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When I was asked to participate in the current Circus Mirandus Blog Tour, I was intrigued. You know how sometimes a publisher will fall in love with a debut novel and then promote the whozitz out of it, hither, thither, and yon? Well, that’s what Penguin has done with this title from first time author Cassie Beasley. And whenever that sort of thing happens, I get very skeptical. So I approached the book expecting to find it overwritten or cloying or to have something wrong with it. What I found instead was fresh and fascinating. The kind of book I’d recommend left and right to any kid. And one thing about it struck me as very interesting indeed. You see, most of the circus middle grade books I see are creepy in some way, so I feel like making a book about a circus that a kid might actually want to go to (heck, live in!) is enormously difficult.
For this blog tour I asked Ms. Beasley one very simple question: How do you manage to write a non-creepy circus? Here is her answer:
“When I say that my novel is about a boy trying to find a magic circus, most people respond with enthusiasm. Maybe it’s just that they don’t want to puncture my cheerful debut author bubble, but I like to think they’re genuinely excited by the idea of a circus story. For me, the mention of circuses calls to mind a fantasy world of sequined costumes and cotton candy, and I think it does the same for many others.
Sometimes, though, I meet potential readers who have a different reaction. They want to know if Circus Mirandus is a “creepy” book. They want to know if I’ve written a horror story.
I was surprised the first time someone asked. I initially thought the questioner must be concerned about the fact that my main character, Micah, is trying to save his terminally ill grandfather.
“No,” she said, when I started to explain my thoughts on character death in children’s literature. “I mean the circus. Is it scary?” She paused. “Are there clowns?”
The question actually makes a lot of sense when you consider the role of the circus in fiction. Real-life circuses are meant to delight, but fictional circuses often seem to be designed to do the opposite. An entire page at the (infinitely distracting) TV tropes site is dedicated to the “Circus of Fear,” and the number and variety of evil circuses listed is impressive.
Circuses, traveling fairs, and carnivals are, in some ways, a natural choice for the author in need of a disquieting setting. For one thing, they are supposed to be cheerful places, and transforming something lovely and innocent into something sinister is the basic stuff of horror. A T. rex chasing you is only frightening. A clown chasing you is frightening and also wrong.
And even when we exclude the murderous clowns, a circus still contains so much potential creepiness. It can be a transient and turbulent beast that arrives in an otherwise stagnant environment and starts to change things around. People alter their daily routine. Children sneak out of their houses to see the show. The town is suddenly a temporary home to masked strangers who will perform peculiar feats for a few nights and then depart.
And the performances themselves, the glitz and the mystery, create an otherworldly environment that is magical but fraying at the edges. A carnival is a pretty lie. Regular, imperfect people hide under the face paint, and electric cables power the rides, and sometimes if you look at just the wrong moment you see the magician sneaking around the edge of the curtain instead of vanishing into thin air.
Some people find this incongruity disturbing. Others relish it. It can be fun, after all, to be creeped out.
Having said all of that, my own circus is not menacing. Circus Mirandus is meant to be a place of joy and wonder. It’s where Micah thinks he will find the help he needs to save his grandfather. Most of the darkness in the story comes from Grandpa Ephraim’s illness, which is the sort of everyday horror that many children face. I don’t think it would have been right to distract from that with a terrifying fantasy world.
So, the magic is real, and it is (mostly) used benevolently. At Circus Mirandus, the aerial artists fly without the aid of wires, and there is no risk that any of the children in the audience, even Micah’s analytical friend Jenny, will see through the Lightbender’s illusions.
To the surprise of no one who has met me, Circus Mirandus is the world child-me would have created for herself if she had been given unlimited power.
This doesn’t mean the circus is perfect, as Micah will discover, but it is a force for good in the world. What conflict the circus creates is not the result of something sweet turned rotten, but that of something longed for that is almost out of reach.
I think Micah might tell anyone curious enough to ask how extraordinarily difficult it is to believe in something like Circus Mirandus in this world, especially when the people around you are telling you that your situation is hopeless. I think he might say that you need great reserves of courage to find it. I think he might tell you how hard it can be, once you’ve finally made it, to hold on to the magic.
So, though creepy circus stories abound, mine is not one of them. My circus is a dream world, one that I have tried to fill with the kind of magic that every young person searches for at some point.
For Micah, that search is rewarded in ways he doesn’t expect. But I believe that his decision to make the journey to the circus is ultimately more important than the fact that he reaches it. If there is one idea I want readers to take away from Circus Mirandus, I think perhaps it is this: that at the limits of magic (and even magic has its limits), in that place where we face the darkness, there is only the choice that Micah has to make.
Despair? Or hope?”
Many thanks to Ms. Beasley for her in-depth and fascinating answer and to the good folks at Penguin for inviting her here in the first place.
About Cassie Beasley: website/twitter/goodreads
CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.
Welcome to the final stop on the Barbara Bottner
blog tour for her latest book,
Fiona has spent the day at the beach and now it's time for bed.
"Time to say good night," said Mama.
"I'm not ready!" said Fiona.
"You've had a long day. You must be tired, from your head to your toes," said Mama.
"Maybe just a little tired...."
This may be a bedtime story, but Maggie Smith's bright illustrations are richly colored and full of life.
"Toes, go to sleep!" said Fiona.
Toes were for gripping flip-flops on the way to the beach.
Toes were easy. They went right to sleep."
The illustrations feature bright and bold depictions of Fiona's earlier daytime activities, while the pajama clad Fiona is contrasted in a smaller inset box, growing wearier with each page until she is finally and peacefully asleep against a backdrop of evening blue. Feet, Go to Sleep is an attractive combination of enjoyable and practical.
Although I was traveling, and did not have time to submit interview questions to author Barbara Bottner, she was kind enough to answer one question for me. As a Jersey Shore gal, I was curious if Feet, Go to Sleep
is based on any particular beach - perhaps one of Ms. Bottner's favorites. Bottner enjoyed frequenting Jones Beach on Long Island as a teenager, however, the location of Fiona's activities are not based on any specific beach, In fact, the book's location was added after the first draft. I have actually (succesfully) used the relaxation technique in Feet, Go to Sleep
although I've never needed it after a day at the beach. For me, a day at the beach is a relaxation technique in itself. Ah, that salt air!
Previous stops on the blog tour include:
Feet, Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner
Blog Tour Schedule
My copy of Feet, Go to Sleep
was provided by the publisher.
By: Laura Benson,
The author of I See London sets her sights on Washington, D. C., with a sexy new series about three sisters, the secrets they keep, and a powerful blog with a knack for exposing scandals...
Jackie Gardner knows all about dirty little secrets. The illegitimate daughter of one of the most influential senators in Washington, D.C., she grew up surrounded by the scandals and shadows of politics. Now that she's landed an internship with a powerful political consulting firm, she's determined to launch her career and take this city by storm.
William Andrew Clayton was born for politics. He knows the drill: work hard, play discreetly, and at all costs, avoid scandal. At twenty-six, his campaign for the Virginia State Senate is the first step to cementing his future. It's time for him to settle down, to find the perfect political spouse. He needs a Jackie Kennedy, not a Marilyn...
When Jackie meets Will in the bar of the Hay-Adams Hotel, sparks fly. But the last thing Will needs is to be caught in a compromising position, and an affair with a political candidate could cost Jackie her career. When what began as one steamy night, becomes a passion neither one of them can walk way from, they must decide if what they have is really love, or just another dirty little secret...
He moved forward, just an inch, but enough that his hand reached out, circling my wrist. We both froze the instant he touched me. His eyes widened, almost as if he were surprised by his own actions.
We both looked down at the same time, our gazes glued to the spot where our flesh met.
His hand was tanner than mine. It was easy to imagine him outdoors—sailing, maybe. Maybe he still played lacrosse. He looked so masculine, and physical, and something about the sight of his hand—long, tapered fingers, neatly trimmed nails—was enough to make my breath catch. His hands, like everything else about his body, were big. With him arched over my chair, it was impossible to not feel like he dominated me.
We didn’t look at each other, instead we both watched as he turned my hand over, palm up. For a second I forgot to breathe. Everything around us, the sounds of glasses clinking and deals being made, fell away. I forgot that I was at the Hay-Adams, forgot everything but the image of his hand, so male, so strong, so capable, encircling mine.
I waited. It must have been only seconds, and yet it felt like an eternity. Waited until I felt it, the brush of his finger, featherlight, on the inside of my wrist—stroking, teasing, tempting—unraveling me with the slightest touch.
I went completely still, my body anchored by his. The fire alarm could have gone off and I wouldn’t have moved an inch. My eyes closed, savoring the feel of his hand on my bare skin.
It was the kind of touch that was nothing and everything at the same time. It was an invitation, a proposition, a claiming, possession. With one finger, the power completely shifted.
My eyes fluttered open, unable to resist the urge to watch. His fingers stroked the inside of my wrist, lazy patterns and swirls that somehow looked like art. Each touch sent a shiver through me, my nipples tightening, heat flooding my body. I’d never been so turned on in my life, and all he’d touched was the inside of my wrist.
Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton has it all. A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension, and plenty of breathtaking scandal.
- New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy
Scorching hot and wicked smart, Flirting with Scandal had me hooked from page one! Sizzling with sexual tension and political intrigue, Cleeton weaves a story that is as complex as it is sexy. Thank God this is a series because I need more!!
- New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris
Sexy, intelligent, and intriguing. Chanel Cleeton makes politics scandal-icious.
- USA Today bestselling author Tiffany King
Chanel Cleeton knocked it out of the park with Flirting with Scandal. The banter was refreshing, the political storyline captivating, and the sexual tension was through the roof. Smart, emotional, romantic, and sizzling hot--this book is fantastic!
- Christina Lee, author of the Between Breaths series
Chanel Cleeton delivers again! Featuring a strong heroine, a steamy romance, and juicy dose of political scandal, Flirting with Scandal is completely engrossing. Clear your calendars--you won't be able to put this one down!
- Brenda St. John Brown, author of Swimming to Tokyo
An emotionally satisfying page turner, deliciously steamy and set against a complex political backdrop that yields satisfying plot twists and a hefty dose of scandal.
- Lia Riley, author of Upside Down
About the Book: (from Goodreads) After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.
With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.
But between the cut throat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big screen.
Can I admit to a tiny pet peeve? It’s certain “mean girl” and “mean boy” characters in children’s books. You know the ones—everything they do and say is mean and their nasty behavior is usually aimed at the main character. They appear to have no role other than to cause problems for the MC. In contrast, the MC is the sympathetic “good kid” who sometimes suffers from terrible flaws like being too
generous or too
concerned about their friends and family.
Here’s my peeve—I raised two girls, hung out with a lot of middle school-age kids, and none of them fit either of the “good kid/bad kid” descriptions. I saw nice kids who had bad days and said mean things, even to their friends. I also saw kids who—yes—were more troubled, who had issues, but were still capable of kindness, humor and friendship.
In other words, they were real kids. When I sat down to write about Kate Walden, I wanted her to be a strong, likeable, funny character, but I also wanted her to be real. In Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man
, Kate has already finished one movie to great acclaim. All the kids at school want to be in her next project. Suddenly, a cute new boy shows up who also likes to make movies, and they become rivals. Kate struggles with spiteful feelings. She makes bad assumptions and nurses a grudge. Really, couldn’t that be any of us on a bad day? Luckily, Kate learns from her mistakes, which is what I think parents should hope for—not that our children will be perfect “good kids,” because that’s a huge expectation to put on anyone, but that they will learn from their stumbles and grow emotionally as they grow physically.
Let’s face it—middle school years can be tough. Innocent childhood is receding and adulthood looms on the far horizon like a scary gray fog. Like a lot of kids at that age, Kate worries about her social standing and what other kids think of her, but she’s also a plucky girl who’s not afraid to pursue a big dream. Hopefully, middle grade readers can relate to her character and maybe even see some of themselves in her humorous antics and social misfires.
About Julie: Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.
Follow along on the Bride of Slug Man blog tour!
Want to win a copies of the Kate Walden Directs books? Fill out the form below to enter!
-Contest thanks to Big Honcho Media and Disney-Hyperion Books
-One entry per person
-US Address only please
-Contest ends May 28
Please welcome Anna Banks to GreenBeanTeenQueen as part of her tour for her new book Joyride!About The Book: (from goodreads:) A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.
It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.
-Your Syrena Legacy series features mermaids and Joyride is contemporary. Why did you make the switch? Was one genre easier or more difficult to write?
I didn’t intentionally make the switch to contemporary. I’m not familiar with how you should even write contemporary, because I hadn’t read too many before this. But it’s Carly who compelled me to write it. She has a story to tell even if it’s not fantasy, and I can’t ignore the her strong voice. Fantasy is much easier for me to write. I get to create a world in fantasy, where in contemporary, the world has already been created. You’d think that would be easier but it’s not. Sticking within the boundaries of this world and still telling an interesting story is hard writing. A lot of fantasies have high concept plots, it’s expected, and contemporaries tend to focus on character. In JOYRIDE, I tried to write a balance between plot and character. I hope you enjoy it. J
-What's the best prank you ever pulled?
I’ve pulled a lot of pranks in my time but here’s the most recent. I was selling one of my Coach purses on craigslist and agreed to meet a lady in a parking lot so she could buy it. We had texted and confirmed our appointment. When she got there, she told me I didn’t have any business selling a Coach purse for that much money and that I should just give it to her. Ummmm, no. She pretty much pitched a fit for like fifteen minutes that I wouldn’t give her my purse. So after our confrontation, I downloaded a picture of a black cat, made lost posters for it with the lady’s number on it and put a $500 reward on it. Every available street light in town got a poster. I’m pretty sure she’s going to have to switch her number.
-If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?
Warren from the Shatter Me series. Obviously, the guy is hot. But I’d want to pick apart his brain, and unfortunately he and I are amused by much of the same things. I think we’d get kicked out of the restaurant and that’s when our real dinner would begin.
-What books are on your nightstand right now?
I’m at RT, so I’ve got some steamy romance novels on my hotel night stand—and don’t think I’m not reading them all, either!
Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below!
Contest thanks to Macmillan Books!
-One entry per person
-Contest ends May 28
-US/Canada Address Only Please
By: Carmela Martino and 5 other authors
Blog: Teaching Authors
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
April Halprin Wayland
, Barbara Bottner
, bedtime stories
, blog tour
, Book Giveaway
, critique groups
, picture books
, Poetry Friday
, Summer Reading
, teen poetry
, Add a tag
Howdy, Campers! What's store for you at TeachingAuthors today? A new picture book, its blog tour, a guest author and poet, two original poems, and a reminder to enter our latest book giveaway . Whew!
In honor of Poetry Friday, (link at the bottom of this post) my teacher and friend, New York Times bestselling author, Barbara Bottner has opened her notebook to share a poem with us from a work-in-progress (W.I.P.). And I've added my poem about being in her writing group.
But first: TeachingAuthors is proud to be part of Barbara's blog tour (see tour schedule below) celebrating her brand-new book, Feet, Go to Sleep (Penguin Random House), illustrated by Maggie Smith.
From the book flap:Fiona is not ready for bed. But after a long day at the beach, her mom knows she must be tired from her head to her toes. So together they send each part of her off to sleep. As Fiona relaxes her body, she remembers a day when feet were for splashing in the waves, legs were for running after cousins, tummy was for holding strawberries, and arms were for throwing beach balls. And bit by bit, memory by memory, Fiona slips from a great day into a good night.
Trust me, Campers, it's a perfect-for-summer bedtime book, weaving in a relaxation technique we can use to help kids go to sleep after an exciting day.
And when I asked Barbara if she would share a poem from her W.I.P. verse novel, I See Thunder,
she said, "Sure!"I’M A MONSTERby Barbara Bottner
I’m not Davy’s motherbut Mother demandsthat I do things she should do
like take him with me, everywhere I go.And Davy walks really slowly.Sometimes I wonder if he does itjust to annoy me.
Today, I’m going to the Grand Concourseto buy fresh salty pretzels.
Just as I'm leaving, Mother says:“take David with you.”Her shrill voicesays do not dare object.
She has no idea how that makesgoing to the Grand Concoursenothing like what I had in mind. “C’mon,” I say.“Put your jacket on already!”He's so easy going.I'm so hard going.
“Where are your glasses, Davy?”Now my voiceis shrill.
He looks at me with his big browns,mumbles: “It’s hard to be mewhen you’re angry at me.”
That’s when I get a grip on my nasty self.
(c) Barbara Bottner from her work-in-progress, I SEE THUNDER. All rights reserved.
Thank you, Barbara. I especially love these lines: He's so easy going./I'm so hard going
....“It’s hard to be me/when you’re angry at me.”
...and that last line. One poem can say so much.
When asked "Where do you get your ideas?
" here are some pearls from Barbara:...the ‘material’ we use in the beginning is often our own. So I wrote books about being the worst dancer in the class, being messy, being rebellious. It’s not the events themselves, it’s what they stir up in me…We are the clay and we are the potter and I believe you have to be both if you want to be an author…work authentically…follow where the story wants to go.
There's too much to tell you about what a fine teacher Barbara is...
...how intuitive she is, how she challenges us to dig deeper and deeper still...
AROUND BARBARA’S TABLE
by April Halprin Wayland
the tinkling of her full moon necklace impossible feats of metaphor. Six of us around her rosewood table foreshadowing, fortune telling
The illusion of allusion.
A prophecy of sorcery.
She's a shaman jingling bracelets
(c) April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
Thanks for including us on your blog tour, Barbara! Jump on board her tour and you may win a copy of Feet, Go to Sleep! Here's the schedule:
5/21 Shelf-employedAnd...you have until midnight, May 15, 2015 to enter TeachingAuthors' latest book giveaway for Stephanie Lyons' new book, Dating Down--don't miss out!
posted by April Halprin Wayland while sharing sips of Pellegrino with Barbara's new pup
If I woke up and discovered I was a princess, I would be both nervous and excited. I would immediately want to check out my new royal castle's library (because a castle has to have a library!) and I hope that it would look just like Belle's castle, because isn't that what every bookish princess wants?
I would also use my new princess powers for good and bring books and libraries to kids all over my kingdom. I would make sure my kingdom had libraries with great teen and children's librarians. I would even build a library just for kids and teens and staff it with the best librarians possible (all my friends of course who are the most amazing librarians ever!) And then one of my first acts as princess would be to bring a litfest to my kingdom bringing in authors and illustrators from all over the world. If I could, I would also use my powers to fund libraries outside of my kingdom and bring books to children everywhere I went.
Aside from all the bookish things I would do, I would make sure that Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan got to own a sports team, since that's his dream. If I get my dream library and get to bring books to everyone I meet, then Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan should get something too, right?
What would you do if you woke up and discovered you were a princess? That's what happens to Olivia in Meg Cabot's new book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. Want to win a copy of the book? Leave a comment below!
Contest thanks to Macmillan Kids Books
Contest ends May 26
One entry per person please
US Address only please
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.
Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.
When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...
I am excited to welcome author Sarvenaz Tash to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her newest book, Three Day Summer, is all about Woodstock. She captures the atmosphere and the music and I wanted to know more about the music in the book and the playlists she made to get inspired to write. I love this playlist and listening to it gets me in the mood for summer (and to read Sarvenaz's awesome book!) Be sure to check out the rest of her tour stops as well!
It will probably come as no surprise that I love the music of the 1960s. And although I myself was a teenager during the bizarre grunge/pop hybrid that was the mid- to late ‘90s, I actually spent most of my high school years listening to this music instead.
I made two Spotify playlists to go with my Woodstock love story, Three Day Summer
. One features the songs—and in some cases, some of the very performances—that my two main characters Cora and Michael hear during the festival itself. The other I like to refer to as my “’60s milieu” playlist, and I filled it with not only some of my favorite songs of the decade, but some of the tunes that I think best embody the many facets of it: from its socially conscious anthems to its feel-good pop to its trippy soundscapes. (I do have one strong caveat: Beatles songs are not available on Spotify and that’s the only reason they are not included on this list!)
Here then are the songs I chose for the Three Day Summer
—In the Mood soundtrack (followed, of course, by the playlist itself!):
1“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” The Byrds
Between the out-of-this-world harmonies and the profound lyrics (partially taken from the Bible no less!), this is just one of those songs that makes me feel calm, reflective, and peaceful. I thought it was fitting since the peace sign is one of the most enduring symbols of the 1960s.
“Happy Together” The Turtles
True to its title, this song just makes me feel toe-tappingly happy and, I think, is indicative of the some of the best pop to come out of the decade. Plus it’s about being head over heels in love which, of course, also goes along with the book.
“Piece of My Heart” Janis Joplin
I’m not sure it’s possible to find a more gutsy and gut-wrenching performance of a song that’s both about heartbreak and about girl power. (This line: “I’m going to show you, baby, that a woman can be tough” is a particular favorite to belt out in the shower! Amiright, ladies?). Janis plays an important role in the book and she performed this song at Woodstock too!
“"America” Simon & Garfunkel
Another song with harmonies that slay me in the best way. I also think the lyrics portray both the hope and the heartache that came with the changing face of what it was to be young in 1960s America.
You Keep Me Hangin’ On” The Supremes
The sound of Motown was a huge, indelible part of the 1960s and The Supremes were for sure the queens of it.
“Build Me Up Buttercup” The Foundations
Yes, this has played at every Sweet 16 you’ve been to since the beginning of time (or, at least, since 1968) but there’s a reason for it: you simply must sing and dance along to its unshakeable beat.
“Somebody to Love” Jefferson Airplane
From another Woodstock performer, I love the contrast of this song to the one before it and I think it’s a great example of some of the more psychedelic sounds of the decades. Plus lead singer Grace Slick is another fantastic rocker chick that embodies the feminist spirit of the decade.
“Don’t Worry Baby” The Beach Boys
You can’t love the ‘60s without loving the beautiful harmonies of The Beach Boys and this one is one of my very favorite love songs of theirs . . . that also just happens to be about drag racing.
“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” Nancy Sinatra
Remember all that girl power I mentioned before? In the age of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, this kiss-off anthem just fits right in. Plus I know that Nancy wore a lot of fabulous go-go boots to perform it—and what is more ‘60s than that?!
“Joy to the World” Three Dog Night
The lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense (why is this person friends with a bullfrog?!) but you can’t help singing along anyway as this ode to the world is quite joyous indeed.
“I’m a Believer” The Monkees
Full confession: The Monkees were my first-ever concert (see the first paragraph of this post) and I’ve adored them for practically as long as I can remember. Though they started out as a made-for-TV Beatles parody band, they ended up with some truly spectacular songs in their oeuvre. This bouncy number is a particular favorite.
“Bad Moon Rising” Creedence Clearwater Revival
Also performed at Woodstock, this song comes in at a key point in the story. I also think it has a particular rock/bluegrass vibe that was a big part of the ‘60s sound.
“Time of the Season” The Zombies
I find this song both sultry and trippy, which I think showcases yet another facet of the decade.
The ultimate anthem for the teen population of the 1960s? I think so! Of course, I’m not sure how the Who feel now about belting out lyrics like “I hope I die before I grow old” but I think that it’s hard to find a song that better embodies the universal feeling of being young and misunderstood.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” Sam Cooke
A song that remains as beautiful and pertinent today as it did when it came out, Cooke was directly singing about the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the hope for a better tomorrow that led so many to fight for equality.
Follow the Tour:
Mon, May 11
What a Nerd Girl Says
Tues, May 12
Wed, May 13
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, May 14
Curling Up with a Good Book
Fri, May 15
The Compulsive Reader
The Hiding Spot
Tues, May 19
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Wed, May 20
Thurs, May 21
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Fri, May 22
I first interviewed author Courtney Summers in 2008, shortly before her debut novel Cracked Up to Be was released. Seven years, five novels, and many tweets, Tumblr Q&As, and short stories later, her latest novel All the Rage is all the buzz, as is the #tothegirls campaign, which Courtney launched via Thunderclap on April 14th to remind girls everywhere that they are seen, heard and loved.
During her blog tour, I threw three questions Courtney's way. It was difficult, but somehow, I managed to resist the urge to ask her about her love for Pollito, the chicken in Despicable Me 2.
What inspired you to create #ToTheGirls?
I write for and about girls because I believe girls and their stories matter. I think we should take and make every opportunity we can to tell them so.
When you were a kid, were there any books or characters that you connected with strongly?
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club. I was so obsessed they inspired me to start babysitting . . . and that was not as fun as the novels led me to believe.
BUT. Those girls were so cool, so any time I could recognize a trait that I shared with any of the characters - from Claudia’s drawing (I loved to draw when I was younger) and her junk food obsession, to Mallory’s writing, to Kristy’s bossiness - I was thrilled beyond words. I felt like I could be as cool as them. Those books had such a positive impact on me and fueled my love of reading.
What's your favorite feature of the Supernatural Clue board game?
I love this question! My favourite part of the Supernatural Clue game is playing as Dean.And then taking it really personally when any of the other characters let him down by being whodunit. Especially if it’s Sam! :)
BONUS: Here's a little quote from ALL THE RAGE...
Follow the blog tour + learn more about Courtney Summers at her website.
Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Courtney Summers (2008)
Book Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Book Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
What Makes Courtney Summers Smile
So You Want to Read YA? Booklist by Little Willow at Stacked
About the Book: (from the publisher) Case File: The First Unsittable
The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task...until now.
After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.
Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: i was first intrigued by this book when I saw it billed as "Babysitters Club meets Men in Black." Two things I loved as a tween and teen combined? I was sold. And luckily, Gabby Duran lived up to my excitement.
Gabby is a super babysitter-she's like Kristi, Claudia, Mary Ann, and Stacy combined with a dash of super nanny. So of course she would be awesome at babysitting aliens! And she gets some crazy clients! A kid that can turn into a giant slug? Gabby to the rescue! The story is filled with lots of humor and though there are aliens, it's sci-if light, so u think readers who typically shy away from science fiction would still be interested. Tweens are sure to get a kick out of Gabby's adventures, while feeling grateful about their own babysitting charges! Lots of fun and I'm looking forward to book two!
Want to win a Gabby Duran prize pack? Thanks to Disney Publishing, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables, a Gabby Duran tumbler, and a lightup UFO flyer.
Fill out form below to enter!
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-contest ends May 2
Please welcome K. E. Ormsbee to GreenBeanTeenQueen! K.E. Ormsbee is the author of The Water and the Wild. I asked her to share about libraries and I love the libraries she talks about! She even shared pictures and I want to visit these libraries now!
About K. E. Ormsbee: I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Then I went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where I pretended I was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. I also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX. Now I'm back in Lexington, KY, where there is a Proper Autumn.
In my wild, early years, I taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. My crowning achievement is that the back of my head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid me money for it.
Nowadays, I teach piano lessons, play in a band you've never heard of, and run races that I never win. I likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. I still satiate my bone-deep wanderlust whenever I can.
I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I grew up in the library. Both my parents were educators who read to me constantly and taught me how to read for myself. They created one insatiable bookworm. I munched through books with a voracious appetite, and I looked forward to my weekly visit to the library more than I did trips to the pizzeria. Oh yeah. I was a Supreme Nerd. Growing up, I was well acquainted with many public library branches in my hometown of Lexington, KY. I knew which branch had the best Middle Grade section (Beaumont), which had the best storyteller (Lansdowne), and which had the coolest CD collection (Central). On occasion, I even got to visit the behemoth William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky’s campus. Truth be told, a college library was pretty boring stuff to nine-year-old Kathryn, but I lovedskipping through the automated sliding bookshelves, deliciously terrified that the motion sensors might not detect me. To be crushed in the Anthropology section would be a spectacular way to go, reasoned Little Kathryn. I was a pretty morbid kiddo.
I’ve always considered libraries to be magical places, and I’ve discovered some rather spectacular ones in my travels, from London to Prague to Seville to Cambridge. I mean, take a peek at this teeny but cozy library at King’s College, Cambridge: (Magical, right? Magical.)
It wasn’t until my senior year of college, however, that I discovered the Library of Dreams, the Library to End All Libraries, MY FAVORITE LIBRARY. In 2011, I set foot in the newly opened Library in the Forest in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. And yes, this library is just as cool as it sounds. Library in the Forest, which is located on the edge of nine wooded acres, is Alabama’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility. My personal favorite feature of the library is the Treehouse Reading Room, a special space where you can read suspended above the forest. I spent many days studying at Library in the Forest, soaking in the natural light from its giant windows and watching kids explore the surrounding area on class field trips. Whenever I reached my writing limit, I knew I could just rip out my earbuds, swing on my backpack, and step out into the great outdoors for a hike. But it’s not just Library in the Forest’s location or facilities that make it so cool. It’s the people who tirelessly work to provide the community with great programming and countless opportunities for kids and teens to learn and explore. What makes the library extra special to me is all the time I spent there with friends who loved the winning combo of books, nature, and community-minded programming just as much as I did. It seems rather fitting, then, that I worked on revisions for The Water and the Wild while at Library in the Forest, since the importance of nature, stories, and friendship are all central to Lottie Fiske’s story. I think all three of those things carry a little bit of magic in them, whether they’re found in the pages of a fantasy book or in a library just outside Birmingham, Alabama.
So! Next time you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the very special Library in the Forest. I hope you’ll feel the magic, too.
About The Water and the Wild: A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot's getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.
Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below to enter to win a signed copy!
-One entry per person
-Ages 13+ up
-Contest ends April 30
By: Carter Higgins,
Blog: Design of the Picture Book
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by K.E. Ormsbee, illustrated by Elsa Mora (Chronicle Books, 2015)
From the publisher:
A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.
I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour celebrating the release of The Water and the Wild, which includes a chance for you to win a copy of this beautiful (literally and figuratively!) book.
First, let’s hear from K.E. herself. Welcome, K.E.!
Visualizing Limn: The Real-World Inspirations Behind Lottie Fiske’s World.
In The Water and the Wild, twelve-year-old Lottie Fiske travels through the roots of an apple tree into the magic-soaked world of Limn—a land filled with bustling cities, dense woods, magical yew trees, and giant spider webs. World building Limn was one of the most fun and challenging aspects of writing The Water and the Wild, and my inspiration for the look and feel of the fantasy landscape came from very real places.
Today, I’d like to share some of those inspirations and take a moment to gush about just how perfectly artist Elsa Mora captured the magic of Limn in her cover art and illustrations.
