Sunday, November 23, 2014


Update: This website is under construction. I'm sorry for any images that are not displaying correctly.

Hello all! My post today is bittersweet for me. This post is going to be my last for awhile. I've become busy with so many things kidlit (SCBWI-MI Adcom and Book Fair chair at my boys' school) something needed to give. So, I've decided to stop blogging indefinitely. I will miss having you stop by and say hi, but I do hope you will follow me on other social media platforms where I will continue to share the books I read.

All books that I read I mark in Goodreads, so if we aren't already friends, send me a request!

Facebook - authorjenniferrumberger

Twitter - @J_Rumberger

Thank you for your readership over the years, and I hope to see you all around the blogosphere; and I will try and stop by your blogs for all your great book and writing posts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Masterpiece

Happy Monday! I'm sorry I've been absent for a couple of weeks, but I have a great book to share today. When I first heard the premise of Masterpiece, I knew it would be a fantastic read, and it didn't disappoint!

by Elise Broach and illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt and Company 2008

From Goodreads:
Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.

I loved this book! It has everything: great voice and characterization, amazing description and setting, a variety of relationships between the characters and beetles communicating with humans. As a fan of the Littles and the Borrowers growing up, I loved reading about Marvin and his family and how he was able to communicate with James in their own personal way. The art heist and following story (I don't want to ruin the ending) was exciting and fun and the mystery even had me guessing for a bit. This is a great book for both boys and girls and is a true middle grade novel.

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you all have a great week. I'm not sure how regularly I will be posting for the rest of 2014, as everything starts to get busy, but I do appreciate all of you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Mash-up: Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frank Einstein

For today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I would like to share two brand new books. One I had to read as soon as it was released and the other is the first in a new middle grade series that my son enjoyed.

LITTLE AUTHOR IN THE BIG WOODS - A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by: Yona Zeldis McDonough with illustrations by Jennifer Thermes
Christy Ottaviano Books 2014

From Goodreads:
Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

What can I say? This is a wonderful companion to the "Little House" books and can even serve as a great introduction to the entire series. I definitely recommend!

by: John Scieszka with illustrations by Brian Biggs
Amulet Books 2014

From Goodreads:
Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor . . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! Using real science, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers.

My nine-year-old enjoyed the first book in this new series and is looking forward to the next book coming out in early 2015. He enjoyed the robot characters and all the action. Definitely sounds like a fun book for boys!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you have a great week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

SCBWI - Michigan Fall Conference

Hi everyone! Sorry I don't have any books to share today. I spent the weekend on Mackinac Island for the SCBWI -Michigan's fall conference. It was such an inspiring weekend catching up with friends, getting to know friends better and making brand new friends. And that was just with the attendees! I also was able to chat with editors Christy Ottaviano and Arthur Levine who are both so smart and funny and so gracious to spend their weekend with us away from their families. Authors Candace Fleming and Laurie Keller were amazing to listen to and illustrator/author Eric Rohmann is just so talented. (Since I'm not an illustrator, I didn't end up in any of his breakouts.) I also attended agent Jodell Sadler's intensive on Pacing and it was chock full of so much good writing advice.

Thank you for stopping by and I will see you next week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Nest

Welcome! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a brand new book by debut author, Esther Ehrlich. I was able to read an arc from the publisher on NetGalley for my honest opinion. All thoughts in the post are my own.

by: Esther Ehrlich
Wendy Lamb Books 2014

From Goodreads:
For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. 

In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.

Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.

Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

What an amazing book! The more I read middle grade, the more I realize that I love realistic fiction, whether it be contemporary or historical, that has an MC and his/her family dealing with situations that could occur to anyone. In the case of NEST, Chirp is a fun, dancing, smiling girl who loves bird-watching and living along the ocean. But as Chirp’s mom’s medical condition deteriorates, she experiences emotions and situations that would be hard for any 11-year-old to deal with. At this point, she begins her friendship with Joey, the boy who lives across the street. Seeing the bond grow between these two, neither of whom has an ideal family life, was enjoyable and heart-wrenching at the same time. Yes, I will agree that this book contains some heavy topics, but nothing that middle graders shouldn’t be able to handle and process. As a debut book, I’m very impressed and hope that Chirp and Joey’s story might continue in a second book.

