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Results 1 - 25 of 4,310
1. Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction

Julie Berry is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Passion of Dolssa, the award-winning, All the Truth That’s in Me (2013, Viking) and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (2014, Roaring Brook), and six other critically acclaimed titles for young readers. She grew up in western New York and holds a BS from Rensselaer in communication and an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. Before becoming an author, she worked in software sales and marketing. She now lives in southern California with her husband and four sons. Find her online at www.julieberrybooks.com, or on Twitter.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

For The Passion of Dolssa, both character and era came first, or rather, both found me independently. For a long time I’d been fascinated by the brave young women mystics of the Middle Ages. I had wanted to explore them more in some kind of project. Quite separately, I thought it would be fun to write a main character who was a matchmaker. In yet another corner of my brain, an idea rolled around about a group of three sisters, witches in a very small sense of the word, running a tavern (although young). In another disconnected vein of my life, I was taking a history of the Middle Ages course, where I learned for the first time about the violent history of anti-heresy warfare and inquisition in southern France in the 13th Century. Then one day I had a sort of eureka moment where all of these separate strands braided themselves together as one story idea. And I was off and running.

How do you conduct your research?

Muddlingly. I try to immerse myself as much as I can in books about, and written during, that time period. One of the most important things, I find, is determining which are the most credible, current, trusted academians whose books will best help you unravel the complex past. History (the study of the past, as opposed to the past itself) is anything but monolithic and unanimous. Our study and understanding of our past is constantly changing. So I think it’s vital to be a critical consumer of historical sources, and pay close attention to choosing well whom to trust. Once I know what I’m looking for, it’s often a hunt to acquire rare or out-of-print titles that I need. I try to read as much as I can that was written during that time period, also, so I can hear the voices and language of the time (filtered through the lens of who’s doing the writing – too often it’s only the elite and the empowered). I generally need to read my important sources twice.

In addition to lots of reading, I spend a lot of time with maps and museum resources, trying to see as much as possible what the world I envision actually looked like. I look for music historians who can help me hear their nearly lost tunes, and for historically based cookbooks so I know what ingredients they had and how they cooked. I’m chasing down all sorts of things like when would the sun have set at that latitude at this date, and what did they eat/wear/shoot/burn/drive/marry, etc.. Best of all, whenever possible, I try to go to the location where my story takes place. I need to absorb the sense of place as much as my senses allow me to. 

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I fear I don’t have a specific system for anything in my life. “Dive in and muck around” is pretty much my approach.

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

I usually write in tandem with the research. I’m quite comfortable making changes later as I need to. But I think getting to know a character and getting to know her world can happen in tandem, so long as you’re willing to make painful changes if needed. For example, if you reach a point where you realize that your character has attitudes or opinions she couldn’t possibly have had at that place and time, you have to be willing to perform radical character surgery. But that said, I find that I can hum along on both tracks. Writing a rough first draft as I research helps me focus my inquiries onto things I actually need to know.

What is your favorite thing about research?

Oh, I could just stay right in the research rabbit-hole and never come out. I love, love, love the learning. At first, all the strange names and places are generally bewildering. Most complex historical texts will introduce you to a long list of players in the drama of the past, and it’s a lot to keep track of. In my last book, just about every man, no lie, was named Raimon. “Everyone’s Named Raymond,” basically. So the magic, for me, is when I’ve studied enough and taken enough notes to reach the point where it’s all clicking. I remember who’s who and where’s where and why it all matters. When I can coherently explain it to someone else in detail, then I know I’m ready to make a good story with it. It feels terrific to reach the peak of that mountain.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

The pill that was hardest for me to swallow, but most necessary, is accepting that fact that no matter how hard I work to be accurate, I can’t ever be fully accurate in my depiction of the past. This is because, no matter how I try to understand their world, their beliefs, their cultural context, I can’t stop myself from being someone who looks at it from the anachronistic perspective of their future. I am looking back. I know how their story ends. And I’m a child of a different planet, so to speak. The past is a country I’ve never visited, nor can I. Even the most devotedly researched book remains a work of artifice, of pretend, of illusion. So, in a sense, the hardest part of this job is that you know from the get-go that you’ll fail. Art comes into play as you accept those limitations and reach toward the ideal of truth, beautifully if possible, anyway.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Stuff that’s generally unprintable. 😉

Why is historical fiction important?

I’m not sure how many people would ever decide to study the past, preserve it for future generations, and distill what it has to teach us, if they didn’t learn to care about it, somewhere along the line. I think historical fiction, especially the highest quality historical fiction for young readers, helps link young minds to the past through the caring they come to feel for real and fictitious characters, now dead. The hallmark of good fiction is how it tells the truth and enables empathy. By pointing that understanding and caring toward the past, we help young people – not just the future historians, but future thinkers of every kind – see themselves as heirs of a tremendous legacy and the forebears of a hopeful future. In other words, as a part of, but not the center of, humanity.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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2. Middle Grade Books Are Not About You and Me (With a Nod to Colby Sharp and Linda Urban)

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I few weeks ago I shared a link to a blog post by teacher Colby Sharp. In it he talked about picking up a middle grade book and feeling like he’d seen it all before. Then he read these words by author Linda Urban:

Colby went on to say “middle grade books are not about you and me” (in other words, the adults out there).

I’ve thought so much about Colby’s and Linda’s words these past few months. They’ve helped me solidify some of my ideas about children’s literature, actually. While I will always, always, always believe a good book is a good book for everyone, regardless of age (though not all books are for every reader, which is another discussion entirely), Linda has reminded me that children’s literature is first and foremost for children.

Of course I know this, but I think sometimes I bring an outside perspective (as both reader and writer) that doesn’t always serve the work best. Rather, this is where I’d like my focus to be:

  • If this book is for a young reader, what is it they’ll discover that will be meaningful and ring true?
  • What am I willing to say as an author that might feel trite or old news to the grow ups but could be new and important to young readers?
  • Am I willing as a reader not to have my needs met first when I am reading middle grade?

I’m curious what readers here think.

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Middle Grade Books Are Not About You and Me (With a Nod to Colby Sharp and Linda Urban) originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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3. Meet Local Authors, ABQ Readers and Teachers!

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Fri-Sun — April 15th, 16th, 17th
Barnes & Noble, Coronado Mall (6600 Menaul Blvd)

From SCBWI-NM:

Nearly 20 local authors and illustrators will be giving talks, readings, and signings over this three day event. We will also have a table set up with as many local authors’ and illustrators’ books as we can get our hands on! Many autographed copies will be available.

*Bonus, the fair coincides with Barnes & Noble’s Educator Appreciation Week—meaning all educators (K-12) that have signed up for an education membership with Barnes & Noble, will get 25% off their purchases!

This is a huge event for New Mexico’s chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators — the first of its kind. I’ll be there Sunday, April 17 from noon to two and will read Over in the Wetlands and give a presentation about Roanoke’s Lost Colony. (If you’re an elementary teacher, be sure to pick up a copy of Blue Birds. It’s on the New Mexico Battle of the Books list next year).

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Please spread the word. I’d love to see you there!

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Meet Local Authors, ABQ Readers and Teachers! originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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4. StoryMakers | Nick Bruel’s ‘Bad Kitty’

STORYMAKERS - Nick Bruel Featured Image

Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty is everyone’s favorite mischievous feline. Recently, the series creator and Bad Kitty herself were interviewed by Rocco Staino on StoryMakers. The Bad Kitty series is a favorite of early readers and those who’ve been introduced to chapter books. Bruel discusses the evolution of the Bad Kitty series — from picture books to chapter books; his inspiration for going against the sometimes syrupy sweet kid lit grain; and how Bad Kitty went from page to stage. Nick Bruel has appeared in the Princeton Book Festival and Carle Honors episodes of StoryMakers.

Watch KidLit TV’s Bad Kitty short, here.

We’re giving away three (3) copies of Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet and a MerryMakers Bad Kitty backpack pull. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2016. Enter now!

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ABOUT BOOKS

Bad Kitty Goes to the VetBad Kitty Goes to the Vet - Nick Bruel
Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel
Published by Roaring Brook Press

When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she’s sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it’s time for this sick kitty to go…to the vet. When Kitty’s family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor’s office, it’s a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all…a shot. Once the shot is administered, Kitty is cast into an ingenious dream within a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut out of PussyCat heaven forever. This ninth installment of the popular Bad Kitty series from Nick Bruel is chock-full of brilliant supporting characters and, of course, the crankiest bad kitty you’ve ever seen.

ABOUT NICK BRUEL

Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books, among others. He is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and during his down time, he collects PEZ dispensers and grows tomatoes in the backyard. He lives in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Carina and their lovely cat Esmerelda.

CONNECT WITH NICK BRUEL
Website | Bad Kitty Books | Bad Kitty on FacebookTwitter

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Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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The post StoryMakers | Nick Bruel’s ‘Bad Kitty’ appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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5. Listen in on the What Should I Read Next podcast

I recently talked with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy on her new podcast, What Should I Read Next. We discussed verse novels, why I’m uncomfortable talking publicly about books I don’t enjoy, and being a generous reader.

After recording, I realized I misspoke about something and want to set the record straight. I said Mimi from Full Cicada Moon could have been friends with my May Betterly, if the two had been real girls. But I realized it was my Alis and Kimi that I thought would befriend Mimi. You can find literary friends for May here.

Anne and I had an invigorating conversation, one that left me with two new library books on my nightstand. I hope you’ll listen in!

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Listen in on the What Should I Read Next podcast originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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6. From Novel to Movie: Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger

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Greenhorn , middle grade novel by Anna Olswanger. | DarcyPattison.com Anna Olswanger’s middle grade novel, GREENHORN (See Review), was made into an indie film. It’s a dream that many of us have, to see our story on the big screen. I asked her to tell us about the process.

Anna’s introduction to the story

In 2014 I co-produced a short indie film adaptation of the novel. The film premiered at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. It was named the 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival in Memphis, and subsequently aired on public television in Memphis and Kentucky. In February, 2016, it was part of the Festival Internacional De Cine Judio en Mexico and will screen on March 27, 2016 at the International Children’s Film Festival at L.A.’s WonderCon.

TMW Media has just started distributing the film so that libraries and schools can purchase the DVD with public performance rights and show the film in classrooms. TMW is also distributing the film on Amazon to individual viewers. The film could be a tie-in to Holocaust Remembrance Day in May and International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January. The discussion guide for the film is online at the distributor’s site:

GreenHorn Video. Adaptation of novel by Anna Olswanger. | DarcyPattison.com

When did you decide that this book would make a good film?

I think every author hopes that her book will be optioned for film, and as a literary agent, I am used to getting my clients’ books into the hands of film producers. In the case of Greenhorn, I thought that the story had conflict, a strong climax, and a poignant resolution, the right elements for a good film. I just didn’t know how I would interest a producer in such a short book.

How did you find the contact to adapt it to film?

A potential client, who is a screenwriter, submitted a children’s book manuscript to me. It wasn’t a manuscript I could successfully represent, but we began a conversation about her work and she suggested that I show Greenhorn to a director she had worked with. I did contact him, and he liked the book. He asked me if I would like to co-produce the film with him.

As the author, what involvement did you have in the script? Did you have rights of approval/disapproval?

Because I was the co-producer, I was able to read the script and comment on it. My main concern was authenticity. I wanted to make sure that anyone familiar with that era of history during the 1940s would be convinced by the film.

Once the book goes to film, who is in charge? Where does the buck stop? When the book is adapted for film what is the author’s role? Nothing? Or do you have veto rights on decisions? For example, Ella Enchanted became a farce almost in movie format, a far cry from the book itself. Authors worry. What if their “baby” is misunderstood?

As a literary agent, I can confirm that the interpretation of the producer and screenwriter is of concern to authors. But unless you’re a big name author, you have to let go of your book when you option it. You’ve been paid money by someone who is excited by your story and has a vision of it as a film, and you have to trust that this person’s vision will enhance your book. If you don’t trust the producer, then don’t option the book. I think the situation is similar to being the author of a picture book text and having to let go when the illustrator comes on board. The picture book author has to let the illustrator have her own vision of the story. You can’t control what the illustrator sees. However, I was in the unique position of being both the author of the book and the co-producer of the film, so I was able to read the script and make suggestions for changes.

