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1. MMGM Links (5/30/16)

Here's this week's MMGM links (sorry if I missed anyone--we lost a kitty today, so my brain is a little shot)

- Mark Baker wants everyone to solve THE MYSTERY OF MEMORIAL DAY. Click HERE to see why
- Andrea Mack is spotlighting JUST LIKE ME. Click HERE to see why. 
- Got My Book has a post on the benefits of audiobooks HERE. And a review of THE IRON TRIAL if you click HERE. 
- Greg Partridge is raving about ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK. Click HERE to see what he thought.   
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--CICI RENO: #MIDDLESCHOOLMATCHMAKER. Click HERE for details. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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2. Monday Mishmash 5/30/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Memorial Day  Take time today to remember what the holiday is really about. 
  2. Book Signing At Blairstown Elementary  Last Monday I signed close to 100 books at Blairstown Elementary School. It was such a great day. This school has been so incredibly supportive, reading all of my picture books and my MG, Curse of the Granville Fortune, so I donated a copy of Mystery of Majestic Cave to the library so the student could continue reading the series.
  3. Editing  I'm finishing up one client edit and getting ready for the next this week.
  4. Revising  I've been working through my latest Ashelyn Drake NA contemporary romance. So far I've been pleasantly surprised by the first draft. It's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I swear when I draft I go through periods where I think I'm writing nothing usable, but then I revise and surprise myself.
  5. End of the School Year  My daughter has a half day on Tuesday and then she's off for the summer. I can't believe another school year is finished.
  6. Visions of Mockingbird Point  True Poison, my cover designer for the Curse of the Granville Fortune series, sent me the draft of the cover for book three. As usual, it blew me away. Can't wait until it's finalized so I can share it with you all.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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3. Surveying Stories: The risks of rage in Robin Stevens' Wells & Wong mysteries

Literature trends toward patterns or themes which repeat -- sometimes because that's just what happens to hit the market at a given time, and other times it's the current zeitgeist and an active interest which people are seeking to promote.... Read the rest of this post

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4. MMGM Links (5/23/16)

Tonight's my last night "off" before entering the revision-deadline cave, so once again I'm putting the MMGM links together a little earlier than normal to grab a last night of decent sleep. So if you sent yours late and I missed you--sorry. I'm sure I'll be back to crazy late nights starting tomorrow.

- Carl at Boys Rule Boys Read! has four non-fiction recs this week. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Michelle Mason is COUNTING THYME. Click HERE to see why. 
- Reading Violet is trying to solve A RIDDLE IN RUBY with an author interview. Click HERE for all the fun.
-  Suzanne Warr is spotlighting THE TURTLE OF OMAN. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is cheering for CICI RENO: #MIDDLESCHOOLMATCHMAKER. Click HERE to see why
- Greg Pattridge is calling MAYDAY. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (5/23/16) as of 5/23/2016 7:52:00 AM
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5. Book Blog Tour and Guest Post: Black Lightning by K. S. Jones...


About Black Lightning:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!


From the award-winning author of Shadow of the Hawk

Title: Black Lightning

Author Name: K.S. Jones

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Length: Approx. 132 pages

Release Date: May 17, 2016

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing (www.mirrorworldpublishing.com)

Follow the Tour for Reviews, Guest Posts, Exclusive Excerpts, and Spotlight Posts:


~Black Lightning and its Apache influences~

A century ago, the word “Apache” would have conjured up images of warriors on horseback with whoops, hollers, and painted faces—worthy adversaries and fierce fighters trying to protect their families, their land, and their life-way. In my new middle-grade novel, Black Lightning, a modern-day (although rural) Chiricahua (cheer-uh-kaw-wuh) Apache family is integral to the story, adding flare to the tale with their traditional ways in a contemporary world.     

The Chiricahua are most closely associated with an area in southeastern Arizona known as the Chiricahua Mountains. Within this mountainous range is the Chiricahua National Monument, which today is part of the National Park Service. It is an amazing architectural wilderness of rock pinnacles and formations, once known to the Apache as the “Land of Standing-Up Rocks.”

Storytelling has always been important in the Apache culture, and Chiricahua children are expected to be well-versed in the oral traditions and lore. These storytelling sessions are often held for the benefit of the kids and usually take place at night. Can you imagine sitting outside under a starry night and listening to the story about a race of “supernaturals” who inhabit the nearby mountains? Or maybe hear the story of a girl who married a water monster? Or learn about a place that opened a door where no door had been before?