For those of you who have reached my post today, Sunday, I purposely posted early to give you a chance to win an arc of NEST from my friend, Barbara Watson. If you are on Twitter, here is Barbara's tweet with the details. Her giveaway runs through tonight (9/14) 8pm CST. Good luck and thanks for stopping by today. Have a great week!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

I'm sorry I've been absent for a few weeks, but the end of the summer has kept me busy. That and the fact that I've pretty much completed my middle grade novel. Just a few tweaks to make and I will be ready to query. Yeah!!! This has been four years in the making, so it is a tremendous feeling to have it almost complete. At least until I have revisions with an agent/editor! :) For today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I've chosen a pick that was on my to-read list for a while, and I finally was able to read it. A fun read with so many underlying layers that also makes you think.

by: Donna Gephart
Delacorte Press 2012

From Goodreads:
Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.

One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her?

Any kid who is a fan of Jeopardy! will love this book. Intermixed with the lightness of the game show and Olivia's desire to be in the show are deeper issues many kids face - divorce and the aftermath of step-parents, etc., boy/girl issues, popularity in school and realizing how important each one of us is. I enjoyed the realness of the situations and the wrapping up of those emotions by Olivia, some happy and some sad.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to be more regular in my posting as we settle back into our school routine. I've been reading some great books lately that I can't wait to share with you. Have a good week!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Facebook giveaway!

In celebration of having 100 people "like" my Facebook page, I'm hosting a special giveaway. I have a paperback copy of BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu that has been signed by Anne herself. If you would like to win a copy of this fabulous middle grade novel, only two things are required:
1. If you have not done so already, LIKE my Facebook Author page -
2. Post a comment below that you have done so.

That's it!  If you would like an additional entry, share this post via social media and let me know that in the comments as well.

This giveaway is open only to US residents and will run until next Wednesday,  August 20th.  I will announce the winner on my Facebook page on Thursday, August 21st.

Good luck!


Monday, August 11, 2014

And the winner is....

And the winner of the ARC of OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY is 

Myrna Foster!

Congratulations, Myrna! Watch for an email from me.

Have a great week! I hope to have a new MMGM to share then.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Blogging Today

Thanks for stopping by today! I'm guest blogging over on Jenny Lee Sulpizio's Mom on a Mission blog. Please stop by and read my thoughts on being Perfectly Imperfect as a wife and mom.

And be sure to check out Jenny's new book, CONFESSIONS OF A WONDER WOMAN WANNABE.

And if you haven't entered yet, be sure to read last week's post on how to win an ARC of OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY.

That's all I have for this week. Have a good one!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and a GIVEAWAY

I'm back today with a new Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick. AND I have my gently read ARC I'm offering as a giveaway! Stay tuned to the end for a rafflecopter entry form.

by: Karen Foxlee
Alfred A. Knopf 2014

From Goodreads:
Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Quite an interesting book, and unlike any I have read for a while. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, but this, while it is definitely fantasy, does fall more into the fairy tale type of story. Ophelia is a strong heroine, and I enjoyed getting to see her grow throughout the book. For writers, this book is a great read for description and imagery without the excess words that many authors include. At times, I almost wished for more, but realize that would have changed the beauty of the language. Definitely a book for all middle graders, both boys and girls.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Here's the entry form to try and win my gently read ARC. Only US residents, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Picture Book Day with Kelly DiPucchio

I know I have been pretty absent from my blog over the past few weeks. Baseball with my boys has kept me very busy, that and I'm trying to squeeze more writing time in to finish the revisions on my middle grade novel. I wanted to make a point to post today, so I figure better late than never! (And now it is Tuesday, so just pretend it is Monday!)

Today I would like to share a brand new picture book by fellow Michigan author Kelly DiPucchio (love her!) and Brian Biggs. 

by: Kelly DiPucchio and Brian Biggs
Disney-Hyperion 2014

From Goodreads:
Charlie thinks his dog, Norman, has got it good: he gets to spend his days lounging on the couch or playing fetch, and he never has to do any homework. But when Charlie makes a wish to be a dog instead of a boy, things get a little topsy-turvy!

New York Times best-selling author Kelly DiPucchio's signature humor and Brian Biggs's bold, playful illustrations come together in a hilarious tale that proves that the grass always does look greener on the other side (even if that side involves drinking from the toilet!).

Another winner for Kelly DiPucchio! This time she teams up with Brian Biggs, who's illustrations faintly remind me of Charlie Brown. Although maybe that is because the main character's name is Charlie. :) This book shows kids that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but sometimes it takes stepping into someone else's shoes, or paws, to figure that out. Great books for boys and girls. (And I love that the dog's name is Norman!)