As the author, what surprised you about the film adaptation?

I remember from my days as a college theatre major how quickly and deeply friendships are formed among cast members, but it surprised me to see similar friendships develop among the boys who were in the cast of this film. It was fun to watch them play around during the times when we weren’t filming. See the wonderful photo of them after we filmed a scene.

The director/screenwriter, who happens not to be Jewish, recently told me he wants to develop a feature-length version of the story to flesh out the backstory of the children and their lives outside the yeshiva. It constantly surprises me how this story resonates with people, especially people who have no connection to the Holocaust or even Jewish history.
Hurrah! It was fun for these actors to star in  GREENHORN, by Anna Olswanger | DarcyPattison.com


Actors formed close ties during the filming of GREENHORN by ANNA OLSWANGER. | DarcyPattison.com


The indie film, GREENHORN, by  Anna Olswanger is a poignant Jewish story. | DarcyPattison.com

Will the process change how you write your next book?

I don’t think so, but the process has made me see how satisfying it is to see work in one medium take on a life in another medium.

Is there any money in all of this for you, the author?

Greenhorn is a small indie film, and as the co-producer I had to raise the funds to pay the actors, the production staff, the travel and hotel expenses for the crew during filming, props, hair dresser, catering, music, post sound design, and insurance. We didn’t budget in fees for the director or producers, or for me as the author, so there isn’t money in this for me. Even so, I would do it again.

Trailer for Greenhorn


If you can’t see this video, click here.


Darcy’s note about developing your own PR package:
For publicity purposes, Anna presented me with a complete package. She quickly answered some key questions about the process of creating a film from a novel. When she sent me the answers, she included interesting photos, details about where the film had aired, how to buy the movie on Amazon, links to a free discussion guide, suggestions on when it might be appropriate to view the film in an education setting, and a great movie trailer easily available on YouTube. If you’re doing publicity for a book or movie, this is a case study in how to do it right!

The post From Novel to Movie: Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger appeared first on Fiction Notes.

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7. StoryMakers On Location| The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems

STORYMAKERS Mo Willems Featured Image

StoryMakers host Rocco Staino caught up with Mo Willems at the preview for The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems, a retrospective of Willems’ work at the New-York Historical Society. The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibit contains many pieces that show Willems’ process as he created some of kid lit’s most memorable characters. He hopes children create their own art after they leave the museum. The author and illustrator briefly discussed The Thank You Book, the 25th and last book in the Elephant and Piggie series.

Mo Willems has had a huge impact on the lives of children. As a television writer for Sesame Street he garnered six Emmys. His witty one-liners inspired children to quote characters from Codename: Kids Next Door amongst other familiar cartoons. In 2003 his first picture book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, was published and since then it’s been a stream of accolades; three Caldecott Honors, two Geisel Medals, five Geisel Honors, and a place in the Picture Book Hall of Fame.

Willems’ surly pigeon, the mismatched pair of Elephant and Piggie, and everyone’s favorite Knuffle Bunny are a few of the characters visitors will get to see evolve via the exhibit.

The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibition brings together original art, sketches, and inspirational drawings from Willem’s most popular series, plus stand-alone classics such as Leonardo the Terrible Monster and That is NOT a Good Idea!. It displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness, and the desire, as Willems says, “to think of my audience, not for my audience.” His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.

The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems is open now, until September 25, 2016. Click here for ticket information, directions, and more.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art organized the exhibition, which is supported by Disney Publishing Worldwide.

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StoryMakers On Location - Mo Willems
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Click the images or links below to access fun activities with characters from Mo Willems’ books!

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ABOUT THE THANK YOU BOOK


The Thank You Book
The Thank You Book - The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion, 2016)

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone … someone important.

ABOUT MO WILLEMS

#1 New York Times Bestseller Mo Willems began his career as a writer and animator for PBS’ Sesame Street, where he garnered 6 Emmy Awards for his writing. During his nine seasons at Sesame Street, Mo also served as a weekly commentator for BBC Radio and created two animated series, Nickelodeon’s The Off-Beats and Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City.

While serving as head writer for Cartoon Network’s #1 rated show, Codename: Kids Next Door, Mo began writing and drawing books for children. His debut effort, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! became a New York Times Bestseller and was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004. The following year Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale was awarded a Caldecott Honor. The sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too: a Case of Mistaken Identity garnered Mo his third Caldecott Honor in 2008.

In addition to picture books, Mo created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of “Easy Readers”, which were awarded the Theodor Suess Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009 and  Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. For older audiences he has published an illustrated memoir of his year-long trip around the world in 1990-91 entitled You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons and Don’t Pigeonhole Me!, a collection of 20 years of his annual sketchbooks. His books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Read more: Mo Willems FAQ

CONNECT WITH MO WILLEMS
Website | Twitter

ABOUT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical is the oldest museum in New York City. New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs are one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

The New-York Historical Society’s museum is the oldest in New York City and predates the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly seventy years.

Read more: New-York Historical Society

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The post StoryMakers On Location| The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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8. KidLit Auction: Bid on a Verse Novel Critique

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KidLit Auction for John and Betsy MacLeod

Recently one of our own in the KidLit community, Betsy MacLeod, and her husband John, were dealt a cruel blow when John was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Beyond the heartbreaking reality of his diagnosis, John and Betsy are faced with enormous and mounting medical expenses, many of which are not covered by insurance. To help them financially and in spirit, we are offering wonderful items through this online Kidlit Auction, which will run from March 17th to March 30th, 2016.

Signed books, artwork, manuscript critiques, vacation homes from Vermont and Cape Cod to Scotland, and more will help raise money to improve the quality of what remains of John’s life.

Join me in supporting John and Betsy MacLeod. I’ve donated a full verse novel critique (which will include manuscript notes and an editorial letter) as well as a signed copy of Blue Birds. If you are an aspiring verse novelist or know someone who is, please spread the word. And please share with others you know who might be interested in supporting the MacLeod family.

