escaped their cage and if you find one, hogtie it and read it, then shout your opinions about it from the mountaintops (or from a blog or social media platform of your choice).

For the rest of you, here’s a teaser:

“To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here’s mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger.”

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here’s the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair’s doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there’s a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there’s a creature called the Riverman and he’s stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else…something even more terrifying.

And here’s a blurb from the inimitable, incredible, award-hoarding author of Dead End in Norvelt, Hole in My Life and the Joey Pigza series:

“Every culture has a magical river story. Some rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative. Dive into this book and you may never resurface.”Jack Gantos

And here are the cold hard facts:

The Riverman was edited by Joy Peskin. It is represented by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. It will be published on March 18, 2014 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, a division of Macmillan. Without these dedicated and talented people, it would not be the book that it is. In fact, it would not be a book at all.

Finally, here’s the cover, designed by Beth Clark and illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova:

riverman cover

0 Comments on The Riverman, a Novel as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. School Visit: Learning Community Charter School of Jersey City, NJ

DWEEB

Do you see that picture? Seriously, folks, do you understand the ridiculously awesome thing you’re looking at there? Click on it for closer inspection. That, my friends, is the blood, sweat and tears of three classes of 5th Graders at LCCS in Jersey City, NJ. These kids were kind enough to not only read DWEEB, but also create some amazing artwork based on the book. You are looking at movie posters! Cereal boxes! Comic strips! Character profiles! And hamburgers of all shapes, sizes and dimensions! Amazing? You better believe it.

I had the distinct honor of visiting these young readers and artists last Thursday. They welcomed me into their school with kindness, questions and pizza. A special thank you goes out to the teachers and staff who invited me, especially Ms. Litman, a friend from the days of yore. LCCS is a wonderful school with kids so smart and audacious that they are demanding a sequel to DWEEB (Random House, are you listening?) and a 150-million-dollar movie based on the book…starring them:

LCCS kids

P.S. One of these kids was wearing a Keith Richards T-shirt. He should probably be cast in the role of Elijah.

0 Comments on School Visit: Learning Community Charter School of Jersey City, NJ as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Hoboken Public Library Book Festival: Saturday, June 8

HobokenBookFestival

For years, I’d been hoping that my hometown of Hoboken would hold a book festival. Of course, I could have organized one myself. But such things require gumption, which is usually in short supply after a day of writing and chasing freelance projects. Luckily, the Hoboken Public Library has bucketloads of gumption, and they probably also have some sort of mind-reading technology, because they’ve taken my idea and run with it. They’re holding their inaugural book festival to kick off the summer and I will be there reading, signing and selling The Only Ones and DWEEB. Here are the details:

  • When: Saturday, June 8, 11am-5pm (my readings: 11:15am-1:00pm; signing and selling: 1pm-3pm)
  • Where: Church Square Park in Hoboken
  • Who: Me! and these other wonderful local authors.
  • How: By hook or by crook

I hope to see you all there!

0 Comments on Hoboken Public Library Book Festival: Saturday, June 8 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Tachair Bookshoppe Reading: Sunday, May 19

TachairBookshoppe

For years, Jersey City, a place with a population of nearly 250,000, didn’t have an independent bookstore. Tachair Bookshoppe filled the void last year and is already a fixture in the downtown community, a place where you can go to read, drink coffee, catch a musical performance, and see paintings from local artists. Tachair is Gaelic for a meeting place and I hope you will meet me there for some readings from DWEEB, The Only Ones, and (possibly), The Riverman.

  • When: Sunday, May 19 at 5:30 PM
  • Where: Tachair Bookshoppe at 260 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
  • How: Drive or take the PATH train to Grove Street and walk northwest on Newark Avenue until you reach 2nd Street
  • Why: Because it will be fun!

This world needs more places like Tachair. Like them on Facebook for even more information. And please come out and support them…and me!

 

0 Comments on Tachair Bookshoppe Reading: Sunday, May 19 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts