Sunday, April 15, 2018

Around the World in 50 Ways -- Review & Giveaway



And the move goes on. Please join me at my new blog for this post and giveaway HEREPlease, please, PLEASE take a moment and enter your email address on my new blog site. I haven't been able to figure out how to move my subscriber list and I would really appreciate you signing up at my new site. Thanks! See you there.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Possibility of Whales -- Review and Giveaway



And the move goes on. Please join me at my new blog for this post and giveaway HEREPlease, please, PLEASE take a moment and enter your email address on my new blog site. I haven't been able to figure out how to move my subscriber list and I would really appreciate you signing up at my new site. Thanks! See you there.



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Heartwood Hotel Book 3 Better Together -- Review and Giveaway

Hello! I know you expected to see my latest blog post here, but I am moving to my new website. You can find my latest post with with all the usual goodies, including a giveaway, HERE. Please, please, PLEASE take a moment and enter your email address on my new blog site. I haven't been able to figure out how to move my subscriber list and I would really appreciate you signing up at my new site. Thanks! See you there.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Natural History Museum Explorer Dinosaurs! -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Defeat is not the worst of failures.  Not to have tried is the true failure.” 
~ George Edward Woodberry ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Grammar can be vexing for a lot of people. Laura Fineberg Cooper has a terrific post HERE at Writers’ Rumpus with common mistakes and how to avoid them. 

Cliches have a way of creeping into our writing, but the post HERE from Writer’s in the Storm can make quick and fun work of fixing that problem. 

The dreaded synopsis again. There is a very good post HERE about how to do it.

My website isn't quite ready for Prime Time yet, but I expect it might be ready next week. I will keep you posted.  

I don't often talk about picture books here, but once in awhile I run across one
that I simply have to talk about it. This week I read one called We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Author/Illustrator Ryan T. Higgins that knocked my socks off. I have shared it with everyone who came near me in the days since, and everyone has loved it as much as I have. It is the funniest picture book I think I have ever seen, and it is sweet and has a great message. It doesn't get any better. I just ordered every Ryan T. Higgins book my library has. We Don't Eat Our Classmates won't be available until June 19, but you might want to preorder it so you don't miss it.

Last week I offered a gently-read hardback of Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans to one of you. If I thought there was a chance in the world I would have time to read this one again, I would never give it away, but that's not gonna happen. So, lucky Carol Baldwin is going receive my copy. Congratulations, Carol! I will get the book out to you this week. If you don't know Carol, she is a North Carolina writer and you can learn more about her at her cleverly-titled blog, Carol Baldwin's Blog found HERE. For the rest of you, I have a very interesting book to send to one of you, so keep reading. 

I am loving all the non-fiction books for middle-graders that keep popping up, and I have never quite gotten over my childhood love of dinosaurs, so when I ran across the Natural History Museum Explorer Dinosaurs! I was happy to take it for review. It's a different take on this topic and a lot of fun. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review. 

Young paleontologists take note. There is a new dinosaur book that will fascinate dino-loving youngsters, which would include just about all youngsters. Yet how can there be a truly fresh take on this most ancient of subjects? The Natural History Museum brought together a team of three authors and an illustrator to create this incredible new dinosaur book. Modeled almost as if it were field notes from an explorer and done in muted colors on heavy stock, this is different from other dinosaur books. Every page is packed with excellent information written in such a way as to speak to the middle-grade audience as if they were peers of the explorer and even part of the excavation team. The writing is crisp, the research shines, and the illustrations complete and support every chunk of text. Perhaps the pièce de résistance, though, is a timeline at the back that is a single sheet of heavy, glossy stock, the equivalent of nine pages, that covers 240 million years jam-packed with illustrations and small text blocks designed to be removed from the book and mounted on the wall. Youngsters (and others) will eat this book up. Don’t miss  it.

I have a gently-read UK edition hardback 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Wed Rabbit -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
You need to start somewhere." 
~ Anne Lamott ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Flashbacks are tricky, but sometimes they are necessary. HERE Randy Ingermanson has a good post on just that topic. 


Anne R. Allen offers fixes for plot holes in your manuscript HERE. My favorite section is called Too Dumb to Live. 

This is a lot of fun. HERE is a post with 25 synonyms you should be using.