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post KidLit Auction: Bid on a Verse Novel Critique originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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9. StoryMakers | David Walliams’s ‘Demon Dentist’

StoryMakers On Location - David Walliams Featured Image

David Walliams is the bestselling author of Demon Dentist and several other middle grade books. Also, Walliams is a comedian who is best known to adults as the star of the popular English comedy, Little Britain. StoryMakers host Rocco Staino interviewed Walliams on location at New York City’s Path1 Studio.

We’re giving away three (3) copies of David Walliams’s Demon Dentist. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2016. Enter now!

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ABOUT DEMON DENTIST

Demon Dentist - David WalliamsDemon Dentist
Written by David Walliams; illustrated by Tony Ross (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Something strange is happening in Alfie’s town. Instead of shiny coins from the tooth fairy, kids are waking up to dead slugs, live spiders, and other icky, terrible things under their pillows. Who would do something so horrific? Alfie is sure that Miss Root, the new dentist in town, is behind it all. There’s nothing Alfie hates more than going to the dentist, but to solve this mystery, he may have to book a dreaded appointment … (Via Harper Collins)

Read a sample, here.

ABOUT DAVID WALLIAMS

Via Harper Collins UK
Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book Demon Dentist was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers Ratburger and Gangsta Granny were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of Gangsta Granny dominated the UK charts in 2013, remaining at number one for a colossal 22 weeks.

David is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK. Following the Christmas 2012 success and BAFTA nomination of the BBC adaptation of his second book, Mr Stink, starring Hugh Bonneville, Gangsta Granny was aired in 2013 over Christmas. Walliams’ books have achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and it comes as no surprise that countless broadsheet reviewers have compared him to his all-time hero, Roald Dahl.

David is well known for his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created Little Britain, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs and is now shown in over 100 countries. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.

In September 2011 David swam 140 miles from Gloucestershire to Westminster raising £2.5 million for Sports Relief. David has also proved popular in his role as a judge on TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent, where he found inspiration for one of the characters in his bestselling novel Ratburger.

CONNECT WITH DAVID WALLIAMS
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10. Straight From the Source: Author Kate Hannigan on Writing Historical Fiction

Kate Hannigan writes fiction and non-fiction for young readers. She got hooked on historical fiction when she discovered a copy of The Thorn Birds on the tippy-top highest shelf when she was in seventh grade – clearly forbidden reading, which made it even better! She used to work in daily newspapers but now spends her time down the rabbit hole researching her next books. The Detective’s Assistant was named a 2016 Golden Kite Award winner from SCBWI, a Booklist “Best of 2015” pick, as well as a “Best of the Best 2015” book with Chicago Public Library. Visit Kate online at KateHannigan.com.

Detectives Assistant cover medium

Why is historical fiction important?

It’s a window into the past, and for children who are meeting historical figures for the first time in our books, it’s so important that we engage and inform as well as entertain. If a reader really takes to a historical fiction work, then that might open up a whole new world to them. They might dig deep into learning more about a particular era in history, or pursue more historical work. It’s very exciting!

What kinds of sources do you use? 

I try to do full-immersion research, and I tap from anywhere I can find material. Right now, for a new project, I have a couple documentaries I’m watching, stacks of library books (shhh, don’t turn me in, but I use FOUR cards for our public library; mine and my three kids’ cards), original writing or reporting when I can find it, as well as museum trips so I can see and absorb all I can.

For The Detective’s Assistant, I was wandering the Chicago History Museum when I saw their beautiful exhibit of Daguerrotypes. And I knew at that moment that a framed photo like I was seeing in the museum would play a part in my book.

To get a sense of the language of the times, I try to read books that would have been in circulation at the time my book is set. So for The Detective’s Assistant, I read books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which published in 1852 but would have still been read and discussed when my book is set in 1859. Sister Carrie, which came later, helped me understand the desperation a woman might feel moving to the big city and trying to fend for herself in the 19th century.

I found a copy of “Godey’s Ladies Book,” the popular magazine of the 1850s, for sale on eBay. So I got an 1856 copy and read what women in my book might have been reading. And newspapers! I am a former newspaper gal, so my heart is with newspaper research. The headlines, the way stories are presented, the language of the times: newspaper archives are a rich source of understanding the day to day living.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

Sometimes the subject of our research has been obliterated by time. For the research into Kate Warne’s life, I had to rely on Allan Pinkerton’s writing. But the Great Fire that wiped out Chicago in 1871 destroyed Pinkerton’s detailed record-keeping of his operatives and cases. So what I could find of her was very limited.

What is your favorite thing about research?

It is endless! It’s like falling down a rabbit hole.

What’s your least favorite thing about research?

It is endless! It’s like falling down a rabbit hole!

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

There was a whole lot of Underground Railroad research in my book, as well as the buildup to the Civil War. And best of all, Abe Lincoln. I learned so many interesting things by reading so much about this era. I’d say the most interesting thing I read, among so many wonderful anecdotes, had to do with the connective tissue of Life.

People might already know this one, but it was fascinating to me to learn that Lincoln’s son Robert was once saved from grave injury or death by John Wilkes Booth’s brother, Edwin Booth, a popular actor. Robert Lincoln was waiting for a train in 1863 or ’64 when he was jostled by the crowd and fell into the gap between a moving train and the platform. Robert Lincoln recalled the incident later:
. . . the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.
Such a human moment – one individual coming to the aid of another. We know what transpired just a year or so later between Edwin’s brother and Robert’s father. It reminds me how our lives are all so closely intertwined. And it’s one of the reasons why I love history!

The post Straight From the Source: Author Kate Hannigan on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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11. Classroom Connections: The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone

The Last Boy at St. Edith’s
age range: 8-12
genre: contemporary fiction
Lee Gjertsen Malone’s website

This is a funny, emotional book that will quickly become a favorite to many a reader, regardless of age. Sweet, funny, exciting—a spectacular debut. — Kirkus, starred review

Humor mixes with more serious issues in this clever debut. — Booklist

Malone’s debut is a sweet, candid novel about fitting in, messing up, and making amends. — Publisher’s Weekly

Please tell us about your book.

It’s the story of a boy named Jeremy who goes to an all girl’s school that tried to go coed but failed. He ends up being the very last boy left at the school, because his mother works there and won’t let him transfer, so he hatches a plan with his best friend to pull some epic pranks in an effort to get himself expelled.

