Welcome to the World of Genies by KidLit Author Tara Crowl + Free Book

Today’s post is brought to you by Kid Lit Author TARA CROWL.  Here’s Tara:

In my middle-grade novels Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape (Disney-Hyperion), my protagonist, Eden, is a twelve-year-old genie who wants to be a regular girl and live on Earth. But for her, that’s impossible—at least, until she grants 999 wishes and completes her genie career. Until then, she’s stuck in the lamp with her masters, Xavier and Goldie, who have raised every genie who’s ever lived in the lamp.

But during the brief periods of time she’s spent on Earth granting wishes, Eden has fallen in love with the world. She isn’t content to wait. So in Eden’s Wish, she finds a way to escape her lamp, comes to Earth, and poses as a regular girl. In Eden’s Escape, her wish finally comes true when the lamp’s rules change to allow her to live on Earth while completing her genie career.

Eden is strong-willed, adventurous, and brave, and she definitely knows what she does and does not like. To help you get to know her, here are Eden’s 5 favorite things, and her 5 least favorite things.

Eden’s 5 Favorite Things

  1. Growing up in the lamp, Eden never got to see the sun. In Eden’s Wish, she describes her first sighting of it: “She couldn’t have imagined light like this. She was used to the soft glow of her chandelier and to the flickering of candles on the dining table. Now she saw they were thin imitations of the bright light that baked the Earth like a cake in an oven.” She’s baffled and enamored by the sun, and back in the lamp, she dreams about it.

2. In the lamp, Eden takes lessons in every subject, as well as special units on Lamp History and Granting for Genies. Her favorite subject is biology. She delights in learning about living things, and dogs are her favorite. She can identify every breed. When she goes to Earth and sees them in real life, she can’t contain her excitement.

3. New friends. When Eden arrives on Earth after escaping the lamp, she meets a brother and sister named Tyler and Sasha. They befriend her right away, and lie to their father so Eden can stay at their apartment and go to school with them. They end up forming a friendship that carries on through the series. In Eden’s Escape, Eden becomes close friends with her guardian, a jubilant genie alum named Pepper. Later, when she is summoned to Paris for a granting and has to go on the run, she makes friends with a French girl named Melodie. Eden loves making new friends, and they play a vital role in her adventures. She also learns a lot about how to be a good friend.

4. The ocean. When Eden first shows up on a San Diego beach, she’s elated to see the ocean. She’s only seen it once before, on a granting in Jamaica. She’s so excited that she runs in and gets tossed around by the waves. It’s so bad that she has to be rescued!

5. More than anything else, Eden loves and values freedom. That’s why, in Eden’s Wish, she takes a huge risk and escapes the lamp to chase after it.

Eden’s 5 Least Favorite Things

  1. Writing reports. After her first granting in Eden’s Wish, Eden’s master Xavier scolds her for the mischievous way she twisted the wisher’s wishes. He assigns her a written report on how the granting should have been handled. Eden hates being told what to do, and how to do it. But while she’s under her masters’ control, there’s not much she can do about it.

2. Being patient. Eden wants to live on Earth, but first she has to complete her career as a genie. That means granting 999 wishes. In Eden’s Wish, she thinks, “That could take fifty years, or forty, or maybe, if she was lucky, thirty.” She simply can’t imagine waiting that long.

3. Being trapped. In Eden’s Wish, Eden wonders, “How much potential could you live up to in a prison? Potential lay out there on Earth, not trapped in an antique oil lamp.” She is desperate to be free, and live outside the lamp’s boundaries.

4. Deceitful people. In the lamp, Eden is fascinated by a genie alum named Sylvana. Sylvana is the only alum who doesn’t have any granted wishes listed in the Lamp History course guide, and Eden can tell that Xavier and Goldie become uncomfortable when she asks about her. On Earth, Sylvana shows up at Eden’s school, pretending to be her mother. At first, Eden is thrilled to meet the alum she always wondered about and looked up to. She thinks she’s finally found someone who understands her. But eventually, she learns that Sylvana is trying to use her to acquire the lamp and its power for herself. From that point forward, Sylvana becomes Eden’s enemy—and Eden starts to be wary of deceit.

 5. Letting people down. In Eden’s Escape, now that she’s living her dream of being on Earth, Eden is focused on protecting the people she loves, and she’s frustrated when she falls short. At one point, she laments: “This time, she’d really made a mess of things. She’d let down everyone she cared about: not only Pepper and the Loyals, who she had no hope of rescuing now, but also her masters, who were still stuck in the lamp…She couldn’t seem to do the right thing.” You’ll have to read the books to see if she’s able to turn things around!

