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Blog tours. Generally speaking I don’t really do them. Nothing against them personally, they just don’t always speak to the tenor and distinctive tone of individual blogs. It takes a particularly keen one to get me out of my hidey-hole so that I’ll participate. It takes, in short, Aaron Zenz.
But first . . . BACKSTORY!!!!
It was at least 10 years ago. I was a young struggling blogger (“struggling” in this case meaning doing just fine with a nice steady job). A fellow by the name of Aaron Zenz contacted me not long after I’d started and asked if I’d take a gander at his book, The Hiccupotamus. It was coming out with a very small publisher, but there was something to it. It was nice looking. Nicer than the average fare, so I took a gamble and said I’d give it a gander. Not only was it nice, but it held together beautifully. It also seems to be one of the longest lived books I’ve ever encountered, traveling as it has from Dogs in Hats Children’s Publishing to Marshall Cavendish to Two Lions. If you look on Amazon you’ll see my May 16, 2006 review of the book there.
And I remembered that Zenz guy. How could I not? First off, his name was “Zenz”. That’s just cool. Second, he had this crazy cool blog he did with his kids called Bookie Woogie (not to be confused with the also amazing but different kid art site Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty). For years I’d recommend it as what may be the most successful kids book review site written in large part by kids. He’d also come up with these crazy amazing blog posts . And in the interest of complete and utter honesty, they even reviewed Giant Dance Party and made fan art. Like so:
But wait. That’s not all. Because on top of his art, his blog with his kids, and his kids’ kinda of freakishly good art (seriously, they should Pinterest this stuff) they also are responsible for a slew of some of the best 90-Second Newbery videos you’ve ever seen in your life. I think if you keep watching this, the first four are by the Zenzes (Zenzi?).
None of this even touches on all the other stuff Aaron’s done over the years. Nor, you will note, have I even gotten to his books. As you can see, I save the best for last.
Starting with Hiccupotamus, I just kept on enjoying Aaron’s books for years. From his art for Five Little Puppies Jumping on the Bed to Chuckling Ducklings to Hug a Bull, the man makes good literature for the small fry. And now, the best one of all.
Now as I mentioned before, I don’t tend to do blog tours, and part of the reason why is because more than half the time I’m completely impartial (or worse) to the book that author is promoting. Monsters Go Night-Night is different. In one book you get the following:
- A good bedtime book.
- A story that is great for a range of ages (my 2-year-old and my 5-year-old get different things out of the book but both think it’s hilarious)
- Writing that is actually funny for adults too (it may have one of the greatest potty gags I’ve seen in a long time)
- Art that pops
- The ability to be read to a large group (hard for any book to do, let alone well)
The whole premise is based on setting up expectations and then knocking them to the floor in a way that’s completely appropriate for very young ages. Example:
Perfect for pajama storytimes everywhere.
But where did Aaron get the idea for this book? Well, if you’re still up for some video viewing today, this completely adorable video (could someone PLEASE publish a book of Aaron’s literary monsters since I want to see his Gurgi?) explains all:
So here’s where it gets crazy good. Did you see how Aaron turned his son’s art into monsters? Well, he’s been doing the same for other people as well. Aaron asked if my daughter (who is the five-year-old I mentioned earlier) would like to make a monster. He, in turn, would turn it into a piece of art. And the results? Behold:
This was my daughter’s . . . .
. . . and this was Aaron’s.
Side by side . . .
Absolutely love that.
Long story short, this book good. Get book. Read book.
Still don’t believe me? Then check out everyone else on this blog tour. Lotta heavy hitters there. Maybe if you don’t believe me you’ll believe them:
Mon Aug 15 : Watch. Connect. Read.
Tues Aug 16 : 100 Scope Notes
Wed Aug 17 : Nerdy Book Club
Thu Aug 18 : Sharpread
Fri Aug 19 : All the Wonders
Sat Aug 20 : Playing by the Book
Sun Aug 21 : Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
Mon Aug 22 : A Fuse #8 Production
And if you’d like to see the children’s art his did for these other bloggers’ kids collected for you in one place, just go to the Blog Tour Hub right here.
Thanks to Aaron for looping me into this tour.
4 yummy frosted maple cookies.Cover Love:
I really like this cover, I think it would make kids want to pick up this book.Why I Wanted to Read this:
I really like a good alternate universe book and the synopsis of this one seemed right up my alley. Here it is from GoodReads:
Twelve-year-old Zak Killian is hearing a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that's crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real. . . . It warns him of danger.
One day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the tunnel starts to fill with water. He sees it before anyone else. The voice warns him to run. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home--if they can even get home!
Overall this was a great read. There were a few things in the beginning that made it a little hard fro me to get into but once I was over that hump, the book flew.
One of the things that bothered me a ton were Zak's parents. They were so frustrating. They were convinced that Zak was doing "bad" things so rather than talk with him, they ground him. Then they get him a psychiatrist, but are more into blaming each other for his behavior than really getting him help. It was very hard to get over this because every scene with them made me want to throw the book!
After a pretty slow start a little twist happens that caught my interest. Once that came about, I was much more into the book. Once they got to the alternate universe, I was very into the book. The author set up a great world with the alternate universe. There are a lot of similarities between our world and the one that Zak and his friends get to, but enough differences that cause them to be very lost and confused. The rules of the new world and society are very different than ours and they don't have a lot of time to learn them. The author did a great job of conveying their confusion and fear. This new universe is very technologically advanced to us and open to a lot of new ideas, but they are also very backwards in some issues. I was glad that Khalid was able to find an ally once they got to the alternative universe and thankfully it was one willing to believe and help out. Giving them a guide was very important.
From the start of their time in the alternate universe I felt something was off in the story Zak was being told. I'm not sure if this was because I'm an adult and I consume a lot of content, so I'm pretty quick to develop theories, or if it was easy to deduce. I would like to chat with someone from the target audience after they read it to see if they jumped to the same conclusion that I did.
There is a lot of action and I guess what I would call "speculative science" in the alternate universe. None of it was over my head and the story moved along very quickly.To Sum Up:
I think this is going to be a big hit with middle school readers. I will be buying a copy for my library and book talking it this fall. I already have my first reader for this story picked out and I know he will love it.
Macmillan is giving away a finished copy of The Secret Sea to one of my readers. US only, winner will be announced on August 29. Loading...
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This weekend I am giving myself reading time. I am finishing up The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga
for a blog tour (see my post and giveaway of a finished copy tomorrow!). Then I am starting Stray by Elissa Sussman
. This is a book from my library that I brought home for the summer (along with about 40 others). I need to get some of them read before school starts so I'm starting with thi one.