My daughter Maggie, who is between acting gigs right at the moment, is spending some time building a website for me. We are hoping to be able to go live in the next week or two, so changes are coming! I'm pretty excited about it and am busy sending her stuff that will make me look good. I think it's time for me to make this move. I hope I can invite you all to check it out very soon.

Last week I offered a gently-read hardback of Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger to one of you. This time our winner is Danielle Hammelef, who always shares the link to my blog a lot of places. Thanks for doing that Danielle. I will get your book out to you soon. Congratulations! For the rest of you, I have another book to give away and this one is FUNNY and has some fun fantasy as well.

When I looked over a list for review books from the Manhattan Book Review, I ran across a book called Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. At first I thought it was a picture book, but when I looked it up, found it to be a middle-grade novel. When I saw the cover (Don't you LOVE it?), I hearkened back to Bunnicula, one of my all-time favorites, so I knew I had to have it, and I snatched it right up. I had no idea what a fun ride I was in for. Here is the review I wrote for the Manhattan Book Review.

Fidge is eleven, and she is tired of having to read The Wimbley Woos book to her four-year-old sister, Minnie, over and over. And that’s not the only thing that’s annoying about Minnie. She has annoying toys, especially Wed Wabbit, and she always gets her way even if it gets in the way of the one thing Fidge wants. Fidge is so angry and retaliates in the smallest way, but the worst thing happens. She has to stay with her scaredy-cat cousin, Graham, and during a storm both of them are transported into the Land of Wimbley Woos. Strange things are happening there, and when they find out Wed Wabbit has taken over as king, things get really interesting. They have to get Wed Wabbit and get him back to Maddie. It’s quite a challenge.

Author Lissa Evans has written the most refreshingly funny and smart book to
Lissa Evans
come out in quite a while. This is a page turner of the first order and has great messages about friendship, courage, loyalty, and much more, but the messages are well hidden in this clever, laugh-out-loud funny story. Get thee to a bookstore and buy this book!


I have a gently-read hardback 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saturdays with Hitchcock -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat,
determination and hard work.”
~ Colin Powell ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
First I want to mention Jess Carroll to you. Jess has the most awesome service for those who write picture books, especially rhyming ones. Her critiques are AMAZING! And she will soon be starting an on-line rhyme academy. You can check out her services and other things HERE and friend her on Facebook to stay apprised of her upcoming classes. 

BookFox has an interesting post HERE on chapter lengths. It’s not something I have thought a lot about, but I think I should. 

Just for fun — an article HERE about the strange and wonderful things found between the pages of books. 

I am an over-explainer. I know it. I have to cut, cut, cut to get my over-explaining out. Janice Hardy has a great post HERE on just that topic. 

When last we met, I offered a paperback copy of the wonderfully funny book, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. This week's winner is cschwanke2013, who, I surmise, works at the Charlotte Mecklinberg Library in North Carolina. Congratulations to you, cschwanke2013. I will get your book out to you soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. For the rest of you, I have another fun giveaway this week, so read on!

I am a bit of a movie junkie and, as a kid, spent every possible Saturday at the movies. So when I saw a book called Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger on the list for the Manhattan Book Review, I had to grab it. This is not her first rodeo. Check out all the books listed on her website! Here is the review I wrote for them. 

Small town life is simple, especially if you are a twelve-year-old girl, right? Maybe not so much if your ne’er-do-well but favorite uncle is injured on the film set and comes home to visit just as your mother loses her job, your grandmother seems to be losing her memory, a new boy joins you and your best friend in activities and it is clear he has a crush on you, your best friend forever confides to you that he is gay and that he like-likes the new guy, and your grandmother’s old boy-friend shows up and it’s clear he is still smitten with her after all these years. Yeah, maybe not so simple. Maisie, aka Hitchcock, loves movies and wants to make them. It would be nice if it were just her and her best friend, Cyrus, as it has been forever, but life changes, and Maisie’s life is quite a balancing act.

Author Ellen Wittlinger has written a truly important middle-grade novel that
Ellen Wittlinger
addresses a lot of difficult issues today’s kids are likely to face. Her writing is strong, her dialogue pitch-perfect, and the story is compelling. Not to be missed.