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you are interested in any of Kelly's other picture books, I have featured many others on my blog. Use the search function to find their posts. Have a great week!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Winner, a Cover Reveal and the Writing Process Blog Hop

I have so much to share today, so let's get right to it. First, I have a winner of the ARC of Blue Sea Burning by Geoff Rodkey.  Congrats to

Rosi Hollinbeck!

Second, I have exciting news. Fellow Michigan author, Tracy Bilen, has a second YA novel coming out next spring. Today I'm able to share the amazing cover of the book:

Isn't this such a cool cover? Tracy gave me a bookmark with the picture and it is even better when you see it in person! The book will be released in April 2015 by Tulip Romance (a division of Spencer Hill Press). Here's a brief description: 

When sixteen-year-old Kate hears the boom that ends her parents’ life, she doesn’t even realize it has anything to do with her. Until the police arrive at her front door.
Sent to live with her aunt at a ski school in Vermont, Kate tries to adapt to her new life. But then Kate’s aunt is hit by a speeding car and a rogue FBI agent tries to force Kate into his car at gunpoint. She’s saved by Ryan, the risk-taking skier she’s only just met.

On the run, the two must unravel the truth about her parents’ murder in order to stop a terrorist plot and save their own lives.

To find out more about Tracy and her upcoming novel, stop by her website

Now on to the final part of my post. Last week I was tagged by Patti Richards as part of the writing process blog hop. Patti is fellow Michigan author who I greatly admire. I remember when we first met a few years ago at a Lisa Wheeler boot camp. Not only was that day full of learning with Lisa, I also met a great writing friend and mentor. A year ago, Patti and I also became co-coordinators of the SE-Mitten Meet Up here in Michigan, which has been another great part of my writing life. To find out more about Patti and her writing of picture books, middle grade novels and more, stop by her website at

Now I'll share a bit about my writing process.

What are you currently working on?
My big push this summer is to complete a major revision of my middle grade novel. I'm feeling confident in this final stretch and am so grateful to my fellow critique partners who have helped me make it the best novel I can write. I also have a handful of picture book manuscripts that I will go back to once the novel is finished.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm trying to set my middle grade novel apart from others by working on honing my own personal writing voice. That is something no one else can replicate and what I'm striving to make my own. As I get deeper into my writing career, I'm feeling more and more at ease in maintaining my voice and writing style so my works can stand out as unique in their own right.

Why do I write what I write? 
I've always been a huge reader and had so many favorite books and authors when I was young. To be able to have an impact on a child through my writing is such an amazing feeling. Having DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE placed into the world in March was surreal. Children out in the world are reading my book and enjoying it. What an incredible gift to possess and share!

How does my individual writing process work?
This is a tough question, as I'm still feeling out different processes and what works for me. I definitely am a plotter, not a pantser. For my MG novel, I did a lot of background outlining, listing and plotting before even starting to write. Actually I did write the first chapter before doing any of that, but by now the first chapter has morphed into a completely different beginning.  Really getting into my characters and having a more detailed outline to use as I write helps keep me on track and motivated.

For picture books, I start with an idea (which I usually get from my PiBoIdMo journals), flesh it out a bit and get words down on paper. My picture books go through so much revising, I might try my detailed outlining process for my next idea and see how it goes.

So that's me and a bit about my writing process. I'm tagging my fellow MMGM blogger Deb Marshall (and also designer of our great logo!).  Deb is a children's librarian and lives to the north in Canada.  I also was able to get to know Deb better this past fall and winter as we were fellow judges for the middle grade fiction category of the Cybils awards. To find out about what Deb is currently writing click here and stop by her blog Read Write Tell on July 2 for her Writing Process Blog Hop post.

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Giveaway Reminder

I don't have a new book to share this week, but wanted to remind you that the giveaway of an ARC of BLUE SEA BURNING by Geoff Rodkey is still open. Click here for the rafflecopter entry form.

Have a great week!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Blue Sea Burning and a GIVEAWAY!

Today's the day - I finally have a giveaway for you! Last spring I featured the first two books in the Chronicles of Egg series by Geoff Rodkey - DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE and NEW LANDS. My thoughts can be found here and here. Today, I'm featuring the conclusion to the series - BLUE SEA BURNING and giving away an ARC. 

by: Geoff Rodkey
G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group 2014

From Goodreads:
After narrowly escaping the New Lands, Egg is determined to take down ruthless slave trader Roger Pembroke. But war is brewing among the Blue Sea's pirate gangs—and Egg, Guts, and Kira are running out of time to find the Fire King’s treasure and free the Okalu slaves from the silver mine on Sunrise. Can they save Kira’s people before Sunrise is plundered by Ripper Jones’s pirates? Will Burn Healy save the day, or has the legendary captain finally met his match? And will Egg ever win back Millicent from the annoyingly handsome Cyril?