What are you reading this weekend?
To celebrate the release of Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre, author René Colato Laínez will be stopping by the following blogs from August 15th to the 24th! Follow along as René Colato Laínez discusses his writing process, his thoughts on diversity in kidlit, and the recent debate over the term “illegal alien.”Below is the schedule of the Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre Blog Tour:
August 15: The Latina Book Club
August 17: Mommy Maestra
August 19: Latinaish
August 22: Pragmatic Mom
August 23: Reading Authors
August 24: The Logonauts
And in case you missed it, here’s René Colato Laínez’s post about his experience being called an “illegal alien” when he was young.
To find out more about René Colato Laínez and Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre, check out his blog and follow him on Twitter. And if you are a blogger interested in being included on this or future blog tours, please reach out to us at publicity [at] leeandlow [dot] com.
P.S. I LIKE YOU
By Kasie West
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Point (July 26, 2016)
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Range: 7 and up
What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has
I will admit that a couple of things have really slowed down my reading this summer.
First of all, Stranger Things on Netflix completely captivated me. I binged on that really hard this week.
Secondly, I am playing Pokemon Go. I adore this game, but my very favorite thing is that my son will ask me to drive him and his friends around to play. When your 18 year old, about to go to college son wants you to go out and play a game with him, you go out and play that game!
Anyway, I am going to focus on some reading this weekend. These are the two books I am currently reading. I am participating in a blog tour for The Secret Sea
in August. I like the alternate reality aspect of this book. I also received The Gallery
in the mail and this cover is so gorgeous I bumped it to the top of my TBR. I love the feel of this book in my hands.
(I am also going to Star Trek this weekend, can't wait!!)
What are you reading this weekend?
Please welcome author C.C. Payne to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She's here to talk about her latest novel, The Thing About Leftovers
and her favorite books featuring food.
About the Book: (From Goodreads): Fizzy is a good Southern girl who just wants to be perfect. And win the Southern Living cook-off. The being perfect part is hard though, since her parents’ divorced and everything in her life has changed. Wary of her too-perfect stepmom and her mom’s neat-freak, dismissive boyfriend, she’s often angry or upset and feels like a guest in both homes. She tells herself to face facts: She’s a “leftover” kid from a marriage that her parents want to forget. But she has to keep all of that to herself, because a good Southern girl never yells, or throws fits, or says anything that might hurt other people’s feelings—instead she throws her shoulders back, says yes ma’am, and tries to do better. So Fizzy tries her best, but it’s hard to stay quiet when her family keeps getting more complicated. Fortunately, the Southern Living cook-off gives her a welcome distraction, as do her new friends Miyoko and Zach, who have parent issues of their own.
My Top Five Food-Themed Books:
1.) The Thing About Leftovers
by C. C. Payne (that's me!): In the South, we love you with our food. In this novel, 12-year-old Fizzy Russo does just that—
attempting to love her parents, new stepparents, and new friends with fried chicken, cheese grits, Kentucky Hot Browns (an open faced sandwich with Texas Toast, turkey, ham and bacon, covered with Mornay sauce, smothered in cheese, topped with a slice of tomato and baked until gooey and browning at the edges) and the like, and to win their love in return—
not to mention The Southern Living
Cook-Off. Fizzy believes that winning the cook-off that will cause everyone to forgive her and love her more. (I listed my own book first because if you stop reading here, I hope it's to go buy my book, and because I can't yet afford to be the kind of author who humbly never mentions her own work—
but I TOTALLY aspire to be that kind of author, so please buy the book!)
2) Close to Famous
by Joan Bauer: 12-year-old Foster McFee is making the world a sweeter place one cupcake at a time! She makes some unlikely friends with her fabulous cupcake creations (I told you food is love!) including a retired, reclusive movie star, a would-be documentary filmmaker, and the folks down at Angry Wayne's Bar & Grill who sell her cupcakes for her. I love the way Foster overcomes, pushing herself, practicing, and persevering . . . in baking and in life.
3) Ramona Quimby, Age 8
by Beverly Cleary: I wouldn't dare make a list without including this classic, Newbery Honor Book. Most chefs say they can tell a lot about another chef simply by what he or she does with an egg. And so it is with Ramona Quimby, who cracks an egg on her head in the school cafeteria. Plus, the food at her family's favorite restaurant, Whopper Burger, sounds delicious—
I'd definitely like to have my next birthday party there!
4) For a younger crowd, I recommend Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
by Judi Barrett because . . . mashed potato snow? Hamburger storms? Pancakes floating down from the sky? Sign me UP for that! This imaginative picture book, with detailed, delightful drawings, and great humor, remains a fave in my family—
it's one that you truly never tire of reading aloud.
5) For older readers, I recommend Eat Cake
by Jeanne Ray, because when the going gets tough, the tough get baking! Ruth's first step to dealing with any problem is baking a cake—
"sweet potato bundt cake with rum-plumped raisins and spiced sugar glaze" or "apricot almond pound cake" and the like. And she shares her recipes—
as well as humor, warmth, and wisdom—
as she deals with her teenage daughter, college-student son, out-of-work husband, live-in mother, estranged father, and financial strain.
4 yummy yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.
I love this cover, it's colorful and whimsical and includes so many elements from the book. I adore it!Why I Wanted to Read This:
When this book first came out, I saw a lot of comparisons to Savvy, which was a book I adored. It went on my TBR list, but I wasn't able to get it read until now. Wish I had started sooner! Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent.
I really enjoyed this book. The style it is written in makes for a quick and easy read: short chapters told from different points of view. The author nails all of the characters voices. I love that the Talents each person can be simple, like accurate spitting, or more advanced, like baking the perfect cake for a person. I bet the author had a great time deciding how people in this world can be Talented.
I loved little Cady and rooted for her through the whole book. But while Cady felt like the main character, this was a book with multiple characters whose storylines are woven together so smoothly. It was easy to keep track of who was who and what each one was doing. And while I was able to make some educated guesses about where the story was going to end up, I was constantly and pleasantly surprised by the turns in the story. And I LOVED how everything was woven together so beautifully at the end!
And all the recipes! I am going to try some of these cakes. Look for a future "Food From Fiction" post on that!To Sum Up:
Awesome middle grade read. This one is easy to get into the hands of the younger readers in my school!
Remember to enter my giveaway for a pack of Lisa Graff paperbacks! Check out this post to enter.