New Kemble – York, England
I’m a huge anglophile, and one of my favorite places in all of England is York. The city is rich with layer upon layer of history, as evidenced in its walls, its giant cathedral, and its winding streets. I remember first setting foot in The Shambles and feeling certain that something ancient and magical was at work there.
When I first drafted The Water and the Wild, the story actually took place in York. Over time and a number of subsequent revisions, York became New Kemble, a fictional island town off the coast of Massachusetts. But the inspiration for New Kemble remained thoroughly English. I still envision The Barmy Badger—home of Lottie’s best friend Eliot—on a street similar to The Shambles. And Lottie’s home in the boardinghouse on Thirsby Square is based on the real St. Paul’s Square in York.
Iris Gate – The Biltmore Estate
When Lottie first arrives in Limn, she stays at the home of the Wilfers—an old money family with royal connections and a fair share of secrets. The Wilfer family home is called Iris Gate, and Lottie is overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of the place. When describing Iris Gate, I tried to capture the intimidation I felt upon first walking into the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
The Biltmore is an imposing mansion even to full-grown adults, and I was ten when my family visited. I remember gaping at the soaring ceilings, ornate decorations, and sprawling gardens. Though Iris Gate is nowhere near as extensive as the Biltmore, its architecture and landscaping were written to resemble that of the Biltmore Estate.
Wisp Territory – Springtime in my childhood neighborhood
I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills, black fences, and horse farms. It experiences four distinct seasons, and the springtimes there are lovely. In my neighborhood, there were many dogwoods, magnolias, and Bradford pear trees. When all of those trees were in bloom, white petals would blow loose into the wind, and everywhere I turned the world seemed awash in white. I called it my Warm Winter.
I never shook those springtime images, and when I was creating Wisp Territory—home to the mysterious will o’ the wisps—I wanted to convey a similar aesthetic. The world of the wisps is, by and large, colorless. The grass, the trees, and the leaves are all white. The royal home is made entirely of glass. This wintry appearance does not vary with the seasons, and it’s my homage to the Warm Winters I experienced as a kid.
* * *
Clearly, I have some very distinct ideas about how the world of Limn looks. What I was most nervous and excited about during the publication process was seeing how an artist would render a world that had for so long existed only in my imagination. As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. When Melissa Manlove, my fabulous editor at Chronicle Books, first gave me Elsa Mora’s name, I of course went straight to Google to do some major image stalking. After only a minute, I knew I was in the best of hands.
Elsa’s papercuts are pure magic. There is so much detail, care, and whimsy in each of her creations. The cover of The Water and the Wild conveys not only the fantasticalness, but also the danger of Lottie’s journey. The way in which the characters and their natural surroundings blend so effortlessly captures my own attempt to make the world around Lottie as much a character as she is.
Inside the book, you’ll find a papercut plant accompanying each chapter heading. These illustrations reinforce the importance of the natural world throughout the book. And, you know, they just so happen to be GORGEOUS.
It’s been almost seven years since I first wrote down the image of a magical green apple tree. Now, as Lottie Fiske’s story officially hits bookshelves, I couldn’t be happier with the way that image and others came to be realized in the art and text of The Water and the Wild.
If you’re anything like me, you’re dying to read more about Lottie and Limn. So! Tweet this post anyway you’d like on Twitter, and include the hashtag #dpb for a chance to win a copy! I’ll be in touch with a winner in a week.
Check out The Water and the Wild’s teacher guide here, and a sneak peek at its beginning here.
And be sure to check out tomorrow’s stop on the tour at Green Bean Teen Queen, where K.E. talks libraries!
Photo Credit: Shirleen Hieb Photography
I love to hear what writer's have to say about libraries. I relate so much to what Margi Preus shares about growing up surrounded by stories. May we all be as lucky!
The stories of writers who as children were non-readers or slow readers or were saved from gangs or a life of crime by fairy godmother-like librarians—these stories are fascinating, and we readers thrive on hearing them. By comparison, my own story is as dull as dirt. I grew up in a pleasant Minnesota town where people were generally good to each other. We had fine schools and nice teachers. I had a wonderful family and many friends. I was never bullied, nor do I think I was a bully. I was a good student. And I always liked to read. In short: a thoroughly dull and nondramatic life. Except that it wasn’t. My world was populated with trolls and gnomes and golden castles that hung in the air—thanks to the stories my father told. I knew where fairies danced at night and that nissen(little people) were to blame for hiding my mother’s sewing scissors—because she told me that herself. I lived in a storied landscape and a world of stories, not least because my elementary school had a big, vibrant library stuffed full of books, and a librarian who made sure good books, important books, stayed on the shelves—even books that parents objected to, like (believe it or not) Harriet the Spy, the book that made me want to become a writer, or Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, a book that caused me to wander about in a daze for a full week, mind-blown. I may not have lived an outwardly exciting life, but through books, I sailed with Jim Hawkins and rafted with Huck Finn, sat under a Spanish cork tree with Ferdinand, wandered the magical realm of Narnia, made way too many donuts with Henry Huggins, and had tea on the ceiling with Mary Poppins. I felt every kind of emotion and lived through times both devastating and joyous. I was grumpy with Harriet, knew the comfort of friendship with Mole and Toad and Rat, felt loneliness and privation on the Island of Blue Dolphins, suffered prejudice with Hannah in The Witch of Blackbeard Pond, felt wildly free and independent with Pippi, and wept with Wilbur over the death of our mutual friend, Charlotte.
Like readers before me and after me, I learned to empathize, at least in part—and maybe a big part—because of books. And by books I mean novels. Fiction transported me to many worlds where I made friends and even lost a few, and where I experienced every kind of hardship and sorrow as well as the best kinds of delight, pleasure, and joy. Thanks to stories, my life was never dull, has never been dull, and never will be dull. And thanks to my elementary school library and librarian, I got a good start down the road to adventure just when it counted the most.
About Enchantment Lake: On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as seventeen-year-old Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake?
Would you like to win a *signed copy* of Enchantment Lake?
Fill out the form below to enter.
Contest thanks to University of Minnesota Press!
(open to ages 13+, one entry per person, contest ends April 8)
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Zest Books is a fantastic publisher of non-fiction for teens. If you're looking for fun, engaging, and informative non-fiction, add these to your collection!
Secret societies are fascinating. Did you know there's even a secret (and pricey!) club at Disney? Some of the groups may be familiar, some may be new, but all have interesting secrets to share!
For teens looking for a fun read exposing secret clubs and societies, this is a book that would be a blast. It could also be a fun starting point for research projects.
With so much information coming at teens, how do they know who and what to trust? How can they find out information for themselves? Debunk It helps teens sort out what's true and what's false.
Debunk It helps teens sort out information and decide for themselves what to believe.
Rockin' The Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries- From Joan of Arc to Malcom XAdd to Goodreads
About the Book: We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries.
After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world.
Rockin’ the Boat tells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts — including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke — from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well.
As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history — a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.
You know what I always think is weird? History is not my favorite subject (sorry GreenBeanSexy Man history teacher!) I found it interesting enough but never anything I wanted to keep researching or read about in my free time. Yet I'm a sucker for books that give interesting tidbits and facts about cool people and events in history. I'm not sure why. Maybe it makes history a bit more engaging? Maybe I can handle the small snippets? I'm not sure. But even if you have readers who may snub their nose at a history book, they should still give Rockin' the Boat a chance.
There are 50 people profiled in the book. Some are well known and others are not. Each section is short and they can be read in order (chronologically) or you can jump around and read about whoever you're interested in that moment. Pictures and clever captions add to the lighthearted appeal of the book.
Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below!
-One entry per person
-Ends March 30
Contest thanks to Zest Books!
