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From left to right: Suzanne Santillan, me, Edith Hope Fine, Joy Raab, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Lori Mitchell at last week’s Greater San Diego Reading Association Authors’ Fair, held at Pacific Beach Elementary School. Photo shared by Lori Mitchell on Facebook. (Thanks, Lori!)
It was a pretty incredible day. I had sessions with two classes and then a booksigning. Both classes have been reading The Prairie Thief aloud, and it just so happened that the 5th-grade class was up to the Big Reveal chapter near the end of the book. I’ve never gotten to read this to a group of kids before! I usually read a section near the beginning, so as not to give away any of the book’s surprises, and when the class told me where they were in the book and asked me to read the next chapter, I was over the moon. Their reactions at the moment of the reveal were delightful and immensely gratifying. They jumped and and cried out in surprise. It was exactly the sort of reaction I hoped for when I wrote the book. What a treat for me to get to experience that moment with them! And then we had a nice long Q&A and they asked fantastic questions, really thoughtful stuff. Love love love.
The second class, a 4/5, blew me away with the papers they had written about Prairie Thief! And what timing, coming right after our conversation last week about how authors feel about critical approaches to their work. These kids did some serious analysis and I was very impressed by the quality of their writing. They, too, had a million questions for me about craft (seriously—they are studying it) and reading and lots of things.
Huge thanks to all the folks who helped put the fair together. A splendid day all around.
I’m so looking forward to participating in this event tomorrow, March 14! I’ll be visiting with 4th and 5th graders at Pacific Beach Elementary in the Greater San Diego Reading Association’s 41st Annual Authors Fair, along with Patty Hall, Edith Hope Fine, Virginia Loh-Hagan, Lori Mitchell, Joy Raab, Suzanne Santillan and storyteller Marilyn McPhee. Can’t wait!
She passed by the SCBWI booth at the San Diego Central Library grand opening celebration where I was signing books, and I dashed down the street after her, hollering “Miss Rumphius! Miss Rumphius!” like a loon. Because I was Just That Excited to see her, lupines and all! She’s my role model, after all.
(Instead of lupines, I plant milkweed.)
The library celebration was marvelous. I never actually made it into the new building for the sneak peek! The line was four blocks long when I arrived for booth duty at noon. But I had a wonderful time visiting with Edith Hope Fine, Cynthia Jensen Elliott, and my other fellow local children’s authors at the SCBWI booth and chatting with our friends at Yellow Book Road on one side of our table and the very nice Mysterious Galaxy folks on the other—along with author Mary Pearson, whom it’s about time I met in person after all this time being Facebook friends, and YA author Kiersten White, whom I know from Twitter, and whose new book sounds very much up Rose’s alley. (Human daughter of ancient Egyptian gods: you have her at hello.)
(Isn’t that the most gorgeous cover?)
The street fair covered many blocks and was one of the best I’ve ever been to. San Diego Mini Maker Faire was there—I’m counting the days to the December event (December 7th, Del Mar Fairgrounds; spread the word!)—and lots of other interesting artisans and entertainers.
Not Miss Rumphius.
The Maker Faire booth. I finally got to see a 3D printer in action! It made that orange comb right before onlookers’ eyes. At least, I think it did. I wasn’t there for that part.
Happy to say I signed many copies of The Prairie Thief! And perhaps my favorite sight of all (after Miss Rumphius, of course) was this mother and son who sat down to read Fox and Crow on the spot.
I’ll have to make another pilgrimage downtown soon (with the kids, this time) to see the inside of the beautiful new library that was thirty years in the making.
San Diego folks: I’m doing a booksigning and reading at the Hazard Center Barnes & Noble today at 2:30, right after the St. Didacus School choir concert. Come say hi!
Got this question in the comments yesterday, and since it’s an inquiry I get often, I thought I’d pull it up into a post here:
“Why have the Martha, Charlotte, Caroline and Rose books gone out of print? As a huge fan of Laura’s books I read all the books and the books about her family. Now being older I want to purchase them all for my own collection as the libraries are getting rid of them. It does not help that I am Canadian and have a hell of a time of even finding them! Do you know of any places that still carries them?”