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
It’s a blog tour, kiddos! A tour of bloggy goodness. More than that, it’s a graphic novel blog tour done to celebrate Children’s Book Week in all its fancypants glory.
The subject of today’s interview is none other than Eric Colossal. Colossal, if the name is new to you, is the author of the danged funny RUTABAGA series. I’m a big fan of those books as they combine two of my favorite things: quests and eating. And in a bit of a twist, I won’t be doing the interview here today, though. That honor goes to John Patrick Green, author of the upcoming HIPPOTAMISTER.
Take it away, John!
- Your series is about a plucky adventurer who constantly finds himself in sticky situations that he manages to get out of by cooking delicious foods. How did this concept come about?
Growing up, I loved fantasy stories filled with weird beasts and mystical magic but I was always confused about why no one talked about the food in these lands. I mean, here in the real world we eat some pretty strange stuff. We eat bee barf and call it honey, we grind up a rock and put it on our food and call it salt. How come people who live in these magical lands never eat the strange beasts they fight in the bottoms of dungeons? So I created Rutabaga to do just that!
- At the back of each book are a few complete recipes that readers can cook. How do you come up with those? I’ll admit, even the fictional recipes Rutabaga makes on his quests look tasty! Where do you get the ideas for those?
There are two criteria I have for making a recipe to share: Does the recipe contain a fun activity and does the final product look unique. For instance, there’s nothing new about dipping grapes in chocolate but taking that idea and adding steps to the recipe that make the final product look like a chocolate spider with a big ol’ squishy butt, that’s a perfect recipe for Rutabaga! In fact, that recipe is in book 2 and it’s one of my favorites!
- What is your creative process like?
I watch a LOT of documentaries on food and food culture. My favorite ones talk about why people eat what they eat. Sure it’s fun to find out HOW to cook something but if you tell me WHY a culture has the diet it has you don’t just learn about food, you learn about people, and stories are about people. Other than that, most of my time is spent at my computer writing and drawing. I make the entire book digitally which is really handy when you have 2 cats who like to chew on paper!
- Which do you love more: food or comics? Please explain your answer in a piechart. Or maybe just a pie.
It’s a tough choice but I’m going to have to say I love food more. A comic can take up to a year to write, draw, and color but you can cook a huge 3 course meal in about 2 hours. Imagine if it took a year to make breakfast! And just for fun here’s that pie chart you asked for:
- What else are you working on? Can we expect further adventures of Rutabaga and his trusty kettle, Pot? Maybe an entire cookbook?
I have so many Rutabaga stories to tell, you have no idea! I probably have enough material for at least another 8 books! As long as there are people who want to read about my goofy little chef and his metal pal, I’ll keep making them!
- What comics or children’s books are you currently reading?
The last book I read was a young adult book called “Below The Root” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It’s an older book about a society of people who live in cities built on gigantic trees. They wear long flowing robes that allow them to glide around in the air to get from branch to branch. They’re an extremely peaceful race, they don’t eat meat, they don’t fight, they won’t even write on paper because it would hurt a tree to make the paper. The books follow a group of children as they uncover the history of their people and the sinister things that have been done in the name of protecting them. It’s a three book series and I greatly enjoyed it!
Thanks for the interview, guys! And what a fantastic book to end on. Honestly, it would have been even more awesome if you’d mentioned the Commodore 64 game of Below the Root that was based on the book (to the best of my knowledge, the ONLY children’s book to be adapted into the Commodore 64 gaming system format), but we’ll let it slide.
Want to read more of these interviews? Here’s the full blog tour:
Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier
Thanks to Gina Gagliano and the good folks at First Second for setting this up with me.
4 Double Chocolate Chip Co
To be totally honest, I don't love this cover. But I know it appeals to young readers because when I display this book it gets checked out a lot.Why I Wanted to Read This:
This is one of those books I bought when it first came out because I knew I would want to read it myself (one of the biggest benefits of being a librarian). Then it got buried in my immense TBR pile. I have had quite a few students check out this and book #2 (The Mad Apprentice), but I still hadn't gotten around to reading it until I was contacted about book #3 and taking part in Penguin's blogging event around the release of book #3 (The Palace of Glass). I read The Forbidden Library and am hooked on this series! Here is the synopsis:
Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairyMy Thoughts:
When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.
It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
This was such an inventive idea. There is a little of Inkheart, in that a person can read themselves into a book. But it's not like they go into the story, it's like they become the story, or a big part of the story. These people are called Readers. And they can't go into just any book, it has to be special books. Alice discovers she is Reader quite by accident. But, as you get to know Alice you realize, SHE CAN HANDLE IT. She is amazing, on the level of Hermione Granger. She is practical and smart and keeps her head about her. I LOVED Alice! She is a problem solver and that makes for the best kind of Reader.
The catch with this awesome ability is that the books that Readers can enter are basically prisons for all manner of creatures and the only way for a Reader to get out is for another Reader to get them out...or they can defeat the creatures. Along the way Alice meets Ashes, a talking cat, Isaac, another young reader and her "uncle" Geryon. There are several other characters as well, and you just know that nobody is telling Alice the whole truth and that everyone has different motives for using Alice and her powers. There is also a little of a "there can be only one" attitude by some of the older and more powerful Readers.
Alice has her own mystery to solve, that of what happened to her father. This world she is thrust into would me many a person curl up in a corner and wait for death, but no Alice. She takes it on and makes it her own.To Sum Up:
Great middle grade fantasy book with interesting characters and an awesome premise. I will be finishing this series soon!Penguin has offered up a copy of each of the books in The Forbidden Library series including the third book, The Palace of Glass, which was just published. Please enter below (US only). I will pick a winner on Saturday April 23.
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Blog Tour: Becca
TELL ME THREE THINGS
By Julie Buxbaum
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Delcorte Press (April 5, 2016)
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Goodreads | Amazon
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about
THE DARKEST CORNERS
by Kara ThomasHardcover: 336 pagesPublisher: Delacorte Press (April 19, 2016)Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon
For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.
There are ghosts around every corner in
, written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by S. britt, is a study in normalcy ... or not. I hear that word normal a lot, and in education, it's not a good word. What is a "normal" student? When we see unexpected behaviors you'll hear "That's just not normal." One size fits all doesn't work in the classroom, and it certainly doesn't work in the real world. And that's really an important point in this book, because normal means being true to yourself, not to the expectations the world holds for you.