This explosive conclusion to Egg’s journey delivers the ultimate combination of humor, heart, and white-knuckle adventure.

What a great conclusion to this fun series! I love all the twists and turns and adventure.  This is a great series for both boys AND girls, probably grade 5 and up.

I was lucky enough to receive an arc to offer in a giveaway. Thank you Penguin! The Rafflecopter entry form is below. I will announce the winner on Monday, June 23. No international entries, please.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the list of other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday bloggers to the left. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Next week GIVEAWAY!

Happy June!

Now that my family is really getting into the busy time of baseball season, I might not have a post every Monday.  But I'm sure you are all busy with summer just around the corner, so it shouldn't disappoint you too much! :)  I do have a few giveaways scheduled for this summer, though, so do stop by occasionally. Next Monday will be the first of the giveaways and it is for an ARC of a fantastic middle grade read that is perfect for summer!

See you next week!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Piper Reed, Navy Brat


As we honor the men and women who have kept our country safe and continue to do so, I thought today's choice for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday would be perfect. Enjoy!

by: Kimberly Willis Holt and Christine Davenier
Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company 2007

From the back cover:

Why Piper wishes she'd never moved from San Diego:
     1. She had a tree house there.
     2. She didn't have to share a room.
It’s not easy being the middle child, especially when your dad is a Navy Chief. Meet Piper Reed, a spunky nine-year-old who has moved more times than she can count on one hand. From Texas to Guam, wherever Piper goes, adventure follows, inspired by her active imagination, freewheeling spirit, and a bit of sister magic.

This is the first book in the Piper Reed series about the middle child of a Navy Chief. I loved this first book and would recommend it and the other Piper Reed stories to all young girl readers, especially those who are fans of Clementine or any other early chapter book series. The writing is simple and easy to understand, but doesn't talk down to the reader. Piper and her sisters, Tori and Sam, have a typical relationship and reading these books will give those who don't have family members in the military a glimpse into their lives. Piper is full of spirit and fun to read about.  Other books in the series include:

Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen
Piper Reed, Party Planner
Piper Reed, Campfire Girl
Piper Reed, Rodeo Star
Piper Reed, Forever Friend

Thank you for stopping by today!  And thank you to all our servicemen and women for protecting us and our country.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Picture Book Monday - Big Pigs

I'm back today with a funny new picture book I bought last week. It is by one of the SCBWI Michigan co-RA's, Leslie Helekoski. Leslie is a fantastic author and illustrator who I greatly admire. She has been a tremendous encouragement to me as a writer and I'm very happy to share her brand new book on my blog.

by: Leslie Helekoski
Boyds Mill Press 2014

From the jacket flap:
Mama Pig loves her little piglets - all three of them. 
But her piglets don't think they're little!
In fact, they're determined to prove just which one of them is the biggest.
Three brothers.
One challenge.
Let the mayhem begin!

This book is fun from beginning to end. The illustrations are cute and the verbs Leslie uses are silly and fun to read out loud. Sweet Pea, Nibbles and Clean Bean are great names too! Kids will love having this book read to them over and over and parents won't mind!  

I hope you all have a great week. Next week I hope to share a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday book for you again. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blogging Break

Things are a bit crazy at my house right now, so I will be taking a blogging break for the next few weeks. Please be sure to stop by all the other great Marvelous Middle Grade Monday blogs and other links found on the left side of my blog. Thanks for stopping by and have a great few weeks!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Hattie Ever After and a Bonus

Today's pick for MMGM is one of those books that can be considered both middle grade and young adult. I think it is fine for older middle graders to read, but some parts might be a little hard for them to understand. More on that in a moment.

by: Kirby Larsen

Delacorte Press 2013

From the jacket flap:
Great Falls, Montana, 1919

When Hattie mails off her last check to Mr. Nefzger, her uncle’s debt is paid in full. Now she is free to go anywhere, away from Mrs. Brown’s boardinghouse and the less-than-glamorous life of a chambermaid. Hattie’s dear friend Perilee urges her to do the sensible thing and join her family in Seattle. But Hattie is not prone to the sensible. What sensible girl would say yes to spending a year under Montana’s big sky trying to make a go of a long-lost uncle’s homestead claim? And what sensible girl would say no to Charlie, who is convinced he and Hattie are meant to grow old together?