I have a gently-read hardback 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Three Times Lucky -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You
get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other
people is we notice when we're doing it." 
~ Neil Gaiman ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
The Writer Magazine has a good article HERE on using visualization and immersion in making your fiction come alive. 

 Dialogue can always be better. The essay HERE from Poets and Writers Magazine can help you polish yours up. 

We all need to write author bios now and again. The post HERE from Anne R. Allen can help you do just that. 

I am going to try to get this written while I watch the Oscars, so if there are a few typos, be forgiving. Multiprocessing is not my long and strong suit.

Last week I offered a gently-read hardback of Lily's Mountain by Hannah Moderow to one of you. Our winner is Joyce Moyer Hostetter, a prolific and wonderful writer from North Carolina. Congratulations, Joyce! If you don't know Joyce, what rock have you been living under? Oh, I mean, how unfortunate for you. You can find out more about her by reading her blog HERE. If you haven't read any of her books, you are in for a treat. Blue, Aim, Comfort, Drive, & Healing Water are all worth your time. Joyce, I will get your book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have a fun one to give away this week, so stay tuned.

I have stacks of books all over my house that I mean to get to some day. We all do. I am fairly well caught up on my review books so grabbed a novel I have been meaning to get to for a looooong time. So glad I finally got to it. It is Newbery Honor winner Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. First of all, I am obsessed with the cover. It has been sitting on top of one stack calling our to me, "Hey, I'm a fun book! Get to me soon!" And fun it is. What a romp.

Mo is a girl who started life abandoned to the water in a  hurricane and rescued by a crusty amnesiac, the Colonel, who lost his former life and memory in the same storm. But he finds Mo, naming her for Moses for obvious reasons. They both are embraced by the small town they land in, Tupelo Landing, NC, and are made a family with the lovely and imaginative Miss Lana. The town is populated by a wide variety of quirky characters -- Mo's best friend, Dale; his brother and the love of Mo's life, Lavender; Mo's sworn enemy, Anna Celeste a.k.a. Attila Celeste; and many more. They all contribute to a fun, twisted, amazing mystery story that includes murders, robbery, kidnapping, evil villains, and more, and keep the pages turning at a rapid rate.

Author Sheila Turnage may well be the queen of metaphors. I am in awe of her
Sheila Turnage
marvelous, mirthful metaphors. Here are a couple of my favorites. "He looked at her the way a cat looks at a bird, his eyes glinting." You know he's up to no good, don't you? Here's another. "The people streamed toward the glistening white church in busy, crooked lines, like ants heading for a sugar cube." What a picture! Love it. If you want to see how it's done, read this book. The writing overall is crisp and smart and the storytelling is formidable. I just love this book. I can't recommend it more highly. If you haven't read it yet, please get to it soon. It's just sooooo good. And I was very excited to find out there are two more books in the series! Hope I can get to those soon.

I know I will probably not have time to read this again, although I would like to, so I am offering my gently-read paperback to 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lily's Mountain -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“If you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.”
~Meg Cabot ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
An interesting take on Villains HERE from Steven Pressfield. 

Have a saggy middle? HERE is a post on Writers in the Storm that might help you out. 

Alex Limberg at Ride the Pen has some good advice about editing HERE

I took last week off because it was my birthday and because getting older takes it out of me. But I'm over it now, so I'm back. Hope you didn't miss me too much.

And when I was last here I offered a gently-read hardback copy of The Player King by Avi. Extra chances win the day this time. Nancy, who shared my link on Facebook, is this week's winner. Nancy, I will get your book out to you very soon. Thanks for sharing my link! I appreciate it. For the rest of you, I have a mother great giveaway, so hang in there.

I am always on the lookout for a good adventure when I scan the list of books available for review. When I saw Lily's Mountain by Hanna Moderow, I knew I had to read it. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review. 

Lily, 12 years old, has grown up camping and hiking in her little corner of Alaska in the penumbra of Denali Mountain. She and her older sister, Sophie, and her mom and dad have hiked and camped in the area a great deal, and Lily and Sophie’s dad has taught them all the survival skills they need. Lily’s dad is a mountain climber and journalist. When he goes to climb Denali in the middle of summer, no one worries. But a phone call comes saying Dad has been lost in a crevasse. Lily doesn’t believe for a moment he is really gone. There is only one thing for her to do — she has to go to Denali and find him and bring him home. She talks Sophie into going with her to Denali Park but doesn’t tell her about the real mission. 