And sometimes, Apache men and women wear amulets, or talismans, made from wood struck by lightning, called tzi-daltai. Among other virtues, it is believed the wearer can learn things from the tzi-daltai and know the right direction when lost. Most amulets are made of wood, shaved-thin and incised with a simple human form then decorated with lines to signify lightning. Some even believe lightning talks to them, while others think the flash is the flight of the arrow thrown by the Thunder People. Talismans can be worn like necklaces or carried.

Black lightning, although not a rendering of Native American lore, has gained recent recognition in the science world with what scientists are calling “dark lightning.” And given the fact that the American Southwest has some of the most spectacular thunderstorms on earth, where better to imagine the phenomenon and its potential? To a storyteller, Native American or otherwise, the possibilities are endless and interesting!

More information related to the book BLACK LIGHTNING can be found on my Pinterest page! https://www.pinterest.com/ksjones/black-lightning-by-ks-jones/

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing
 http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/black-lightning-ebook

Amazon
http://amzn.to/24H7yrY

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-lightning-ks-jones/1123660287?ean=9781987976120

Quote:

“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond...” W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

Meet the Author:


Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Visit K.S. Jones:







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6. Monday Mishmash 5/23/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Book Signing at Blairstown Elementary  I'm returning to Blairstown Elementary today. You may remember I had a school visit there in March. Well, the students had the opportunity to order my books and I'm returning today to sign them. I was amazed at how many ordered books. I'm doing hand exercises to get ready for all the signing. ;) 
  2. Drafting  Drafting at half my usual pace is going well. It's hard for me to not fully jump in and let the manuscript consume me, but I'm forcing myself to only write half the day to keep balance between editing and drafting. So far so good. Or so I keep telling myself.
  3. Editing  I'm managing to stay on pace with edits even though I'm cutting my day's in half. The key is I'm staying sane and healthy. No stress. I'm calling it a win.
  4. Summer Schedule  This is my daughter's last full week of school, which means my summer schedule will be in full effect beginning June 1. My work hours will be early mornings and late evenings so I can spend the bulk of my day being Mom (my favorite job of all).
  5. Visions of Mockingbird Point  I should be getting edits back on the third book in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series in early June. This is the final installment and while I'm sad to see the characters go, I'm happy with how the series ends. Expect the book sometime in July.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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7. Announcing the Winner of Our New Visions Writing Contest

New Visions Award sealTu Books, the middle grade and young adult imprint of respected multicultural children’s publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, is thrilled to announce that author Supriya Kelkar has won its third annual New Visions Award for her middle grade historical fiction novel, Ahimsa.

The award honors a middle grade or young adult novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group. It was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market.

Supriya Kelkar
Supriya Kelkar

Ahimsa takes place in 1940s India, an era of great change as Indian citizens fight for independence from British colonial rule. When ten-year-old Anjali’s mother announces that she has quit her job to become a Freedom Fighter following Mahatma Gandhi, Anjali must find her place in a rapidly changing world.

The story was inspired by Kelkar’s own great-grandmother, who joined the freedom movement against the British. “She worked alongside Gandhi and spent time in jail, too, for her part in the nonviolent movement,” Kelkar says. “I hope that readers can be inspired by the fact that people were able to make such a huge impact on their world not through war, but through non-violence.” Kelkar will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a publication contract with Tu Books.

One manuscript received the New Visions Award Honor: Alexandra Aceves’ young adult horror story Children of the River Ghost. Set in contemporary Albuquerque, Children of the River Ghost is a unique reimagining of the la llorona myth told through the eyes of La Llorona herself. “I wanted to give her a voice, to give her the opportunity to tell her side of the story,” Aceves says. Aceves will receive a cash prize of $500.

There were three New Visions Award finalists: Alex Brown (Hate Crime), Hilda Burgos (The Castle of Kings), and Elizabeth Stephens (The Rougarou).

Last year, books by authors of color comprised less than eleven percent of the total number of books published for young readers, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The annual New Visions Award is a step toward the day when all young readers can see themselves in books.

Congratulations to all of the New Visions Award winners and finalists — we look forward to seeing your future books!

1 Comments on Announcing the Winner of Our New Visions Writing Contest, last added: 5/19/2016
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8. MMGM Links (5/16/16)

Just got home from TX, and the jet-lag is FIERCE, so I'm putting the MMGM links together a little earlier than normal. So if you sent yours late and I missed you--sorry.