When a publisher allows a book to go out of print, it pretty much always means one thing: the book isn’t selling very well anymore. Warehouse space is extremely expensive, and there’s a certain point when it becomes more costly for a publisher to store books that are selling slowly than to just remainder them.
The decision to shutter the Little House prequels and sequels happened before social media took off, so if HarperCollins ever decides to bring them back (particularly as ebooks, which has been discussed but doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon), we’d be able to give them a nice big push and I think they’d do very well.
You can sometimes find used copies on eBay or Amazon Marketplace, but they tend to be extremely expensive in those outlets. (I don’t get royalties on used book sales, so please know those crazy prices don’t have anything to do with me!)
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Three times I’ve been asked by lovely writer friends to participate in the Next Big Thing, a blog hop in which writers talk about their upcoming books. Tanita Davis and Gail Gauthier caught me in busy spells and I had to pass, with regrets—but I loved reading their posts and appreciated the invitation. This time, my SCBWI pal Andrea Zimmerman asked if she could tag me, and third time’s the charm. Gail, Tanita, Andrea—thanks, all of you, for thinking of me!
I’ll work on my answers soon, but for now, do hop over (it’s a blog hop, after all) and read about The Warthog Smoked (Andrea), Saving the Planet & Stuff (Gail), and Favorite Son (Tanita). And then you can follow their links to the other folks they tagged. Books books books books books, there is nothing better.
Just got the cover of my next Inch and Roly book! Isn’t Ag Jatkowska a wonder?
Fun times at Thursday night’s Scholastic party at SDCC with my pals Allison Tran, Jenni Holm, and Lalitha Nataraj. I lifted this photo from Lali’s FB page—thanks!
Jenni and Matt Holm won an Eisner last night for Babymouse for President! Wild huzzahs from here.
What’s Comic-Con without a full-size pirate ship in the harbor?
This book caught my eye—the fictional adventures of pulp-novel hero Frank Reade in history. Gorgeous illustrations, intriguing premise. It’s on my take-a-closer-look list.
Always fun to spot friends’ books at a show!
Hurrah! I love it when a book comes out in paperback. Such a thrill to know it will reach a new audience.
Handy-dandy purchasing links for you, because I’m helpful like that:
Amazon • B&N • Indiebound
Do you know what I would love? If you happen to buy a copy (or if you have already purchased the hardcover) from your local indie, would you leave a comment to let me know the name of the bookstore? There are few things lovelier for a writer than knowing someone wandered into a bookshop and met your book on the shelf, and adopted it for keeps.
Here are some reviews:
“Wiley has created a charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and Tony DiTerlizzi’s ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ (S & S). Short chapters and the air of mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, and readers will be taken with Louisa, who is sweet and mild-mannered, yet has the strength to fight for what is right. The writing is breezy and lyrical…[a] top-notch story.” —School Library Journal
“Fans of the Little House books will recognize the setting and enjoy the fantastic twist. Stylized black-and-white illustrations capture key moments and add to the warm tone. The comedic, unexpected, satisfying conclusion hits just the right note. A pleasing folkloric/historical blend.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Wiley’s cleverly constructed story, which switches over to the circuit judge’s amusing perspective for a few chapters, is not only a fine tall tale but also gives some sense of nineteenth-century frontier life.” —Booklist
“Frontier fiction and folkloric fantasy are an unusual combination, but they actually blend remarkably well here, and Wiley does a fine job of staying true to the pioneer inflections of Louisa’s story while effectively integrating the magical brownie…The effective mashup of popular genres will make this a hit with a variety of readers, so try handing it to Little House fans and folktale-lovers alike.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“…a delight from start to finish.” —Jen Robinson’s Book Page
“Every now and then a book makes me miss having a class to read to. Some books absolutely beg to be read aloud. The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley is that kind of book….And then, the must of all musts for reading a story aloud… the language. The Prairie Thief is rich with gorgeous, evocative language that begs to be heard as well as read. We feel as though we’ve been transported back in time when we listen to expressions like, ‘He was wailing loud enough to curdle milk,’ or ‘Ye look like last year’s scarecrow.’ Even the simple ‘Balderdash!’ sounds better out loud. Wiley uses big words too—words that some kids will latch on to and roll around in their minds and mouths—like audacious, gesticulations, rapscallion, scrutinizing—they add to the mood and help us sink into this world.” —Writing on the Sidewalk
“Wholly delightful. I found it impossible to put down and read it in one great gulp. I don’t think I could have loved it more, had I read it as a child. The characters are lovely, each and all. The story, while never veering from the path to a happy ending, had plenty of dips and bobbles and surprises. I grinned my way through much of it, and am not ashamed to tell you my eyes filled with tears at the end. It’s wholesome without being smarmy, and fun without being arch.” —Salamander House
“…a mystical mystery not to be missed.” —the kids at Bookie Woogie
The Prairie Thief is a Junior Library Guild selection, an SCBWI Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award nominee, and a Bravewriter Arrow selection. It is currently a nominee for New Hampshire’s Great Stone Face Children’s Choice Award. (Check out the rest of the books on that list, you guys—looks like some fun reading there.)