Thanks for having me, and happy reading!     

EDEN’S WISH (EDEN OF THE LAMP #1) BY M. TARA CROWL

Age range: 9-12                  edenswish_cvr_5-20-15Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 1, 2015)

All twelve years of Eden’s life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home; but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom.

When Eden finds a gateway to Earth within the lamp, she takes her chance and enters the world she loves. And this time, she won’t be sent back after three wishes.

Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth’s pleasures–but quickly learns that this world isn’t as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power–even hurt Tyler and Sasha, the new mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends and protect the lamp’s magic, Eden must decide once and for all where she belongs.

EDEN’S ESCAPE (EDEN OF THE LAMP #2) BY M. TARA CROWL

Age range: 9-12

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 6, 2016)   edens-escape_final-2

Eden’s new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who’s also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting–only to find herself trapped in a laboratory.

David Brightly, owner of the world’s leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp’s power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly’s plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris–home to Electra’s headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.

PRAISE FOR THE EDEN OF THE LAMP SERIES

“Crowl’s imaginative story line rings with both perception and humor.”  ―Kirkus Reviews 

“Middle grade readers will enjoy the children’s autonomy and Eden’s humorous difficulties in grasping how school works…Hand this to readers who like their magical fantasy combined with middle school drama.”  ―School Library Journal

“An imaginative romp with a smart, snarky protagonist and a humorous interpretation of the world as we know it…[Eden] is also just plain entertaining, with a sassy attitude and a clever wit that saves her on more than one occasion.”   ―BCCB

 

_mg_3301-croppedTara Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She lives in New York City.

Tara is happy to give away a signed copy of EDEN’S WISH.  Just leave a comment  here and share the post on social media to enter.  ONE name will be drawn at random from those entered.  A winner will be announced on this blog on 12-15-16.

Karen Fortunati: Author of THE WEIGHT OF ZERO.

With the holidays around the corner, I am reblogging posts of some excellent books to remind readers that books make great gifts.  Here’s one on the YA novel THE WEIGHT OF ZERO…an award winning debut from author Karen Fortunati.

I had the pleasure of meeting Karen Fortunati a few years ago at a writer’s retreat in Avalon NJ.  We shared critiques and bonded over writing, the beach and sharing life stories.  Her brilliant writing stood out then and has only gotten better.  Karen’s debut YA, THE WEIGHT OF ZERO (Delacorte Press), will be out this fall and has already gotten raves and literary recognition.  It is with great pleasure that I feature her on today’s post.  Here’s Karen:

What’s In A Name? by Karen Fortunati

How do writers come up with their characters’ names? Divine inspiration? Subconscious memories intersecting with imagination? Focused creativity? Or just flat out making it up as we go along? For me, it’s a combo of all these methods. Here’s a little insight on the naming of some of my characters in The Weight of Zero.

Catherine Pulaski: The main character popped into my head with her first name firmly established. She was Catherine and there were no bones about it. Since writing her story, I’ve asked myself why “Catherine?” I’m guessing it’s because of my aunt/godmother, Catherine Lonski. Like my mother, she’s been a constant, positive and inspirational influence in my life. In addition, my mom has been interchanging my name with her sister’s for so long, the name feels like mine.

My mother, Margaret Angelo, Aunt Catherine (Lonski), Aunt Marilyn (Librizzi) (l to r) and little Emmy

My mother, Margaret Angelo, Aunt Catherine (Lonski), Aunt Marilyn (Librizzi) (l to r) and little Emmy

Now my fictional Catherine didn’t come with a last name so I had to choose one. Having gone through an American Revolution obsession several years ago, I decided to use a general’s name. I choose Casimir Pulaski, a Polish citizen who became enamored with the cause for independence. Once he got to America, he turned out to be a brilliant tactician and has been called the “Father of the American Cavalry.”

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/chron/civilwarnotes/pulaski.html

So why him? First off, I’m part Polish. Second, the Pulaski name is familiar to me. I grew up in New Jersey and worked most summers at my father’s pharmacy in Newark. My favorite landmarks for the commute to the store were Newark Airport and the Pulaski Skyway, a huge elevated structure always hulking in the distance.

http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/pulaski/history.shtm

Coincidentally, my dad owned a pharmacy on Pulaski Street in Newark prior to buying the one I worked in for most of my childhood. After writing the story, I feel like I see the Pulaski name everywhere. During a summer trip, we passed signs for the Pulaski Highway in Maryland and it gave me a little thrill. On a visit to the University of Scranton, my alma mater, I discovered a statue of Pulaski in town. I don’t think I had ever noticed it before.