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Release Date: 3/10/2015
About the Book: Three months after the events in Seraphina, Goredd is facing a brewing war between dragons and humans. Seraphina discovers that there may be a way that she and the other half dragons may be able to fight the dragons in a powerful way. Seraphina is given a task to gather other half dragons and sets off on a journey to find those she's only known in her mind garden in real life. Along the way she encounters a dangerous someone from her past who can enter into others minds and control them and has her own motives for gathering the half dragons together. Seraphina needs to keep herself and the others safe and embrace a powerful new destiny.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When someone is looking for an epic high fantasy, especially one featuring dragons, I have to suggest Seraphina. The characters, worldbuilding and story are so rich and unique that I know it will be a great read for someone wanting lots of high fantasy detail. The same can be said for Shadow Scale which is a richly detailed sequel to Seraphina.
Shadow Scale is a sequel and I do think readers should read Seraphina first because things would make a lot more sense, but I do love that Shadow Scale isn't just a continuation of the story introduced in Seraphina, but also has it's own new plot and storyline. So often sequels just feel like someone took the first book, cut it in half, and the sequel is just more of the first story. Shadow Scale does not suffer from that problem and it stands well on its own feet with details continuing the story as well as introducing a new villain and journey for Seraphina.
Characters from the first book are there as well as many new faces giving the book a very large cast of characters. Yet each character is balanced well and I felt as though I knew each character well. Ms. Hartman has a talent for creating characters that you fall in love with and you feel as though you know them and they are part of your life as you read the story. Each of the half dragons we meet have a great story and we get to know them, yet the story never feels bogged down in telling their backstories or giving information about them. It's all wonderfully weaved into the plot.
I was sucked into the book and got lost in Seraphina's world. The book is long, but it has a very quick pace. The worldbuilding is wonderfully done. As Seraphina travels around The Southlands, each new region and city has a distinct culture and atmosphere. The new villain introduced is frightening. Maybe because I listened to part of the book on audio as well and the narrator does a fantastic smarmy and manipulative voice that it added to the character's evilness, but she was chilling!
I also love that these books feature a romance without it being a big central focus of the story. It's there, but Seraphina and Kiggs know that they have bigger things to deal with than their feelings for each other. Seraphina has larger battles to fight than analyzing her feelings for the Prince and I love her for it.
Shadow Scale is a fantastically rich and engaging sequel that is sure to please fans of the first book. I would happily read more from this world and Seraphina and I love visiting her again for awhile.
Full Dislcoure: Reviewed from ARC received from publisher
Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X Jeff Fleischer
Woo-hoo! I'm back on Zest's Rockin' Blog Tour.
Much like Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! this new offering by Zest is a little more text-y than previous similar titles, and is a more YA-friendly trim size.
In this one, Fleischer looks at 50 iconic revolutionaries (in case you couldn't figure that out from the subtitle) with a brief introduction to their life, any context you need to know about what they were rebelling against, and what their revolution was. Most also have a pull-out box or two about the lasting legacy of their rebellion or how history and/or pop culture has changed their story (such as the real story of William Wallace vs. Braveheart)
Arranged in chronological order, the first part is pretty heavy on the anti-Romans (Hannibal! Boudica! Cleopatra!) Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson are here, as are Metacom, Tecumseh, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Liliukalani. Other Americans include Daniel Shays, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X and Marting Luter King, Jr. (If I counted correctly, 19 are Americans or were rebelling against something in the US, or doing it in what would become the US.)
It's not all white guys, and it's not all winners, which is a serious win. I also like while they are all certainly political revolutionaries, it's a nice blend between reformers and those who went to war. I would have liked to see more outside of the Americas and Europe, especially some less-known names. I mean some of these Americans are a bit obscure (Mary Harris Jones), and some of the early European ones definitely are (Vercingetroix, Arminus, Owain Glyndwr) but most of the ones south of the US aren't (Che, Castro, Simon Bolivar, Pancho Villa) And the ones that are further afield are pretty well known (Mao Zedong, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Ataturk, Nelson Mandela). The one exception is New Zealand, where we get Hone Heke and Kate Sheppard.
It's a great introduction to some serious empire building and tearing down (as much as there is a lot of focus on the anti-Romans--8 out of 50, it also really shows the sweep of the Roman Empire, as well as its definite limits.) As well as major political movements, which still very much shape our world today.
While it's an easy one to dip in and out of, I recommend reading it in order, as many of the revolutions build on each other, or reference each other, so the context from a previous chapter is often useful, which is why the chronological order works so well here. Everything's only 3-5 pages, but it covers enough so people know what went down and why. IT's also short enough you think "oh, I can read just one more" and then you end up finishing the book in one session. (NOT THAT DID THAT. *whistles while looking innocent*) This is a great one for a wide range of readers and I really really really wish it had been around in 2012 when the National History Day theme was "Revolution, Reaction, and Reform". So many teens didn't know where to even start picking one-- I would have loved to be able to have them leaf through this book for inspiration!
Another fun and engaging, but still wildly informative, one from Zest.
Book Provided by... Zest, for blog tour inclusion
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I'm super excited that Zest asked me to be part of their Rockin' Blog Tour and let me have 2 dates and 2 books to talk about! As frequent readers, and anyone who's heard me present about nonfiction knows, I love Zest's work.
Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! Julie Tibbott
So, I was expecting this to be along the lines of previous Zest titles such as Scandalous!: 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends), Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-From Cleopatra to Camus, and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About...Before It's Too Late, but about secret societies and shady groups.
In essence, it is, but it's a little more text-y and has a different trim size-- 9 by 6 inches instead of 6 inches square. I'm a big fan of YA nonfiction having a more standard trim size, so YAY for trim size.
Tibbott introduces us to 22 different secret or exclusive groups, giving their history, what they do, and what's secret about them (if anything). (And here's where I mean it's a bit more texty--it's slightly longer, but covers fewer things than the previous books, with bigger pages. Also, the design has fewer pull-out boxes.) It's a great introduction to groups--some of which teens will have heard of, some of which they'll probably hear of at some point, and some of which they may never come across again.
The format is a great one for browsing, or just dipping in and out of. They're arranged in alphabetical order, which makes for a few jarring transitions-- Branch Davidians go to Club 33 (a super exclusive dining room club at Disneyland) or the Society for Creative Anachronism leading into the Symbionese Liberation Army (which also just gives a good sense of the wide range of groups covered.) After each group, there's also a few pages of further information--usually a brief introduction to several other similar groups, or an interview with someone involved in the group (including a young Freemason.) I also appreciate that, when appropriate, she offers hotlines and other places for help if you or someone you know is effected by a similar group or related issues (such as hazing or cult membership.)
Now, I'm an educated adult, so I knew about several of the groups (Skull and Bones, Freemasons, Know-Nothings, SCA, SLA) and there were more that I had heard of, but didn't know a lot about (La Santa Muerte--Shapeshifted now makes more sense--Thuggees, The Hellfire Club) and some I had never heard of before (The Bilderberg Group, Club 33, The Machine). So, something for everyone.
Like Zest's other titles, it's a great introduction to some really big movements or ideas, done in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers. It's a perfect book for extremely reluctant readers, and your more hardcore readers will also love it--and then come back wanting to know more about certain groups.
Also, bonus for Arrested Development fans-- The Magic Castle is covered, which gives some great background to Gob and the Gothic Castle and Magician's Alliance. So we all have "Final Countdown" in our heads now, right? Good.
Come back on Friday for my review of Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X and in the meantime, check out the rest of the tour.
Book Provided by... the publisher, for Blog Tour inclusion.
Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.
Tuck Everlasting was a book I missed out on reading until I was teaching fourth grade a few years after college. I adored the book and had several amazing conversations with my students. Almost without fail they would tell you they would drink from the spring. I guess when you are 10 and 11 forever doesn't seem like anything at all. Back then I knew I wouldn't want to drink from the spring, but I thought about it longer.