For all its challenges and sorrows, Hattie’s time on the homestead gave her a taste of what if might be like to stake her own claim on life. She hasn’t yet confessed it to anyone, not even to Perilee, but Hattie has thrown a lasso around a dream even bigger than a Montana farm.

She wants to be a big-city reporter.

And thanks to a vaudeville vanishing act, a mysterious love token, an opera star and her unique ability to throw a snake ball, it looks like Hattie just might have a chance.

For those that wanted to know what happened to Hattie after Hattie Big Sky this sequel doesn't disappoint. (My thoughts on Hattie Big Sky are here.) It starts a few months after Hattie moves to Great Falls and continues as she follows her new dream to become a great female reporter. Hattie is an adult and on her own, which lends to the more mature themes of the book that younger readers just might not understand yet, like living on your own in the city, looking for a job to pay the bills - which was difficult for women at the time - and being courted. I enjoyed reading about Hattie in 1919 San Francisco, a time period I haven't read much about. Kirby Larson does a fantastic job creating new and memorable characters and keeping me reading to see if my initial thoughts about some of them were true or not. I loved the ending and seeing Hattie continue in her transformation from orphan to young woman and dream-chaser to dream-realizer.

For a special bonus today, I wanted to quickly share two wonderful picture books that I read over the weekend.

by: Patricia MacLachlan and Steven Kellogg
Random House Children's Books 2013

I checked this out of the library, but now I definitely want to own a copy. Such a simple, beautifully written book, especially after knowing it was written to help those in the Sandy Hook and Newtown, Connecticut communities.

by: Lori Mortensen and Jeff Mack
HarperCollins Children's Books 2012

Lori is a master of rhyme and I love Jeff Mack's illustrations of farm animals. (He's great in Mr. Duck Means Business too.) Their take on the familiar nursery rhyme - "Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon!" - is fantastic!

Thanks for stopping by today! And for those of you who receive my posts via email, I'm trying to fix the issue with you possibly not being emailed lately. I think yahoo email addresses are having the most trouble, but please know that I'm trying to remedy the situation.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Special Weekend Post

Over the last couple of days, I've been able to share my writing journey on two different blogs. I wanted to share the posts with you and introduce you to some wonderful websites.

The first is on my friend, Patti Richards, brand new website. She also had a book published with MeeGenius earlier this year. Be sure to check out her book here:  Snow Angels  To read her post interviewing me, click here.

I was also honored when the communications department where I work asked if they could share about my new book. To read that post, click here.

I hope you enjoyed these posts. Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Cool Summer Tail and an Interview

Today I would like to share a brand new non-fiction picture book with you. It is written by my friend and fellow Michigan author, Carrie A. Pearson. Carrie also agreed to answer a few questions for this post, so let's get right to it!

by Carrie A. Pearson and Christina Wald
Sylvan Dell Publishing - now Arbordale Publishing 2014

A COOL SUMMER TAIL is a companion book to A WARM WINTER TAIL. For this new book, a variety of animals are trying to stay cool and wonder if humans use the same techniques as they do. Some of the same animals are used in both books and kids can compare and contrast the different techniques used in the summer versus the winter.  Filled with wonderful illustrations and four pages of activities and information, A COOL SUMMER TAIL lets kids learn in a fun, entertaining way.

To see my post for A WARM WINTER TAIL, click here.

For the rest of today's post, I've asked Carrie to share some thoughts on the non-fiction writing process. Non-fiction writing is an interesting genre, as you can see below.

When did the idea for a second, companion book come in your writing process? Was the idea always there or did the publisher ask for more?

The idea for a second book came during the research process for the first. My broad research question was how animals adapt to seasonal temperature changes. For the first book, I explored how animals adapt to cold, but most of the research on this topic offered insights for adaptation to heat as well. I queried my editor to see if she would be interested in the companion book and happily she was. So, I followed the interesting trail of adaptation to heat for the second book and added in more focused research where needed. Writing the second book was easier because I had already determined the rhyme and rhythm scheme and I knew I wanted to feature many of the same animals as in A Warm Winter for compare/contrast opportunities. However, it was also harder to write because of the same reasons! I had essentially written myself into a corner with less room to stretch. At times it was a hair-pulling experience, but I grew as a writer in the process.