 

Me at the General Pulaski Monument in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Me at the General Pulaski Monument in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Now, in writing this blog post, I’ve learned of another personal connection to General Pulaski. The general died on October 11th which also happens to be the release date of The Weight of Zero. In fact, October 11th is officially General Pulaski Memorial Day. I think the coincidence is weird but in a good way, like I made the right choice in choosing “Pulask

Jody Pulaski: Another name I purposely choose was Catherine’s mother, Jody. Originally, the mother’s name was Caroline (after one of my close friends) but due to the similarity of the two names, my editor thought something different might work better. This time the name jumped out at me – Jody – after one of my oldest and dearest friends. When I needed another name, I had to choose Stephanie, after another oldest and dearest and the remaining third of our friend triumvirate.

Jody Tole, Stephanie Hadley and me (l to r)

Jody Tole, Stephanie Hadley and me (l to r)

Jane Talmadge: I knew I would be naming one of my most favorite characters after my maternal grandmother, Jane. But my grandmother’s last name didn’t feel right so I used an old author pseudonym trick my younger brother Steven had told me about well before I even considered trying to write a book: Use your middle name and street name of house you grew up in. So I choose my grandmother’s first name and the street she raised my mother and her siblings on in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Aunt Darlene:  Again, this was an easy one. I choose Darlene after Darlene Beck-Jacobson. I met Darlene at one of Kathy Temean’s Avalon Full Manuscript Writers Retreats a few months before the release of Darlene’s first book, the wonderful Wheels of Change. From the very start, she’s been a continually supportive and encouraging writing ally and I’m so grateful to have met her.

It’s funny just how much your own experiences inform your writing. In The Weight of Zero, it’s the relationships between the women in the story  – mother, daughter, grandmother, aunt, friend – that help build a supportive network for Catherine.  Looking back on the names I choose, I’m thinking that maybe my writing (and naming) was one way to honor these relationships in my own life.

BDD_WeightOfZero_FB_Cover_1P_NO_DATE

The Weight of Zero: Contemporary Young Adult, Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its own living death on her again.

But Zero’s return is delayed due to unexpected and meaningful relationships that lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. These relationships along with the care of a gifted psychiatrist alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis as a death sentence. This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how some of the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

GOODREADS

Website: www.karenfortunati.com

Twitter: @karenfortunati

Facebook: @AuthorKarenFortunati        WeightofZero_front cover new12.indd

 Recognition:

A SUMMER/FALL 2016 INDIES INTRODUCE SELECTION

A SHELF AWARENESS BEA2016 YA  BUZZ BOOK

A BARNES AND NOBLE 2016 MOST ANTICIPATED DEBUT 

Kirkus: “Catherine’s acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is…. An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness.”        re3669

Darlene’s Review of THE WEIGHT OF ZERO:

Catherine – Cat – Pulaski is a high school junior navigating the ups and downs of adolescent friendships and relationships.  She’s also preparing herself for the dreaded appearance of Zero by stockpiling medicine for its inevitable return.  Cat is bipolar and Zero is the crippling depression that makes it impossible to live a normal life.  A life that isn’t defined by her mother’s constant monitoring, therapy sessions, and a mood rating scale from 0-10.  Zero found her once right after her grandmother died.  Cat is determined not to let it get her again without a plan.

            This amazing YA debut gives an honest and true voice to the silent and often un talked about world of mental illness.  It is a story with humor, heart and hope. A story that will stay with you for a long time.  It should be required reading for all high school students.

 

 

 

 

Yvonne Ventresca’s New YA: Black Flowers, White Lies.

Black Flowers, White Lies | Release Blitz | JenHalliganPR.com

We’re excited to be celebrating the release of BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca this week! Check out the book’s details and teaser, and be sure to enter the giveaway below.

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIESBlack Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication: October 4, 2016

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies

I take the stairs down. Once the stairwell door closes behind me, the basement seems darker than ever, as if the electricity is off. The light on my phone helps guide me to the laundry room. I flick the switch. Nothing happens. Not even the one good light turns on.

Maybe Norma’s in the middle of fixing the lightbulbs. She could have turned off the circuit breaker or something. But when I open the dryer, the drum light turns on as I dump the clothes into the basket. The electricity is working after all.