- Suzanne Warr has chills for ANYA'S GHOST. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Patricia Tilton is singing praises for BLACKBIRD FLY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Kooky has been struck with love for THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Click HERE to read what she thought.
-  Laurisa White Reyes has an interview with author Gary Paulsen--and a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.
- Natalie Aguirre has a guest post from Jessica Lawson and agent Tina Wexler--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to learn more. 
- Greg Pattridge is giving some mad love to HATTER MADIGAN: GHOST IN THE H.A.T.B.O.X.  Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Dorine White is championing BAILEY'S STORY. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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9. Friday Feature: The Haunted Stepsister


Today, I'm excited to share a book I acquired and edited for Leap Books Seek. I feel in love with The Haunted Stepsister immediately for several reasons. First, Medeia's writing is great. Second, it's about a haunted bathroom! Third, this is a diverse book.

If you haven't checked out The Haunted Stepsister yet, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.


Sixth grade isn’t easy for Jesenya Moradi, especially since her father's recent remarriage and tension with her new stepsister, Kammy. After an incident at school that nearly destroyed Kammy's life, Jess has been desperate to get on Kammy’s good side. But a fateful trip to an allegedly haunted bathroom changes both girls’ lives forever. 

The rumors about the bathroom are true, and now Jess is convinced a demon's possessing Kammy. Eerie things happen whenever she's around – flying objects, flickering lights, not to mention the fact that something, or someone, is making people into its puppets. 

Worse, the demon seems fixated on making Jess confess her part in ruining Kammy's reputation. Sticking to her Muslim faith, Jess enlists the help of an imam to exorcise the demon from Kammy. But can they get rid of the demon before it destroys her new family?

Find it on:
Medeia Sharif was born in New York City and presently calls Miami her home. She received her master's degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Published through various presses, she writes middle grade and young adult short stories and novels. In addition to being a writer, she's a public school teacher.


*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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10. MMGM Links (5/9/16)

Here are this week's MMGM links:

(OH, and if you live in Austin or Houston, I am heading your way this week. Click HERE for event details!)

- Jeanene at GOT MY BOOK is featuring joining the MMGM fun with a feature on THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE. Click HERE to welcome her to the group.
- Sally's Bookshelf is cheering for FINDER, COAL MINE DOG. Click HERE to see why.
- Carl at Boys Rule! Boys Read! Has two reviews this week. Click HERE to see his Star Wars recommendations. And click HERE for the SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB.  
-  Laurisa White Reyes is spreading the word about a very special Bookraiser she's organized. Click HERE for details.
- Mark Baker is buzzing about NICK AND TESLA'S SOLAR-POWERED SHOWDOWN. Click HERE to read his review. 
- Greg Pattridge is can't get enough DIEGO'S DRAGON BOOK 4.  Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Sonora at Destined 4 Weirdness is spreading some love for *meep* EVERBLAZE (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3). Click HERE to see what she thought.  (and thank you!)  
- Reading Violet wants everyone to know that SOMEBODY ON THIS BUS IS GOING TO BE FAMOUS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is raving about MANIAC MAGEE. Click HERE to see why he loves this classic! 
Michelle Mason is highlighting STORY THIEVES: THE STOLEN CHAPTERS. Click HERE to read her review!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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11. Added to the List #23


The other day I was lucky enough to get a finished copy of Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle in the mail.  This is a book that was high on my TBR list for this spring so I squealed a bit when I opened my package.  Thanks so much Katherine Tegen Books and Harper Collins.  Here is the synopsis:

On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.

The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.

Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be...noticed.

So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined.

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12. Obsessing Over #4


I know that the reason I am obsessing over this book so much is because of the cover.  It just appeals to me so strongly!  The synopsis isn't that bad either, but it's a book I know that I want to hold in my hands.  I have ordered a few copies for my library and can't wait until they come it.  This is going to be a must read right away!  Here's the synopsis:

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

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13. Added to the List #22


Last week I got a fun pack of middle grade books from HarperCollins.  There were a few in here that had escaped my attention so it was nice to see them in person!

I have but haven't read the first Ivy Pocket.  The covers are amazing, a little bit of goth and whimsy mixed.  And they look like such fun reads.  I need to read the first one soon!  I put them both on my last book order of the year.

This one also is the second book in a series.  The Backyard Witch is such a fun character, can't wait to see what is happening with her in this story!

Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney:
 This is a middle grade book that had escaped my attention before I got it in the mail.  It looks so good and like it would be such a good addition to any library.  I might not be able to read this one yet because of emotions, but I will hopefully sometime this summer.  Ordered it for the fall for my library.


