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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Books I Love, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 26
1. Audacity Jones Steals the Show



Just finished this beauty.

So much to love.

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson

Two words: TOTAL PACKAGE

It has mystery and humor and adventure.

It has a cat and an elephant.

It has HOUDINI!!!


So many things to love about the writing.

I love how Kirby speaks to the reader so seamlessly, without pulling us out of the story. In fact, quite the opposite...she lets us in on the fun:

I know, dear reader, it causes you to shudder as it does me.

I love the absolute SEAMLESS incorporation of historical details:

Not a kid-leather boot nor starched pinafore to be seen in either direction.

Audie inhaled deeply of the automobile fumes, the horse dung, the frankfurter carts, the fishy aromas from the Hudson River. "Just smell all that life!" She turned in a complete circle, arms wide, opening herself to the wonders of Manhattan.

I adore the language, sometimes soft and lilting, sometimes just plain old sparkly:

It smelled of hay and apples and something else: The young thing reeked of sorrow.

A murmur wobbled its way through the crowd.

And Kirby has never been one to write down to young readers. She tosses in so many yummy words, like PERFIDY. 

So much to love about this one.

AND.....I'll send this ARC along to the first person to tell me so in the comments. 

5 Comments on Audacity Jones Steals the Show, last added: 12/29/2016
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2. Kate the Great and a Giveaway

Suzy Becker must be a ten-year-old girl disguised as a grown-up because she NAILS her adorable character Kate in her new book, Kate the Great: Winner Takes All.


Kirkus says: "A zippy little visit with a likable 10-year-old"

ZIPPY is the perfect word.

Reading this book gave me so many flashbacks and stirred up happy memories from my own childhood.

Like speaking ubbi dubbi. Anybody remember that? The kids on the TV show, Zoom, used to do it. 

Dubo yubou ububbi dububbi?

And the egg thing!

Someone breaks an imaginary egg on your head. Remember that?

From the book:

I sit on the edge of her other bed.  "I'll do the egg thing." After three imaginary eggs, I'm feeling very sleepy.

Warning!!

Do NOT read this book if you don't want to laugh because it is so dang funny.

You WILL laugh. 

A lot.

But the best, best, best parts of this book are the hysterical drawings and handwritten notes.

Here are some of my favorites:


Gene is the school bus driver






This book has kid-appeal written all over it.

Kate is definitely great. 

And so is Suzy Becker.

Because she's GIVING AWAY A COPY!!

Just leave a comment below by 10/27. (I'll also be asking for retweets on Twitter.)  

Kate the Great: Winner Takes All is the sequel to Kate the Great: Except When She's Not, published by Crown Books. Available in stores November 1. 

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3. Love That Cow

Okay....could I love that cow any more?
I don't think so.
Do I adore the work of Sharon Creech?
Um, heck YEAH!

I love this book so dang much.






"...the smells and the heat and the noise were pouring in the windows and squeezing us from all sides."

*Sigh*

"It seemed they didn't want to waste friend effort on someone who was leaving town."

*Sigh again*

"The voice full of honey but the words...not."

*Big heaving sigh*

This book VIBRATES with action and sounds.....the WORDS:

Lurched
Ambled
Lumbered
Skittered
Lunged
Careened

Clambering
Zooming
Ogling
Screaming
Vibrating
Wailing
Bellowing

And then there is this:

"Sometimes an hour is a blink
A flash
A wink, a flicker
A dashing gallop
And sometimes
An hour stretches
Thuddingly
Second by second
An endless
Eternity
of drips"

THUDDINGLY?

Who even thinks up that word?

I really, really, really loved this book.

And so will you.

 


 

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4. Gertie's Leap to Greatness


The number one quality of books I love is a distinct writing voice.

Well, hold onto your Twinkies, cause this one's got voice and then some.


Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

This is Kate Beasley's DEBUT novel. 

But she writes like a long-time pro.

You can't help but fall in love with dear Gertie.

The story races along at a pitch perfect pace.

And the illustrations are adorable.

But the writing voice!