In addition to writing non-fiction, you also write fiction. Is one easier than the other? Or are there pros and cons to each?

I wouldn’t say one is easier to write. Just by virtue of the genre, non-fiction has boundaries. So depending upon my story interest, having boundaries can be appealing. For instance, I’m working on a story about the amazing and virtually unknown ecosystem in the canopy in coast Redwoods--the world's tallest trees. The non-fiction boundaries offer a framework for the story. But, my favorite stories to write (and read) are at the intersection of fiction and non-fiction. As an example, one manuscript I have on submission now, “Chicks in the Hood” explores a non-fiction topic (urban chicken farming), but is told through an a cappella singing contest--a la Pitch Perfect--between urban-raised chickens and farm-raised chickens. Similar to A Warm Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail, the factual content is woven within a fictionalized story.

Any advice for writers who might want to pursue non-fiction writing for kids? What should they do differently than when they write fiction?

Be sure the research is accurate and true. There is no room for shoddy or lazy research and I would hope children's book publishers wouldn't accept it. Don't rely on paper or digital sources alone. The best place to gather information is from living, breathing people who are doing work in the field of your story or have lived the story you want to tell. Follow a trail to the beginning source if possible. Attention to fact-gathering pays off: Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell Publishing)–the publisher for my Warm Winter and Cool Summer books–scientifically vets each of their publications and I am delighted that for both books combined, we had only one minor science-related tweak. I'm quite sure my editor would consider additional topics because she has confidence I will do the work needed for accuracy. A non-fiction story should be told creatively, uniquely, and with excitement, but it must be true. Other than that distinction, I don’t see differences between writing either genre. Both begin with humongous passion for the story or topic–a passion that is deep enough to sustain the writer through a million drafts, setbacks, rejections, and readings aloud when it is published!

Both of the books have wonderful pages of back matter/resources. Did you have that all ready to submit with your manuscript or was that something you worked with your editor on after they purchased your book?

Both :) I wrote much of the back matter for A Warm Winter Tail and submitted it during the review phase. I wanted the editor, Donna German, to see I had done my research on the book topic and also on their list. So, I wrote the back matter as if it was for a completed Arbordale book so she could visualize it. I wrote the back matter for A Cool Summer Tail with Donna after the book had been contracted. She has an educator's mindset and this is reflected in the books they publish and the jam-packed back matter they offer. They were the perfect home for these books.

Thank you so much, Carrie, for stopping by and answering my questions. I definitely learned a lot! Please check out Carrie's website for her blog and other information.

Have a great week!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - New Kid

For today's post I'm featuring a book recommendation from my son. He received this book for his birthday and devoured it. It probably doesn't hurt that he is a huge fan of Tim Green's books. I hope you enjoy his thoughts.

by: Tim Green
HarperCollins Children's Books 2014

From the jacket flap:
It’s hard being the new kid, both on and off the field.

It’s bases loaded, bottom of the last inning, and Tommy Rust is up at bat in the championship game. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. But then his father barges onto the field, and Tommy knows what will happen next. They will be leaving immediately—again—because Tommy and his dad are on the run.

Now Tommy is in a new school, in a new town, and he is no longer known as Tommy. Brock Nickerson is the name of the new kid, and finding a place for himself is proving to be a challenge, especially when his new friend is the bully from the wrong side of the tracks. Things aren’t looking good for Brock, so to fit in, he accepts a dare to throw a rock at the travel-team coach’s window.

Coach Hudgens has demons of his own that he’s dealing with, and many say he’s “washed up.” The travel team he’s been running has lost every ball game in the last year. However, when Coach catches Brock in the act, he’s more impressed by his pitching arm than angry at the prank. But can Brock save Coach’s team . . . and maybe Coach himself? Or will Brock’s father make him be the new kid in yet another town?

What did you like the most about this book?
That baseball was the main story line of the book.

Was it hard to relate to Tommy/Brock, or did he still seem like a regular kid?
He changes personalities every time he changes his name, but baseball is his love, so that is a constant in his life. So that relates to me, as baseball is my favorite sport.

Is this a book for all middle graders or older middle grade?
This would be for older middle grades, probably 5th or 6th grade and up.

What is it about Tim Green books that makes you really like them?
They are action-packed with sports / mysteries, all the things I love to read about. #awesomebooks

And to close, I have to say it is such a good book because I teared up at the end.