5 Times Revenge by Lindsay Eland
Another one that had escaped my attention until now!  Looks like such a fun middle school romp, can't wait to give it a try!

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14. Cover Reveal: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones...

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for K.S. Jones' upcoming release

Black Lightning!!

Book Information:

From the award-winning author of Shadow of the Hawk

Title: Black Lightning

Author Name: K.S. Jones

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Length: Approx. 136 pages

Release Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN eBook:  978-1-987976-12-0
ISBN Paperback:  978-1-987976-11-3

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing 

Are You Ready for the Cover?


About Black Lightning:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Praise:

“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond...” W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

Meet the Author:

Everyone has a story. Tell it so well that the world listens!


Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Visit K.S. Jones:




Visit Tour Hosts Featuring the Cover:

Jojo Debrazza 

Book Babble 

Sharon Ledwith: I came. I saw. I wrote. 

Bookworm for Kids 

Fang-tastic Books 

Tales from the Bayou and Other Worlds

jrsbookreviews 

T's Stuff 

Literary Escapism 

Vampyre Lady's Book Stuff 

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15. MMGM Links (4/11/16)

And the sleepless deadline days stretch on (why, LODESTAR--WHY WON'T YOU COOPERATE???). But I still got to the MMGM links.

Oh--but in case you missed it, the LET THE WIND RISE Pre-Order giveaway is ON. Click HERE to see how to get your free, exclusive swag (all pre-orders get it) plus some other fun bonuses. But hurry--it ends 4/25/16.

Okay, now, on to the links:

- Laurisa White Reyes has an interview with author Leila Sales--and a GIVEAWAY of ONCE WAS A TIME.  Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Suzanne Warr is talking about HALF UPON A TIME. Click HERE to see why.
- Patricia at Children's Books Heal is chatting about TRASH TALK: MOVING TOWARD A ZERO-WASTE WORLD . Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Sue Kooky is raving about MY LIFE IN PINK AND GREEN. Click HERE to read her review!
- Cindy at Cindy Reads A Lot is out of her mind for OUT OF MY MIND.  Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Books 4 Learning is championing LOCOMOTION. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Pattridge is singing praises for THE DRAGON WHISTLER. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Sonora at Destined 4 Weirdness is cheering for THE BOOK SCAVENGER. Click HERE to see what she thought.    
- Andrea Mack is caught up in MY DIARY FROM THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Jenni Enzor is championing LILLIPUT. Click HERE to see why.   
- Natalie Aguirre has an interview with author Lindsay Eagar, and a GIVEAWAY of HOURS OF THE BEES. Click HERE for details.  
- Kim Aippersbach is highlighting CASTLE HANGNAIL. Click HERE to see why.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck wants everybody TO STAY ALIVE. Click HERE for her review. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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16. MMGM Links (4/4/16)

Another late deadline night--but here's the MMGM links.

Oh--and a couple of quick things.

First--if you missed this on my social media (and haven't checked my events page) here's the list of my upcoming Spring Events--hope to see some of you there:


Also, make sure you check back tomorrow because it's finally time for the LET THE WIND RISE Pre-Order giveaway to start.

Okay, now, on to the links:
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is swept away with THE TURN OF THE TIDE.  Click HERE to find his review. 
- Suzanne Warr has an interview with author John Claude Bemis--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details
- Patricia at Children's Books Heal is singing praises for ECHO. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Sue Kooky is caught up in THE IRON TRIAL Click HERE to read her review!
- Cindy at Cindy Reads A Lot is loving FISH IN A TREE.  Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Books 4 Learning is soaring for WORDS WITH WINGS. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Partridge is going on THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Reading Violet is gushing about SEALED WITH A SECRET. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sonora at Destined 4 Weirdness is cheering for THE RANGER'S APPRENTICE. Click HERE to see what she thought.   
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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17. Monday Mishmash 4/4/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Up In Flames Cover Reveal  Up In Flames is having a cover reveal today! And the book is already up for preorder on Amazon. You can preorder your copy here
    Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s worst nightmare has come true… 

    She’s been reborn as a Phoenix and has forgotten everything from her first life—including Logan Schmidt. He’s handsome and protective, but with no recollection, he can’t be trusted. 

    Accused of being a Hunter, Logan’s mortality is put to the test… 

    Logan isn’t willing to admit he and Cara are over—not even after he watches her rise from her own ashes. 