Tomorrow, Saturday the 28th! I’ll be there—will you?
Look for me at the SCBWI booth between noon and 5. Lots of other children’s authors attending too. My books will be available at the Yellow Book Road booth. The San Diego Mini Maker Faire will have a booth as well—I can’t wait to check it out!
Today is the launch day for Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, my Random House Step Into Reading title. Color me squee! I had an immense amount of fun writing this book. It begins with a retelling of Aesop’s fable about a fox, a crow, and a piece of cheese, and continues from there with new adventures in enmity. I thought it would be fun to explore what happened after that first famous encounter. And I know how much kids like a good fight. I had such a good time writing characters who were pretty much at each other’s throats the whole time.
The art is by the talented Sebastien Braun. He captured all the humor, whimsy, and furious glaring I was going for. I’m thrilled to bits.
Here’s what Kirkus had to say about it.
Today is also launch day for my pal Anne Marie Pace‘s delightful picture book, Vampirina Ballerina, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. It’s been racking up the great reviews. You can get a sneak peek of the interiors on LeUyen’s blog.
Pham and Pace are entirely in sync in this sweetly goth “how to” for vampirettes under the spell of something more powerful than anything the dark forces can muster: ballet….”The road to ballerinadom can be bumpy,” Pace reminds readers, and it’s not any easier when one is alarming to one’s classmates or occasionally turns into a bat. The underlying messages are familiar: there are no shortcuts to achieving an ambitious dream, and persistence and a sunny outlook (even when one is a creature of the night) pay off. But seldom have these lessons been expounded with so much charm.—Publisher’s Weekly
Back in June at ALA, the wonderful Allison Tran and her guest-host Lalitha Nataraj interviewed me about my new books, my old books, and basically all things book for the Authors Are ROCKSTARS! podcast. It’s live today—fun! They asked great questions and even let me gush about Betsy-Tacy a bit. Thanks, Alli and Lali! I had a ball chatting with you.
My Brave Writer podcast interview with Julie Bogart is up! We gabbed about my new books, our writing lives, encouraging our kids’ writing, homeschooling, blogging, and all kinds of things. Something there for everyone, not just homeschoolers. I loved getting to talk about the writing process with someone as on fire for the subject as Julie and could have gone on chatting all day.
If you have any questions about the topics Julie, her son Noah, and I discussed, please fire away!
School Library Journal on The Prairie Thief:
“Wiley has created a charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and Tony DiTerlizzi’s ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ (S & S). Short chapters and the air of mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, and readers will be taken with Louisa, who is sweet and mild-mannered, yet has the strength to fight for what is right. The writing is breezy and lyrical…[a] top-notch story.”
• The Prairie Thief at Kirkus
• The Prairie Thief at Jen Robinson’s Book Page
• Fox and Crow Are Not Friends at Kirkus
• Brave Writer podcast with Julie Bogart
• Author Spotlight at Writing on the Sidewalk
• Authors Are ROCKSTARS! podcast
• Author letter at Ready-to-Read
Coming up fast! Please join me on Saturday, Sept 29, at The Yellow Book Road bookstore in San Diego’s Liberty Station (2750 Historic Decatur Road) to celebrate the launch of Inch and Roly Make a Wish, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, and The Prairie Thief.
Hope to see you there!
