Sunday, February 12, 2017

Garvey's Choice -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"A successful book is not made of what is in it, 
but of what is left out of it” 
~ Mark Twain ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Lisa Cron has a brilliant post HERE on backstory. Don’t miss this one.

Sarah Albee has a great post HERE that will help you inject humor into your writing — always a bonus. 

The Editor’s Blog has a terrific post HERE on The Perspective from Inside the Character. Really good stuff. 

I have mentioned here that my older daughter, Maggie, is an actor. I received a note from her today telling me that she has a show airing next Sunday on Investigation Discovery. The show title is Evil Lives Here: My Secret Life. You should be able to search for it and set it up to record. In case you missed the earlier show she did for them, you can watch it HERE. She was murdered on that episode (YIKES!). These are not for the kiddies, by the way.

Last week I offered a fun book to one of you called Totally Wacky Facts About History by Cari Meister. This week's winner is stephie5741 who, it turns out, is Stephanie Faris, author of the Piper Morgan picture book series as well as other books. You can check out her blog HERE. Congratulations, Stephanie! I will get the book out to you this week. For the rest of you, I have another fun giveaway, so please keep reading.

I am becoming more and more enchanted by novels in verse. When I had a chance to review Garvey's Choice, a new novel in verse by the wonderful Nikki Grimes, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. It is positively magical and truly amazing. This is my review for the San Francisco Book Review.
Garvey has a lot to deal with in his life — he is overweight, he has a sister who is a natural athlete, something Garvey’s father wishes Garvey was, and he has to deal with middle-school bullies. But Garvey has a best friend, Joe, who really gets him and helps him deal with all his adversity. Lunchtime is the best time for Garvey because he spends it with Joe and because he gets to eat, but when Joe’s schedule is changed, Garvey is alone again. Joe encourages Garvey to join the chorus. Garvey has a great voice and he makes a new friend, a boy with albinism, who helps Garvey learn to deal with the bullies. Garvey’s real success is in chorus, where he finds his voice in more ways than one. 
Nikki Grimes has written an entire novel in tanka poems. It is so beautifully
Nikki Grimes
written, readers will be lost in the lyrical lines. Young readers, often reluctant to read poetry, will be so taken with the well-developed story and engaging characters, they will forget it is all poems. This lovely book deserves to and will garner wide readership among the middle-grade set.
I have a gently-read hardback copy for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.
Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Totally Wacky Facts About History -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Sometimes I feel like I should link every one of Kristen Lamb’s blog posts. Seriously. And she always makes me laugh. Don’t miss the one HERE with six good hints to clean up your own manuscript. 

We all have nefarious characters in our books. The more nefarious the better. Even middle-grade isn’t to young for a good psychopath. Writer’s Digest has a guest post HERE by British thriller writer Peter James about making your villains evil enough. 

The art of seduction shouldn’t be overlooked in middle-grade writing. No, not THAT kind of seduction. The kind that pulls readers in. HERE is a great post on Writers in the Storm on that topic. 

I don't write often here about picture books, but I do love them, I write them, and I read them voraciously. I recently won a wonderful picture book from the Writer's Rumpus blog (check it out HERE) called Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark written by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jordi Solano. It is a fascinating non-fiction, beautifully illustrated picture book that will encourage youngsters to follow their dreams. Check it out. 

Last week I offered a paperback copy of the fabulous Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green to one of you. This week's winner is Joanne Fritz. Congratulations, Joanne! If you don't know Joanne, she is a children's writer from Pennsylvania who blogs at My Brain on Books HERE.  She has wonderful book reviews and one of the most interesting About Me sections I've ever read. If you didn't win, please keep reading. I have another fun giveaway.

This week I have a particularly fun non-fiction middle-grade book for you. It is Totally Wacky Facts About History by Cari Meister. I love history, so this one was a must-have for me when I saw it on the available list for the San Francisco Book Review. Here is the review I wrote for them. 

A great many youngsters will turn their noses up at anything that has to do with history, so when parents, teachers, and librarians can find a book that will engage younger middle-grade readers with lots of interesting tidbits of history, it is bound to be a big hit. Every page in this book has fun graphics or illustrations along with one or two quick facts about history. What kid wouldn’t be interested in knowing things like the fact that unusual jobs in the ancient world included armpit-hair plucker, or that after pulling a rotten tooth an ancient Roman dentist would fill the hole with rotten fish, or that Winston Churchill often had important meetings in his bedroom because he really loved his bed, or that Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand while he was not only writing, but writing backwards, with the other hand? This will be a hit with all youngsters but especially reluctant readers. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s full of lots of astonishing information. The jazzy illustrations and bright graphics decorating the pages will draw readers through and keep those pages turning.
Cari Meister


I have a gently-read paperback for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.
Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.