We're at the tail end of this blog tour, and lots of other folks have written great reviews of this book (see schedule at end of post for links), so I want to take this in another direction. Here's where my mind went when I first read this book.The front endpapers
- As soon as I opened the book I knew I had a great example my science class. Have you ever taken the DAST? The DAST is the "Draw A Scientist Test." It is designed to get students to think about who scientists are, what they do, and where they do it. Most students draw something similar to what is seen in the front endpapers. What most picture when they hear "scientist at work" is a space similar to a chemistry lab, with beakers and test tubes, equations on the wall or board, the periodic table, etc. This scene is no different. That's okay, because I like breaking down the stereotype.
The opening - The book opens with this introduction.
Hello and welcome to "Normal Norman."
This is my first time narrating a book.
I'm a bit nervous. I hope it goes well.
My assignment today is to clearly
define the world NORMAL.
On the facing page is a picture of the Head Scientist (a man sitting behind a desk bearing a sticker that reads I ♥ science) and the Junior Scientist, our intrepid narrator. Clearly, the goal here is to come up with an operational definition. This can be a tricky concept for students, as an operational definition is a clear, concise detailed definition of a measure. By the end of the book it's clear that one does not exist for the word normal.
- Most students completing the DAST draw men at work in science, not women. I love that the junior scientist and "humble narrator" is a young girl, tasked with observing and describing Norman.The science
- Science experiments and demonstrations sometimes don't go as planned. They often provide unexpected results. They can be frustrating, particularly when they don't go your way. Our narrator learns this lesson very quickly. Scientists can't make results go their way, no matter how hard they try. And boy, does the narrator try to get Norman to act normal.The language
- I'm quite taken with the way Lazar has managed to use context clues to help define terms. Here's an example.
In fact, we selected Norma because ourReturn from the brief interruption
scientists found Norman to be the most
average animal on earth. Regular.
Ordinary. A common, everyday creature.
- Not all work scientists do happens in a lab. In fact, quite a bit of it happens in the field. When Norman asks the junior scientist to join him and his friends in their natural habitat, she naturally says yes, and the scene moves outdoors.The ending
- The fact that the head scientist picks up the clipboard and writes in some results is most satisfying. I won't, however, give away this perfect ending.The back endpapers
- The head scientist and junior scientist look a bit startled to find that Norman is now observing them. I had to chuckle. It was a wonderful contrast to the front endpapers.
Text ©2016 Tara Lazar, all rights reserved. Illustrations ©2016 S. britt, all rights reserved.
I thoroughly enjoyed NORMAL NORMAN and can't wait to share it. Thanks to Josh Redlich for including The Miss Rumphius Effect in this tour.
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Boyds Mills Press, 2016
We are thrilled to be celebrating a wonderful new book that is destined to become a classic read aloud...on World Read Aloud Day
The Knowing Book takes the reader along on the main character's journey from the comfort of home, out into the world to live and grown and learn, and then back home again. It is a wise book, a book of the heart, a book that will surely be given at many baby showers and graduations, and read aloud at important milestones in children's lives.
We were lucky enough to ask the author and illustrator some questions about the book and their process. Interspersed between the Q/A are some early sketches by Matthew Cordell.When you wrote the book, what were your hopes for readers?
That they would find some comfort in knowing they aren't alone, that there are things they can always count on, that there are universal miracles that no one can ever take away from them; the sky, the stars, the overwhelming oneness and the magic of knowing the world is big and wide and always waiting, whether it be with a new adventure or a new hope in a hopeless situation. More than anything I hope they feel untroubled in some way. –Rebecca
Did you work together as author and illustrator? Can you talk about the process of creating this book together or separately?
Typically authors and illustrators do not work together in a close collaboration. The editor and/or art director of the book is the point person and all comments and communication are ran through that channel. But it was an open channel, and Rebecca and I were both very open to any thoughts and suggestions from each other. Our editor, Rebecca Davis is incredibly insightful and thoughtful and caring too. It was just a wonderful, wonderful process--beginning to end--of fine tuning this book to get it just right. –Matthew
I agree with everything Matthew said. And I love how he refers to it as "an open channel." We both felt so deeply about this book, and I think put so much of ourselves into it, in ways I'm still figuring out. To get each detail, each nuance right, we all had to listen to each other and be open to and respect what the other's artistic expression and heart wanted to share on the page. We were very lucky that our editor was a two-way guiding light. –Rebecca
This book, although a picture book, seems to have a strong message for people of all ages and in all stages of life. Who were you thinking of when you had the idea for this book?
When I had the idea, the feelings and emotions had come from where I was emotionally, and that was sad and a bit hopeless. But then I immediately thought of children who might feel somehow lighter, less burdened, more hopeful if they really, really thought about the universe always being there for them. But after it was all written and rewritten and I looked at it with new eyes, I realized it could be for anyone, any age. —Rebecca
The title is brilliant. Was it the first idea you had or did it evolve?
Thank you, first of all! I would have said it was The Knowing Book from the start. But as I was putting together all of my drafts and correspondence having anything to do with the manuscript into its own box (I keep labeled boxes for each book) I saw a draft that had The Always Book jotted down, then crossed out with The Knowing Book written next to it. The "always" would have referred to the line "it is what you will always know." But I remember now repeating the word know, know, know, over and over and realizing that was the most important thought I wanted the reader to gain; that these are the things they will always know. –Rebecca
How did you decide to illustrate this as a bunny rather than a child? What process did you go to to decide on that?
We went through a series of tests before I began illustrating the book. I wanted the character to be universal. I wanted all boys and girls (and grown-ups too) of all different backgrounds and ethnicities to be able to plug her or himself into this book and these words. In my experience, making the character an animal--if it works--is a sure fire way to do this. I tried a few different animals at first. A bear, a mouse, and a rabbit. The bear and mouse had the sweet sincerity I wanted, but they were almost too cute. And this book is not about being cute. It's much more honest than that. Of the three, the rabbit had the most insightful and inner wisdom and worth. We did also try a child, for the sake of trying. I did some sketches of a child that might be construed as a girl OR a boy. Depending on who might be reading it. But in the end, the rabbit was a unanimous choice. –Matthew
The illustrations and text work together to be serious and hopeful. How did you accomplish that?
I'm so glad to hear you say it that way. Because that's how I hope readers will see it. I think everyone who worked on this book saw and wanted for the same things. It really was such a good fit! If anything ever strayed from that path, it was gently corrected back into place by someone. From the moment I read Rebecca's manuscript I had a vision in my mind of how it would play out. I never wanted this book to be silly of funny or even sweet. Joyful, yes. But even dark at times, in a poignant sort of way. Real. Because that is real life for all of us. Children and adults. –Matthew
I'd like to add that my hope had been for The Knowing Book to be illustrated in a thoughtful, serious ("joyful" is perfect) way mixed with a whimsical spirit roaming through the pages. And Matthew made it happen. –Rebecca
It seems like your work is so perfect together! Will you do more books together, do you think?