First up: Into the Thicklebit | Overheard.
Next thing: We’re talking books in the comments of this post—Kristin Lavransdatter and Papa’s Wife. Got other Scandinavian favorites?
Next thing, for San Diego locals: My signing’s on Saturday! Yellow Book Road @ beautiful Liberty Station in Point Loma, 3pm. Come! Say hi! Eat cookies! Listen to me attempt a Scottish accent! (Serves me right for writing characters in dialect.)
Book reviews & interviews.
Other shareworthy links in my sidebar.
We have an excursion to City Farmers Nursery planned for this afternoon. Rilla is planting her own butterfly garden. (The one that spans the width of our backyard isn’t enough for her, evidently.) She’s making a list. Excuse me, I mean a LEIST. So far, she’s got:
2. HOT PENK DRANEYOM (hot pink geranium)
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
3pm at The Yellow Book Road
2750 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 15
Liberty Station, San Diego
A lovely children’s bookstore in a beautiful setting.
Hope to see you there!
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books review of The Prairie Thief:
“Frontier fiction and folkloric fantasy are an unusual combination, but they actually blend remarkably well here, and Wiley does a fine job of staying true to the pioneer inflections of Louisa’s story while effectively integrating the magical brownie…The effective mashup of popular genres will make this a hit with a variety of readers, so try handing it to Little House fans and folktale-lovers alike.”
School Library Journal, “Fresh and Fun | Books for Emergent Readers“:
Melissa Wiley retells and expands upon an Aesop’s fable in Fox and Crow Are NOT Friends (Random House, 2012; Gr 1-3). Three entertaining chapters describe how these two enemies repeatedly—and humorously—try to outwit one another to earn bragging rights along with a tasty piece of cheese. Sebastien Braun clearly depicts the animals’ antics with lighthearted artwork in sherbet hues. The straightforward text, amusing illustrations, and hilarious rivalry will encourage developing readers to persevere. Expand the reading experience by sharing other fables, and having your students come up with “what happens next…” scenarios.
(Bunch of other fun-looking books in that post I’m eager to check out.)
There is nothing quite like the feeling of clicking to one of your favorite book blogs and discovering your own book is the day’s entry.
Dad: Tell me about the “Thief” part of the title…
Lily: The girl’s dad was accused of theft-ing.
Gracie: You’re not even saying it right. It’s “thievering.”
The Prairie Thief at Bookie Woogie. I’m thrilled. And that art! ASTOUNDING.
P.S. Gracie really is the Blurb Master.
Am looking forward to tomorrow evening (Tuesday, Feb. 12th), when I’ll have the fun of being a guest on Geek & Sundry’s #parent show, a Google Hangout hosted by the awesome Kristen Rutherford. My fellow guests are authors Jenni Holm and Chris Barton, two of my family’s favorite children’s book creators and some of my all-around favorite people. Going to be fun!
The details: 8-9pm Pacific time. I’ll post the direct link when we have one. You can watch the Hangout live (and ask questions in the chat window) or catch it later on video.
Got any questions for us? Fire away!
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Don’t forget to cast your vote in this year’s SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards! Voting ends March 15.
Here are the finalists for the California/Hawaii division:
• Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan ( HarperCollins Children’s Books)
• Tina Nichols Coury, Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore (Dial Books For Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group)
• Katherine Longshore, Gilt (Viking Children’s Books, Penguin Young Readers Group)
• Ginger Wadsworth, First Girl Scout, the Life of Juliette Gordon Low (Clarion)
• Melissa Wiley, The Prairie Thief (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster)
You can see the other division finalists here. One Crystal Kite winner will be chosen for each division.
From the SCBWI website:
To cast a vote, go to your Member Home page, click on “See what’s going on in your region,” then on the Crystal Kites tab. The list of the finalists listed below will be there and all you have to do to vote is click the button next to the desired title for your region. [Note: To get to the voting buttons, you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the finalist list.]
Please remember there is no campaigning of any kind for individual titles but you are encouraged to promote the awards in general using all social media! This includes but is not limited to blogging, tweeting or social networking of any kind.
Anyone participating in an individual voting campaign (promoting a specific title) will be disqualified. This is to ensure the votes are based purely on personal opinion.