What inspired you to write this story?

It began with a conversation with my husband. He went to an all-boy’s school that went coed a few years after he graduated, and we got a fundraising newsletter from his alma mater. As a graduate of public schools, I was fascinated with the whole idea – why a previously single gender school would decide to go coed, and, because this is where my mind goes, how would they know it would work? And what would happen if it didn’t work, and instead of there being more and more kids of your gender each year, there were fewer and fewer?

And the same time I was also thinking I wanted to write a book about a strong boy-girl friendship that was tested by growing up, and the combination of those two ideas got me started writing this book.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I love doing research, even if it’s not obvious in the finished book. I love it almost too much. For this book I researched a lot of things – saint names, the economic development of western Massachusetts, and how doorknobs are put together. Oh, and pranks. Lots and lots of pranks.

What are some special challenges associated with writing middle grade?

First, I think that while it’s true that in any novel every scene has to have a purpose, in middle grade I think it’s even more important – because of the space constraints, every scene needs to do double and triple duty. There’s also the tricky issue of the middle grade voice. It’s not easy to find that balance where your kids sound like kids and the story feels like something they would be interested in without becoming a parody of the way kids talk.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

The book touches on a few topics I think would be great for classroom conversations. The first is gender – what does it mean to act like a boy? What does it mean to act like a girl? And why does it matter? Do you need to have friends and role models like yourself in order to know how you are supposed to be?

Secondly, Jeremy, the main character, is a lot of ways a cultural norm in our society. He’s white, male, middle class. He wouldn’t stand out at all in a lot of places. But he definitely does stand out at St. Edith’s. Which leads to the question, what makes something a norm anyway? How can you decide what’s normal without considering the context?

And finally, the main characters make some really bad decisions in the book that seem like good ideas at first. They never intend to hurt anyone with their pranks but they end up causing a lot more trouble than they expected. I think it’s interesting to think about what you should do when something you never intended to cause people trouble backfires.

What do you think of the blog? I’d love to hear from you.
Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

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12. Top Posts of All Time

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In 2009 I stopped teaching without any publishing prospects, but with the burning conviction it was time to put everything behind my efforts to finally sell a book. I did what every other aspiring author was doing then: I started a blog.

A few months later, I signed with my first agent. Four months after that, May B. was under contract. Through highs and lows this blog has been a constant, a place for me to think through ideas, share bits of encouragement, introduce readers to new books, and celebrate my own. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are entirely new, I thank you for the ways you’ve added to the conversation and become a key part of my writing life.

Over the next few months I plan to highlight key posts that have risen to the top. Today’s are the posts that are read most often (I wrote this before last week, when this post, now the top post of all time, went live). While my sense is most regular readers are aspiring writers, it’s interesting to note these posts almost exclusively speak to teachers, librarians, and parents looking to share books with their children.

Running a Book Club for Kids

The first post in a series based on my experience running after-school book clubs, this post has been number one around here for years. Included in the post are links to the rest of the series.

girls and pearls

The Gift of Friendship

I love knowing that the second most-widely read post on the blog is essentially a love letter to my dear friend, Jamie C. Martin, whose own book comes out later this year. The post touches on the ways friends bolster and inspire us, in this case how Jamie pushed me to be brave when writing Blue Birds.

Third-Grade Book Club Reading Lists

Straight from my after-school book club days, this is the list I used with third-grade readers, plus a run down of everything I included in my Welcome to Book Club handout.

Classroom Connections: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Lynda’s had a pretty phenomenal year, hitting the NYT Bestseller’s List with her second middle-grade novel, Fish in a Tree, and going on to win the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award, which “embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” This interview includes links to Lynda’s website and educator’s guide.

Fast Five: Novels About Teachers and Their Students

This one’s been a favorite for a long time, with a number of oldie but goodies sure to inspire.

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Reading in the Wild: 5 Things Wild Readers Do

Teacher turned author turned Scholastic Press guru, Donalyn Miller, has written two glorious books about reading and teaching that I devoured. This post is one of several that grew out of her second book, Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits. Read our interview based on Donalyn’s first book, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, here.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

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13. Why Pay Authors for School Visits Anyway?

book posters illinois

Yesterday I shared tips on finding authors who are interested in school visits. Today I’m going to bring up compensation, a topic that is never easy to discuss but is nevertheless necessary, especially if you’re interested in inviting an author to your school. Let’s look at some commonly-held assumptions about authors and visits and contrast them with a more realistic glimpse at things.

Assumption #1: Shouldn’t authors offer free school visits? After all, it’s great for publicity. Some authors do offer free visits, whether when first starting out (I did that) or by offering one or two free visits each year (I’ve done that, too) or in other situations when they choose to do so. But here’s the thing:

An author is a professional. Just as we wouldn’t expect a plumber to fix a leak in exchange for publicity, we shouldn’t expect the same from an author sharing her expertise with young readers.

There’s an unspoken assumption attached to this one, the idea that once an author sells a book she has it made. In truth, it’s safe to say many of us make less (in many cases far less) than your average teacher. All of my books have sold for less than what I received my first year teaching, and that was in the mid-nineties in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the US. For an author, there’s no such thing as a steady income. Selling new books to a publisher can be sporadic, if it happens at all. I share this because I think it’s important to have a sense of how slow and precarious establishing oneself in the writing world can be. 

Assumption #2: We’d like to have bookseller come when you’re at our school. Aren’t book sales enough to cover an author visit? Thank you to every school that considers book sales! To give a child the opportunity to own a book — any book — is a gift. And there is special meaning attached to a book written by an author the child has met. Unfortunately, though, book sales are not the same as compensation.

For example, for each book I sell, I earn around $1 for a hardback and $.50 for each paperback. So while selling books at a school visit is wonderful, it is primarily a benefit for young readers.

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Assumption #3: I’ve just looked at your rates. You sure expect to make a lot of money an hour! If you click through to my author visits page, you’ll get sense at what I charge for visits in the Albuquerque area, within New Mexico, and out of state. While some authors choose not to list their prices online, I like having that information available to anyone who might consider inviting me to present at their school.

