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).
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.
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Middle Grade Novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 88
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts tagged with the words: Middle Grade Novels in the JacketFlap blog reader. What is a tag? Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find posts on JacketFlap.com as well as provide an easy way for you to "remember" and classify posts for later recall. Try adding a tag yourself by clicking "Add a tag" below a post's header. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
Synopsis (from Indiebound): Guided by a tattered map, accompanied by Thomas the Pig Boy, and inspired by the storyteller’s blood that thrums through her veins, eleven-year-old Trinket searches for the seven stories she needs to become a bard like her father, who disappeared years before. She befriends a fortune-telling gypsy girl; returns a child stolen by the selkies to his true mother; confronts a banshee and receives a message from a ghost; helps a village girl outwit—and out-dance—the Faerie Queen; travels beyond the grave to battle a dastardly undead Highwayman; and meets a hound so loyal he fights a wolf to the death to protect the baby prince left in his charge. All fine material for six tales, but it is the seventh tale, in which Trinket learns her father’s true fate, that changes her life forever.
Why I liked it: The best thing about the book, of course, is Trinket! She comes across as very real, human, flawed and yet lovable. She wants desperately to be a good storyteller as her father was, but she's shy about actually telling the stories to people they meet. So she listens and observes and gathers the tales for later telling. I had no trouble guessing what happened to her father, but I doubt a tween reader would figure it out. Filled with vivid descriptions, this book has a decidedly medieval flavor and stories based on Celtic folklore. My favorites are the Selkie's tale and the Banshee's tale. The Seven Tales of Trinket would make a perfect read-aloud.
You might recognize Shelley Moore Thomas as the author of the adorable Good Knight series of picture books and young readers. This is her first middle grade novel.
And here's the giveaway I promised you last week. I will use random.org to choose one lucky winner of my hardcover copy. The rules are simple: You must be a follower and you must leave a comment on this post. International entries welcome. This giveaway will end at 11:00 pm EDT on Saturday October 14, 2012. Good luck!
I rarely get personal on this blog. But I'm about to. So if you'd rather scroll down for my MMGM recommendation, TRUE COLORS by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, feel free.
Now that summer's over, I can tell you it wasn't the happiest of seasons.
For the past ten years, I worked in the Children's Department of Chester County Book & Music Company.
(Taken in September 2010)
A lovely young woman named Suzanne hired me and trained me (in fact, I was the only one there all these years who was hired and trained by her). Everything I know about bookselling, I learned from this wise and funny gal. She left the bookstore in 2003 to move on in her career, even owning her own store at one point. I had dinner with her in Portland, Maine, where she was then working, in 2007. Years went by and we lost touch.
Suzanne and me in 2007
In mid-June of this year, I learned that she had passed away suddenly, senselessly, tragically, at the age of 39. The family had a private funeral and promised a memorial service in Pennsylvania at a later date.
Then in mid-July bookstore employees, followed quickly by the public, learned that the bookstore has been operating on a month-to-monthlease since January. A fitness center is interested in the space and it's only a question of time before the deal is completed and the bookstore will then close.
These two seemingly disparate events combined in my mind to make this a difficult summer. I learned that some people in authority will stoop to nefarious means to find out what people said on their facebook page. I learned who my friends were ( You know the ones who ask how your vacation was? Those are your friends).
I realized that life is too short and what I really want to do is write for kids.
So that's what I'm doing. And yes, I am blessed to be able to afford to do this. I gave notice at the bookstore and timed it so that my last day was Friday, September 14. The next day was the memorial service for Suzanne. It seemed entirely fitting to me that my career as a bookseller should both begin and end with Suzanne. Rest in peace, dear friend.
* * * * * *
What will I miss about the bookstore?
I will miss meeting people who love children's books. I will miss recommending books to my favorite customers and talking about books with enthusiastic book lovers. Luckily, I can still do that with this blog! I will miss unlimited advanced reading copies at my fingertips.
I will miss this:
(But I can still meet wonderful authors like Richard Peck at book signings anywhere)
I will miss this:
What won't I miss?
I definitely won't miss this:
Yes, we were still using DOS computers
The ceiling leaked when it rained
I won't miss selling toys. I won't miss shrieking toddlers. I won't miss checking the public restrooms at closing time. And I won't miss working every Saturday for ten years. I won't miss that at all!
I'm now self-employed and loving it. I figured the blog needed a facelift, so that's why it looks different. And next week I'll be having a giveaway to celebrate my new status!
* * * * *
Now for today's MMGM. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For other participants, see my sidebar. I think my friend Suzanne would have enjoyed this book about family and friendships and one summer of self-discovery for a sensitive girl.
True Colors by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock (Coming November 13 from Knopf, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from Indiebound): One girl's journey to find the mother she never had, set against the period backdrop of a small farming town in 1950s Vermont. For her entire life, 10-year-old Blue has never known her mother. On a cold, wintry day in December of 1941, she was found wrapped in a quilt, stuffed in a kettle near the home of Hannah Spooner, an older townswoman known for her generosity and caring. Life with Hannah so far has been simple—mornings spent milking cows, afternoons spent gardening and plowing the fields on their farm. But Blue finds it hard not to daydream about her mother, and over the course of one summer, she resolves to finally find out who she is. That means looking through the back issues of the local newspaper, questioning the local townspeople, and searching for clues wherever she can find them. Her search will change her life forever.