The light from the dryer illuminates the space and some­thing catches my eye. I focus my phone on the wall to my left.

“No.” I back up, banging into the open dryer door.

One word is scrawled in red capital letters across the wall: DAUGHTER. A bloody handprint drips in the space underneath.

I grab the basket. A cat T-shirt falls, but I don’t stop. I need to escape, fast. The elevator takes forever. The doors slide open. I expect demons, monsters, ghouls. It’s empty.

On our floor, I race to our apartment, fumble with my keys. My hands tremble too much to open the lock. “Blake!”

When he opens the door, I drop the basket to grab his arm. “Come with me.”

“El, what’s going on?”

I can’t speak on the elevator ride to the basement.

“Seriously, are you okay? You’re scaring me.”

“I’ll show you.”

I turn my phone light on when we leave the elevator and pull him into the dark laundry room. I illuminate the wall but can’t bear to look. “See?”

He’s quiet. I figure he’s as frightened as I am.

“See what?”

I turn my head and shine the light where the red scrawl was minutes before.

There’s nothing.

“Why are we in the dark?” Blake asks, flipping the laun­dry room switch.

The lights come on. The sudden brightness makes me blink as I stare at the blank wall.

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About the Author

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca | JenHalliganPR.com

Giveaway

Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies.
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Joshua David Bellin: Blog Tour Stop for SCAVENGER OF SOULS.

I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Joshua David Bellin’s sequel to his amazing post apocalyptic debut SURVIVAL COLONY 9.  SCAVENGER OF SOULS continues the story and had me riveted from the very first page. I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this fantastic book which launches tomorrow. You can check out my review for SCAVENGER OF SOULS on goodreads:

About the book:   Querry Genn is running out of time. He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s leading the colony through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. When they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, JSOS_compSMSoshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Age: 12+

Release date: August 23, 2016

For order links, visit http://joshuadavidbellin.com/my-books/

Available in hardcover and e-book

Praise for Josh’s first book, Survival Colony 9:

Tantalizing mysteries abound among the human and inhuman inhabitants of the bleak landscape, and the post-apocalyptic plot is satisfyingly full of twists.—Booklist

Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, Survival Colony 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.—Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author of the Missing Series

I asked Josh about the series and whether there will be more “survival” stories and how he conducted research for the books:  Here’s his response:  I consider the Survival Colony series complete in the sense that Scavenger of Souls wraps up Querry Genn’s story. But I’ve been thinking about how much fun it would be to write a prequel, narrating the events before Querry’s time: the wars, the first appearance of the Skaldi, the rise of the survival colonies. We’ll see if that ever comes to fruition!
Regarding the research I do for a series like this: since it’s science fiction, I had to make sure the fiction was founded in science. So, for example, a few of the things I had to research were how long canned goods remain edible, which parts of a truck’s engine could crack due to heat, how viruses overwhelm host cells, and what scientists have discovered about certain types of bacteria that live directly off electrons. No matter how seemingly bizarre the events were in the book, I wanted them to have plausible explanations!
 About the author:

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

Launch party portrait 2Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

To find out more about Josh and his books, visit him at the following:

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com

Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin

Janet Fox Talks About Her New MG Historical.

Children’s book author JANET FOX has always been one of my favorite authors.  Her YA historical novels are part of my collection and when I heard she was writing an MG, I knew I wanted to read it.  THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE did not disappoint.  Here is MY review of this wonderful novel:  CharmedChildrencover (1)

“This creepy, scary, spine-tingly middle grade novel takes place in Scotland in 1940.  Kat and her younger siblings Rob and Amelie, are sent by their parents to Rookskill Castle Boarding School in Scotland to escape Hitler’s blitz bombing of London at the start of WWII.  Rookskill is no ordinary boarding school.  And the Lady Eleanor who runs it, is no ordinary headmistress.  As soon as they enter its doors, Kat feels off balance and at odds with the place.  Teachers behave strangely.  Ghostly figures roam the grounds.  Children seem to disappear.  Secret passages, hidden doors, ghosts, strange noises and even stranger nightmares fill Kat’s days and nights.

Kat suspects the castle – and its occupants – are under some kind of spell.  But for what purpose?  Are there German spies about?  And, what does it all have to do with the mysterious chatelaine Lady Eleanor keeps fastened to her waist?  Is it good magic or a more sinister dark magic? 

     This is a splendid page turner for anyone who enjoys mystery, fantasy, or historical fiction.  Rich in details and grounded in time and place, it will keep you up at night and make you contemplate the very nature of good and evil.”