And the humor!

Aunt Rae's nostrils would flare, and she'd heave herself off the sofa with a humph and start cleaning the house so violently that Gertie felt sorry for the dirt and grime.

Seat-stealer she thought in the nastiest voice she could imagine, and she felt even better.


Jessica Walsh sounded like someone who needed to have dirt rubbed in her face.

What kind of person said bath tissue? A Mary Sue Spivey kind of person, Gertie guessed.

Gertie watched the back of Mary Sue's head, and she wondered why some people read better and had yellow hair and got to wear lip gloss and meet famous people and sit in the front row. And she wondered why she wasn't one of those people.

They were the gray crayons nobody cared about. They were the so-so students. They were the last-place losers and the skinned-kneed nobodies, and Gertie was their queen.



I could go on and on but I won't.

I'll just tell you that you should read this book.

The bad news?

It's not out until October 4.

SORRY

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5. The Honest Truth


Here's my two-word review of Dan Gemeinhart's 

THE HONEST TRUTH:


UM....WOW!!!!!!


What a story!

It's an adventure story..
a survivial story..
a cancer story..
a dog story..
a friend story..
a dang good story.

Read it.



Coming in January from Scholastic 

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6. El Deafo


I loved this little gem.


I've worn one of those special microphones while in classrooms many, many times.

I usually don't know which kid needs it.

Now, having read this charming memoir, I feel like I have much more understanding of the experience of hearing-impaired students.

This book is honest and sweet and funny and surely gives every reader a whole lot more empathy.

A gem.

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7. Stay, Clementine, stay!!!



Now I have to do it again.

And guess what?

This is the LAST one in the series.

Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla Frazee


Bummer.

But this one delivers everything I've grown to love about this series.

Super funny, OF COURSE.

But I love how Clementine has matured through the series yet still remains her childish, lovable self.

I love how her relationship with Margaret has evolved.

I adore her parents and how they're present but not overly so.

I love Clementine's relationship with her teachers.

In this one, Clementine struggles to stay mad at her father for eating meat, laments having to say goodbye to her beloved third-grade teacher, and spends some hilarious time at a fancy hotel with her friend, Margaret.

This last installment is definitely, Completely Clementine.

You can read more at Pennypacker's website HERE.


(Coming from Disney/Hyperion March 2015)



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8. One Witch at a Time


I absolutely loved The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser.

Click HERE for proof.

And NOW.....

here's One Witch at a Time


Man, that Stacy can tell a tale!

While The Brixen Witch was a clever spin on the Pied Piper story, One Witch at a Time is a clever twist on Jack and the Beanstalk.

Such a fresh idea.

Masterfully written.

To quote the jacket flap:

 Magic and mayhem make for a funny, fast-paced adventure in this twisty tale of witchery times two!


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9. Just Stop It, Jo Knowles


Come on, Jo Knowles.

Stop pretending to be a grown-up.

Because I know better.

You are a teenager.

You MUST be. 

Because you just NAIL the teen voice in your amazing new book.

Read Between the Lines

I mean, no grown-up I know writes:

"Simon!" I yell, just to harsh his mellow.

 or can create such achingly realitic teen characters...
....like Sapphie...

Whatyoulookinat
She said it loud and tough. Fast. Like the four words were one.
Whatyoulookinat

 I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

 Jo Knowles and I go way back.

We knew each other online and then at a conference somewhere (they all moosh together for me)....
she was going down the escalator...
...and I was going up the escalator.

We recognized each other and smiled and waved and that was the best we could do.

But then at an NCTE conference in 2009 we finally got to meet properly. (Or maybe it was the same conference. They all moosh together.)

Jo Knowles (right) and me

THEN in 2011, we were on a panel together at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA.
We corresponded by email about our presentations and we each confessed that we were freaking out a little bit.

Ever since then, we have affectionately referred to ourselves as the Freak Sisters.

And, by the way, we survived that presentation.
 No freak-out necessary.



[Note: I blurred her signature because I don't like to post signatures online.]




Read Between the Lines is AMAZING.