Why I liked it: This beautifully-written novel is a true middle-grade in the purest sense. There's not a lick of romance. Instead there's adventure and mystery. There are fascinating characters. And historical fiction fans will love this -- it's the summer of 1952, a time period not often treated in children's literature. It's also one of those quiet books I'm so fond of (see this post about another). The synopsis doesn't tell you that an important part of the book is Blue's friendship with Nadine or that Nadine has trials of her own. It doesn't mention Raleigh, a man who suffered a brain trauma and now can only say a few words. And it doesn't mention Mr. Gilpin, the newspaper editor, who offers Blue her first paying job. Along with Hannah, all these people are important to Blue, for varying reasons. The only drawback is that this book won't be published until November! So add it to your TBR lists.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For other participants, see my sidebar or Shannon's links.
The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver (coming October 2 from Harper, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from the publisher): When Liza's younger brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: the spindlers -- evil, spiderlike beings -- have gotten to him and stolen his soul. And she is certain that she is the only one who can save him.
Why I liked it: This would make a terrific read-aloud! Short chapters with cliffhanger endings, imaginative worldbuilding, a brave heroine, lots of action, and a heart's desire: what more could you want? There were moments that made me gasp, and quite a few that made me smile. This book could easily take its place alongside Gregor the Overlander, James and the Giant Peach, and even The Wizard of Oz. It introduces human-size talking animals inhabiting another world Below. And most of the book is a challenging hero's journey to save Patrick and get his soul back home. Liza is accompanied on the journey by a human-size rat named Mirabella, who agrees to be her guide. So with two strong female characters, this is a must-read for girls.
Please be aware that some of the creatures Liza encounters might be a tad scary for younger readers.
What middle grade novels have you read that involve a hero's quest, or humans interacting with talking animals?
Elena Caravela’s July “Out of This World” illustration reminded me that it doesn’t matter what color your hair is or where you are from to want to participate in a critique group.
It seems that a large amount of people are looking to find a critique group. Since the New Jersey SCBWI website will be taken over on the National SCBWI main website, everyone is waiting for new info to be put up. Over the last month I have told people they would have to wait. It occured to me, I could post the information and help writer’s and illustrators look for groups.
Please make sure you include all the information from the form below. Leave your information in the comments and I will pick it up and post a list on Thursday. You do not have to be from New Jersey to list the information for forming a group. You don’t have to want to form a meet-in-person group. The Internet has given us lots of options. You don’t have to be a writer, you can be an illustrator who would like to form a group with other illustrators.
Give some thought as to how you would like to run your group. Try to keep it real. Having ten people in your group who submit something everyday for critique to the group, may be too much for most people to fit into their busy lives.
Here is the form I came up with. Please feel free to add any other information you think is neccessary for your group:
Critique Group Genre:
Critique Group Type – in personor online:
When? Where? How often?
Critique Group level: Beginner, Mid-level, Advanced, Well Published
Critique Group Person Limit:
Critique Group Goal:
Here are two people who sent me something, before I made up the form. Perhaps there are some people who might like to contact them.
New Group Forming in the New Jersey Ramsey, Mahwah, Allendale, Upper Saddle River, and Vicinity
Aspiring YA writer is looking for other YA or middle-grade writers to form a critique group in NYC. Ideally, the group will meet at least once a month. Potential members should be open to reading others’ work, and ONLY give constructive feedback. Any other kind of feedback is unncessary. Interested writers should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Note: Remember when applying for a group listed, you need to expand on your background to make sure you are a right fit for the group.
Critique Group Genre:Picture Book Critique Group Type: in person or online: Online or in person if in Where: If in personKnoxville, Tn area.
When: Sunday afternoons.
How often: Once or twice a month. Critique Group level: Minium mid level up to advanced. Critique Group Person Limit: 6 Critique Group Goal: Overall feedback, constructive critiques to help correct grammatical issues or character/plot weaknesses. Sharing of industry news, contests, blog hops or other pertinent writing information as necessary. Name: Donna L Martin Contact Info:email@example.com
When we moved to Phoenixville a few months ago, we found our premises already occupied. Rabbits live in our backyard and, because ours is a residential area, we found them to be somewhat blase about our presence. They usually don't run away; they just stop nibbling grass and dandelions and stay put, whiskers twitching. Now that I've read Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire, I doubt I'll ever be able to view rabbits as bland, innocuous creatures again. Who knew that's just their cover, that underneath rabbits are as varied and nuanced as we are!
Polly Horvath (or rather Mrs. Bunny) has written a fantastical novel in which a pair of fedora-sporting bunnies help a young girl find her missing parents. Madeline, the girl in need of assistance, lives in a commune on an island with her hippy dippy parents. Horvath makes it clear from the start that Madeline is the responsible one in the trio. When her parents are kidnapped by a band of treacherous foxes, it's up to Madeline to rescue them. She does this with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, who have just recently decided to try their hand--er, paw--at detecting. (Madeline, it seems, has the knack of understanding the Rabbit language, as well as Marmot and Fox.)