An author’s rates can’t be translated into hourly fees. When a school pays for an author visit, not only are they compensating the author for the work she does that day, but all the preparation that went into the presentations beforehand, the time spent traveling to and from the school, and the author’s time away from her writing desk. An author visit isn’t just an event, it’s an experience, one that takes time and preparation to get it just right.

Assumption #4: There’s no way my school can afford to bring an author in. Not true! Scholastic has produced a great document about preparing for an author visit, which includes ideas for fundraising. SCBWI offers the Amber Brown Grant, which annually gives one school “an all-expense-paid visit from a well-respected children’s author or illustrator.” Here’s another page with information on funding, another on grants. Perhaps money earmarked for field trips might be used for a school visit (think of it as a field trip coming to the school). Or maybe the PTA could help out. And don’t forget Skype visits, which cost significantly less.

Dan Gutman shares a wonderful quote from a student on his Perfect Author Visit page.

I am now reading more than any other part of my life thanks to Dan Gutman.

Isn’t this ultimately the wish of every author and teacher? An author visit is an opportunity to hook young readers, keep them reading, and serve their creativity, writing, and imaginations for years to come. It’s an investment, for sure, one I wholeheartedly believe is worth making.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Why Pay Authors for School Visits Anyway? originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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14. Four Places to Find Authors Who Want to Vist Your School

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Perhaps you’ve considered inviting an author to talk to your students but are unsure what to do. Maybe a neighboring school has just brought in an author to great success and you’d like to do the same.

But how exactly do you proceed? How do you find an author who does presentations? Are these visits free (and if not, shouldn’t they be)?*

Finding authors

Probably the most comprehensive list of authors who do school visits can be found through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Speaker’s Bureau. Here you can find authors, illustrators, and children’s book translators by region or within a certain radius from where you are. Want someone who writes for a certain age range? You can do that, too.

For example, when I entered “All” (for authors, illustrators, or translators), “New Mexico,” and the age range 5-10, I was able to find six authors and illustrators who met that criteria. Because SCBWI is an international organization, you can find speakers from every corner of the globe and many who are willing to travel.

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Another way to find authors is to visit publishing websites directly. Scholastic, for example, has an Invite an Author page, where you can search a list of authors available for school and Skype visits. Here’s a similar page from Random House Children’s Books, one from Penguin, another from HarperCollins.

Author Kim Norman also hosts a blog called School Author Visits by State, where you can quickly scan lists of authors, arranged alphabetically by state, who are ready and willing to present at schools.

One final way to find an author to visit your school is to simply Google a few of your favorites. Many authors include on their websites information about school visits as well as presentations prospective schools can choose from. Here are a few examples I think are especially great:

Alexis O’Neill
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Kate Messner
Don Tate
Deborah Wiles
Gordon Korman
Kekla Magoon
Barbara O’Connor
Terry Lynn Johnson

Once you’ve booked that author, consider reading these articles filled with great advice on making your visit spectacular.

Ten Tips for a Perfect Author Visit :: Nerdy Book Club
The Authors Answer: What Made Your Best School Visits Great? :: Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker
The Perfect Author Visit :: Dan Gutman

*More on this second question in tomorrow’s post

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Four Places to Find Authors Who Want to Vist Your School originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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15. Straight from the Source: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb on Writing Historical Fiction

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb is the author of The 13th Sign, Selling Hope ,and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different . Watch for John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy this month (written as E.F. Abbott) and  Miss Daisy’s Job summer 2017. Tubb can be found far too often on Facebook and Twitter.  Oh, and she has a website, too.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

An era or idea usually precedes the character for me, and once I’ve done some research, it becomes clear what kind of character would struggle in that setting. It can be painful to write the underdog or the outsider, but it’s usually much richer story if that’s the case, and I find it’s easier to do so knowing a lot about what constitutes “underdoggedness” in a certain era. (I think I just made up a word. ☺ )

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I still use the system that my freshman English teacher, Linda McGill taught us! The method is this: each source gets a number depending on when I’ve read it/taken notes from it. Each notecard (more on that in a bit!) is one fact, and it’s coded with that source number and the page number or the specific URL where the information was found. After I’m done researching (which for John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy was four months, but for Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different was four years), the notecards are spread and shuffled EVERYWHERE to create the story outline. Once the outline is complete, the cards are finally put in subject-order, things like “Church,” “Medicines,” “Foods,” etc.

While I’m drafting the book, I look at these categories often: “Hmmm, what kind of a hymn would be sung at a funeral?” And because it’s coded with a source and page number, I can always go back to that source. For every book I’ve written, I’ve needed to, at some point, relocate a source to clarify a fact. So it’s a useful system for me. Thank you again, Ms. McGill!

And regarding notecards: I don’t use them any more, although I did for both Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different – my debut – and Selling Hope. Everything is in a Word document now, though all facts are still coded with a source and page number!

What kinds of sources do you use? 

For Autumn Winifred Oliver, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a goldmine of primary sources: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an archives located in the basement of the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center. Cookbooks, photographs, hymnals, school books: all used by the folks who lived in Cades Cove, Tennessee.

For Selling Hope, I found an amazing resource in the online photograph collection hosted by the Chicago Historical Society. (Since the writing of that book, many local libraries, historical societies and universities have done this for their city. Be sure and use those historical societies! They LIVE for requests like the ones historical fiction writers ask!)

For John Lincoln Clem, I watched hours of Civil War reenactors on YouTube, particularly the drummers. It was critical to the book to capture the sound and cadence of the drum calls, and this was amazingly helpful. I use YouTube a lot. A LOT. Also eBay, which, when you search for a year and/or a city, will often produce fantastic results: jewelry, books, clothing, dinnerware, etc. I’ve also used classic advertisements to describe cars and clothing, and the want ads (my FAVORITE!) to gather unique and wonderful vocabulary for an era. Each book has taken me to unique places that I didn’t know existed.

What is your favorite thing about research?

My favorite thing about research is that it often builds my plot and my characters for me. I mentioned above that I sometimes craft a character based on who might be an awful fit for a certain time and place. In Selling Hope, for example, Hope is a homebody who longs for permanence based largely on my research of those nomadic vaudeville troops.