I loved it SO much.

From the flap copy:

The voices of seemingly ordinary teenagers speak loud and clear of the complex dance that is life in a small town. Over the course of a single day, these characters orbit one another in their innocent attempts to understand and be understood.

So run, don't walk, and get this book.

And, yo, Jo....high five, Freaky!!!

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10. Book Love


Loved.

Read it.

Trust me.

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11. Audacity Jones to the Rescue




AUDACITY JONES TO THE RESCUE
by



I love this one so much.

Why, you might ask?

Well, first of all, it's KIRBY LARSON, y'all.

I started circling sentences I loved and before long the whole dang book was circled.

For instance, "Miss Maisie's barley-water breath traveled the length of the scarred mahogany table arriving well before her reprimand."

"Miss Maisie's smile wobbled in her pasty face."

"He felt the wings of freedom sprouting at his shoulders."

And it's funny.

"I don't like danger," said Bimmy. "It's too dangerous."

"Her sit-upon especially ached."

The descriptive details are luscious.

"...the scent of the desert about him."

"...the gray flannel afternoon sky.."
 
The word choices are perfection.
Squinched
Quailed
Gustatory
Salubrious
Olfactory conundrum
It's adventurous
and mysterious
and a darn good yarn. 
AND
There's a character named Mrs. O'Connor who was named after me! (But that in no way influenced my opinion of this lovely book -  but might have made me love Kirby Larson a SQUINCH more than I did before, if that's possible.)
So run,
Don't walk,
To your nearest indie bookstore
For this one.



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12. Cynthia Surrisi is in the House (and giving away a book!)

I'm excited to welcome fellow Asheville middle grade author, 


Cynthia Surrisi, who has stopped by to answer some questions about her terrific new middle grade novel: The Maypop Kidnapping, just published by Carolrhoda Books.






Don't you just love this cover?


From the publisher: In the coastal village of Maiden Rock, Maine, Quinnie Boyd's teacher has disappeared. Quinnie thinks it's a kidnapping case, but her mom, the town sheriff, just thinks the teacher has left town. Still, Quinnie's going to follow her instincts that something's wrong.

AND.....you can win a signed copy!

How?

Just leave your name and email address in the comments.

That's it!

Go ahead.

Do it! 

Winner will be drawn March 21.

But now....let's chat with Cynthia:

Why did you choose to write a mystery for your first book?

I have been a mystery reader since childhood. I read every mystery that was available to me, which included all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. I had a friend in 4th grade (I've blocked out her name and you'll see why) who owned all of them, but she would only loan them to me one at a time and only for one overnight each. Mean, huh?

That meant I had to read them under the covers with a flashlight. In retrospect, it enhanced the spookiness of the stories and certainly kept my pulse racing. There was no question as to whether I would turn the next page. As a result, I was really tired a lot in 4th and 5th grade, but the rhythm of a mystery became central to my reading experience.

Do you find there is anything unique about writing a mystery?

Starting in 4th grade, I crafted my own series in spiral bound notebooks. It was called The Twins of Cherrystone Farm. Wow, were those two sisters meanies to each other, but they stuck together when it counted. They solved the mysteries of the stolen gym socks, scandalous unsigned notes, angry valentines, and tons of other middle grade drama of the time. They were filled with tons of spooky suspicions that never went anywhere. For good or ill, they are long lost.


Here's the budding author in kindergarten:



It wasn't until I got to my MFA program years later and had an advisor who was an experienced mystery writer that I learned that you don't write a mystery from the perspective of a reader. Meaning, you don't just start and lay down all kinds of fun and intriguing things with no clear idea of how you will tie them all together. It's too easy to plant then lose track of clues. Chekhov said it best: One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep.

So now, for me, mystery writing requires a very detailed plan. I have written four of them, and while I allow myself a lot of freedom in the actual story narrative, I plan out the mystery in a treatment. I write the backstory, then the opening, then the big reveal. This way I know where I'm going. And I keep track of the clues and red herrings in a chart. 