Debut author Hannah Moderow is a life-long Alaskan, and she takes her readers
Hannah Moderow
there with wonderful setting descriptions and terrific metaphors. The story is one kids will buy into, and it will keep those pages turning. The characters are well-rounded and complex. With crisp writing and a compelling story, this is a winner.

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Player King -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you
don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories
that other people love, you’ll never make it.”
~ Ray Bradbury ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Some years ago, I was in a critique group with several beginning writers. I was really a beginner at the time. One day we had quite an argument about point of view. One of the writers insisted books could only be written in either first person or third person limited, that nothing else was allowed. I tried to convince her there was such a thing as omniscient PoV, but she was having none of it. The Writer Magazine has an interesting article HERE on omniscient PoV. 

M. L. Keller has a good post HERE on secondary characters. We can’t get along without them. 

Writers Helping Writers always has good stuff. I especially like the post HERE on how to indicate a passage of time in your story. 

Last week, I offered a gently-read hardback of Why Fish Don't Drown? by Anna Claybourne to one of you. It's such a fun book. I guess it pays to get your comment in early. This week's winner is Linda, the very first to leave a comment last week. Congratulations, Linda! I will get your book out to you soon. For the rest of you -- yes, I do have another great giveaway this week. 

I find it hard to believe that I have never before read a book by Avi. This guy has written sooooo many books, and somehow I have never gotten around to reading him until this year. I read a review of The Player King on Dorine White's wonderful blog, The Write Path, and knew it was for me. I love historical fiction, and she made it sound so enticing. She has wonderful reviews, so check out her blog. Anyway, I was able to snag a copy for review and grabbed it. Here is the review I wrote for the Tulsa Book Review.

Lambert Simnel has no memory of his parents and doesn’t even know how old he is. All he knows of life is working in a dingy tavern, basting meat and fetching bread and cleaning up. It is 1486 in England, and King Henry VII sits on the throne. Young Prince Edward, who really has a stronger claim to the throne, has not been seen for some months, and it is thought Henry may have done away with him. A monk comes to the tavern and buys Lambert from the tavern keeper. The monk trains Lambert to be Edward, telling Lambert he has forgotten who he truly is. It becomes clear to Lambert that powerful men intend to make him the true king of England and that his life might be quite good if he goes along with their plans.

Author Avi has written a compelling story based on real people and true
Avi
happenings. The writing is crisp and the language perfectly suited to the time and place. The characters are fully realized and very believable. Avi’s setting descriptions are extraordinary and take the readers directly to 15th-century London. This book will turn young readers into history lovers. 

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Why Don't Fish Drown -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love
what you are doing, you will be successful."  
~ Albert Schweitzer ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
One of my pet peeves is the overuse of the word “that” I see in writing — by critique partners and even in published writing. Grammar Girl has a good post HERE on that very topic. 

I don’t know how I missed this site before now, but Rachelle Burk’s Resources for Children’s Writers has soooooo many great links HERE. It’s going to take me a while to explore it all. 

I can’t get enough good articles about revision. HERE is another one. 

And speaking of revision, I have a bunch to do. Last weekend (when I was absent here) I attended the SCBWI Nevada conference in Las Vegas. It was a really excellent conference with wonderful speakers including agents Beth Phelan, Jen Rofé, and Jill Corcoran. (Yes, I can submit to all of them!!) I met my mentor, Suzanne Morgan Williams. She is terrific and gave me great revision notes on my manuscript. I will be sending one quarter of my revised manuscript to her at the end of each month through May, and she will give me another set of revision notes. So amazing. I met a lot of wonderful people, learned a bunch, and had a great time (except for the smoke in the casino -- ugh!). My exchange student, Amandine, flew in Saturday and did a lot of sightseeing while I finished the conference, then we went to the Grand Canyon. It really is grand. I've been there several times, but I never tire of it or cease to be amazed. We had a wonderful trip, but it sure was good to get home. 

