Monday, April 30, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Wonder

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.
TitleWonder
Author: RJ Palacio (link)
Genre: Contemporary
Pub Date: February 2012


Synopsis: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

First Line: I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.

Though we humans have a pretty scary capacity for cruelty, what can be even more remarkable is our innate kindness and compassion. In Wonder, we get a glimpse of how complicated friendship, group-think, bullying, and facing the world as a middle grader can be. Sometimes, the heroes falter. Sometimes, Augie can be kind of selfish. And sometimes, you love the bullies for their sudden acts of kindness. Along with being a thoughtfully written, heartfelt story with characters you'll love, this book is also a gentle reminder of the golden rule, and that everyone is someone. 

A Study on Perspective: Pretty early in the book, Augie's new principal says that in middle school there's typically many sides to any story. One of the neat things about Wonder is that it's told from multiple points of view. As each character reveals their take on what's happening, you realize you are only getting his or her perspective, and sometimes you have to wait to find out what's really going on when you hear the narrative told from someone else.

Why You'll Love Augie: As a fifth grade boy, Augie probably wouldn't want me to say this, but I will anyway. He's the sweetest. The sweetest!! He's also an honest narrator who admits when he's being a crank or a baby, and isn't afraid to let you know that the things that hurt really do hurt. Whether he's facing a challenge or learning something about himself, it's impossible not to root for this little guy.

Check out more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday picks at these blogs:
  • Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog
  • Jennifer Rumberger's blog
  • Joanne Fritz's blog
  • Danika Dinsmore's blog
  • Shannon O'Donnell's blog 
  • Natalie Aguirre's blog
  • Brooke Favero's blog
  • Barbara Watson's blog
  • Anita Laydon Miller's blog
  • Michael G-G's blog
  • Pam Torres's blog
  • Akoss-Nye Louwon's blog
  • Gabrielle Prendergast's blog
  • Kelly Polark's blog 
  • Isaiah J Campbell's blog
  • Kim Aippersbach's blog 
  • Laurisa White Reyes' blog 
  • Andrea Mack's blog

Saturday, April 28, 2012

'Moon Over Manifest' Winner

Eek! I'm so excited to announce the winner of my Marvelous Middle Grade Monday contest. This is my first blog contest, so forgive the dorkiness.

A copy of the Newbery-winning Moon Over Manifest goes to:

*suspenseful drum roll*


*game show applause*

Congrats Laurisa. I hope you love the story as much as I did.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

World Book Night Recap

World Book Night - I can't even.

On Monday, I joined thousands of people across the world in handing out free books. I decided to go the random route and give my copies of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to young adults in my neighborhood. I was the Santa Claus of books for under two hours, and hot damn did I like it.

The first book I gave away was right outside my apartment. A backpack-wearing guy was walking by at that moment, and I offered him a copy of my book. He accepted it shyly, then as he walked away, he started reading it. He was literally read-walking. I watched him do it for an entire block!

This is what 'read-walking' looks like

And things only went up from there. Everyone that I met and handed out books to was so gracious and excited. During my walk, I made a stop at my local parks and rec center - otherwise known as the place I run on the treadmill while listening to podcasts and the GNR song Night Train on repeat. They have a great teen program, so I dropped off a few copies for them:


Then finally swung by the part of Central Park near my house and handed off the last few copies to unsuspecting young adults. And because finding free stuff is fun, I left two copies on benches in the Harlem Meer with notes tucked inside:


This was an awesome experience on so many levels, and I can't wait to do it again next year. Anyone else have WBN stories to share?

Here's a post from Barbara Watson, who gave out copies of Because of Winn-Dixie this WBN.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Giveaway Day: Moon Over Manifest

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.
Title: Moon Over Manifest
Author: Clare Vanderpool (link)
Genre: Historical
Pub Date: October 2010


Synopsis: Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Abilene jumps off the train in Kansas aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.” 

First Line: The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby.