The blurb on the cover of your book says: The only thing that would make this book better is if it came with a Gusty Burger and a side order of lobster fries. I've never flown through a book so fast to find out whodunit.  

What exactly are Gusty Burgers and lobster fries, and is this a foodie book?  

Protagonist Quinnie Boyd's father owns Gusty's cafe. And yes, the cafe is central to the setting. In the book, everybody's eating and arguing over what they like and don't like. A teeny off-season town needs a little commerce. In this case, it's the lobster pound, the cafe and the real estate office.
A Gusty Burger is a burger on a toasted English muffin with onion and mustard. And don't try and add anything else to it or you'll be run out of Maiden Rock. Once someone asked for ketchup and Gusty shook his head and said, "Mister, I won't serve it to you that way."

The really special and delish dish at Gusty's are the Lobster Fries. These are crispy French fries served with a side of a melted butter, lemon and saffron sauce to dip them in. I'm leaving out the super secret ingredient. The locals love them and the summer people go nuts for them. Aside from that, Gusty serves lobster roll on a buttered split top bun (secret recipe), clam chowda, garlicky cole slaw, blueberry pies with those little Maine blueberries, and whoopie pie sliders. Oh, and every table gets a beat up wooden bowl of Cheese Nips.

What's the story on Moxie?

Don't get me started on Moxie! Well, okay. It's the first bottled soda in America and draws its flavor from gentian root. Originally, it was marketed as a cure-all and called Moxie Nerve Food. Moxie bottle wagons dispensed it at fairs and amusement parks all over the nation, but it really only caught on in New England, specifically Maine. 

The company's motto is "Live your life with Moxie." Who can't support that? I fall on the love-it side of the Moxie fence. Others, not so much. 

In the book, Quinnie's mom and teacher strongly disagree on the tastiness of the local beverage. 

Moxie
If you want to learn more about the history of this very interesting carbonated soda, click HERE.


Okay, it's time to talk about the nuns.

Those two sisters in Maypop have been in the back of my mind for many years, waiting for their turn in a story. They spring from my early years in Catholic school and my six-year-old desperate plea to Santa for a nun doll. 

Here is the nun doll I located on Etsy to replace my long lost Sister Josephine doll. It's like she's never been gone. 


I can't explain my fascination with nuns. Perhaps it's because they were rol models. Perhaps it's because they were costumed. I don't know. All I know is that I have always wondered what they might be like as fun characters, and now they exist in the book. 

I never wanted to be a nun, but when I was six, I did pin a scarf on my head like a veil and march imaginary children around the house telling them to hold their buddies' hands and not dilly dally. Like I say, role models. 

A craft question: Do you write what you know?

Writers talk about this all the time, don't we? The question is what does know mean in this context? My work arises out of a grand mishmash of everything I have been exposed to and experienced. I create from whole cloth, often riffing off of memories of place, incidents and people. Nothing is documentary. Nothing is biographical, except to say that when I challenge a character to feel something, I draw from my personal emotional well of feelings. I go to my heart. My mom was nothing like Sheriff Boyd, but I've had mother-daughter conflicts. I know what that tension feels like, how it can ache and hot it can challenge a tender young soul.

You moved to North Carolina recently from Hawaii. What have you found to be the biggest difference?

I'm originally from Minnesota and I knew a lot of North Carolina, so I haven't experienced any surprises. Not so with our pets. Our two dogs and cat had never experienced squirrels, turkeys, deer, cold, or snow. Wathcing them come face to face with Western North Carolina nature has been pretty hilarious.

This is a picture on day one. They're hyperventilating after seeing their first squirrel.

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13. Jessie's Mountain

Kerry Madden and I have a lot in common.

We write children's books.

We love the Smoky Mountains.

We have been to the Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama.

I loved the first two books in her Smoky Mountain (Maggie Valley) trilogy: Gentle's Holler and Louisiana's Song.

I just finished the third and (sniff sniff) last book of the trilogy: Jessie's Mountain.