Research also often uncovers plot points that I know I’ll want to include in my story. In John Lincoln Clem, the research I did on the Civil War uncovered the fact that some soldiers, in their boredom, would pick a louse – a single lice bug – off their body and “race” them across a tin plate. The winner would get out of chores or win brass buttons. I knew this was a story kids would eat up, so it became part of the plot of the book. 

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

The answer is there, it just needs dusting off, possibly while wearing white gloves. Search and ye shall find! That, and writing historical fiction, to me, is just like writing contemporary fiction but with a more thorough setting, a tighter lens. What people want – love, togetherness, family, health, friends, to make a difference – never changes. Themes are everlasting. So uncovering what people want, and looking at that need within the scope of the era, is a very satisfying way to tell a story.

Why is historical fiction important?

Because themes are everlasting – because people still want now what they’ve always wanted – historical fiction reflects humanity’s attempts at achieving goals. Sometimes those goals are achieved beautifully. Sometimes they are a disaster. Historical fiction shows readers that our ancestors worked and played and struggled and won and failed – and survived. Humans have attempted many different ways to survive. Historical fiction reflects our wins and our losses.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Straight from the Source: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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16. StoryMakers | Carol Weston’s Ava Wren Series

STORYMAKERS - Carol Weston

Carol Weston is the author of more than 15 books and serves as “Dear Carol,” the advice columnist for Girls’ Life magazine. Her book Ava and Pip was said to be “a love letter to language,” by the New York Times Book Review. Carol joined StoryMakers host Rocco Staino to discuss the books in the Ava Wren series, her book of advice for teens, and her upcoming book titles. The Ava Wren series imparts wonderful and sometimes difficult lessons about growing up, friendship, responsibilities, and the dreaded first crush. Ava and Pip is a 2015 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and Ava and Taco Cat was named a 2015 ABC Best Books for Young Readers (American Booksellers Association). 2015 Newbery Honor Book Roller Girl author Victoria Jamieson illustrated the covers for the Ava Wren series!

We’re giving away three (3) bundles of books signed by Carol Weston. Each bundle includes a copy of Ava XOX, Ava and Taco Cat, and Ava and Pip. Enter now!

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ABOUT THE AVA WREN SERIES

Ava XOXAva XOX Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Love is in the air-and Ava thinks she’s allergic Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes What? ? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they? To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help-but, uh oh, it’s not as easy as she imagines. Don’t miss how it all began in: Ava and Pip and Ava and Taco Cat. Ava and Taco CatAva and Taco Cat Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T. When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco? Ava and PipAva and Pip Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip’s 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest. But uh-oh, Ava should never have written “Sting of the Queen Bee.” Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?

COMING SOON

The Speed of Life (September 2016) Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Amazon Pre-order

“The Speed of Life is the kind of book that you want to read speedily, all at once, because the characters are so engaging, the voice of the narrator pitch perfect, the situations convincingly real and raw, the humor and liveliness of the prose such fun to follow, and the feelings of that time in a teenager’s life when everything can go from awful to awesome in a heartbeat are so vividly captured. You won’t want to put it down. But my advice is slow down and savor this delightful book, full of cariño, funny and heartfelt, and (spoiler alert) not just for teens.”

— Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

ABOUT CAROL WESTON

Carol Weston was born in Armonk, New York, but lives in Manhattan. She’s a Phi Beta Kappa comparative literature graduate of Yale, with an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. She’s been on the Today show and Oprah, and The View. She loves cats, walks, art museums, and her husband Rob makes a mean paella. Carol has two daughters; one works for NBC and one co-started Birch Benders Micro-Pancakery. CONNECT WITH CAROL WESTON Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter CONNECT WITH KidLit TV Facebook Group Facebook Page | Newsletter | Pinterest | Twitter YouTube StoryMakers Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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17. Egyptian Author Jailed for Sexual Content in Book

lifelifelifeEgyptian author Ahmed Naji will serve two years in prison for writing “sexually explicit” content in his book, Using Life.

The sentence comes after the novelist was found guilty of violating public modesty laws when an excerpt from his book was published in a magazine. CNN has the scoop:

A man had complained that Naji’s writings caused him heart palpitations, sickness and a drop in blood pressure. Prosecutors took the case to court, arguing that Naji’s use of “vulgar” phrases to describe genitals and sexual intercourse constituted a “disease destroying social values.”

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18. Lauren Dane Inks Multi-Book Deal With 2 Harlequin Imprints

Lauren Dane (GalleyCat)Lauren Dane has landed a deal with two Harlequin imprints. According to the press releaseAngela James, an editorial director at Carina Press, will edit all of Dane’s manuscripts.

HQN Books will publish Dane’s contemporary romance series, the Whiskey Sharp trilogy. Book one will be released in Spring 2017.

Carina Press will re-release two 2007 titles from Dane’s Cherchez Wolf Pack series. The new editions of Wolf’s Ascension and Sworn to the Wolf will come out this year. (Photo Credit: David Hiller)

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19. Ruta Sepetys and Marissa Meyer Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

Stars Above (GalleyCat)We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Feb. 7, 2016–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #1 in Young Adult) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys: “World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.” (Feb. 2016)

(Debuted at #6 in Children’s Fiction Series) The Lunar Chronicles: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: “The enchantment continues…The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories – and secrets – that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic.” (Feb. 2016)

(Debuted at #12 in Hardcover Fiction) The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel: “In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.” (Feb. 2016)

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20. Harlequin TEEN and Seventeen Magazine Team Up to Form a New Imprint

Harlequin TEEN LogoHarlequin TEEN and Seventeen Magazine have partnered up to launch a new imprint called Seventeen Fiction. The editors plan to work on a variety of projects such as novels,  lifestyle manuals, advice books, and nonfiction digital books.

According to the press release, the executives behind this imprint “will focus on multi-dimensional and empowered fictional female characters and explore topics and situations that authentically reflect the challenges and joys of being a teenager today, just as Seventeen does across all platforms.” Natashya Wilson, an executive editor at Harlequin TEEN, has already acquired the first manuscript: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz.

The story “follows the daughter of immigrant parents who is living the American dream—until her world shatters when she learns she is ineligible to receive the National Scholarship Award because her family is in the country illegally and may be deported.” The release date has been scheduled for Fall 2016.