Their quest to get to the bottom of the mystery takes many twists and turns, as Madeline forges a relationship with the nurturing lagomorphs. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are hysterical (and perhaps uncomfortably recognizable to some adult readers) as a long-married couple prone to bickering. I confess that in places the story became a tad too whimsical for my taste and I have no idea why Madeline wanted her clueless, childish parents back. However, these are small quibbles. Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire is an amusing tour d'force that practically begs to be read aloud.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath Schwartz & Wade, 256 pages Published: February 2012
Whew! That's a lot of M's. And I've just been in Millinocket, Maine. More M's. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger (Ha! One more M!) For other participants, please see my sidebar to the right.
I'm back from our road trip vacation and I have a terrific new book to share with you. And a giveaway! I'm celebrating two things since I last posted for MMGM: My seven years of survival since my brain aneurysm ruptured in 2005. And my three years of book blogging. So I figured it was only natural to have a giveaway! Read on for my MMGM pick this week and for details about the giveaway.
Malcolm at Midnight by W.H. Beck, with pictures by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Coming 9/4/2012, for ages 9 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from the publisher): When Malcolm (a smaller than average rat) arrives as the fifth grade pet at McKenna School, he revels in the attention, the Pop-Tart crumbs, and his new Comf-E-Cube. He also meets the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that keeps the nutters (kids) out of trouble. After all, everybody knows, "a lot happens in a school when the teachers aren't looking."
There's just one problem. Rats have a terrible reputation. So when the Academy assumes Malcolm is a mouse, he doesn't exactly speak up. Then the Academy's leader, a glasses-wearing iguana named Aggy, disappears and the Academy smells a rat... a dirty rat fink, to be specific. Now Malcolm must use all of his ratty persistence to prove his innocence, get Aggy back under her heat lamp -- and find out if it's possible to be a critter of valor and merit even if you're a rat.
Why I liked it: They had me at "a secret society of classroom pets"! This is great fun, especially for fans of the Ralph S. Mouse books by Beverly Cleary and the Humphrey books by Betty G. Birney. An added bonus is the format. The book is written as an anonymous letter and story that the fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Binney, found on his desk one day, and the anonymous authors have cleverly inserted lessons they've learned from Mr. Binney, fifth-grade vocabulary words, and some funny footnotes. Alert readers will eventually realize which students wrote the note and story. I found this book hugely entertaining, and Malcolm a worthy middle-grade hero.
This giveaway is open internationally. You must be a follower and you must comment on this post. But to make it a little bit challenging, I'm going to do what I did last year and give away some arcs and things based on your response to one question:
HOW FAR DO YOU THINK WE DROVE ON OUR ROAD TRIP?
Road to Campground in Baxter State Park - never saw another car!
That's me at Sandy Stream Pond in Baxter State Park
We started in Southeastern Pennsylvania and drove all the way to Millinocket, Maine, and Baxter State Park, up in the far northern woods of Maine (no, we didn't see a moose, darnitall -- it was too hot!). But keep in mind we made many side trips along the way up and back.
The person who comes the closest to guessing how many miles we drove wins first prize. The second closest guess wins second prize. And the next closest guess wins third prize.
Holy Smoke! Three prizes! I've never done this before.
FIRST PRIZE: An arc of Malcolm at Midnight AND a mini-poster of an illustration from the book, signed by Brian Lies AND an arc of The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (also pubbing in September)
Detail from Brian's drawing
SECOND PRIZE: An arc of What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt (see my review here) AND an arc of Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli (both due in September)
THIRD PRIZE: An arc of The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann (also coming in September)
So put your thinking caps on and try to guess how many miles we drove on our road trip. Just include your answer in a comment below. Thanks for entering! This giveaway will end at 10:00 pm EDT on Saturday August 25, 2012. Winner will be announced on Monday August 27.
These are the top ten agents for middle grade novels for the past twelve months, as reported on Publisher’s Marketplace. Caution: PM relies on self-reporting and not all agents report their deals and many agents report only a portion of their deals.
Sara Crowe (Harvey Klinger),
8 deals in this category in the last 12 months
Tina Wexler (ICM),
7 deals in this category in the last 12 months (interview)
Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary Agency),
7 deals in this category in the last 12 months
First, I have a giveaway winner to announce: The winner of the hardcover copy of IF I LIE by Class of 2K12 author Corrine Jackson is:
Congrats and expect an email from me asking for your mailing address!
* * * * * *
Now for today's MMGM. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for the links, or see my convenient sidebar to the right (and if you're not in there and you believe you should be, let me know).
Jerry Spinelli is one of my favorite authors. And not just because I've met him and I've actually seen him shopping in the bookstore several times! You may remember my interview with him and my review of Jake and Lily from May. My all-time favorite Spinelli books are Stargirl and Maniac Magee.
Jerry said his favorite, of all the books he's written, is his first. Well, I was embarrassed that I'd never read the man's first book (at least, the first one he published, after four novels were rejected). So I recently bought a copy and read it that same day.
Space Station Seventh Gradeby Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown, paperback published 1991, hardcover published 1982, probably best suited for ages 10 and up)
Source: paperback purchased at the bookstore
Synopsis (from the book cover): Seventh-grader Jason Herkimer struggles with all that junior high brings: pimples, puberty, football, school dances, and most of all, girls!
Why I liked it: It's written in first person and that twelve-year-old (and later thirteen-year-old) boy voice is perfect. The dialog between Jason and his friends (and between Jason and his parents) is hilariously realistic. Jerry might have delved into his own boyhood and recalled everything good and bad about being a seventh-grade boy in the suburbs. Or maybe he simply listened to his own six children! The structure is straightforward: it follows the school year, with chapter titles like Hayrides, Football, Girls, Snow. This is very much a boy book, but girls could read it too. It's a little dated, but I find it refreshing to read a book in which no one has a computer or a cell phone, and they all spend a lot of time outside!