Honestly, it was like visiting an old friend. I have grown to love and adore the Weems family of Maggie Valley. Kerry is a master of characterization - each and every member of that family is unique - from annoying little Jitters to grumpy old Grandma Horace to my favorite: the ever resourceful Livy Two.

I love Livy's feisty spirit and her observations about the people she encounters on her trip to Nashville to pursue her dream and save her family: the woe-is-me lady, Mr. Fancy Mustache Clerk, the devil-dog man.

Kerry's love of the mountains and her respect and admiration of the good-hearted mountain people is evident. She draws on her personal experience in her beloved mountains and takes us right along with her in her stories.

AND, you gotta love an author who writes this in her Acknowledgments:

When I first began to write Gentle's Holler, the first three Smoky Mountain books, I wrote it snappy, sappy, and sent it out lightning speed, hoping for a book deal yesterday.

Don't you just love that?

Now we gotta all start nagging Kerry to write more stories about the Weems.

You can find out more about Kerry here.

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14. Summer in May

Oh man. I thought the pub date for this amazing book was at the END of May. But it is OUT! OUT NOW! So you should rush out and buy it immediately!



Do you all know Andrea Beaty? She's one of the Three Sill Chicks. Not only is she an amazing picture book author (Iggy Peck, anyone? Doctor Ted? When Giants Come to Play?), but she is also now officially a brilliant novelist.

Cicada Summer is a beautiful story about a girl who has lost much. Her grief is so great it has silenced her. But she has spunk. And dreams. And she notices things that quiet people always do. Andrea's book is about more than loss and silence, though. It's about love and learning how to live. It's about discovering your voice and where you fit in your world—and how important that space is. I love this book.

I also love Andrea.



Can you guess who she is?

Here's a hint:

Yes, I stole that from her awesome Web site. :-)

Congratulations, Andrea!!! I'm so excited that your book is out in the world!!

xo

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15. Favorite Books

My favorite middle grade books* read (not necessarily published) in 2008.

Some of these are all about the writing.
Some of them are all about the story.
And some of them are all about both.


Alvin Ho Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things
by Lenore Look

The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street
by Sharon Flake


Chains
by Laurie Halse Anderson


The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale


Jessie's Mountain
by Kerry Madden


Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes
by Peggy Gifford


There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom
by Louis Sachar


The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt

*I actually consider Chains to be YA, but I think the rest of the world considers it middle gradish? I'd rather see it win the Printz than the Newbery. But that's just me.

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16. Writing Tip Tuesday

No, you're not going crazy. It is not Tuesday. But this got published today by mistake, so, oh well...heh!

The best writing tip in the world?

READ.

So....I offer this post as a testament to that.

I'm not a book reviewer and I don't play one on TV....so I wouldn't attempt to review this book.

But I AM gonna say how much I loved The Floating Circus by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.

First of all - the subject is fascinating: historical fiction about a circus on a boat, based on a real boat, called Floating Palace. Who knew?

But it's the writing that grabbed me with this one.

I mean, how can you not love a book that starts out:

I shoulda listened to my brother. Right follows Zach like a shadow, but wrong wears me like a skin.

I definitely had to lock the highlighters away while reading this library book, because my fingers were just itching to mark all the lovely sentences and phrases. (I suffer from OHD: Obsessive Highlighting Disorder.)

  • It smelled like dirty boys. And dirty boys are mean boys....
  • My family was a pile of rags now - shredded and torn.
  • Still, the corner felt safe and good, like vegetable soup on a rainy day.
  • Anger and fear took turns with me all night, so sleep did not find me until the pale lavender light wedged its way through the open door.
  • I couldn't picture myself in their top-buttoned world anymore. [I love that: top-buttoned world.]

Lovely writing.

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17. The Healing Spell


If you've never been to the bayous of Louisiana, buckle your seat belt and read The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

Talk about setting!!!!

Talk about sensory details!

Talk about rich characters!

Fascinating reading by an author I adore.

Read it.




Reviewed by Abby the Librarian.