    While the other Phoenixes are convinced Logan is a sworn enemy, a group of deadly Hunters are sure he is a Phoenix. Only being guilty of loving Cara, he must prove them all wrong—and convince Cara she loves him. 

    However, a magical link may be the demise of Logan’s devotion… 

    With the Hunters hot on their heels, it’s up to Logan to save Cara. But when the dagger calls out, Logan is drawn to its power. 

    Cara’s missing memories may not be the only obstacle standing between her and Logan. Their relationship isn’t just complicated—it’s deadly. And when Cara finds herself at a crossroad, she is forced to choose… 

    She can plunge into the darkness of her treacherous fate, or use her Phoenix instincts to once again rise Out of The Ashes.
  2. Editing  I'm editing for clients this week.
  3. Mystery of Majestic Cave  Book two in the Curse of the Granville Fortune series will be ready early! Yes, early! I'm expecting it to be up for sale sometime this month. :)
  4. Packed Month  April is crazy for me. I have a bunch of editing projects on my plate, the Monroe County Book Expo on the 16th, the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school is next week, and Up In Flames releases on the 12th!
  5. The Haunted Stepsister Cover Reveal  Want to sign up for Medeia Sharif's cover reveal for The Haunted Stepsister? Of course you do! I can tell you the cover is awesome since this is a Leap title I had the pleasure of editing. :) Sign up here
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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18. Paris for Two by Phoebe Stone \\ Anna & the French Kiss for Younger YA

Review by Reagan  PARIS FOR TWO by Phoebe Stone Age Range: 10 - 13 years Grade Level: 3 - 7 Hardcover: 272 pages Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (April 26, 2016) Most people go to Paris to fall in love, but twelve-year-old Petunia Beanly goes to Paris to hide from it. She knows how much love hurts. She'll never forget how painful it was to mess up badly with Windel Watson, the only boy who

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19. A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout

It's only June, but the summer of 1939 does not look very promising as far as Frankie Baum, 11, is concerned.  Her sister and best friend Joan, "the just-barely-older of the two," is getting to spend the summer at Aunt Dottie's farm in New Jersey, where Frankie is sure she will be having the best summer ever, while she's stuck at home in Hagerstown, MD with older sister Elizabeth, called Princess by their parents.

And ever worse, Frankie is expected to work in her father's newly purchased restaurant, a long neglected Alpine-style relict of years ago, now with only weeks to get it cleaned up and running again to become his dream of "An Eating Place of Wide Renown."  Opening day is planned for July 5th.  Sure enough, at the restaurant, Frankie is sent to the kitchen to work, a dirty, messy job, while Princess gets to work the cash register.

Frankie is vaguely aware of war talk among the townspeople, of anti-German feelings that are beginning to brew, but she has never really considered her family to be German, even though her father's parents immigrated from Germany.  But when Hermann Baum is approached by the cigar smoking president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Sullen Waterford Price, and refuses to let himself be bullied into becoming at paid member of the chamber, he makes a formidable enemy, one all too aware of his German roots.

Price is also running for mayor of Hagerstown, so when Hermann also refuses to put his election poster in his front window, Price begins looking for just the dirty information he needs to start spreading rumors that Hermann Baum is quite possibly a spy and Nazi sympathizer.

To make matters even more complicated, Hermann decides to throw his own  pre-opening day Fourth of July party for friends, family and even his African American staff and their families.  Hermann has always treated his kitchen staff fairly, despite living in a state where Jim Crow is in effect.  That, coupled with the German flyer that has mysteriously fallen into the hands of Mr. Price, are all that is needed for a boycott of Hermann's party.

Frankie has overheard quite a bit while working in the kitchen, and decides to do some investigating of her own about what is going on.  But she also finds herself doubting her father's innocence.  When no one shows up at her father's party, she goes to the town's celebration to try and find out what is going on.  When Hermann shows up looking for her, he collapses.  And the Baum family's life is changed forever.

A Tiny Piece of Sky is a wonderful coming of age story.  Frankie's character develops slowly over the course of the novel as she encounters different people and situations.  The story is told in the third person by an omniscient narrator in a rather conversational style, and who seems to be right in the thick of things, more aware of what is going on in the world than Frankie is.  To get some of Frankie and even Joan's mindset, there are also first person letters they write to each other, which tend to create more mystery about Hermann Baum's heritage than information.