Note that the space station of the title is a project Jason is building. It's something he brags about to Debbie Breen, the cheerleader he has a crush on.
(I'll warn you that I was surprised to find the "s" word sprinkled throughout this book. Yet in ten years as a bookseller, I've never heard any complaints about it from customers.)
What's your favorite Jerry Spinelli book?
And I hope you all saw the Los Angeles Times article (as mentioned by PW's Children's Bookshelf) proclaiming that the field of children's lit is still growing! That's fantastic news for everyone who reads or writes children's books.
Synopsis (from Indiebound): For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game.
On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.
Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game. This is an impeccably researched, lyrical story about baseball, honor, and a turbulent period in U.S. history.
Why I liked it: Kathryn Fitzmaurice's luminous prose verges on the poetic. Many of the chapters are short, more like vignettes of life in Gila River. So it should appeal to reluctant readers, especially if they like baseball.
But even if you're not a baseball fanatic, you'll still find many reasons to read about Tetsu and his family and the harsh conditions at the internment camp. Note that this is for upper middle grade. Fitzmaurice doesn't gloss over the difficulties. This is a work of fiction, but she did staggering amounts of research and interviewed the real Tetsu who played baseball at that internment camp.
I learned a lot from reading this book. Imagine being forced to leave your home and your dog and move to a reservation in the middle of the desert, with sparsely-furnished barracks and nothing to do, not even a school at first. Imagine fifty-six families sharing one latrine. Imagine dust storms that sicken people. It's hard to believe today. But it really happened.
My mother grew up in Los Angeles and was about the same age as Tetsu in 1942. She well remembers some of her classmates who were Japanese-Americans being in class one day and not the next. It was a dark time in our history. Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of The Year the Swallows Came Early, shines a brilliant light on that time period and makes us realize what Japanese-Americans endured then.
What middle grade historical fiction are you passionate about?
Synopsis: Maya and her perfect little brother James move to Paris with their father, a chemist, and their mother, a cancer survivor. There, Maya meets a mysterious old uncle Henri and a sinister young uncle also, strangely enough, named Henri. With the help of an almost-invisible cousin Louise, and a classmate named Valko, Maya begins to learn of a supernatural underworld in which the beautiful people stay young forever. Most importantly, Maya discovers the Cabinet of Earths, kept by the old Uncle Henri. The extraordinary cabinet seems to hold the secret of immortality and it wants Maya to be its new Keeper.
Why I liked it: A thoroughly original fantasy, mystery, and horror novel rolled into one impressive book. As I read this, I had to remind myself it was a debut novel. This is a winner! Anne Nesbet has done an excellent job of world-building. She writes with a sure hand. The publisher calls this a fantasy and compares it to Coraline, and I could understand that. But at its heart, Cabinet of Earths is a moving story about a girl who's worried about her mother. It's written in third person close, which totally works for this. There's a strong sense of place (maybe it helps that I've been to Paris -- but I suspect even if you haven't you'll sense the charm of the City of Light). The mystery is perfectly paced, a little complex and a bit scary, which is why it may not be suitable for younger readers.
What's your favorite middle-grade fantasy?
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):
This is author Laurie Calkhoven. She is the author of nearly 50 books for young readers. In addition to writing her own fiction, she has ghostwritten middle grade mysteries, authored TV tie-in novels, and contributed to many nonfiction series for children. Currently she is writing historical action/adventure novels for her own series, “Boys of Wartime”, published by Dutton Books for Young Readers.
You may recognize the name, because she is on this years faculty for our June Conference. All her critique spots are completely taken, but you can still get into one of her many workshops she is conducting at the conference in June. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about building a career as a freelance writer.
This Sunday, Feb. 12th, she will be signing her Book titled, I GREW UP TO BE PRESIDENT at Washington’s Headquarters at the Moland House – 1641 Old York Road, Hartville, PA 18974
This is your chance to create a family adventure, mix in some history, let the kids see Washington’s Headquarters first hand, while supporting your fellow authors.
New Jersey author Debbie Dadey will be joining her to sign her book WEREWOLVES DON”T RUN FOR PRESIDENT from her Bailey School Kids Series. Debbie is not in the area the weekend of the conference, so she will not be available to come to the book fair. This might be your only chance to get her books signed.
Also, Debbie has a new book series, MERMAID TALES coming out on May 8th by Simon and Schuster.
This April 15th marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, so there are a lot of new books (and old ones!) on display at the bookstore right now.
Kaspar the Titanic Catby Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman (9780062006189, Harpercollins, March 13, 2012, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from the publisher
Synopsis (from the publisher): When Kaspar the cat first arrived at London’s Savoy Hotel, it was Johnny Trott who carried him in. After all, Johnny was a bellboy and was responsible for all of Countess Kandinsky’s things— including Kaspar. But when tragedy befalls the Countess during her stay, Kaspar becomes more than Johnny’s responsibility: Kaspar is Johnny’s new cat, and his new best friend.
And when Kaspar and Johnny meet Lizziebeth, a spirited young heiress, they find themselves journeying across the Atlantic with Lizziebeth’s family on England’s newest and most magnificent ship, the Titanic. Because there is always adventure in the air with a cat like Kaspar around. After all, he’s Kaspar Kandinsky, Prince of Cats, a Londoner and a New Yorker and, as far as anyone knows, the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic. . . .
