Monday, July 30, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - One To Watch

For today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I would like to share a post by one of my favorite middle grade authors, Kathryn Fitzmaurice.  I loved her first two books, The Year the Swallows Came Early and A Diamond in the Desert.  Next spring, her third book Destiny, Rewritten will be released.  Read her post to learn more and see the entire book jacket!



For my favorite MMGM blogs, check out the list to the right.  I hope to be back next Monday with a brand new book to share!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

MMGM - Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House and Giveaway Winner

Before I get to my Marvelous Middle Grade Monday selection, I would like to announce the winner of an ARC of Tracing Stars signed by Erin E. Moulton.  And the winner is:

CLARA GILLOW CLARK

Congrats, Clara!  You will be receiving an email from me soon!

Now onto today's other business.

Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House
by: Haven Kimmel and pictures: Peter Brown
2008

If you're looking for a quick, easy read, this book is for you.  Here's the description from Goodreads:

Kaline Klattermaster LOVES his mom. ADORES his mom. But his mom can be, well, a bit forgetful sometimes. A bit lax. A bit...CRAZY. For instance, she's a bit crazy when she leaves him in the tub for THREE HOURS. Or gives him a chicken leg for breakfast...or forgets that he needs to go to school. AND he's not completely sure his mother understands how time works.

She's been even a bit MORE CRAZY since his dad left. So it's a very good thing that the folks in Kaline's tree house are not so crazy. They understand him. They don't mind that he sometimes HAS to play his pretend bugle, and, of course, they are FULL of good advice on how to handle bullies.

His mom hints that the tree house is imaginary. Kaline is UNCONVINCED.

Kaline is an unusual kid who has to deal with normal situations - his dad leaving, bullies at school and a neighbor he isn't sure he can trust. The writing style (misspellings; long, wordy sentences; lots of all CAPS) gets you into Kaline's head (he must have ADHD) and makes you feel like he does - fidgety, nervous and unsure.

I like the way the book ended and even though it was short, still showed how Kaline grew and matured by the situations he dealt with.

I hope you have a great week!  For more MMGM fun, check out my favorite links to the right.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Tracing Stars and a Giveaway

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
I know I don't normally do MMGM posts on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, but I have a great new book to share today as part of its blog tour - Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton. Keep on reading for more info, a Q&A with Erin and the details on how to participate in a giveaway of a signed ARC.

Tracing Stars
by: Erin E. Moulton
Philomel Books - May 2012

First a description (from Erin's website):
Indie Lee Chickory is the fish freak of Plumtown. She's an expert at making fish faces and has a pet, The Lobster Monty Cola, who lives in a salt-water pool outside her bedroom window. But while she likes fish very much, not everyone else does, which makes finding friends a little difficult. Sure there’s her older sister, Bebe, but she has other friends—and also has a starring role in the upcoming town musical, which has made her pretty popular. So when Indie accidentally brings Monty to school, to disastrous results, Bebe almost dies of embarrassment and Indie is left without anyone. No friends, no sister, and no lobster.

One night, Indie wishes on her favorite star. She wants to find the lobster Monty Cola and to be a better Chickory so that Bebe will like her again. But finding Monty and being a better Chickory is an all day and all night job. During the day, Indie works at the theater, showing Bebe and her friends how much she can fit in with their crew. And at night, she searches for her lost lobster by building a fishing boat up in a tree with Owen Stone, who works in the props shop. Everything seems to be going well—until Bebe and her gang make it clear that being friends with Owen is a ticket straight to loserville.

Can Indie keep her friendship with Owen a secret? And will doing so make her a better Chickory—or a worse one?

I absolutely loved this book! First it takes place by the ocean, which is always a setting I enjoy. The details and description make me feel like I'm right there in Plumtown. Secondly, the plot is very real and down-to-earth, something every middle-schooler can imagine happening to them. Indie and Bebe are true sisters and are dealing with issues that many siblings face. The book ends in a realistic way and shows how sometimes wishes can come true, just not in the way expected.

I would like to hand it over to Erin for a few questions.

Indie Lee Chickory is such an unusual name. How did you decide that would be the name of your main character?
I love naming my characters. I actually threw in Indie’s name at the outset of the project thinking it would change. As you know, Tracing Stars is all about individuality and so I thought Indie would be very fitting. Little did I know, it was just about the only thing from the outline that stuck!