Gosh, I sure hope so! I love Rebecca's writing. It was an honor to be chosen to illustrate KNOWING, and I hope it's not the last! –Matthew
I second that. I have my hopes that down the road there will be a very special book I write that might be just right for another Matthew Cordell pairing, and that he'll say yes when he sees it! –Rebecca
Thank you, Rebecca and Matthew for joining us on your blog tour, and congratulations on a fabulous collaboration.
Please welcome to the blog author Suzanne Nelson, winner of the Sydney Taylor Honor Award in the Teen Readers Category for her novel Serendipity's Footsteps.
What inspired you to write Serendipity's Footsteps? Did you plan from the onset to tie various plotlines together through a pair of shoes, or did the characters' individual stories come to you first?
There were so many inspirations for Serendipity's Footsteps. Versions of Ray and Pinny had been in my mind for over a decade, and I'd even tried once, years ago, writing a vastly different rendition of their story where they were biological sisters. Sixty or so pages into that story, though, I realized it wasn't working and shelved it. Then, a few years ago, I saw a single red slingback sitting atop a boulder in my town. It spurred a conversation with my sister about lost shoes. We tried to unravel the mystery of all the shoes we spotted hanging in trees or laying abandoned on roadsides. What were their stories? Who'd left them behind? It was my sister who asked me to write a novel about lost shoes. She's always loved shoes and told me, "Just write it for me." Because she's my best and most loved and trusted friend, I began writing for her. Then, as I wrote, without me even being fully aware of how pieces were falling into place, Dalya and her story were born. Once Dalya came to me, Ray and Pinny appeared beside her. Maybe they'd been waiting for her the whole time. Needless to say, I knew that these three heroines needed to come together. They each needed families and love, and the story's pale pink shoes became the key to their unbreakable bond. Really, writing the book was as much about serendipity for me as it was for my three heroines. I love Dalya, Ray, and Pinny and consider them kindred sisters and family. They exist for me, real as any other people, and so do the shoes they love.
Dayla, Ray, and Pinny have distinct personalities and voices. Is there a little piece of you in each of them? My Knopf editor and dear friend Michelle Frey tells me that she sees some of me in each of my three heroines, so it's probably true. I can't say with confidence that I could ever possess Dalya's resilience, because I've never experienced anything like her tragedies. Still, I admire her strength of spirit, her loyalty to her faith, culture, and family, and her deep capacity for love. I'd like to believe I carry some of those traits within me, too. I'm as passionate about writing as Ray is about her music. As a teenager, I sometimes wished to escape my life like Ray does. But who doesn't dream of running away at some point or other? The idea of reinventing yourself in a new place and starting fresh without obligations to anyone or anything can be appealing, until you start thinking about how lonely it would be. I have some of Ray's selfishness and outspokenness, too, although maybe I've learned to temper those shortcomings through the years (only my family can tell you how successful I've been in my efforts.). As for Pinny and her quest for the "More of Life," the joy she finds in so much of the world around her--I strive to find "More" joy and love in my life each and every day. I'm not as much of an optimist as she is, but I believe in magical thinking and sucking the marrow out of every moment life has to offer.
Did you model any of the characters after people you know or admire?
None of the characters are based directly on people I know personally. However, the emotions Dalya experiences in the wake of her losses, and the decisions she makes in her personal life to preserve and honor her family and her Jewish heritage and identity, were informed by some close friends who shared their family's Holocaust survival stories with me. I have such great admiration for these friends who continually work to protect their family's histories and faith and I hoped to convey some of this with Dalya's character. Pinny's character and story, as well, were influenced indirectly by an experience I had as a teen. My senior year of high school, I tutored a three-year-old boy who had Down Syndrome. The afternoons I spent with Troy were some of the most memorable and rewarding of my adolescence, and I've stayed in touch with the Drake family through the years. Troy and his parents opened my eyes to the challenges so many people with special needs face in finding meaningful employment and independence. It was so important to him and to his family that he work in a field he truly loved. Troy is in his twenties now and has his own Etsy business, Doodle Duck Design. Talking with the Drakes about their journey to find ways for Troy to live his "More of Life" helped me develop Pinny's story. I hope Pinny's search to find fulfillment in her life and work reflects that.
What are the biggest challenges - and rewards - when writing and researching historical fiction?
Research is one of the most fascinating parts of writing historical fiction. I love it so much that for me, the biggest challenge of researching is knowing when to stop! Then there's the problem of having to choose which pieces of research to include in my story, and trying to glean what facts will hold the most interest for readers. It's a time-consuming process, but one that I truly enjoy.
What resources did you use while writing and revising Serendipity's Footsteps?
With Serendipity's Footsteps, I read letters, diary entries, and first-hand accounts from Jewish children and teen refugees who came to the United States prior to and during World War II. From the mid 1930s to the early 1940s, one thousand Jewish children were brought to our country from Europe as part of an American kindertransport. All of those one thousand children left their parents behind in Europe and many never saw them again. They were placed with foster families around the country. Many of the children didn't know English when they arrived, were placed in school classes with younger students, and struggled with loneliness and coping with the grief of the terrible losses of the families they left behind. Learning about the obstacles they overcame and the strength and courage they had in such tragic circumstances helped me portray the difficulties Dalya faced in her transition to America.
Although my visit to Dachau Concentration Camp took place years ago, that visit has always haunted me. I drew on my memories of it when writing the novel. I also contacted two lovely professors, Dr. Buser and Dr. Ley, in Germany who were experts in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and its history, and they answered my numerous questions about that specific camp. Dr. Joselit, Professor of Judaic Studies and History at George Washington University, also gave me wonderful insight into Jewish life and culture in 1930s and 40s New York City. In the end, I was fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable people, here and overseas, guide my research and am so grateful to all of them for their help.
Your modern day romantic comedies include Cake Pop Crush, Hot Cocoa Hearts, Bacon Me Crazy, and Macarons at Midnight. Did you always plan for these stories to be a connected series?
This series started out as a single book, Cake Pop Crush. My Scholastic editor and I were so thrilled to see how popular that book became, and the other companion books followed as a result. Even though the books all have some fun baking theme, they each have different characters and a distinct plot, so they don't have to be read in any specific order. There will be a fifth foodie romance book coming in 2017, titled Donut Go Breaking My Heart. The style of writing for this series is very different from the style of Serendipity's Footsteps. The baking series is lighter and geared towards a younger, middle grade audience. It's fun writing the baking books because it gives me a break from the more serious topics and themes I'm drawn to in my other novels for older readers.