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18. Books I'll Always Remember

There's a meme going around about what books will you always remember and why. I love seeing what books matter to people and I thought I'd share some of mine. Here are ten books I'll never forget:

Ramona Quimby Age 8
This is the first book I checked out of the library by myself! I was in kindergarten. It was the first chapter book I ever read. I thought every chapter was a story because they had titles! At first I read them out of order, based on which one sounded most interesting, but then I figured it out. (Also cool, the grandmother's last name was Kemp!)


Bridge to Terabithia
And thus began my love for sad books where people die.

Inexplicably, this audio book was one that they played over the loudspeakers when we went to bed at school camp. Nothing like being 10, far from home in the middle of the woods, and listening to the story of a little girl who dies alone in the woods!

Tuck Everlasting
And thus began my love for sad books about immortal people who wish they could die.






Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
I think I read this book around 20 times between 4th and 6th grade.






A Wrinkle In Time
Thus began my love for all things time travel, sci-fi, and fantasy.







Pet Semetary
The first truly scary book I read. I was 12 and I made the mistake of reading it one night when I was home alone.






The Stand
It was over 1000 pages! And awesome.







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19. Read this book



I loved Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

by Brenda Woods.



Combine one brilliantly-portrayed character (clarinet-playing Saint), the colorful setting of New Orleans, one heart-tugging stray dog, and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and you have one wonderful read.

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20. Carolyn DeCristofano is in the house!


At my celebratory book launch lunch. 
Double yikes.

 The talented author, Carolyn DeCristofano, is in the house today to talk about her amazing new nonfiction book for children, A Black Hole is NOT a Hole (illustrated by Michael Carroll) and her writing process.


This fascinating book has garnered oodles of rave reviews, including a starred review from Booklist:


"...this book will snatch readers from their orbits and fling them into a lasting fascination with nature's most attractive phenomena."


And a starred review from Kirkus:


"Stargazers will be entranced, and even those not especially attuned to matters celestial will come away feeling smarter, awestruck and with a sense of finally understanding this fascinating, other-worldly phenomenon. An excellent resource. Hole-y astronomy!"

So, let's get started!

Carolyn, you have a real gift for making science understandable to those of us who aren't science-oriented. But you also make reading science such a pleasure with your lovely language. Can you tell us a bit about that writing process?


Thank you, Barbara! It’s an honor to hear you use “lovely” to describe my writing!


I am still learning what my writing process is like; here’s what I know so far.


When I have extended periods for writing—which is rare—my process involves a lot of napping and fridge check-ins. You never know when the contents of the fridge are going to spontaneously move around on you. Gotta’ keep your eye on that hummus (or ice cream in the freezer).


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21. Lisa Graff is in the house!!

Lisa Graff
Today I have the pleasure of being joined by the uber funny, talented author Lisa Graff.

We're celebrating the publication of Lisa's hilarious new middle grade novel, Double Dog Dare. This book has Lisa Graff written all over it: funny, quirky, upbeat, and full of heart.



Want to win a free copy? Details following the interview below. 



Lisa was here back in 2010 discussing her delightful Sophie Simon Solves Them All.

I raved about her amazing The Thing About Georgie back in 2007.

I had the pleasure of working with Lisa when she was an editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. We clicked from day one and have been clicking ever since.

So without further ado, let's get started.

Okay, Lisa, be honest now. You write so well about kids double dog daring one another to do crazy stunts. Which one of the dares below would you REALLY do?

I double dog dare you to sing a chapter of your book on the subway.

I double dog dare you to tap dance in Central Park with your underwear on your head.

I double dog dare you to do any one of the dares in Double Dog Dare and put it on YouTube.


Oh man, I am such a chicken when it comes to dares! (That’s why I just write about them.) But if I had to pick, I would probably go with the YouTube dare. I could do the one Kansas has to do in the book where he duck tapes an ice cube to the crook of his arm until it melts. It sounds painful and sort of awful, but if a fictional character can pull it off and still look cool, surely I can too, right???


I LOVED those pics you used to post on your blog of you doing beauty experiments. I double dog dare you to post some of those.


