Monday, September 30, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Three Times Lucky

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick is not only funny, but also a mysterious murder mystery that takes place in the small town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. My son and I both read it this week at separate times with competing bookmarks. He finished it first and was just dying to spill the ending. Luckily I finished it before he gave anything away!

by: Sheila Turnage
Dial Books for Young Readers 2012

From Goodreads:
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Why Kids Will Love It - The humor, adventure and mystery are enough to draw in any middle-grade reader into the story. My son was drawn in from the first chapter and couldn't put it down until all the answers had been revealed. We are both excited for the sequel coming out next year - THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING.

What I learned as a writer - The mastery of language is what stood out for me in this book. And the way Turnage shared details about the characters was so seamless, the reader doesn't even realize she is doing it. This is a book where the setting is it's own character, without it the book wouldn't be what it became - 2013 a Newbery Honor Book.

Another exciting note - Tomorrow nominations open for the Cybils! If you know of a great children's literature book that has high literary value and "kid appeal" then stop on by and nominate. I thought I would share my fellow panelists for the first round of judging. Check out their blogs for more kidlit fun!
Have a great week!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel & an announcement!

This week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is by my new writing friend and fellow Michiganian, Ruth McNally Barshaw. Ruth is one of those special people in the writing community who are not only talented and smart, but share their knowledge about writing, the business and everything in between with others. Ruth and I spent some quality time together traveling to and from and during the Indiana SCBWI Picture Book Day a couple weekends ago. If you missed my post on that, catch it here

Ruth's book that I'm sharing today is the first in her Ellie McDoodle highly illustrated series. She is currently finishing up book six, and I was able to see how she puts the book together for her editor as she writes and illustrates each page. Very cool! Now, on to the book.

by: Ruth McNally Barshaw
Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books 2007

As you can see I put two different covers up. The first is the original hardcover and the second is the new hardcover edition with a slightly new name to the series - The Ellie McDoodle Diaries

Description from Ruth's website:
One girl. One sketchbook. One week of camping with the world's most annoying relatives!

Ellie McDougal (better known to her friends as McDoodle) is being held prisoner . . . by her aunt, uncle, three annoying cousins, and baby brother, Ben-Ben. Sentenced to a camping trip with them while her parents are out of town, Ellie is absolutely, positively determined to hate every single minute of it. Thank goodness she at least has her sketch journal in which to record all of the excruciating (and, ahem, funny) details. But how will Ellie keep her journal from falling into Er-ick the Enemy's hands? And what will happen if -- inconceivable! -- she actually starts having fun? 

Part graphic novel, part confessional journal, part wilderness survival guide, Ellie's story is a treat for young campers, vacationers, or any kid looking to curl up with a great summer read

Why Kids Will Love It: The voice! Ellie shares all her thoughts in her drawings and the text of the book making the reader feel like they ARE Ellie. Her adventures with her cousins are funny and very real.  Any child could picture themselves as Ellie.

What I learned as a writer: It is SO important to nail the voice of your main character!

I also have some exciting news to share with you all today.  I was picked to be one of the first round judges for the Cybils awards in the middle grade fiction category. I'm excited to begin reading and discussing with my fellow panelists. The nomination period opens October 1, so only a couple more weeks until we start!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. For other MMGM recommendations, see the list of my favorite blogs on my website.  Have a great week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Busy weekend and Facebook

It's been a busy weekend and I haven't had the time to get a blog post ready. So, next week I promise I will be back with a new Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. I did want to share that I now have an author page on Facebook! Please stop by for more tidbits and info on children's books and writing. I hope to share fun info throughout each week as I come across it. Just another spot to share kitlit love! 

Click on the links to the right on my website for other MMGM links. See you all next week! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Picture Book Day - Penguin Cha-Cha & Conference Recap

Today I'm featuring a brand new picture book that was written and illustrated by the wonderful Kristi Valiant. I had the chance to meet Kristi this weekend at Indiana SCBWI's Picture Book Day. She is as nice in person as I thought she would be. I will share more about the conference in a bit. 

by: Kristi Valiant
Random House 2013

From the jacket flap:
When penguins at a theme park become fascinated by the dancers who perform there, the typical penguin shuffle turns into a dance-floor extravaganza. And when Julia, a curious little girl, becomes fascinated by the penguins and their new hobby, she is determined to join in the fun.

Get ready to move, groove, whirl, and twirl with Julia and her penguin pals in this funny and spirited story.

Why kids will love it: Children love to move around, so seeing Julia and the penguins shake and dance will get them in the spirit. The onomatopoeia and lyrical language will have kids wanting it read over and over, and it is such a fun book that adults won't mind.

What I learned as a writer: Kristi's use of language is amazing and the text flows just like a book of dancing should. It is such fun to read!

For more penguin fun, check out the book website

Another cool aspect of this book is that Kristi does all her illustrating on the computer, even her sketching. Check out her website to see more of her work.

As I mentioned, I attended a picture book workshop this past weekend. The main speaker for the conference was Tammi Sauer. If you follow my blog, you know how much I adore Tammi's books. Not only did I get to hear her speak, but I got to spend some quality time with her. It was such a cool experience for me!  Check out some of her books that I've featured on my blog.

I would be remiss if I also didn't mention my traveling buddies and roommates for the conference - Leslie Helakoski and Ruth McNally Barshaw. They both shared so much information on writing and the business, my head is so full from all I learned.  I featured Leslie's newest book last month - Doggone Feet! and I will be sharing Ruth's books - the Ellie McDoodle books - soon.

I hope you have a great rest of the week. I will be back next Monday with a middle grade post. See you then!