The story takes place over June, July and August 1939.  There aren't many pre-World War II home front stories for young readers, making this all that much more interesting.  Stout looks at both racism and xenophobia through the lens of Frankie's summer.  Frankie hasn't really paid attention to the racism and discrimination towards the African American community in Hagerstown, until she starts working in the restaurant.  But the character of Mr. Stannum, the restaurant's new manager, opens her eyes when she witnesses the way he treats the black kitchen staff with such cruelty and contempt, even refusing to allow them to use the bathroom he uses.  

You  also don't find many books for young readers that are about the kind of treatment that German Americans experienced in the 1930s and 1940s as the possibility of war with Germany became more of a possibility.  Most people don't realize they were also discriminated against. though to a far lesser extent than Japanese Americans.  What makes this an interesting theme here is that Stout shows how easily people can change their attitudes towards of friends and even fathers when doubt begins to take hold.  For that reason,  A Tiny Piece of Sky is not just good historical fiction, but also resonates so loudly in today's world. 

The other part of what makes A Tiny Piece of Sky such an interesting, realistic novel is that much of the material comes from Shawn Stout's own family and the restaurant they owned in Hagerstown, which she writes about in her Author's Note at the end of the novel.  Be sure to read it when you read this excellent novel.

Teachers can find an extensive Teaching Guide for A Tiny Piece of Sky HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

Used with permission: the original menu from Shawn Stout's grandparent's restaurant.
Click to enlarge and check out the prices listed.


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20. StoryMakers | David Walliams’s ‘Demon Dentist’

StoryMakers On Location - David Walliams Featured Image

David Walliams is the bestselling author of Demon Dentist and several other middle grade books. Also, Walliams is a comedian who is best known to adults as the star of the popular English comedy, Little Britain. StoryMakers host Rocco Staino interviewed Walliams on location at New York City’s Path1 Studio.

We’re giving away three (3) copies of David Walliams’s Demon Dentist. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2016. Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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[P] StoryMakers On Location - David Walliams

 

ABOUT DEMON DENTIST

Demon Dentist - David WalliamsDemon Dentist
Written by David Walliams; illustrated by Tony Ross (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Something strange is happening in Alfie’s town. Instead of shiny coins from the tooth fairy, kids are waking up to dead slugs, live spiders, and other icky, terrible things under their pillows. Who would do something so horrific? Alfie is sure that Miss Root, the new dentist in town, is behind it all. There’s nothing Alfie hates more than going to the dentist, but to solve this mystery, he may have to book a dreaded appointment … (Via Harper Collins)

Read a sample, here.

ABOUT DAVID WALLIAMS

Via Harper Collins UK
Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book Demon Dentist was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers Ratburger and Gangsta Granny were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of Gangsta Granny dominated the UK charts in 2013, remaining at number one for a colossal 22 weeks.

David is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK. Following the Christmas 2012 success and BAFTA nomination of the BBC adaptation of his second book, Mr Stink, starring Hugh Bonneville, Gangsta Granny was aired in 2013 over Christmas. Walliams’ books have achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and it comes as no surprise that countless broadsheet reviewers have compared him to his all-time hero, Roald Dahl.

David is well known for his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created Little Britain, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs and is now shown in over 100 countries. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.

In September 2011 David swam 140 miles from Gloucestershire to Westminster raising £2.5 million for Sports Relief. David has also proved popular in his role as a judge on TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent, where he found inspiration for one of the characters in his bestselling novel Ratburger.

CONNECT WITH DAVID WALLIAMS
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

CONNECT WITH KidLit TV
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StoryMakers On Location
Host: Rocco Staino
Executive Producer: Julie Gribble

This post contains affiliate links.

The post StoryMakers | David Walliams’s ‘Demon Dentist’ appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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21. #839 – Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jacky Ha-Ha Written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein Illustrated by Kerascoёt* Jimmy Patterson Books    3/21/2016 978-0-316-26249-1 380 pages    Ages 8—12 “Hey, bet I can make you laugh! “With a name like Jacky Ha-Ha, that’s what I was born to do! You could say I am an expert on wisecracks, pranks, gags, and …

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22. MMGM Links (3/28/16)

We're officially in the "No Sleep For Shannon" point in the deadline zone, (and about 4 weeks from the release of LET THE WIND RISE as an added bonus) so it's possible these MMGM links are nonsensical. But here they are none the less!

Also, it should be noted that the list of Things I Am Behind On is reaching epic length, and it includes things like goodreads 'ask the author' questions,  tumblr asks, moderating the comments on this blog on the Team Keeper pages, and fan mail. WHICH IS NOT A COMPLAINT. I love love love hearing from you guys. But wowza do I need you to be patient with me. I am drowning over here.