Why I liked it: This is a sweet story and easy to read. The author was the writer-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel in London for three months in 2007 (do American hotels do this?) and was inspired to write this story by the black statue of a cat which the hotel uses as a fourteenth "guest" whenever an "unlucky" group of thirteen sits down to dine.
Michael Morpurgo has written more than 100 books, and you may recognize him as the author of War Horse. He's great at making animals sympathetic characters. But unlike last week's MMGM post, this is no talking animal story. Johnny, the 14-year-old bellboy, tells the story. Kaspar remains a somewhat mysterious figure, being a cat. He'll still tug at your heart, especially when the nasty head housekeeper at the Savoy suspects Johnny is breaking the rules and keeping a cat in his room. And you'll laugh when Lizziebeth, who is about eight years old, saves the day by meowing.
The title of the book is somewhat misleading, because the voyage on the Titanic only takes up a portion of the book (it's a few chapters and the disaster at sea is clearly described in a straightforward manner that shouldn't be too scary for younger readers -- after all, they've probably read the Magic Tree House version!). In fact, after doing a little research, I discovered that this book is actually a new edition of an earlier publication, Kaspar, Prince of Cats, a "picture story book" published by Harpercollins in 2008, with full color paintings by Michael Foreman. Too bad we only get black and white drawings in the new edition, although anything by Michael Foreman is lovely.
Elizabeth Pomada moved from New York to San Francisco with her husband and partner Michael Larsen in 1970 and started the Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency back in 1972. Over the years they have represented many bestselling authors. Kat Salazar joined Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in February 2011 as an intern for the agency working directly for agency co-founder Elizabeth Pomada. Now as an Associate Agent Kat is actively looking for Children’s Picture books, Middle-grade, and Young adult. For adult audiences she is interested in Literary Fiction and Urban Fantasy.
Previously she worked for University of Washington Press as a Marketing Assistant and held internships at University of California Press, HarperOne of Harper Collins, and Wales Literary Agency. Currently, she is the Publishing Assistant at Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari Press as well as the agency’s newest Associate Agent and the San Francisco Writers Conference Social Media Director.
Kat earned a BA degree from University of Washington, double majoring in English: Literature and Communications: Journalism.
Please query her with the first 10 pages of your manuscript and a 1-2-page synopsis via email (no attachments) at QueryKatSalazar@gmail.com.
Have you ever forgotten a really good book? One that's out of print now? And then suddenly you come across it, maybe in a library, or a used bookstore, or even (in my case) on your own very crowded bookshelves, and you say, OH! That book!
That was my reaction when weeding out my bookcases recently to try to squeeze in more acquisitions, and my eyes lit upon this:
The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh (first published in the UK in 1993; US edition published by Harper, 1996, for ages 8 to 12). First in a sequence of five books which includes:
(And if these titles remind you of The Borrowers, you're close!)
I nearly cried when I learned these books were going out of print, soon after I started working at the bookstore ten years ago. I purchased all of them in paperback, read them several times and put them away on a shelf.
Who are the Mennyms? They're a family of life-size dolls created by a lonely British woman, and when she dies... they come to life. But they still have button eyes (take that, Neil Gaiman!) and they look, well, like dolls. Soobie, the teenaged son, is blue. The rest are more realistic, but they're still dolls, so they must stay close to home and not go out unless wrapped up in enough clothing to disguise themselves. They never age, they don't eat or drink, but they can communicate with the rest of the world by telephone or by writing letters (keep in mind, these books were written before computers and cell phones). They're even clever enough to earn a living (Vinetta sews dresses, for instance, and Granpa, also known as Sir Magnus, writes articles for the Times).
But trouble arrives in the form of a letter from their new landlord, who lives in Australia, and who has decided to pay a visit...
Wish I could tell you to go out and buy these books, but they're all out of print. You know by now that I don't own an e-reader (and I'll resist as long as possible), but I can see that these are great candidates for e-books, if only to keep them from disappearing forever.
What out of print treasures do you wish would come back into print?
From her own website, here's how to pronounce her name: My name is pronounced Sar (like the first part of Sara) - ve (rhymes with yeah) - naz (rhymes with 'cuz). Or you can just listen to me pronouncing it here. (Joanne's note: I love Teaching Books.net -- there's a link right over there in my sidebar!)
Her debut novel, TheMapmaker and the Ghost, pubs on April 24, 2012 from Bloomsbury/Walker, for ages 8 to 12.
Synopsis (from Indiebound): Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest.
Welcome to My Brain on Books, Sarvenaz! And I'm looking forward to your release day next week. Thank you so much for agreeing to do a guest post! Take it away, Sarvenaz.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For others, please see my MMGM bloglist! Today, I'm excited to be interviewing the one and only Jerry Spinelli, the beloved author of many wonderful middle grade novels including the Newbery-winning Maniac Magee. He has a new book coming soon.
Jake and Lily, by Jerry Spinelli (May 8, 2012, Balzer + Bray, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from the publisher):
This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We're twins and we're exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you'll get to see both sides of our story. But you'll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don't you? Yes!
