Monday, June 23, 2014

MMGM: What the Moon Said

What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren
Word Count: 48,248
Age Range: 8-12 years
Book Description (from Amazon): Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.
Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Why it is Marvelous: First of all the cover is amazing. That is how I choose most books when I am browsing in the library and this one definitely caught my attention. I love how the title is on the moon and the joy of the scene depicted. I was a little hesitant as the story starts because there is a lot of repeated negativity in the main character's feelings towards her mother. Specifically that Esther feels that her mother doesn't love her as much as the other children. As a mother myself, this was hard for me to read. 

Esther's quest for her mother's love and what she discovers about it in the end is the main storyline here, with all the superstition as setup and supporting elements. The author keeps the story tight, moving over weeks at a time without feeling as though anything has been left out. After feeling she is being a bit whiny in the beginning, I love how Esther's character arc plays out. There is sadness in this story but also adventure and perseverance and hope. 

This has definitely been one of my favorite middle grade reads of the year!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: RED BUTTERFLY by A.L. Sonnichsen

I am so excited to help my IRL (in real life) friend reveal the cover to her MG verse novel RED BUTTERFLY (Simon & Schuster BFYR) that is scheduled for release in February 2015. I have had the pleasure of reading an ARC and it is amazing! Without further ado, here is it...

Jacket Copy:
Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an elderly American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has … but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Kara’s story is one of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.


If you're curious about the cover design process, please head over to Krista Van Dolzer's blog (@KristaVanDolzer). She interviewed RED BUTTERFLY's designer, Laurent Linn, art director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Plus, she's giving away an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of RED BUTTERFLY.


A.L. Sonnichsen grew up in Hong Kong and then spent eight years in China as adult. She now lives on the dry side of Washington State with her dashingly handsome sidekick, five talented children, and a luxury cat. Red Butterfly is her first novel. Learn more at

Monday, March 31, 2014

MMGM: Two Books with Magic

The last two middle grade books I have read just happen to have magic weaved into the story. I picked up The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop at the library, drawn in by its fun cover. A Snicker of Magic I just had to snatch up for a $3 steal through my daughter's Scholastic Book Order.

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders

Book Description (from Amazon):

Welcome to the most magical house in London. 

The family of eleven-year-old twins Oz and Lily have inherited it, together with the mysterious shop downstairs. Long ago, the shop's famous chocolate-makers, who also happen to be Oz and Lily's great uncles, were clever sorcerers. Now evil villains are hunting for the secret of their greatest recipe. The terrifying powers of this magic chocolate have the ability to destroy the world.  

Soon, Oz and Lily are swept into a thrilling battle, helped by an invisible cat, a talking rat, and the ghost of an elephant. It's up to them to stop the villains and keep the magical chocolate recipe out of harm's way. Their family and the world depends on it.

Why it is Marvelous: I enjoyed how the characters weaved together in this book, pulling from the past and tying in with the present. I enjoyed how certain relationships strengthened throughout the book, especially those you weren't expecting to, and then provided a path to clean up the all the conflict. It is a fun adventure for kids in the intended age group and I'm sure they will love how the parents are always blissfully (magically) unaware of all the adventures that are actually taking place. The fact that an immortal cat and rat are top agents in a secret government spy unit was a little far-fetched for my tastes but just fine I'm sure for elementary readers.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Book Description (from Amazon): Introducing an extraordinary new voice---a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.

Why it is Marvelous: I really enjoyed this book. The writing is wonderful, the way she uses words as a main part of the story as well as how she uses her own words to tell the story. Some of the fun words are "spindiddly" and "splendiferous" and "factofabulous." And here is an excerpt to show her stylish writing:

     "I never wanted to forget all the ways we were connected that day: By our shadows and sunlight. By pounding hearts and a starry maybe.
     By the nearly silent flutter of our broken wings."