I'm so excited to spotlight this book! It's lovely in every way, with haunting mystery, deep characters, and stories that unravel like a spool of thread. Moon Over Manifest is one of those books that stays with you long after you read it.  It has all the makings of a classic, and is perfect for anyone who loved To Kill a Mockingbird. Which is pretty much everyone, right?

Fun Fact: Vanderpool won the Newbery Medal for Moon Over Manifest as a debut author.

Moon Over Manifest Giveaway: Since this is my *100th* blog post, I'm celebrating with my very first giveaway. I have a paperback copy of Moon Over Manifest to pass on to one middle grade aficionado.

To enter, just leave a comment below by Friday with one of the most memorable books you read as a kid. You don't have to be a follower, but I opened up my follower widget last month, and love seeing the numbers grow!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Moment of Zen


Gorgeous book sculpture by artist Isaac Salazar. I can't guarantee that books were not harmed in the making of this piece - but it is quite lovely.

 For more samples by this artist, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

20 Absolutely True Diaries of a Part-Time Indian

You know what's fun? Heaving a box of books onto a train and across Harlem. Okay, maybe not. But since I get to hand out these copies of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on Monday, it was worth it:


To backtrack, a few months ago I signed up for World Book Night. Also known as the best idea ever. The basic premise is, to encourage reading, participants will take to the streets and hand out free books to strangers (bonus points if you pass your bounty on to reluctant readers).

As a giver, I got to choose from a fantastic list of books, but ultimately went with Alexie's National Book Award winner so that I would have an excuse to talk to NYC teenagers about YA. Will let you know how it goes on Monday! Any other World Book Night givers out there?

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Is Me Right Now

No, seriously - here I am:


Which is why I went on an unexpected blogging break :)

Aside from being buried in books, writing, and freelance work, in the last two weeks I took a trip to visit our neighbors to the north. In Toronto, I gobbled up lots of confections of the strawberry-rhubarb sort at a favorite writing spot, Wanda's Pie in the Sky.


And then I took another trip south of the border to meet up with a pal in Tulum.


Luckily, my pending 100th blog post did not escape my attention amidst all this craziness. 100 posts! Hopefully I'm making up for the lameness of this entry with photos of pie and tropical locations. And since I'm on my way to blogging 100 times without getting into any trouble, I'm drumming up some kind of giveaway. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.
Title: How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a 
          Bubba-Sized Trophy
Author: Crystal Allen (link)
Genre: Contemporary Upper Middle Grade
Pub Date: February 2011


Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker's Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar's a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad's attention, leaving no room for Lamar's problems.
 

Bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him get cash and impress the ladies. But when Billy's scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother's shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?

First Line: Since Saturday I've fried Sergio like catfish, mashed him like potatoes, and creamed his corn in ten straight games of bowling.

Setting Up the Strikes: One of the neatest parts of this story is the setting. It takes place in a small, basketball-obsessed town in Indiana, but Lamar isn't having any of that. His second home is Striker's bowling alley, a wonderland full of pizza smells and girl-watching. While everyone fawns over his older brother's basketball prowess at the youth center, he tears it up on the lanes there every day. The contrast of these two worlds enhances the conflict with his brother that comes out in the second half of the book.

Why You'll Love Lamar: He's a prankster with a heart of gold, with the trash talking skills of a tween Mohammed Ali. From the first line, Lamar's voice jumps off the page. But aside from being such a strong, humorous character, it's Lamar's capacity to own up to his mistakes and admit when he's wrong that makes him creep into your heart.


You can always find more MMGM love here: 

  • Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog
  • Jennifer Rumberger's blog
  • Joanne Fritz's blog
  • Danika Dinsmore's blog
  • Shannon O'Donnell's blog 
  • Natalie Aguirre's blog
  • Brooke Favero's blog
  • Barbara Watson's blog
  • Anita Laydon Miller's blog
  • Michael G-G's blog
  • Pam Torres's blog
  • Akoss-Nye Louwon's blog
  • Gabrielle Prendergast's blog
  • Kelly Polark's blog 
  • Isaiah J Campbell's blog
  • Kim Aippersbach's blog 
  • Laurisa White Reyes' blog