Then I became a parent.
I would never want to outlive my children. Never. And there is a part of me that thinks I wouldn't want them to drink from the spring either. I have loved growing and maturing and getting older and I want that for my children. I want them to experience the full circle of life, because I have loved most every stage of my life.
The things that the Tucks had to do to avoid suspicion, like separating for years at a time, makes me sad. But then again, living together for eternity probably wouldn't be good either--can you imagine how on each others' nerves you'd be?
Now that I am older and have lived, I truly cannot see an upside to living forever.
What about you? If you had the chance, would you want to live forever? Would you drink from the spring?
Ares: Bringer of War
by George O'Connor
First Second, January 27, 2015
review copy provided by the publisher
"The stories that make up the body of Greek myths are what remain of their culture’s deeply held beliefs. The stories of Zeus and his family are more than just entertaining yarns about giants who slice open the sky and monsters so fearsome their gaze can turn a person to stone. They were, and are, an explanation of the world that that ancient culture’s people saw around them: a lightning storm could only be the King of Gods hurling his thunderbolt; a volcano could only be the escaped vapors of an entombed Titan.
Not many people today believe in the gods of Ancient Greece. But their stories are still around, and they live on in all of our memories." George O'Connor (from his website, The Olympians).
The volumes in George O'Connor's Olympians series (Zeus, Athena, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Aphrodite) do so much more than simply retell a story from Greek mythology. They also feature a detailed family tree at the beginning of the book. At the end are extensive G(r)eek notes that cite page and panel numbers and are a combination of author commentary, historical context, and vocabulary and classical art connections. After that, there are resources for the reader who wants to know even more.
The whole premise of Ares
is pretty amazing -- in it, O'Connor retells the Illiad
with a focus on the gods' role in the Trojan War. In a 66-page graphic novel. For kids.
Everything you know about Ares is shown to be true in this book -- when it comes to warmongering, he is the opposite side of the coin from Athena, who is the disciplined strategist of war. Ares represents the violent, crazed, bloodthirsty side of war. But in this book, we also see that he is a father with at least a teeny tiny soft spot in his heart.
One of my favorite spreads in the book is p. 12-13. It takes you by surprise as a reader, because the top half of both pages is one large panel. It shows the gods gathered around a sort of table that is the battlefield in the mortal world. The panels below the large top panel read left to right as usual, but all the way across both pages. When you turn the page, the story continues in the usual page-by-page format until the climax on p. 52-53 when the gods can't stand it anymore and they go down to the mortal world to battle it out "god-on-god" (p. 73 in the G(r)eek Notes) All of this is to say that besides being a master of mythology and storytelling, George O'Connor is an amazing graphic artist.
I recommend this book for students in grades 4 and up...all the way up to adults who would like a refresher course on mythology and a peek into some of the best graphic novels around.
You can follow George O'Connor on twitter @GeorgetheMighty
STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR:
Monday, January 26th
Kid Lit Frenzy
Tuesday, January 27th – A Year of Reading -- You Are Here!
Wednesday, January 28th
Great Kid Books
Thursday, January 29Charlotte’s Library
Friday, January 30Graphic Novel Resources
Saturday, January 3Librarian’s Quest
Sunday, February 1Musings of a Librarian
Monday, February 2The Graphic Novelologist
Tuesday, February 3Supernatural Snark
Wednesday, February 4Panel Patter
Thursday, February 5Finding Wonderland
Friday, February 6The Book Rat
Saturday, February 7Teen Lit Rocks
Sunday, February 8The Brain Lair
Monday, February 9Haunting Orchid
Tuesday, February 10Alice Marvels
The 2015 Sydney Taylor Awards were recently announced, and Like No Other by Una LaMarche received an Honor in the Teen Readers category. The book was also named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of Summer 2014, a 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Summer 2014 Indie Next List Pick, among other accolades.
When I interviewed Una as part of The Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, here's what she had to say about love stories, teen stories, and true stories.
What inspired you to write Like No Other?
I knew I wanted to write a love story, I knew I wanted to set it in Brooklyn (where I grew up and still live), and I knew I wanted to write something with real stakes. I felt like a lot of the supposed "obstacles" in contemporary romance - He’s rich, she’s poor! She’s popular, she’s a nerd! Etc.- weren’t strong enough. I’m no Shakespeare scholar, but I kept thinking about Romeo and Juliet, about how their families were sworn enemies, and how great it would be to find something similar in modern-day New York. One of the greatest things about living in the city is how inclusive it is, but I needed to find two groups who could believably be at odds. I wanted true forbidden love. Luckily, I barely had to do any work to connect the dots, since they were literally right in front of my face.
Growing up, I had always seen Hasidic families at the park or out shopping, but there was an unspoken rule that we would never interact; we were "other" to them and they were "other" to us. It struck me that that kind of extremely insular religious group might provide the perfect environment for the story I wanted to tell, and after speaking to women who had grown up in those communities, I knew I'd found what I was looking for. There are rules of Hasidic life that govern how to live, whom to love, and who to be. For anyone to break those rules, let alone a young woman - let alone with a black man - well, that would set some seriously Shakespearean stakes.
How has real life impacted your writing, and/or vice-versa?
I draw as much as I can from what I know, just because that’s both what’s easiest and most genuine. In Like No Other, what I knew best was Brooklyn - that experience of growing up in a dense, vibrant, diverse place that’s alternately comforting and a little frightening - but even though I didn’t have a huge amount in common with either Devorah or Jax, I always try to put as much real life experience into my characters as I can. The great thing about being human is that regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or religion, most emotions are more or less universal. I may not have had any firsthand experience with Devorah (my Hasidic character's) upbringing, but I know what it felt like to be a teenage girl. And I'm not male or black like Jaxon, but I know what it’s like to be a city kid under pressure from your parents to make them proud.
What's your favorite part about writing fiction? How do you approach writing non-fiction?
I love writing fiction because A) there are no limits, but mostly B) I’m a control freak and can decide what happens. When I’m writing nonfiction I’m very careful to make sure everything I’m writing is as accurate as possible; I don’t even like to write dialogue in my memoir pieces for fear of getting it wrong or manipulating it somehow. But in fiction there is no getting it wrong - at least from an artistic standpoint - and manipulation is the whole point! It’s pretty awesome.
What books or authors did you love as a teenager?
As a preteen I was a card-carrying member of The Baby-Sitters Club fan club, and a little too emotionally involved with the goings-on at Sweet Valley High. Later, I got into horror and devoured anything by Stephen King or Christopher Pike. I loved Lynda Barry’s cartoon anthologies, and of course Queen Judy Blume. But I also dabbled in Jane Austen, Cynthia Voigt, and Maeve Binchy… when I wasn’t busy obsessively reading Sassy magazine.
You are a novelist, an essayist, and an Etsy enthusiast. What other nouns or vocations suit you?
Mother. Wife. Oenophile. Karaoke hustler. Ball of emotion.
When you were a kid, you kept a diary. Do you still keep one as an adult? Does anyone else in your family keep a journal, or write regularly?
I have actually never kept a regular or honest* diary. I was a diary dilettante and still am; I have a sort-of-diary that’s an ongoing letter to my (currently three year-old) son, and I still only manage to update it about twice a year.
*As a teenager I tried to make my life seem a lot more exciting than it was. Maybe that’s why I write teen fiction now?
What are your top ten favorite books?
It was so hard to narrow it down to ten, but here’s an attempt at a reflection of my current list, in no particular order:
It’s So Magic, Lynda Barry
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Bank
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
Candyfreak, Steve Almond
Circle of Friends, Maeve Binchy
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz
No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel, Janice Dickinson (I’M BEING HONEST, DON’T JUDGE ME)
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
Visit Una's website at http://www.unalamarche.com/
Check out the full blog tour schedule as posted at the AJL blog.