*searches for a life raft. With caffeine*

Anyway, on to the links:

- Books 4 Learning  joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE DREAMER.  Click HERE to check it out. 
- Suzanne Warr is spotlighting OUT OF ABATON: THE WOODEN PRINCE--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details
- Patricia at Children's Books Heal is sharing RULES FOR STEALING STARS. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Sue Kooky is solving the mystery of THE WIG IN THE WINDOW with a special author interview. Click HERE for all the fun!
- Cindy at Cindy Reads A Lot is wondering at WONDER.  Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Jess at the Reading Nook is cheering for UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Partridge is all about CHASING SECRETS. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Reading Violet is raving about SWORDS OF WAYNE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Carl at Boys Rule, Boys Read! is featuring two books this week. Click HERE to see what they are.
- Dorine White is charmed by THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE. Click HERE to see what she has to say.   
- Sonora at Destined 4 Weirdness is gushing about STORY THIEVES: THE STOLEN CHAPTERS . Click HERE to see what she thought.   
- Andrea Mack wants everyone to learn HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN. Click HERE to see why.  
- Kim Aippersbach is highlighting AMBASSADOR AND NOMAD. Click HERE for her review.  
- Susan Uhlig is championing MOUSEHEART. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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23. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

It's 1940 and it's time for the three Bateson children, Katherine, 12, Robbie and Amelie to be evacuated to Rookskill Castle in Scotland.  Their father had already left for Europe, on a secret mission for MI6,  but not before he makes arrangements for a new school to be set up for them and other evacuees at the castle.

Before they leave, Kat's Great-Aunt Margaret takes her aside and gives her a gift - a silver chatelaine with its three hanging charms, a scissor, a thimble and a pen.  This chatelaine was a precious family heirloom that Great-Aunt Margaret always wore pinned to her belt.  But with the gift came a warming - the chatelaine can keep them safe because it is magical, but there is always a price to pay for the use of magic.  Logical Kat is skeptical about magic, but reluctantly accepts the chatelaine anyway.

Arriving at the castle, the children meet Lady Eleanor., who Kat notices also wears a chatelaine laden with charms and hidden from view.  She tells them that Gregor, Lord Craig, who is distantly related to the Batesons, is quite ill and must be left completely along. The children are forbidden to wander the castle and the castle grounds and are to stay either in the hallway where their rooms are located or in their rooms, which will be locked every night.   Eventually, they also meet the other students - Peter, an American slightly older than Kat, Isabella, Colin and Jorry.

It doesn't take long for Kat to begin to think the castle and the cold, aloof Lady Eleanor are very strange, as are the maid Marie, Cook, Hugo the driver who also helps around the castle, and Mr. Storm, their history instructor.  Storm is way overly interested in historical artifacts, especially chatelaines.  But when Kat begins to notices some strange goings on about the castle, and discovers a wireless in the cellar, she begins to suspect that the castle is harboring a German spy.  And who are the children that seem to mysteriously come and go, and then there's Jorry's sudden disappearance, even after his parents come looking for him.

The novel occasionally flashes back to 1745 and the story of Leonora, a young girl who was married to the lord of Rookskill Castle, for the purpose producing a child.  When she fails to do that, she goes to a person only referred to as the magister, who magically helps her get a child, but, of course, there is always a price to pay for using magic and she must pay the magister, a payment that brings us right back to 1940s Scotland.

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle is a dark and sinister tale about the forces of good and evil, and I have to confess I  really loved reading it.  Their are the typical tropes of creepy fantasy - weird nighttime noises, ghostlike children appearing and disappearing, a creepy, evil woman, secret passages and spells cast to confuse.  To me, it felt very Gaimanesque and I mean that as compliment.

Kat is a wonderful character whose logical mind has a hard time accepting that magic might just be real.  On the other hand, her logical mind also mean that she has a real talent for decoding encrypted messages, something that really comes in handy in this novel.

All the ends relating to this story are tied up by the end of the novel, but there is the hint of a possible sequel because the denouement just isn't a neat and clean as it could be and leaves room for a lot of speculation about Kat's future.

Let me just mention here, for those who may not know this, but Adolf Hitler and the men he surrounded himself with had a serious interest in the occult.

I found this to be an original, spine tingly story, even though at times, I know I figured out things before a young readers might.  Readers who have already zipped through the Harry Potter books and want more will probably also enjoy The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle.  I know I did.   