Do you like baking? If so, what are your specialties?
I am giggling at this question, because the honest truth is that I am not as much of a baker as my Cake Pop series might lead readers to believe. When I was experimenting with cake pop recipes for Cake Pop Crush, I actually set a bowl of candy melts on fire in my microwave. I had to run out onto my back porch with the flaming Tupperware to extinguish it under the pouring rain! My family thought it was hilarious.
Cake pop mishaps aside, I do enjoy baking with my three kids. I have a particular weakness for gooey brownies and white chocolate chip cookies and gobble them warm straight out of the oven. My five-year-old daughter is especially passionate about baking, and her love for it rubs off on me. We made some cupcakes a few weeks ago that had mountains of fluorescent icing so high they could've rivaled Mount Everest.
You have also worked as a book editor. How did your work as an editor inform your writing, and vice versa?
I don't think I ever would have become a published author without having been an editor first. Learning the ins and outs of the publishing process and working with other authors on their manuscripts was the best education I received as a writer. Because I was able to see what needed to be revised or reworked in other people's manuscripts, I learned how to view my own writing with a more critical eye. I also learned that you have to write what you're passionate about but also what fills a need in the current book market. Being a writer as well as an editor also gave me great empathy for other struggling writers, and when I had to reject a submission I tried to do it as nicely and encouragingly as I could.
Describe your current favorite go-to pair of shoes for daily wear.
Right now we're in the depths of winter here in Connecticut, and I have this enormous pair of brown fuzzy boots that I wear to wade through the snow and ice. They're so comfortable and warm. For the most part though, because most days I work from home, I keep my feet toasty in some snug slippers. Boring? Maybe, but absolutely essential for my creativity and productivity!
How about your most fun pair of shoes?
I have a pair of glam handmade shoes that are decorated with peacock feathers and another pair of glossy, cherry red peep-toe heels that make me feel beautiful inside and out every time I slip them on. Walking in them feels akin to teetering on a tightrope, but they're absolutely worth it!
List ten of your favorite books. Any genre, any style.
Disclaimer: This is an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary, adult and children's literature. I could easily add another hundred titles to this list (there are so many incredible books in the world!), but these ten are stories I turn to again and again.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (And really anything written by Kate DiCamillo!)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Holes by Louis Sachar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Congratulations to all of the recipients of The Sydney Taylor Book Award! Follow the blog tour featuring the 2016 gold and silver medalists all this week, February 8th-February 12th, hosted at a variety of blogs. Click here for the full blog tour schedule.
Learn more about the Sydney Taylor Honor Award.
Visit the People of the Books Blog.
Visit Suzanne Taylor's website.
Today is my stop on the SWEET HOME ALASKA blog tour. I adored this book and will be reviewing it in a couple days. Today I am welcoming the author to my blog for a Food From Fiction post. The main character, Terpsichore, loves to cook and bake and when we meet her she is the main cook for her family due to a deal she made with her mom. A lot of food is mentioned in this book and more than once I got to thinking about making cookies after reading a few chapters. I asked for a recipe from the author and she provided one that is discussed in the book. Thanks for visiting today Carole!
Since the old-timer, Mr. Crawford, recommended this recipe and it is the star of Terpsichore’s best-selling cookbook at the Palmer Fair, the obvious choice is Jellied Moose Nose.
After all, in the wilds of Alaska, you don’t want to waste a smidgen of the moose you just shot.
If you actually make it and eat it, you will have earned the right to milk and cookies for the rest of your life.
From the Recipe Book of Terpsichore Johnson
Jellied Moose Nose
Put a large kettle of water on to boil.
Hack off the upper jawbone of the moose just below the eyes and boil it for forty-five minutes.
Dip the jawbone in cold water and pluck the hairs from the nose.
Wash the nose thoroughly.
Boil the nose again in fresh water with chopped onion, garlic, and pickling spices until tender.
Cool overnight in the water it was boiled in.
The next morning, remove the meat from the broth and remove the bones and cartilage.
Thinly slice the meat, pack it in a glass dish with high sides, and cover with the broth.
Season with salt, pepper, or vinegar to taste.
As the mixture cools, it will jell so it can be sliced.
P. S. I’m a pescatarian, so that’s my excuse for never having tried it.
I am not a pescatarian, but I still don't think I would try it because I am also not an adventurous eater!
Pick up a copy of Sweet Home Alaska today. You will enjoy thoroughly enjoy Terpsichore and her adventurous, positive spirit!
I am finishing up SWEET HOME ALASKA. Next week I will be part of the blog tour for that book. So excited for that post (on February 4!)
THE YEAR WE FELL APART has gotten good reviews and I love a good contemporary romance. This is the physical book I am reading right now.
I started THE CRESSWELL PLOT the other day and am not quite sure how I feel about it yet. Castella seems really immature, but then again, she has been raised in the woods by a crazy father.
I am enjoying all three of these books and am looking forward to getting some reading time this weekend. I might have to enforce some SSR on myself!
What are you reading this weekend?
Welcome to Reading Teen's stop on The 100 tour, hosted by The Irish Banana. We have lots of exciting things in store like the part where I'm going to explain 6 reasons why #BELLARKE is the ULTIMATE OTP (that's One True Pairing), and then there's this fan-freaking-tastic giveaway at the bottom! Be sure to enter!
Clarke Griffin and Bellamy Blake are MEANT TO BE.
Sherri L. Smith's newest book is based on The Nutcracker. Taking on a classic story is always interesting and I love knowing how authors research and make a well known story their own, so I wanted to know more about the research process for The Toymaker's Apprentice.
Most people don’t realize that the Nutcracker ballet has its origins in an E.T.A. Hoffman story, Nussknacker und Mausekönig
published in 1816. Some thirty years later, Hoffman’s strange story caught the imagination of Alexandre Dumas—the man who wrote The Three Musketeers
and other popular novels. It was Dumas’ version that Tchiakovsky based his ballet upon. Luckily for me, as a kid, I fell in love with both the Hoffman story and the ballet. As an adult, I found myself still daydreaming about the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer, and the story behind the story. So it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that one day I would tackle those questions for myself.