Ha, all right! (For those not in the know, several years ago I attempted to follow all of the beauty advice from six beauty magazines for six months. It was very weird and very exhausting, but I did get some good stories out of it.) 


Here’s a

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22. Rain Reign

As all good Girls Scouts know (and I was one),
their motto is:
BE PREPARED



So
when you read Rain Reign by Ann Martin

which (witch) you must (mussed)...

Be prepared....

...to love a character (or 2) with all your heart

...to hate a character (and maybe understand him a teeny bit but still hate him)

...to have your heart broken

...to ride an emotional roller coaster

...to have more understanding of Asperger's syndrome

...to have more empathy for children with Asperger's syndrome

...to love this book

Trust (trussed) me 


(Coming October 2014 from Feiwel and Friends)

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23. Island of Time

I had a super busy school year with school visits and conferences and such. 

After that I hit the ground running, or rather sitting, pen and paper in hand. (Yes, I write longhand.)



I had a wonderful jumpstart at a writers retreat with my home girls.

(l to r) Kirby Larson, Winston the Wonder Dog, Susan Hill Long, Augusta Scattergood, me)

Came home and stayed focused despite the gorgeous New England summer weather and my gardens and other distractions calling to me.




My only breaks have been a stroll at beach or bog with the dogs. 


But today I'm floating on a little island of time.

I have no idea exactly what that phrase means, but I like it, so I'm using it.

My work-in-progress is temporarily simmering on the back burner, ready to be buffed and polished and Bo-toxed into shape.

So today I'm free floating and it's been bliss.

Started the day with a 5:30 bog walk. (I have to time my visits so there aren't any other dogs for my shelter dog to fist fight with. She sometimes has, um, issues.)



Then I came back and picked fresh flowers from the garden (which look a little limp now but, oh well).



And THEN, I've been hunkered down with this all day.

Song Writers on Song Writing by Paul Zollo

Writers, songwriters, readers, music lovers, and anyone who isn't dead would love this.

It's a big fat book full of interviews with the BEST songwriters.



Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, Lou Reed, k.d. lang, Merle Haggard.....on and on and on.

I find myself whipping out the yellow highlighter every few minutes.

Feeling even more inspired to get back to my simmering word pot.

Signing off from my Island of Time

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24. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

I've never read Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson books.

I mean, so many books, so little time, and all that.

But I've made no secret of my love of her writing.

And now I've just finished Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (a spin-off of the Mercy Watson series).

I fell in love with that little cowboy dude and his trusty horse, Maybelline.



I mean, that Kate is all about VOICE.

I finally quit highlighting because, what's the use....it's all so dang good.

But here are a few of my faves:

I hope he is a fast horse, he thought. And I hope that he is strong. I will call him Tornado. Leroy found this name so pleasing he had to stop walking and hold himself very still and properly consider the glory of the word.

Patty LeMarque helped Leroy Ninker up on Maybelline's back, and right away Leroy Ninker noticed that the world was different from the top of a horse. The colors were deeper. The sun shone brighter. The birds sang more sweetly.

You got to listen in this world, Hank. You got to pay attention to the informational bits that people share with you.

This is the worst night of my life, thought Leroy. If there is anything worse than being a cowboy without a horse, it is being a cowboy who had a horse and then lost her.

Okay, I'll stop there.

You get the point.

I loved this little book.

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25. The Way to Stay in Destiny






I've been dying to get my mitts on an ARC of Augusta Scattergood's latest middle grade novel: The Way to Stay in Destiny.

Well, I finally did....and boy, oh, boy.....what a colorful cast of characters pulled me into this one!

**A piano-playing, baseball loving boy

**A tap-dance hating, baseball loving girl

**A good-hearted former Rockette, now running the Rest Easy Rooming House and Dance Academy

**An angry Vietnam War veteran fighting a whole heap of demons


Set in the steamy heat of tiny Destiny, Florida ("The Town that Time Forgot"), Scattergood's latest is packed with heart, humor and Hank Aaron.

What's not to love? 


Coming from Scholastic January 2015

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