Drop by the Association of Jewish Libraries website and the official Sydney Taylor site.
Related posts at Bildungsroman:
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2014
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2013
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2012
About the Book: In this reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk," an unsuspecting girl brings one witch's magic into another witch's province, stirring certain disaster.
One Witch at a Time is a sequel to The Brixen Witch, but it can completely stand alone. It's a fun fairy tale retelling with a new spin and fairy tale fans are sure to love it.
I got to ask Stacy DeKeyser about her writing and love of fairy tales-I'm hoping she decides to explore those unanswered questions in Hansel and Gretel and gives us another book!
-What inspired you to write books with a fairy tale/folklore theme?
It started with the Pied Piper. There are so many unexplained things in that story. Why didn’t the villagers pay the piper for getting rid of the rats? And then, why did the piper take it out on the kids? I decided to try and write my own version of the Pied Piper story that answered some of those questions. The result was The Brixen Witch. Writing that book made me realize that every fairy tale has unanswered questions. For example, “Jack and the Beanstalk”: If Jack is clever enough to climb the beanstalk and steal stuff from the giant, how can he also be dumb enough to trade a cow for a handful of dried beans? I love exploring those questions and trying to fill in the blanks with plausible answers. -Why do you write for middle grade readers? Those were the books that made me a reader. And the themes that middle grade books explore—finding your place in the world, coming to terms with all the craziness life throws at you—have limitless possibilities, and they are topics that I still struggle with every day. I never get tired of writing about them. Lastly, I think middle grade books tend to preserve the most classic, traditional form of storytelling. (Sort of like fairy tales!) A middle grade book needs a good plot that keeps moving, and characters you care about. And the best stories broaden a reader’s experience while they entertain. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I try to write. -What book (or books) would you recommend for someone wanting to start reading middle grade? Oh, wow, where do I start? Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) both prove that a short, simple story can be very satisfying and profound. Any book by Barbara O’Connor. Historical fiction (Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff is a favorite of mine) can make readers curious about the facts of history. If you think you don’t like poetry, try Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. And of course I love fantasy, especially Jonathan Stroud’s books. I love his long sentences and complex plots. I love how he never underestimates his readers. -If you were trapped in a fairy tale, which one would you choose? “Hansel and Gretel.” First of all, Gretel has a buddy, which would be nice. Secondly, she’s the hero of the story! She rescues her brother and kills the witch. And what’s going on with that witch, anyway? What makes her want to eat children? She’s clearly very clever, to build a whole cottage out of gingerbread. Couldn’t she put that talent to use for good instead of evil? I’d love to know her story. Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.
One lucky winner will receive a set of Stacy DeKeyser’s bewitching reads for middle grades---ONE WITCH AT A TIME in hardcover and THE BRIXEN WITCH in paperback. (U.S. addresses only. One entry per person. Contest ends February 20)
Leave a comment below to enter!
Follow the One Witch at a Time Tour for more about the book and more chances to win!
Mon, Feb 9
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Feb 10
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, Feb 11
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, Feb 12
Fri, Feb 13
The Book Monsters
Mon, Feb 16
Tues, Feb 17
Read Now, Sleep Later
Wed, Feb 18
Thurs, Feb 19
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Feb 20
The Flashlight Reader
3 soft & chewy snickerdoodles.
This is one of those covers that I feel would be better in person than a digital file. I don't love it, but I think if it was in my hands I would feel different about it.Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Witherwood and Obert Skye is a popular middle school author so I decided to join up! Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:After a slight misunderstanding involving a horrible governess, gravy, and a jar of tadpoles, siblings Tobias and Charlotte Eggars find themselves abandoned by their father at the gates of a creepy reform school. Evil mysteries are afoot at Witherwood, where the grounds are patrolled by vicious creatures and kids are locked in their rooms. Charlotte and Tobias soon realize that they are in terrible danger—especially because the head of Witherwood has perfected the art of mind control. If only their amnesiac father would recover. If only Tobias and Charlotte could solve the dark mystery and free the kids at Witherwood—and ultimately save themselves. Romance?:
Not that kind of book!My Thoughts:
This story started out laugh out loud funny. The first chapter when Tobias and Charlotte played their prank on their "nanny" was at times both funny and sad. For a dad who seemed to love his children as much as theirs did, he was certainly clueless when it came to his children's needs and who was watching them. But the description of the prank was gross and funny. It would make a good read aloud.
I loved the author's style of writing. I am not sure that authors like being compared to Roald Dahl, but that is was kept coming to mind as I got started reading this. Fortunately kids really don't get tired or reading the wacky and unbelievable if there is a good dose of humor with it. I haven't read any other Obert Skye books but was pleased at this style of writing. And a boarding school is always a good setting for the fantastic to happen.
I liked Tobias and Charlotte, very relate able characters. Tobias dives right in without thinking ahead and Charlotte observes more, but goes along with Tobias. They are fiercely loyal to each other and when they find themselves at Witherwood they are worried, scared and lonely. Kind of like kids starting middle school for the first time!
Witherwood is a great setting, perhaps evil, certainly not normal and a little scary. I loved the illustrations and glad they were included. This book could get away without the, because of the authors clear descriptions, but I felt they added to the reading for me.
This is a series, so intends with no real resolution, which I didn't love. It's a reason I never read the whole Series of Unfortunate Events. I like a little more of an uptick at the end of my books, even ones that are series. However, it never seems to bother young readers. This one will fit comfortably on my middle school library shelf, but not for long because I think it will be very popular.To Sum Up:
I think this would be a great beginning of the school year read aloud, but also just a fun read for older elementary and younger middle school readers.GIVEAWAY!
Macmillan is offering a copy of Witherwood Reform School to one of my readers. Please fill out the form below to enter to win. US residents only, contest runs through March 15.
Please visit the other blogs involved in this tour:
2/18: Little Red Reads
2/19: A Reader’s Adventure
2/20: Stories & Sweeties
2/23: The Hiding Spot
2/24: Bumbles and Fairytales
2/25: Manga Maniac Café
2/26: The Book Monsters
2/27: Mundie Kids
3/2: Milk & Cookies: Comfort Reading
3/3: Green Bean Teen Queen
Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author, Netgalley or the publisher for this honest review.
About the Book
For centuries, Dethan has been trapped in a fiery inferno for defying the gods and snatching the power of immortality. Condemned to have his battle-hardened body licked by flames only to regenerate and be consumed all over again, Dethan has lost all hope—until the Goddess of Conflict appears. She will release him from torment—if he’ll use his power and strength as a warrior to raise an army and defeat a fierce enemy faction of gods.
Free to live as a man once again, Dethan meets Selinda—heir to the throne of Hexis—and his thoughts quickly turn from the conquest of cities to the conquest of this headstrong beauty. Betrothed to a cruel, calculating powermonger, Selinda needs a champion, and so Dethan enters into another bargain: If she will share her bed—and her body—with him, Dethan will save her city from destructive forces within and without. As the lovers ignite a searing passion, Dethan will risk all—even the wrath of the Goddess of Conflict—for a chance to make Selinda his forever.
Here's what I'm giving it:
Rating: 4.5 stars
I am in love with this couple. Dethan and Selinda make up one of the best pairings I've read in a while.
Scarred, yet beautiful and with a innate fierceness and love for her people made Selinda one of the most believable characters I've read about in a while. Dethan was no slouch either in that department.
Intelligence, flaws, redemption, treachery, I read this book in one day and can't wait to read the next one in the series.
Well done, Ms. Frank, well done.
Would I recommend this? That's a resounding YES!
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Release Date: 3/3/2015
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!
Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?Witherwood Reform Schoo
l is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares
, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher
Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10
Follow the Witherwood Reform School Tour!