In my office is a blue binder stuffed to the gills with indexed pages: 18th
Century Clothing. Asia. Turkey. Arabic Cooking. Clockmaking. Nuts. You name it. When I finally decided to tackle this book, I amassed so much information that the novel sank. It disappeared from view under the weight of too many possibilities, which took me ten years to assimilate and resurface with a story worth telling.
It’s a strange thing when you are a writer. The book the world sees is only one version of a multiverse of books I’ve written or imagined, all a different variation on the same story. The version of Toymaker
that you will read took several passes of research. From that initial binder (I even recruited my mother into researching various time periods for me) to the last round of spelunking into the history and politics of 1815 Europe, and toy and clockmaking of the period, I did as much research as I could from libraries and a laptop in California. I read up on lifespans of the various animals in the books, and the land speed of mice versus humans. How to crack nuts. Christmas traditions in Nuremberg. I could give you a long list and sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp.
The idea is, you find out as much as you can, set it in the back of your mind, and then tell the story. I find my brain will pull out the supporting details it needs to keep the story alive and moving forward. Because of this method, which is rather like sifting for gold, I am always researching stories whenever I read or learn about something new. I remember in patting myself on the back one day for inventing catacombs beneath the city of Nuremberg that worked perfectly for my story. Then I went back and looked at my notes. There are catacombs! And they still work as if I made them myself!
The best news for all us struggling writers out there is, if you’re midstream in a story and can’t come up with a good idea based on what you know, it doesn’t mean the story doesn’t work. You just need to do more research.
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.
New Jersey knows that it's the butt of jokes throughout the nation, but we also know that we've got a great state with unique features that no other state can match. From the mountains to the shore, from the cities to the Pines, we've got a wealth of natural beauty, history, and culture. It's like a well-kept secret. But now, The Fifty States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps, written by Gabrielle Balkin and illustrated by Sol Linero (Quarto, 2015) is bringing some of our secrets to light.
Take a peek at the New Jersey page, and then I'll share a few of my favorite NJ gems.
Three of my NJ favorites which are featured in The Fifty States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps:
BRIGHT IDEA In West Orange you can visit inventor Thomas Edison’s lab and house.Thomas Edison National Historical Park is a fascinating place to visit. In my opinion it beats visiting Thomas Edison Center in Menlo Park, NJ and his winter estate in Fort Myers, Florida. He didn't just invent the light bulb, he invented everything you need to use a light bulb - from the lamp to the power grid. And of course, he invented much more than the light bulb. Not a perfect man, by any means, but a perfectly brilliant inventor!
|"Edison labs Main St Lakeside Av jeh" by Jim.henderson - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edison_labs_Main_St_Lakeside_Av_jeh.jpg#/media/File:Edison_labs_Main_St_Lakeside_Av_jeh.jpg|
LUCY THE ELEPHANT In 1881 the U.S. Patent Office granted inventor James Lafferty the right to make animal-shaped buildings for 17 years. His first creation, Lucy, still stands in Margate, Atlantic City.She's a whopping 6-stories high and 134 years old, and she sits right next to the beach. And what a view from inside! I'm not positive but I do remember that her interior paint color is "stomach," or something similarly intestinal.
|By Harriet Duncan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
FEBRUARY 1913: Silk workers in Paterson begin a six-month-long strike for better working conditions.
Paterson, NJ, may not be your first thought when seeking tourist sites, but it's well worth a visit. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
is one of the nation's newest National Parks. The falls (one of the largest in the nation) and park sit in the midst of an urban city of more than 145,000 people. The falls and the people of Paterson were powerhouses of the U.S. Industrial Revolution.
|Photo by L Taylor (c)|
If you want to know more great sites in NJ, you'll have to come see for yourself. (BTW, Come See For Yourself
, was once our state slogan. I think they should have gone with the more popular, "New Jersey - You got a problem with that?")
Book images and quotes were provided by the publisher. I have no publisher or bookseller affiliations and received no compensation. I am participating for love of state.
By: JOANNA MARPLE,
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
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I am changing up my Wednesday series just a little today to join in Debbie Diesen and Dan Hannah’s blog & book tour of THE NOT VERY MERRY POUT-POUT FISH, the latest hardcover children’s picture book from The New York … Continue reading
Happy Monday! Today, I'm interviewing Laurel Gale, whose debut novel Dead Boy was recently released. "I wondered what it would be like for a 'live' dead boy to try to make friends," she said. "I had no idea what would happen next, so I kept writing to find out."
Congratulations on the release of Dead Boy! Where did your main character, Crow Darlingson, get his name?
Thanks! While writing Dead Boy, I sometimes worried that the main character’s name was a little too on the nose, but I loved it too much to change it. His first name is Crow because crows are often associated with death, and he is dead. Of course, he wasn’t dead when he was named, so from his point of view, it’s a rather lucky (unlucky?) coincidence. I also happen to like birds, and I think Crow is a very cool name for a boy. His last name is a variation on the surname Darlington. Crow is his parents’ darling son.
The story of Dead Boy takes place around Halloween. Do you like dressing up and/or passing out candy on Halloween?
Halloween is the best! I always dress up. This year, I actually had three different costumes, one for Halloween itself and two other events. I was a pirate, a ferret, and a steampunk skeleton.
When I was a kid, my friends and I once went trick-or-treating in the middle of the summer. We were bored, so we dressed up. Then we decided that we should do something with our costumes, so we started going door to door. The neighbors laughed and searched their cupboards for candy for us. I don’t think we could have gotten away with it a second time, though.
What inspires you to write for young readers?
Children’s literature can get pretty dark and serious at times, but it’s always exciting and optimistic, and this makes it a lot of fun to read and to write. I enjoy books for young readers, so it’s natural for me to write them. But I think these books are important, too. Children are developing their lifelong reading habits, but they’re also developing so much more than that: their identities, their morals, their goals. The right book can have a huge influence, and I’d like to be a positive part of that.
Was Dead Boy your first completed manuscript?
I have several earlier manuscripts stored on flash drives sitting in drawers, where most of them will remain forever. I should probably just delete them, but I don’t think I could actually bring myself to do that.
I don’t think new writers should expect the first thing they write to be publishable. Writing is a skill that takes time to develop, so most people will need to complete a practice novel or two (or ten) before producing anything that others will enjoy reading. My advice to aspiring writers is to commit to the long haul and not expect instant success.
Can you divulge anything about your next project?
I’m working on another middle grade fantasy. I’ll put more details up on my website when I can.
Do you often find yourself working on multiple projects at once, or do you prefer to focus on one story at a time?