Why I liked it: The special bond between Jake and Lily is unlike anything Jerry Spinelli has ever written. Yet the book is chock-full of his signature funny dialogue and situations. It's a great book for summer, because it takes place in one summer, a summer full of changes and possibilities, a summer for growing up. Jake and Lily are eleven now, so their parents decide to put them into separate bedrooms. And that's just the beginning. When Jake starts hanging out with a neighborhood gang, Lily feels lonely. So she spends most of her time with their hippie grandfather. I won't spoil it by telling you what happens, but rest assured the ending is perfect.
I loved the train connection. Trains play a special part in Jake and Lily's childhood. I'll delve into this more in the interview below.
Another thing I loved about this book was that Jake and Lily still have both parents, who are still married to each other! That's beginning to seem like a rarity in children's books.
1) Welcome, Jerry! Thanks for joining us here today. You've written more than 25 books for children, including the Newbery-winning Maniac Magee and my personal favorite, Stargirl. Of all your books, which one is your favorite?
My first, Space Station Seventh Grade.
2) How long did it take you to write the rough draft of Jake and Lily? And how many times did you have to revise it?
Giveaway Reminders: Don't forget you still have until Sunday night, May 13, to enter my giveaway for a signed hardcover copy of JAKE AND LILY by Jerry Spinelli! Go to THIS POST to enter!
You also have until Thursday night May 17 to enter my giveaway for an arc of DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough. Go to THIS POST to enter!
Now onto today's MMGM recommendation:
Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley (Dial, April 17, 2012, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from Indiebound):
A wonderfully whimsical debut that proves ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
In the mountain town of Remarkable, everyone is extraordinarily talented, extraordinarily gifted, or just plain extraordinary. Everyone, that is, except Jane Doe, the most average ten-year-old who ever lived. But everything changes when the mischievous, downright criminal Grimlet twins enroll in Jane's school and a strange pirate captain appears in town.
Thus begins a series of adventures that put some of Remarkable's most infamous inhabitants and their long-held secrets in danger. It's up to Jane, in her own modest style, to come to the rescue and prove that she is capable of some rather exceptional things.
With a page-turning mystery and larger-than-life cast of characters, Lizzie K. Foley's debut is nothing short of remarkable.
Why I liked it: The premise is great! This is wonderfully goofy and charming and the kind of book I would have loved as a kid. There's a quirkiness reminiscent of Roald Dahl. The town of Remarkable is populated by a collection of colorful characters. Oh, and there are pirates! Yes! How Jane figures out what's really going on in Remarkable is, um, rather remarkable, and yet it all fits together. A fun read.
What colorful, quirky characters have populated your favorite books?
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For other regulars, please see my sidebar (and if you don't see your blog in there, please give me a nudge).
I'm back! Did you miss me? Okay, show of hands, how many people didn't even realize I was gone??
Yes, I'm back from Revision Beach (sorry, I hate caves!) and I managed to finish Draft 5 of the MG novel that I've been working on for three years. Woo hoo!! So I'm here, at least for a few weeks. I've really missed keeping up with all your wonderful blogs, but I stayed away for a reason. My hero, Laurie Halse Anderson taught us something during a workshop at the Eastern PA SCBWI Poconos retreat in April. It was her "magic formula" for writing success.
And I'm going to share it with you, because I feel selfish keeping it a secret. Are you ready?
For every 10 hours you spend writing, you may spend 5 hours reading and ONE HOUR on the internet OR watching TV. That's right. One hour. I can hear the groans now, but that, my friends, is how Laurie Halse Anderson got where she is.
And to prove that she does have a sense of humor and isn't just a harsh taskmaster, this is how Laurie signed my copy of FORGE:
Now, on to today's double MMGM:
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Seeds of America, Book One, paperback published January 2010 by Atheneum, for ages 10 and up)
Source: paperback purchased from the bookstore where I work!
Synopsis (from Indiebound): If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
Why I liked it: Isabel is such a smart, strong character and so full of life and humor and love for her sister that you just can't help admiring her. You also can't help being incensed by her lack of freedom and the atrocities that she and the other slaves had to endure (which is why this isn't appropriate for younger readers). I learned an incredible amount about the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a young slave. How many of you knew that landowners in Rhode Island had slaves, just as those sout
Display CommentsAdd a Comment
Synopsis (from Indiebound): Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman—until Levi's grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi's staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it's 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it's time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed—last they knew.
So begins an eye-opening, life-changing journey for Levi. First lesson: there are different rules for African Americans in the South than there are in Chicago. And breaking them can have serious consequences. But with the help of some kind strangers, and despite the hindrances of some unkind ones, Levi makes his way across the United States—searching for his father and finding out about himself, his country, and what it truly means to belong.
Why I liked it: This is historical fiction at its finest. Told in a realistic 13-year-old boy's voice, Pearsall's moving and at times humorous novel isn't afraid to tackle tough topics like discrimination and abandonment. You'll also learn about a little-known aspect of World War II: the black paratroopers of the 555th battalion. The characters are wonderful, from Levi to Aunt Odella, to Cal and Peaches, the Fayetteville couple who give Levi a temporary home, to the mysterious old Maw Maw Sands, who seems to know everything, and finally to Levi's father himself, the almost legendary Charlie Battle.