Each character in this book is unique and interesting, with his or her own voice shown through actions and dialog and strengthened by the words Felicity sees floating around each person. The story of the town and how each character is connected to it draws the reader through the book from start to finish. I was racing to get to the finish line but a little sad when it ended - a sign that the author did a wonderful job! 

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Update on my OLW (One Little Word) FINISH

Well, it has been a little over a month and I think I am making fairly good progress on my OLW (One Little Word - workshop with Ali Edwards). Not the greatest as I still have long spells of sitting aimlessly at my computer checking e-mail, scapbook galleries, Facebook, and then OH! did I get anymore e-mails?! Probably none that needed my attention in the 10 minutes since I last checked.

BUT, I did get some stuff done that I had been putting off for a LONG time.

1. FINISHed a scarf I started 14 months ago. It was supposed to be for a friend of mine who I have since learned is allergic to wool and can't even wear it. So, I guess I finished a scarf for myself!

2. FINISHed retouching an old torn photo for a neighbor. I had gotten stuck on the nose (where the tear was the worst) and put it to the side back in May. After resolving to FINISH the task I saw that the only way to fix it would be to find another nose which I pulled from an old photo of my mother. Yes! Where there is a will, there is a way.

3. FINISHed compiling photos of my youngest son's first year to send to my mother-in-law so she can scrap them. This is only slightly time consuming, but still takes the decision to do that task instead of my spells of sitting aimlessly at the computer!

4. FINISHed assembling and decoupaging my advent calendar after it sitting (giving me the evil eye) for 14 months. Now I have 14 months to decide what will go in each of the little boxes during the month of December.

5. This may seem like a little thing, but I had set aside four stamps quite a while ago (see a pattern here?) with the intention of putting them together in a frame. And when I mean set aside, I put them right where we charge our phones (so I would see them and not forget about them) where they looked up at me everyday asking why I forgot about them. Who knew inanimate objects could be so judgmental? My solution was to take a picture and create a piece of digital art, which I can now print out and frame whenever the inspiration strikes again. And the four nagging stamps? In the garbage.

6. This is not a finish yet... but I picked up a pile of fabric off the floor (which was probably moved there when I needed the table in my craft room for the advent calendar project... which the cat decided felt soft enough to use instead of her litter box - yes, this is pretty gross... see what happens when you don't finish things in a timely manner?) rewashed it, and am ready to put this quilt project on my finish list for February.

7. I printed out and FINISHed slipping 180 scrapbook pages into their proper places (chronologically) in scrapbooks ranging from years 2006 to 2013.

8. FINISHed four weeks of the Project Life scrapbook album I am working on this year. The ONLY way I will finish this project is to keep up with it each week. We are in week six of 2014 (can you believe it?) and this week I will finish week five. Here is a glimpse of how I am doing the project (this is the left side of a two-page spread for week four.)

For those of you working with a word this year, happy OLWing! For those of you with resolutions to keep, good luck keeping them in the front of your mind and working them into your daily life!

Monday, February 3, 2014

MMGM: The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis

The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis.

What a great idea for a series. The author takes real life tragedies and builds a story around the event with a kid (the age of her target audience) as the protagonist in each. The stories she creates are well done with great characters. Throw in a little history lesson in each book and they are all winners. At least the three I read this past week were. My kids enjoy them too which is the best indication for success.

These are short books at around 10,000 words each, which is a great length for reluctant readers (as well as me when I am looking to finish a few books quickly!) I love that she adds in facts surrounding each tragedy at the end of the book and any personal experience she might have, for example that she was on a plane heading to NYC when the terrorist attacks occurred in 2001 (how scary!)

These are also fairly inexpensive books so I don't mind getting each new addition to the series when it pops up in my kids' Scholastic book order flyer! There are now nine books in the series.
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005
I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011
I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944

I have also read (and enjoyed) the other two books Lauren Tarshis wrote: Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of a Tree and Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love. So I guess I am just a big fan of this author! Check out her website here.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.