I prefer to focus on one story at a time, but reality sometimes interferes. Manuscripts go through multiple rounds of editing before being published. The process takes months, and between edits, I want to keep writing. As a result, I find myself bouncing between projects. I still like to focus on and immerse myself in a project as much as possible, though.
What kind of music, art, and films inspire you? Have you read/seen/heard anything good lately?
Books inspire me, of course, but so do a lot of movies and television shows. I devour Doctor Who, Supernatural, and anything by Joss Whedon. My musical tastes are pretty varied, but right now I’m really into Of Monsters and Men, especially the songs Dirty Paws and Little Talks.
Tell me ten of your all-time favorite books.
I’m so glad I get to pick ten instead of one! In no particular order, some of my favorite books are Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Among Others by Jo Walton, Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and the Harry Potter box set by J. K. Rowling. A box set counts as a single choice, right?
Cocoa or egg nog? Egg nog.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Hardcover or paperback? Hardcover.
Homecooked meal or takeout? Homecooked.
And now for the most important question of this interview...
Who is your favorite doctor on Doctor Who, and why?
(Mine is the Tenth Doctor, brilliantly portrayed by David Tennant!)
David Tennant’s doctor is brilliant, but my favorite doctor is the eleventh doctor, played by Matt Smith.
Like Crow, Gale resides in the Nevada desert. She lives with her husband and a band of furry monsters that might actually be ferrets, her favorite animal (even though they don't make an appearance in Dead Boy). Learn more about Laurel and her books at her website: http://www.laurelgale.com
By: Becca Fowler (PivotBookReviews),
Blog: Reading Teen
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Woot, woot! Today is a great day, because I FINALLY get to spread all my Passenger love around! Thanks Hannah for organizing this amazing blog tour, and Disney-Hyperion! I'm so excited to be apart of it, and share ALL THE FEELS with our readers today with my review, a giveaway of Passenger, AND a super special (cough painted by me cough cough) giveaway, exclusively for
Welcome to my stop on the Teen Frankenstein Blog Tour! High school can be one long horror story for some people. In fact, I am pretty sure I just blurred out my first two years because as I wracked my brain for a horror story I came up with several cringe worthy moments. Like the time, during my sophomore year, when I finally got some playing time in a varsity basketball game. I was pretty excited and after our team meeting went bounding up the bleachers to chat with my parents. Gracefully, I slipped and fell very hard on the old wooden bleachers. In front of several senior boys, one of whom I had a crush on. Came away with quite the colorful bruises!
Or the night after a volleyball game, when my parents had finally decided they had enough with my slouching, so my dad came up with a catalog to discuss how many models don't have boobs, so even though I didn't have any, I should still stand straight and be proud of myself. MY DAD!! Yes, that happened (Luckily didn't happen in front of any friends or schoolmates, I still cringe, and it still was during high school).
But, I made survived!! I was given this "horror story" to post by a Macmillan employee who shall remain nameless! As you can see, we definitely had something in common in high school:
It was 1997 and, for some strange reason, I didn't have a boyfriend. I was confused. If you asked me, I was pretty fly. My braces were color coordinated to match my glasses. My hair was a lovely shade of pale orange (thank you, Sun-In). I owned purple jorts! What more could you want?
'Well,' a friend said after I expressed these doubts at a sleepover, 'it's probably your lack of development...in the chest.' And just like that, my abnormally robust confidence was thrown into a tailspin. It was true. No amount of Bonne Bell lip gloss could make up for the fact that I was as flat as an ironing board.
But I was a woman of action. And if my pituitary glands weren't going to cooperate, I was going to take matters into my own hands. And this began a life of deceit. It started with wads of paper towels, stuffed into the ample space my training bra still provided. When I got tired of that itchy discomfort, I graduated to rolled up athletic socks.
And wouldn't you know it, it worked. Less than two weeks after I 'went sock,' whose attention should I catch, but that of Clive Schindler, one grade below me, but a foot taller, and exponentially more attractive. We met at a roller rink, and one 'couples skate' to KC and JoJo later, we were officially an item. Our relationship mostly consisted of awkward weeknight phone calls and one movie date, chauffeured by my father, who gripped the steering wheel so hard, I thought it might cease to function. Ah, young love was a glorious thing.
And then came the Day of Reckoning. It was actually a day I'd been looking forward to for some time- Trampoline Day in gym class. Unfortunately, it hasn't occurred to me that my, er, 'girls' might need some extra security. As I waited in line for my turn, I had no idea that my life was about to be irreparably changed. When my turn came, I executed my pike jump with enthusiasm that turned to dread as I hit the trampoline...because as I flew back up into the air, so did my carefully placed athletic socks, right out of my shirt. The left one hit poor old Ms. Zazanis in the head.
It was all over. By the last bell of the day, Clive had given me the ‘let’s just be friends’ speech. And while it was in many ways a valuable lesson about self-acceptance, I’ll never look at a trampoline the same way again.
Teen Frankenstein is written by Chandler Baker (who is so darling I have a hard time believing she ever had a hard day in high school--seriously, check out her instagram
--DARLING!). Here is the synopsis from the Fierce Reads website:
Tor Frankenstein is, let’s call it obsessed, with reanimation or resuscitation, but experiment after experiment with lab rats fails. But on a dark and stormy night Tor hits a boy with her car. And kills him. Instead of calling the cops and ruining all her chances of winning a Nobel Prize by the time she turns eighteen, she decides to try her experiment out on him. It’s a success. But the experiment isn’t over yet. She must incorporate him into daily high school life for it to be a true success, and when students start being murdered, she fears the worst. We’ll leave the rest up to you to find out what happens to Tor and her monster.
Get to know Chandler at her website
or on Twitter
I also get to give a copy of Teen Frankenstein away! If you'd like to win a copy fill out the form below. I will pick a winner on January 20th after the last stop of the tour. (US only please)!
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Watching: Schitt's Creek. This is a Canadian comedy that I have been waiting to watch since I first heard about it last spring. Right now the first season is on Amazon Prime Video and it's hysterical. Seriously. Give this one a try. It's only 13 episodes and I predict you will find yourself watching them more than once.
Listening: A friend of mine recommended this podcast and I am really enjoying it. It's just two next door neighbors sitting around discussing a topic of the week. Since I am in the car more and more by myself (Max got his license, by the way) I have more time for podcasts. I love discovering new ones to enjoy!
Reading: I was invited to be part of a blog tour for this book, Sweet Home Alaska. It's actually a very fascinating book. It takes place at the end of the Great Depression and is the story of a family that takes part in an Alaska settlement program
. I had no idea this even happened so I am learning new things as I read!
What are you currently enjoying?