Last time I was here, I offered a gently-read hardback of Confessions from the Principal's Kid by Robin Mellom to one of you. This time the winner is Tudy. Congratulations, Tudy! I will be getting your book to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another really fun book to give away, so please keep reading.

This week I want to tell you about one of the most fun non-fiction books I've seen lately. The entire title is Why Don't Fish Drown?: And other vital questions about the animal kingdom, and it's by Anna Claybourne. I just love this one and, while reluctant to give it away, I think I need to share it with the world. Here is the review I wrote for the Manhattan Book Review. 


If there is one thing in the world universally loved by children, it’s animals. Children have tremendous curiosity about animals of all kinds. The title of this book is pretty misleading unless one reads the second part of the title: “And Other Vital Questions About the Animal Kingdom,” which doesn’t show on the spine at all and is in a small box on the front cover. When people figure out how much more there is to the book than what the short title indicates, they will be happy to have found it. The book is chock-full of little chunks of fun information about all kinds of creatures, from dinosaurs to vultures, from dung beetles to blue-footed boobies and so, so much more. The writing is crisp and informative but very fun at the same time. Every page has one or two chunks of information along with photographs or illustrations to go along with the information. Author Anna Claybourne has certainly stayed in touch with her inner child, and she knows what questions they might ask and how to answer with lots of fun information. Illustrations by Claire Goble fill in some answer spaces with drawings that complement the
Anna Claybourne
photographs.

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Confessions from the Principal's Kid -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“When describing nature, a writer should seize upon small details, arranging them so that the reader will see an image in his mind after he closes his eyes. For instance: you will capture the truth of a moonlit night if you’ll write that a gleam like starlight shone from the pieces of a broken bottle, and then the dark, plump shadow of a dog or wolf appeared.” 
~ Anton Chekhov ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Looking for some words to make the time period in your book more believable? Check out Grammar Girl’s post HERE about a site and book that can help you out. 

I think all writers think about their protagonist first and build from there, but Steven Pressfield makes a good argument HERE to Start With the Villain. 

Tina Ann Forkner has a guest post HERE on Writers in the Storm that will help you have a grand opening in your book. Check it out. 

I will be absent next week. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was accepted to the SCBWI mentor program for this year, and next weekend is the conference. Unfortunately, it is in Las Vegas, not my favorite place, but it should be an exciting time otherwise. My exchange student will fly in Saturday and keep herself entertained during conference time, but when it's over, we will drive to the Grand Canyon for a day, then home. I have never been to the Grand Canyon in the winter, and going there is high on her bucket list so that should be fun too. 

Last week I offered a copy of Spy on History: Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army illustrated by Scott Wegener to one of you. This week, Susan May Olson is our winner. Congratulations, Susan! If you aren't familiar with Susan, you can check out her blog Time Travel Times Two HERE. Guess what her favorite genre is. Anyway, she has great book reviews there. Her debut middle-grade novel, Time Jump Coins came out last year and is available on Amazon. It's a fun read. Susan, I will get your book out to you soon. For the  rest of you, please keep reading. I have another giveaway.

A couple months ago I ran across Confessions from the Principal's Kid by Robin Mellom on the list for review books for the San Francisco Book Review. The title alone was irresistible for me. Some of the best books I've read have focused on kids whose parents have positions that really impact the kids' lives. I ordered it right up and am glad I did. This is a fun read. Here is the review I wrote for SFBR.

Allie, a fifth-grader, has had her world changed mightily. You’d think talking with one’s mother wouldn’t be a big deal in terms of school life, but if your mother is the principal, one conversation can change everything. Allie lost her best friend and feels adrift in school, but after school, she is quite connected. The Afters are kids whose parents work at the school, and the kids all stay late while their parents finish work. Allie has discovered every shortcut possible and, in addition to the Afters, has found a good friend in the custodian. When Allie gets her wish and is assigned to a partners project with her former best friend, she thinks it’s her big chance to make things right, but she may lose much more than she gains.

Author Robin Mellom, in her author’s note, tells of her life as a principal’s kid,
Robin Mellom
and that experience gives her work clear authenticity. The voice of Allie is pitch-perfect for a girl of that age and circumstance. Her experiences will strike a chord with her intended audience and beyond. The writing is crisp, and the story is smart, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking. Don’t miss this one.

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.