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21. Classroom Connections: The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price
genre: contemporary with magical realism
age range: 8-12
setting: Cincinnati
Jennifer Maschari’s website
discussion guide

Jennifer Maschari’s debut novel is a work-out for the heart. Charlie Price has to make a terrible choice between what has been and what could be, and readers will stick with him every poignant, suspenseful step of the way. Charlie’s journey is more than remarkable. It’s unforgettable.
–Tricia Springstubb, author of Moonpenny Island

What a beautiful book Jen Maschari has written—a brave and big-hearted exploration of the sustaining power of friendship and the infinite treasure of memory our loved ones give us.
— Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy

Beautifully crafted sentences read almost as if they were poetry…Fans of both fantasy and realistic fiction will appreciate this painful but ultimately triumphant, multilayered novel.
— School Library Journal, starred review

A beautifully written meditation on grief … Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline”
— Booklist

Please tell us about your book.

My book is a middle grade novel about a boy named Charlie who thinks he is doing okay after the death of his mother. He has Mathletes, he has school, and he has his friends. But then his little sister, Imogen, finds a passageway under her bed to a world very much like their own, with one key difference: Mom is alive. But things are not as they seem. Charlie needs to find out the truth of this alternate world before he loses himself, the true memory of their mother and Imogen, forever.

My book has a little bit of everything: magic, math, hope, and a really great dog named Ruby.

What inspired you to write this story?

There are a lot of things that inspired the writing of Charlie’s story. My father passed away when I was younger so I think a lot of those feelings of loss and sadness and trying to find a new “okay” gave this story roots. I wrote the book that my younger self needed.

I also tutor students in math and used to teach fifth grade science. Charlie’s always been a mathematician to me. It was really interesting to contrast Charlie’s love of math (and its unchanging nature) with his constantly evolving feelings, hopes and understandings. Charlie wants there to be concrete answers, but life doesn’t always give them to you.

What are some interesting things you learned when researching for this book?

I did a lot of interesting research for this book. This research involved both using books and the internet to find answers.

Even though I grew up in Cincinnati where the book takes place, I made sure to look at maps of the area where Charlie lived. This added an extra layer of authenticity to his comings and goings (though I did take a few liberties). Google Maps was a great resource for this. Not only did I get to look at the street layouts but I also could look at pictures of the area. I researched the stars, constellation stories, different mathematical terms, and telescopes. An observatory in Cincinnati plays an interesting role in the story, and I e-mailed with the director to get the floor plans and discuss what could actually be seen by the telescopes. I love learning new things.

What are some special challenges associated with writing magical middle grade?

Defining the rules of magic was certainly a special challenge I had to face in writing this book. In an early draft, all kinds of magical things just happened at different times. I had to take a step back and actually write the rules down so I could refer to them as I was revising. It’s just like in real life. For example, take gravity. We know if we jump up, that we will come back down to earth. It’s what we expect. I had to build in that level of expectation with the magic. If this one thing happens, it causes this magical thing to happen, and I had to be consistent throughout.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

I truly believe that books act as mirrors (reflecting back our own experiences) and windows (allowing us to see into the lives of others). I hope that this book would reach kids who are facing difficult things in their lives – whether it be a death of a loved one or something else entirely – and let them see it’s possible to come out the other side. Books build empathy and allow safe spaces for kids to experience different emotions and situations. I hope that my book allows for that as well.

I think my book also has a lot of opportunities for cross-curricular connections:
-outer space (stars, orbits)
-math (variables, equations, Möbius strip)
-the constellations (stories and history behind them)

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Classroom Connections: The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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22. President Barack Obama Praises Harper Lee

President Barack H. Obama (GalleyCat)The world has been mourning the passing of Harper Lee. President Barack Obama (pictured, via) wrote a post on Facebook to praise the To Kill a Mockingbird author.

Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s post: “Ms. Lee changed America for the better. And there is no higher tribute we can offer her than to keep telling this timeless American story – to our students, to our neighbors, and to our children – and to constantly try, in our own lives, to finally see each other.”

Many members of the publishing industry have also spoken out in remembrance of Lee including HarperCollins publisher Michael Morrison, literary agent Andrew Nurnberg, and Amazon Books editorial director Sara Nelson. Do you have a favorite quote from To Kill a Mockingbird or Go Set a Watchman?

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23. Simon & Schuster to Publish Book on Tiger Woods

Golf legend Tiger Woods will be the subject of a new biography from Simon & Schuster. The book has yet to be titled or given a release date.

Journalists/book authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian are writing the book.
Jonathan Karp, President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster, and Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster acquired world, audio, and first serial rights to the project from literary agent Richard Pine of Inkwell Management.

The authors have spent the last year doing research and interviews for the book. The book will chart Woods’ rise to success in golf and business and his decline in recent years since his tabloid divorce.

“Our approach has been to gather and digest everything we possibly can,” stated Keteyian. “We’re also talking to a lot of people that haven’t talked previously. It’s clearly been a complicated, unmatched, and well-chronicled, rise, fall, and return. But there’s more. A lot more. And I believe the end result will captivate sports fans and fans of big, sweeping biographies.”

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24. Iran Reinstates Bounty on Rushdie

State run media outlets in Iran are collaborating on a new bounty for the capture of author Salman Rushdie.

Forty organizations have pooled $600,000 to pay for the capture of Rushdie. The new fatwa comes 27 years after the original banning of “The Satanic Verses” in Iran for “blaspheming” Islam. The Guardian has more:

The fatwa provoked an international outcry and caused the UK to sever diplomatic relations with Iran for nearly a decade. In 1998, Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami said the fatwa was “finished”, but it was never officially lifted and has been reiterated several times, occasionally on the anniversary, by Iran’s current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and other religious officials.

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25. Cover Unveiled for New Mindy McGinnis Book

Female of the Species Cover (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Mindy McGinnis’ forthcoming book, The Female of the Species. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

According to Epic Reads, this will be McGinnis’ first contemporary young adult novel. Prior to this, “Mindy’s book have all been either historical and dark or post-apocalytpic and dark.”

In a blog post, McGinnis revealed that this project also features “my first attempt at writing a male main character and my first book with multiple POV’s.” Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, has scheduled the publication date for September 20.

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