As you read, you'll feel you are right there, in 1945. The scene in the grocer's in Fayetteville is etched in my memory, and I read this book more than two months ago. Levi's just gotten off the train from Chicago. He's hot and thirsty and he sees a Coca-Cola sign in the grocer's window. But when he enters the shop and puts his money down on the counter, the grocer hands him a dusty grape soda instead and points a gun in Levi's face. It's Levi's first experience with a white man in the South. And it's dramatic and intense. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this novel wins a Newbery honor in January.
For more MMGM recommendations, please visit the blogs in my sidebar to the right. And if you're not in my sidebar, and should be, please let me know!
Please remember to stop by Literary Rambles today for Natalie Aguirre's interview with Lenny Lee and a giveaway!
Today, I want to talk about loss and grief. Those who know me personally may know why I'm in this kind of mood. I've learned it's possible to grieve for a place almost as much as for a person. I'll go into more detail in a future blog post but it occurred to me that the book I planned to discuss today deals with both kinds of loss and does so beautifully.
What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt (coming September 4, 2012 from Clarion Books, for ages 10 to 14)
Synopsis (my own this time!): In a faraway world under siege, Young Waeglim forges a chain, holding all the art and beauty of his world. He flings it into space and the chain hurtles all the way across the universe and falls into the lunch box of Tommy Pepper, sixth-grader, of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
And then everything begins to change. Wearing the chain, Tommy can suddenly speak an odd language that his teacher and classmates don't understand. He can draw pictures that move. He can catch the football every time James Sullivan yells, "Go long!"
Grieving for his dead mother, Tommy is barely holding it together. But he's trying to be strong for his father, who has given up painting, and for his little sister, who has stopped talking. Then the local real estate developer announces plans to put condos on their beach. Tommy and his father know it will ruin everything, but they're powerless to stop it.
When a dark lord from the faraway world arrives in Plymouth and takes over as their teacher, Tommy is the only one who realizes it. Somehow, he has to convince his classmates to help him fight back before everything is destroyed.
Why I liked it: For the first time, Gary Schmidt (Newbery honor winner for both Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and The Wednesday Wars) has written a fantasy. And what a touching and gorgeous fantasy it is! I truly admire the voice of this novel. It's a haunting voice of grief and loss, yet with a marvelous sense of hope too. I'm also impressed by the strong sense of place. Even if you've never been in Plymouth, you'd be able to picture it.
The Mayflower replica, Plymouth Rock, the beach, the cemetery, it's all described perfectly. The town becomes a character in itself.
But perhaps the best part is the way Tommy and his friends, James, Alice, and Patrick, band together to fight the Dark Lord. It's not Harry Potter, but you'll cheer all the same.
For other MMGM love, see the links in my sidebar (and if you're not there, and you believe you should be, let me know).
Do you have a favorite MG book that deals with grief and loss?
Welcome, new followers! It never ceases to amaze me that I acquire new followers even while I'm on a blogging break. Thank you! Speaking of the blogging break... I managed to write more than 4000 words and I'm thisclose to finishing the rough of my second MG novel! Yay! Hope you're all accomplishing great things too.
Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic, May 2005, paperback, 9780439269971, $6.99, for ages 9 to 12).
Source: paperback from a friend
Synopsis (from Indiebound): Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw has had a lot to contend with in her young life, her name for one. Then there are her clothes (sewn in polyester by Gram), her difficulty speaking up, and her status at school as "nobody special." But according to Gram, most problems can be overcome with positive thinking. And with Gram and her little brother, Owen, life at Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho in California is happy and peaceful...until their mother reappears after seven years of being gone, stirring up all sorts of questions and challenging Naomi to discover and proclaim who she really is.
Why I liked it: So many reasons! The characters are wonderful, the details authentic, the situation heartwrenching. When Naomi and Owen's mother Skyla wants to take only Naomi back, not Owen, you quickly realize just what kind of person Skyla is. And Naomi will have to learn to speak up if she doesn't want to lose Owen and Gram. I cheered when Gram makes the decision to take the trailer and head to Mexico to seek the children's long-lost father. The ending was not at all what I expected, but I found it realistic and satisfying.
This is also a great read for this time of year! I've never been to Mexico, but after reading this, I'd love to go. I learned a lot about Las Posadas ("the inns"), a nine-day Advent celebration revolving around Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay. Different families play host each night from December 16 to December 24, and the neighborhood children go from house to house, being turned away until they reach the designated house. There, they are welcomed with food, drink, and pinatas.
November was an incredibly productive month for me. I revised a middle grade novel--now it's fully polished and ready to go. Yay! I also revised more than eleven picture book manuscripts. Six are fully polished and ready to go. Double yay! Plus, I have three that should be ready to sub fairly soon and a few others that are in pretty good shape--the rest are in various stages of revision. On top of all that, I won the PiBoIdMo challenge (Picture Book Idea Month) and came up with 87 ideas. Wow--I still can't believe that number! I honestly didn't think I'd get more than thirty or forty at the beginning of the month. It's amazing how many ideas you notice once you get used to looking for them!
I absolutely LOVE writing challenges. It's amazing to see how much I really can do when I keep a goal in mind. Plus, it's fun to work toward a goal with writing friends. That's why I was thrilled when Tara Lazar had asked me to write the kick off post for the event, and I can't wait to see how many gems will come out of these ideas! Thanks for the inspiration Tara, guest bloggers, and participants--I'm grateful for everything you've done to make PiBoIdMo such an incredible, fun, and productive event. You all rock!