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was an ARC received from the publisher

OK, I really loved this novel and it's great fantasy, so I have no problem with willingly suspending any disbelief to enjoy a good story.  But when I read that Kat's father told her to keep calm and carry on, I did feel I needed to remind readers that that was a slogan that was never used in WWII.  The slogan was designed for a very special purpose, which you can read all about in my post Keep Calm and (fill in the blank)  The fact that Kat's father used the slogan - I chalk up to coincidence.  Keep calm became a kind of mantra for Kat and one she often needed.


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24. Picking a Category

A note: This post was written in February and programmed here to fill a hole in my programming. Normal blog posts will resume in the next few weeks, but I just wanted to put some fresh material online!

Recently, I worked with a client who had written, by all accounts, a middle-grade novel. It has fantasy elements, an eleven- or twelve-year-old protagonist, rich themes that have to do with the coming of age time period, etc. etc. etc. But my client hadn’t really thought of the work as MG. Instead, he’d envisioned it as a crossover, perhaps close to THE BOOK THIEF in terms of potential market reach. Basically, he wanted to tell a story and then let the market decide where it fit.

We ended up having a lot of very interesting talks about this idea. Long story short, however, that’s not really how it works. When you’re writing something, you want to have some idea of where it will fit, per my recent “Writing With Market in Mind” post. If you gently leave it up to the publishing gods to decide, you may not get very far. First of all, agents and editors like writers who pitch their projects confidently and know at least a little something about the marketplace.

For all intents and purposes, the project in question seems very MG, even if that was never the client’s conscious intention. And if it walks like a MG, and it quacks like a MG, if my client doesn’t pitch it as a MG, he’s going to get some raised eyebrows. Furthermore, if he doesn’t pitch it as a MG, it may just get slotted into that category by agents and editors alike anyway. If he were to query adult fiction agents with the project, as I’ve described it, I guarantee most would say, “This isn’t my wheelhouse, this sounds like MG. You should be querying children’s book agents.”

You can always say, as my client did, “Well, I sure would like to tap the crossover audience and sell this to children and adults, please and thank you.” Wouldn’t that be nice for everyone? Most people would love a crossover hit like THE BOOK THIEF or THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. Selling the same book to two different markets? Yes, please.

The problem with a crossover is that you can’t aim for one, however. I have said this before and I will say it again (and again and again). The only person to decide that is a publisher, and most won’t take the risk of trying to publish across categories. This strategy is reserved for only a tiny fraction of all books that go to print. And sometimes, a crossover only becomes a crossover when it’s published in one category first, then the other, and it happens to gain traction in both.

What I’m saying is, it’s a lot easier to set some lobster traps than it is to drag the whole of the sea. At least with the former strategy (picking a concrete category), you will probably catch some lobsters. With a wider net, you may catch everything, but there’s a big chance you’ll catch nothing, or a whole lot of garbage.

Many beginning writers think that putting, “This book will appeal to everyone from age 1 to 101!” is a huge selling point. Who wouldn’t want to sell to everyone from 1 to 101? That’s, like, billions of people. Why wouldn’t a publisher want to sell billions of books? Unfortunately, this line of thinking is delusional. Any marketer will tell you that your catchment area is too big. What a one-year-old likes is very different than what a 101-year-old likes and that’s actually a good thing.

So I advised my client to either a) become okay with the idea of pitching his story as a MG, or b) edit the story and weave in several elements that would give it more appeal to the adult fiction marketplace. This isn’t too far-fetched because there are a lot of books set during the “coming of age” period that go on to publish in the adult realm. That 9-12 or 13-18 age range isn’t just for children’s novels. The revision route is obviously the taller mountain to climb, but, if it fits the client’s vision for the book better, then it’s what has to happen.

The jury is still out on what this client will choose to do, but I wanted to bring the situation to everyone’s attention, because it contains some valuable truths about “picking a lane” and thinking about the category of your own work.

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25. #841 – My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook by Lisa Regan and Andrew Rae

My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook: 50 Awesome Drawing Activities for Young Inventors Written by Lisa Regan Illustrated by Andrew Rae Lawrence King Publishing    9/29/2015 978-1-78067-611-1 128 pages     Ages 8+ “DO YOU HAVE SOME CRAZY INVENTIONS UP YOUR SLEEVE?! “This new doodle book will speak to the imaginative and to future ‘Shark Tank’ contestants …

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