Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things interviewed me about my family’s book-crazy lifestyle for her wonderful Read-Aloud Revival podcast.
The post includes links to the many books I gushed about (I swear, once you get me started on book recs there’s no stopping me) and a Prairie Thief giveaway. I had a great time chatting with Sarah about how read-alouds work in my family with our many ages of kids, how I do dialects, how we squeeze book time into the various parts of our day, etc. Basically: my favorite topic in the entire world.
While you’re checking out the podcast, you’ll want to bookmark the two Jim Weiss episodes! What a treasure.
Melissa Wiley was born December 17th. In celebration of her birthday we’re making a special offer. The Arrow for The Prairie Thief is half price today only: $4.95
Thanks, Julie Bogart & team!
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.)
As I’ve mentioned, I have three new books coming out this August. Whee!
Middle-grade novel. Margaret K. McElderry Books. Art by Erwin Madrid. He has posted the full wraparound cover on his blog. Gorgeous, isn’t it? What he does with light just blows me away.
A Step into Reading Level 3. Random House. Illustrations by Sebastien Braun. I am crazy about his depiction of my characters—so much humor and personality in their expressions and body language.
A Simon Spotlight Ready-to-Read Level 1. Simon & Schuster. Illustrations by Ag Jatkowska. When Rilla, who had been hearing my Inch and Roly stories for months, saw Ag’s cover sketch she squealed. “Mommy! They’re DORABLE.”
Yes, we are a little bit excited.
It’s Comic-Con week, and you know what that means. Likely to be crickets around here these next few days. Not to mention, a certain dearly-missed daughter comes home midweek.
But for now, how about if I share a bit of excitement? The official link went up today so I guess it’s okay for me to spill the news that’s had me giddy these past few weeks: The Prairie Thief is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2012! It’s a great honor and I am thrilled to bits. To bits!
(I loved Brian Farrey’s post about his book being selected. Wowsers is right!)
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
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.)
Choo-Choo by Virginia Lee Burton. (She’s one of Huck’s favorite author/illustrators, going by how often he requests her books.)
Freight Train by Donald Crews. (You may detect a theme.)
Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. (Chapter 1, to Rilla. I remember riding my bike to three different library branches in search of this book—not all on the same day—because I’d read it and loved it so, and couldn’t remember the author’s name later, only that it began with B. Today it would take my mom ten seconds on the library website to locate a copy. Back then it meant a bona fide, muscle-burning quest, and all in vain. I couldn’t find it. Years later, when I took a job at HarperCollins, I discovered that it was a Harper book, still in print. And yet somehow I didn’t reread it. This go-round with Rilla will be my first time in decades. I’m eager to see if it holds up to the glowing memories I have of that first reading so long ago. Minikin, nicknamed Minx! I got goosebumps. It’s out of print again, I see: pity.)
Speaking of Little Witches, it’s time to put another round of Dorrie books on hold at the library. One, two, three, ten…there, I’m done, no bicycle required.
Karen Edmisten made my day with a delightful account of a Prairie Thief luncheon held by her daughter’s book club. Potato chowder, dried berry scones, a bucket of hazelnuts (brilliant!), and brownies, of course. They even brewed some horseradish tea, which demonstrates an impressive degree of commitment. Thanks, Karen, for that wonderful post.
This morning we discovered that the passionflower vine I planted ages ago had snaked its way halfway across the butterfly garden. We untangled the wandering tendrils and tied them up along the back fence. I have every suspicion that it is out there right now, busily untying itself, and I’ll find it embracing the hibiscus bush tomorrow.
Four more days to nominate books and book apps for this year’s CYBILs! Lots of suggestions for possible book-app nominees in the links in this post—please nominate them so I’ll have an excuse to play with them!
New Thicklebit today: Lunacy. I blame the father.
Simon & Schuster has put up a sneak peek of my next Inch and Roly book: Inch and Roly and the Very Small Hiding Place. (They’ve also got a pretty substantial chunk of The Prairie Thief there, if you’d like to preview it before you commit.)
Today’s Google Doodle is a tribute to Little Nemo in Slumberland—one of their best Doodles ever, a tribute to Winsor McKay. Don’t miss it! And be sure to click the tabs. GeekMom has a nice post up with some background.
New Thicklebit! Me love that boy.
I worked alllllll weekend on the book recommendations master list, but I still have a long way to go. Happy with its progress, though!
Last day to nominate books and book apps for the CYBILs! The Book Apps team would especially appreciate your help—lots of great apps still waiting to be nominated.
Semicolon reviews The Prairie Thief: ”a delightful little tale.”
I also like the fact that this story for young readers doesn’t shy away from those wonderful, challenging vocabulary words that my young readers at any rate relished and gloried in. Ms. Wiley uses words like “obfuscating” and “predilection” and “amenities” and “laconically” just as handily and appropriately as she does the shorter, also vivid words like “pate” and “mite” and “frock”, all of which might enrich a child’s vocabulary as well as delight her mind.
(Amy at Hope Is the Word liked that part too.)
Fox and Crow Are Not Friends is reviewed in this month’s School Library Journal:
Children eager to move beyond easy readers and older students requiring simple text in a chapter-book format will find this title a good choice. As in many familiar folktale themes, Fox and Crow are trying to outwit each other….“That will teach you not to steal my cheese,” says Mama Bear, whose presence in the earlier chapters will be noted by astute observers of Braun’s lively, colorful cartoon-style illustrations. With its crisp writing and short sentences, this is a solid addition.
It also gets a mention in this SLJ piece: “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.
More reviews here.
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.