Here are a few tricks that helped me come up with so many ideas: * I looked for inspiration online, like Jean Reidy suggested. * When the ideas seemed to slow down a bit, I created characters I'd love to write about, which sparked several of my story ideas. * I used Tammi Sauer's suggestion to come up with settings and brainstormed what could go wrong in each one. * I also used the suggestion from Aaron Zenz to come up with story ideas after looking at pictures drawn by kids. * I wrote down all the possibilities that hit me. But I didn't want to have those tiny nuggets sprinkled around my more fleshed out ideas, so I created a section at the bottom of my file for random thoughts. Some of them are just titles, a funny phrase...anything I think I might be able to use in a future manuscript. The amazing thing is that I fleshed out many of my random thoughts throughout the month and had to move them into my main file. I happy danced every time that happened. The ideas started off so small, I probably would've forgotten about them if I hadn't jotted them down. For all I know, some of them could end up in bookstores in the next few years!
Here's the breakdown of my ideas: 41 fleshed out ideas (two of them already have series possibilities jotted down) 44 random thoughts Two nuggets that could end up in a future picture book or middle grade novel
What will I do with all these ideas? I'm going to flesh them out more this month, do some character sketches and interviews, and see which ones scream for my attention the loudest. Then, I'll be ready to tackle two upcoming writing challenges. In January, the Add a Comment
If you've ever read The Magic Thief trilogy by Sarah Prineas (my blogging friend Myrna Foster reviewed them in October -- at this post), you might be familiar with the story of the changeling girl. A chance comment by a bookseller in Ohio inspired Sarah Prineas to turn that story into Winterling. A bookseller! How cool is that?
Winterling by Sarah Prineas (HarperCollins, January 3, 2012, hardcover, 9780061921049, $16.99, for ages 10 and up).
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from the publisher): With her boundless curiosity and spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn't belong. She hears the call of the wild wood, of the secrets it whispers to her. But when her grandmother reveals clues about the disappearance of her father and his mystical bond to her mother, Fer begins to unlock secrets about the the parents she never knew. Led to a reflecting pool that uncovers the Way, Fer finds an enchanting, dangerous land.
In this place cloaked in wonder, where pucks transform from boys to horses, Fer feels a strange magical attachment. But with her mother gone, everything has spun out of order and evil has imprisoned the place in ice. Now it is up to Fer to face down the powerful Mor, who has cruelly overtaken this world and its people, and discover the legacy she carries within.
Why I liked it: Gorgeous writing and sure-handed worldbuilding. The author has a fertile imagination and it shines through. And though the summary sounds a bit like The Snow Queen, this is very much an original fairy tale. And amazingly, nearly all the characters are female. In fact, Fer (short for Jennifer) has to save the puck boy from a nasty fate. Yay for powerful heroines!
What most impressed me, though, was the lushness of the sensory details. Nature, both beautiful and terrible, is all important here. Except for a few scenes, this book takes place outside, and you can really feel the icy cold and picture the leaves, the moss, and the pond.
Have you read any original fairy tales that impressed you?
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):
Here is the Information for the Pearl S. Buck Novel Writing Workshop:
Writing enthusiasts in Bucks County, PA, have the advantage of practicing their writing skills at the home of author Pearl S. Buck through community writing events, such as the one being given in 2012 by Author and editor, Anita Nolan.
She will offer a new year-long writing workshop taking participants through the novel-writing process. It will meet for 6 teaching workshops geared for writers wanting to write manuscripts for middle school to adult audiences.
The Novel Writing Workshops will be held the fourth Saturday of the following months from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. (1/28, 2/25, 4/28, 6/23, 9/22, 11/17) at Pearl S. Buck International.
•Session One: (January 28th) Come with a plot idea or a character in mind, or just a desire to write a novel. We will discuss brainstorming, plotting, characterizations, and point of view, formatting, writing a pitch and a synopsis before writing the manuscript.
•Session Two: ( February 25th) Participants can submit their first pages in advance for an instructor critique. We’ll discuss issues found in those first pages to illustrate things done well or common problems. We’ll discuss what first chapters should include.
•Session Three: ( April 28th) Showing, not telling, voice, handling dialogue, tags.
•Session Four: ( June 23rd) Turning points, transitions, subplots, writing in scenes.
•Session Five: (September 22nd) Conflict, adding tension on every page, creating a backstory.
•Session Six: (November 17) What’s next? Wrapping it all up.
Register by January 15th.
Fees: $25.00 per session OR pay $120.00 in advance and receive the following extras:
•March 31st and July 21st. Morning write-ins. Spend the morning working on your manuscript. No lesson these sessions, but instructor will be available to help you over hurdles.
· Enjoy unlimited participation in the Yahoo Writing Group that will be formed to exchange ideas, work out problems, and keep track of participant’s progress.
Anita will be doing a Writers’ Intensive Workshop on Friday June 3rd at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference for writers wanting to get all the basics down for children’s books.
Illustartors: Do you have a holiday illustration you would like to send and show off? I am putting up an illustration each day until the end of the year. You can send a blurb about you and I will put it up along with a link to your site. Make sure you note in the Subject Box. “Holiday Illustration.” Please submit a .jpg of at least 500 pixels wide to the e-mail below.
Remember you can also submit an illustration depicting a celebration for posting on December 31st. Please send a 500 pixel wide .jpg by December 27th to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com. It will be a wonderful way to end this year and welc