Tracing Stars is written in first person. Was that the plan from the beginning or was it a trial and error decision?
Hrm, good question. I think my natural voice is in first person present tense. Sometimes I try to switch that around and it doesn’t feel easy. I find that if I am writing in another point of view or tense I have to focus very hard on it or I will automatically switch back into first person present randomly in the manuscript. I hope as I grow as a writer that other points of view will become more automatic.

I loved Tracing Stars and am adding Flutter to my to-read pile. Any other books in the works?
Yay! I hope you like FLUTTER! I do actually have two others I am working on. The easiest to explain--and the most developed--is a treasure hunt that takes place at Fort Ticonderoga. The story centers on an 11 year old history buff, Valore “the snore” Arbuckle, her dog, Petty Officer Boone, and her playground bully, Melanie Burkram, as they search for lost revolutionary war treasure.

And lastly, any words of wisdom for myself and other authors looking to make that first book sale?
I think the most important thing is to acknowledge what you are good at and use it! Authenticity is a big factor in any good story and you can’t write something truly authentic without digging deep and understanding what you know and what you can do.

Other than that, the will to persevere and keep your head in the game. Rejection is not easy, but you certainly aren’t going to get anywhere if you quit, so while you are subbing your work around pull something else out and start working on it. Let time do its thing.

Erin's Bio:
Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2007. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey (Philomel/Penguin 2011), and Tracing Stars (Philomel/Penguin 2012). Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association and is currently the YA librarian at the Derry Public Library. Erin lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband and puppy where she writes, reads, drinks tea and dreams. You can visit her online at http://www.erinemoulton.com/ or on Facebook as Erin E. Moulton (Author), or find her on twitter @erinemoulton.

I love Erin's advice and it's so true! Now, for the giveaway. Erin has generously offered a signed ARC of Tracing Stars to one of my followers. All you need to do to enter is be a follower (either via google or email) and leave a comment on this post by Saturday, July 14th at midnight EST. (US and Canada entries only, please.) I will give you an extra entry for sharing the post in some way, either via your own blog, Facebook or Twitter, just let me know in your comment.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! For other MMGM blogs that I love, check out my list to the right.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Picture Book Author/Illustrator Peter Brown

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on a much-needed summer vacation, but I do have a few picture books and authors I would like to share with you in the upcoming weeks.

A picture book author/illustrator I recently discovered and LOVE is Peter Brown. He has produced quite a few books, and I have two I would like to spotlight today.

THE CURIOUS GARDEN
Little, Brown and Company 2009
From Goodreads:
While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.

This is a great book showing children how one person can make a difference, no matter how small they may initially seem. The artwork really makes the book, and shows how author/illustrators can mesh their own words and illustrations together so magically.

CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS
Little, Brown and Company 2010
From Goodreads:
When Lucy, a young bear, discovers a boy in the woods, she's absolutely delighted. She brings him home and begs her mom to let her keep him, even though her mom warns, "Children make terrible pets." But mom relents, and Lucy gets to name her new pet Squeaker. Through a series of hilarious and surprising scenes, readers can join Lucy and Squeaker on their day of fun and decide for themselves whether or not children really do make terrible pets.

What a fun, unique book! I love this story told from the point of view of the bear. The set-up is similar to a comic book with a box of text on each page or page spread and bubbles for what the characters say. Children will love seeing the behavior of the boy and how it looks to an outsider. Adults will love the scenes too, as it may spawn better behavior in their own kids!

Be sure to check out Peter Brown's website http://www.peterbrownstudio.com/. Click around once you get there, it's a hoot! :)

For those of you who love middle grade, come back Monday to hear all about Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton. I'll be hosting a giveaway as well!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Charlotte's Web

Wow, I can't believe June is already over!  I'm back from my blogging break and have many fun books to share with you in the upcoming weeks. Today I'm featuring a classic that is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. I recently re-read the anniversary edition featuring a foreword by Kate DiCamillo.


CHARLOTTE'S WEB
by: E.B. White
original copyright 1952


This book that will never be outdated shows how strong the ties of friendship can be; whether human or animal. The world that E.B. White creates - where if you listen closely animals CAN talk - is perfectly believable, yet also magical. I love the way the details are woven into the story, the language and wording is amazingly simple and complex at the same time.


As I work to complete my own middle grade novel, re-reading this classic showed me so much about language and how to bring it to life for children.


For a detailed description of the book and other fun information, check out the Charlotte's Web Facebook page.

I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!  I will be back on Friday with a new favorite picture book author I just discovered. Next Monday I'm excited to preview and host a giveaway of the new middle grade novel Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton.

For other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, check out my favorite links to the right.