I would say that is a glowing endorsement! Thanks for stopping by and I will be back next week with a post that's part of a blog tour with a fellow Michigan author.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Hattie Big Sky and Exciting News

Before I get to today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post, I wanted to share some exciting news with you all. My book, DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE, is now available as an eBook from MeeGenius. For those of you who haven't heard of MeeGenius, it is a free app that gives parents access to hundreds of eBooks for kids ages 2-8. Click here for the direct link to my book. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet that I have a published book. It is a dream come true! But of course, now that I have one published, it makes me want to work even harder to get more out into the world. 

I also want to give a shout out to Rebecca Pry, who brought my book to life! Click HERE for some of her beginning sketches and HERE for some final illustrations.

Now for today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, a fantastic read by Kirby Larson that's been on my to-read list for a while now. I enjoyed another book by her, DUKE, that I shared with you this past fall, and knew she wouldn't disappoint.


by: Kirby Larson
Delacorte Books for Young Readers 2006

From Goodreads:
Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle's homesteading claim.

For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie's been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle's homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends--especially Charlie, fighting in France--through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a "Loyal" American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie's determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

A more modern version of "Little House on the Prairie," Hattie Big Sky is written with the sweeping grace of the big Montana prairie it describes. Hattie is a girl made of strength and resolve, one who just wants to find her place. Kids will love reading of life on the prairie, even though cars, running water, telephones and other technology can be found in the towns and cities so close to the hardworking claim holders. Girls will especially love reading of Hattie's life and adventures.

Once again I learned how important it is in writing to find the fine line between description and sharing the story can be. I was immediately drawn to Hattie, and later on her new friends in Montana, so much so that the tears flowed at the end. I can't wait to read the sequel!

One other note, this book would fall into the older middle grade category, although younger middle grade could read it if they already had an understanding of World War I and how German immigrants were treated in the US.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. Have a great week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Heartbreak Messenger

I'm sorry for not having a post last week. March is one of those crazy times of the year for my family. Today's MMGM is a book I read from Cybils judging and wanted to share with you all.  

by: Alexander Vance
Feiwel & Friends 2013

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Quentin never asked to be "The Heartbreak Messenger," it just kind of happened - and he's not one to let a golden opportunity pass him by. The valuable communications service he offers is simple: he delivers break-up messages. For a small fee, he will deliver such a message to your soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. If you order the deluxe package, he'll even throw in some flowers and a box of chocolates...well, you don't want to leave a girl completely alone.

At first, Quentin's entrepreneurial brainchild is surprisingly successful. But as he interacts with clients and message recipients, from the teary-eyed football player to the dangerously powerful soccer chick, it doesn't take him long to start wondering whether his business will create negative repercussions in his life, especially for his relationship with his long-time best friend Abigail. Quentin discovers the game of love and the emotions that go with it are as complicated as they come - even for an almost innocent bystander.

I feel the age range for this book is 12+, thus the dilemma is it middle grade or YA? And more so for the boy/girl relationships. I don't think the average 3rd or 4th grader has the knowledge base to understand broken hearts and "breaking up". Either way, it is a fantastic book. Quentin is a fun twelve-year-old, but also pretty mature for his age, at least in some aspects of his life. Since his dad's been gone for years, he's become the man of the house and has more responsibilities than your average 7th grader. Even so, he doesn't always make the right decisions, but you can't help but root for him anyway. As he gets deeper into his business of being the Heartbreak Messenger, he soon realizes that love isn't just a game and emotions can cause people to do crazy things. Girls and boys will both appreciate this book, and may even learn a thing or two about girl/boy relationships.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope to see you next week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Prisoner B-3087

by: Alan Gratz
Scholastic 2013

From Goodreads:
Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

If you have a middle grader who doesn't know much about the Holocaust, or even if they do, this is a book they should read. Based on the true story of Jack and Ruth Gruener, it shares how Yanek (Jack) survived 10 different concentrations camps as well as the Krakow ghetto before World War II ended.

The book does a good job of sharing the horrors Yanek survived as a young boy and teenager (he was 10 when the war started) in a way for kids to read and learn from, but keeps the graphic-ness to a minimum. It is amazing the will to live that Yanek possessed, even when giving in to death would have been a welcome relief. Reading his account will help kids realize the importance of remembering who they are and where they come from whatever the cost.

Thanks for stopping by this week. See you again next week!

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's a Picture Book Day!

