It's one of my favorite times of the year - kids' book awards! I waited with baited breath for the new Printz and Newbury winners and the resulting pile of spanking new stories to discover. I started with the Printz winner, MidwinterBLOOD
, by Marcus Sedgwick, and oh, what delicious fun!
Multiple, seemingly unrelated tales spanning thousands of years but that nevertheless all take place on the same island with two repeating character names slowly reveal themselves as the stories of the multiple lives of two star-crossed lovers that culminate in their final breaths. And even throws in a vampire and a WW II aviator.
This sort of storytelling mesmerizes me. It takes the short story and incorporates it into novel length. It's a two for one that cleverly takes short stories arcs and layers them into a longer, overall novel arc. It's pretty cool how Sedgwick pulls that off. How he takes elements in one story and reworks them, nevertheless expanding and revealing backstory in another about those elements, and the two characters they revolve around.
There were a few stories in the set that I understood less quickly and had to reread, but I'd say this is a reread all the way around, it's that rich with story and new author tools to tell story.
For other stories that will put a spring in your step before we tumble forward this weekend (hopefully out of the snow and into the flowers!) check out Barrie Summy's site
. Happy reading!
by Craig Moodie, author of Into the Trap
Writing Into the Trap allowed me to transform many of the coasts and islands and bodies of water I’ve known into the fictional setting of Fog Island.
Since I was a kid, islands in particular have captivated me. All of the islands I’ve set foot on or seen from the deck of a boat have kept me under their spell. I wish I could tell you about all of them, from Vieques to Cuttyhunk, Bermuda to Barra.
But one that I thought about a lot when I was writing the book was called Dobbins Island. My family was lucky enough to own a 35-foot yawl that we sailed out of Annapolis, Maryland. Sometimes when we cruised we would head into the Magothy River and anchor near Dobbins Island.
It was an uninhabited islet covered with woods and thickets atop steep clay bluffs. Its spindly tangled trees looked like the masts of pirate ships. One time when we rowed ashore for a quick walk along the beach, one of my sisters said it looked like a good stand-in for the setting of Lord of the Flies. It was eerie, quiet and watchful and secretive, and that made me want to explore it all the more. But we had to head back to the boat.
I got another chance one muggy evening when we’d anchored off the island again. After dinner I climbed into the dinghy to head to the island alone. Crossing the smooth water, I spooked myself when I looked over the side to see the dark forms of seaweed just below the surface. I crunched ashore on the orange-ish sand and walked past a steep clay bank pocked with the burrows of swallows. The birds swooped and veered past me. I followed the beach and found a path leading up the bluff into the woods.
The woods was dim and shadowy and hissed with the sound of crickets. The leaves laced together overhead to blot out the light. I hadn’t expected to find such a well-worn path, and I followed it at a trot to reach the far headland. At the edge I pushed through the undergrowth to look out through the foliage over the anchorage, where our boat lay among a few other boats on the serene water. Behind me a blue jay called.
Why I had a feeling I was being watched, I wasn’t sure.
I spun around.
Only the woods lay before me. A blue jay called again. The light was thinning.
I went back down the path to see what was on the other side of the island. The path began to climb toward the other end, tree branches forming a leafy tunnel overhead.
Then I heard a thumping ahead of me.
I stopped to listen, my breathing heaving in my ears.
How close had that sound been?
I moved ahead, slower now.
The sound came again—a thumping of hooves.
I heard rustling in the underbrush.
The path took a sharp turn as it climbed. I came around a bend.
I stopped, my heart jolting, before a pair of large eyes staring at me from the middle of the path. They were the wide-spaced eyes of a goat—a wild goat. The forms of two other goats were behind it. They, too, stared at me.
What was I doing on their island? they seemed to be saying.
I should have known, I realized. Why else would a desert island have such a well-worn network of paths?
The dusk settled deeper as the goats melted into the thicket and vanished into the shadows. How the goats had gotten there I wasn’t sure. Maybe they swam here from the mainland. Maybe their ancestors had survived a shipwr
This isn’t what I typically do, but here is my attempt at doing something more illustrative for a project… kind of in the vein of game art, I guess
You can almost smell the dead fish, right?
A humming, a twitter, a buzz, a noise beyond hearing emanated from the deep, dark, depth of the closet.
A puff of air, a small breath of breeze, a flicker of curtains opens a slit of light from a bright moon lit night.
Caught by a moon beam, held by a boy's clear sight, a closet Gnome stands frozen and frightened to move a minute muscle.
Perhaps unnoticed or not believed, perhaps thought to be imagined or seen as night's shadows dancing.
Hoping Mortimer the Gnome wills himself unseen to make himself invisible.
Knowing and now seeing what he knew all along his eyes locked and fixed on this creature of beyond.
The boy Felix stares gluing his eyes refusing to blink scared that his magical creature would disappear.
"You there. I see you. Yes you." And in a breath Felix and Mortimer were side by side, face to face and eye to eye.
"I know some serious magic needs to happen now or I couldn't do this." And with that Felix touches Mortimer with a eruption of faerie dust.
"I know something magical when I see it."
"It is a well known fact that Gnomes live among us unseen. This has been going on for a long, long time and we like it that way. Sometimes people will see us and do not believe it, this happens all the time. You got to be nuts to believe in little people, you need glasses. Well those are the rules and that is just the way it is. Grow up! And go back to sleep I am just a dream. Forget about it."
"Now you touching me like that was out of line. OK OK maybe I do owe you a little magic. And maybe all this Faerie dust is a dead give away."
"Caught in a moon beam; they warn you, they tell you never ever get caught in a moon beam. So I did. Big deal. Or it wouldn't be if you hadn't touched me. Now my whole world is changed. I have to... never mind. Magic is what you want and magic is what you will have."