I know I'm a little late in posting today, but better late than never! :) Today I'm taking a post to share three fun picture books that I've read recently. I hope you will all check them out!


by: Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf
Schwartz & Wade Books 2013

From the jacket flap:
Sophie and Bernice.
Bernice and Sophie.
The two go everywhere together: to story time at the library, to visit friends at the farmers' market, to practice somersaults in the garden.
The only problem? Bernice is a squash.

I LOVE this book! And I love how the "death" of the squash was handled for the young children who would read this book. A delightful debut for Pat Zietlow Miller.

by: Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books 2012

Boot and Shoe were born in the same litter and do many things together, but Boot is a back porch kind of dog and Shoe is a front porch kind of dog. Everything is fine until a squirrel decides to cause some trouble.

What a fun book! The repetition throughout the story makes for a fun read-aloud. Kids will also love the closeness of Boot and Shoe and are given a great example of the true meaning of friendship.

by: Philip C. Stead
A Neal Porter Book - Roaring Book Press 2012

From the jacket flap:
While out foraging for interesting things, Vernon the toad finds a new friend - a small blue bird who is curiously silent. Vernon shows Bird the river and the forest and some of his other favorite things, but Bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine, but Bird still says nothing. "Bird is shy," says Vernon, "but also a very good listener." Vernon worries that Bird is silent because he misses his home, so the two set off on a journey to help find a home for Bird.

The best part about this book is the surprise ending. Kids will love it and on multiple readings will love seeing the pictures knowing how everything turns out. 

Thanks for stopping by today. I will be back next week with another great middle grade!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Serafina's Promise

Today's book is a wonderful novel in verse that was on our shortlist for the Cybils. Speaking of which, did you see who won for middle grade fiction? ULTRA by David Carroll! Congrats to David! See my post on ULTRA here.

by Ann E. Burg
Scholastic Press 2013

From Goodreads:
Serafina has
a secret dream.

She wants to go to school
and become a doctor
with her best friend, Julie Marie.

But in their rural village
outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti,
many obstacles
stand in Serafina’s way--
little money,
never-ending chores,
and Manman’s worries.

More powerful even
than all of these
are the heavy rains
and the shaking earth
that test Serafina’s resolve
in ways she never dreamed.

At once heartbreaking and hopeful,
this exquisitely crafted story
will leave a lasting impression
on your heart.

It takes a special reader to enjoy a novel in verse, one who loves poetry and the lyrical sound of the language of the story. Serafina's Promise has an underlying strength that helps capture the strength and spirit of Serafina herself. Her sense of family and country along with following her dreams makes her a true heroine, even before the other disasters she must face, including flooding and earthquakes and death. How she perseveres living in the poverty and sorrow she faces is truly remarkable. It is a beautiful book. One that I hope many middle graders will read some day.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a judge for the Cybils. All opinions are my own.

I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing and reading

I don't have a book to share today with you, as I've been busy with writing and revising one of my manuscripts. But, I plan to be back next week with a great book to share.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Ultra

Hi everyone! Sorry I wasn't able to post last week, but I'm back today with another book from the middle grade Cybils shortlist.

by: David Carroll
Scholastic Canada 2013

From Goodreads:
A young ultra-marathon runner is pushed to the breaking point and beyond in this gripping tale of physical endurance and emotional healing.

Quinn has been called a superhero and a freak of nature. At age 13, he's an amazing distance runner. He takes on the second-hardest challenge of his life when he enters his first ultramarathon: a grueling 100-mile, 24-hour-long race that will push him to the very limit of his endurance.

While Quinn struggles to go on — up a mountain and through the night, as his muscles break down and he begins to hallucinate — we learn why the ultra-marathon is only the second hardest thing he has endured in his young life. And maybe this devastating event from his past is exactly what Quinn has been running from . . .

Even if you don't like running, you will love this book. Quinn's body is built for running and he enters his first ultra-marathon, a 100 mile 24-hour race - a race his dad has run in the past. Not only does the race test Quinn physically, but it is even more challenging mentally. My favorite quote from the book is by Kern - a runner Quinn meets while running. Kern states, "They don't know if they're running to something, or running from something." Quinn replies that maybe people just run to run. Kern then says, "Then they're blessed." Quinn doesn't reply, but this conversation replays in his head again and ultimately helps him deal with whether to finish the race and make some sense of a terrible situation he hasn't come to terms with yet in his young life. All in all a great book for the older middle grade set. (My middle-grader loved it!)

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a judge for the Cybils awards. All opinions are my own.