Now here is the interview:

How did you come to write for children?

I began writing for children when my son was little and it was clear he has dyslexia. I tried making stories for him that would help him learn – they were terrible! But it got me hooked on writing for children. I joined SCBWI, became friends with Kathi Appelt, who became a mentor to me, and then found my agent and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I earned my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

You’ve had a successful career writing for YA with FORGIVEN, FAITHFUL, and SIRENS. What made you decide to write a book for the middle grade crowd?

I was actually trying to write new and different material, through my MFA program. I was trying to stretch and grow outside my comfort zone. When I had the idea for THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE, I began writing and right away knew that the book had a middle grade voice and a middle grade sensibility. It reminded me of the books I read when I was that middle grade age. Plus Kat was a middle grade character. The novel couldn’t have been written any other way.

Where did the idea for THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE come about? 

I’d just finished drafting SIRENS, and lazily perusing the internet, when a friend of mine posted a picture of a piece of jewelry called a chatelaine. I’d heard of chatelaines, and seen a few (check out the chatelaine worn by Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey), but this one was weird. So weird that I pulled the image off the internet and put it on my desktop. So weird that I couldn’t stop staring at it. So weird that it made a story in my mind, and it wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d put that story down on paper.

You can see that chatelaine as a drawing in the opening pages of the novel. It served as a guide for the concept of this story.

 The Cover of the book is amazing!  Care to comment on it?

I love my cover art!! Greg Ruth is the artist. He perfectly captured several things about the story: the dark, foreboding, mysterious, huge castle; the rooks, my antagonist’s familiars; the moonlight and the wavery sun; the odd Lady; the four children who stand in the circle of light, not really sure they should enter. One of the themes of the novel is that “the power is within you” – to solve problems, to grow – and so the suggestion of crossing a threshold and how that holds both fear and hope is perfect and resonant.

blurb:  “Keep calm and carry on.”

  That’s what Katherine Bateson’s father told her, and that’s what she’s trying to do: when her father goes off to the war, when her mother sends Kat and her brother and sister away from London to escape the incessant bombing, even when the children arrive at Rookskill Castle, an ancient, crumbling manor on the misty Scottish highlands.

            But it’s hard to keep calm in the strange castle that seems haunted by ghosts or worse. What’s making those terrifying screeches and groans at night? Why do the castle’s walls seem to have a mind of their own? And why do people seem to mysteriously appear and disappear?

Kat believes she knows the answer: Lady Eleanor, who rules Rookskill Castle, is harboring a Nazi spy. But when her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat must uncover the truth about what the castle actually harbors—and who Lady Eleanor really is—before it’s too late.

Tell us THREE things about the main character in the story.

Kat – Katherine Bateson – worships her father, who works for MI5 and is a spy abroad during World War 2. Kat has a knack for puzzle-solving and a facility for math and science, and is very practical-minded. And Kat must learn that the power of magic, and the power to rescue her friends and family, lies within her.

What’s next?      IMG_8226b

I’m working on a sequel, although nothing is sure yet that Viking will want one – but I have such a fun idea that I’m going to run with it. I’m also working on another middle grade fantasy. My agent is shopping a YA science fiction and a non-fiction picture book, and I’ve got a solid draft of a YA contemporary novel set in Montana. I’ve got lots on my desktop!

New Spring Picture Books from Creston Books

CRESTON BOOKS – the small publisher run by Marissa Moss in Berkeley, CA – continues to impress readers and reviewers alike.  Many of its books, my own WHEELS OF CHANGE included, have won awards.  The new spring list is out and it looks like another winner.   Check out these gems:

The Girl Who Saved Yesterday
Written by Julius Lester, Illustrated by Carl Angel                Yesterdaycvr

Julius Lester at his best, language so rich you can feel it on your tongue

When the girl, Silence, is sent by the trees to save Yesterday, she doesn’t know what her
task is, only that it is important. Returning to the village that cast her out, Silence recognizes her
purpose: to join the dead with the living in an act that celebrates their memory.

“The Girl Who Saved Yesterday reads like an ancient myth. At times I found myself getting
lost in the dreamlike text, but the joys of re-reading allowed me to dig deeper into the stunning
illustrations. A challenging, but ultimately very provocative tale with illustrations to match.”
– Martha Pettit, Folio Books
ISBN: 978-1-939547-24-8              Ages: 4 to 9

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep
By Robin Newman, Illustrated by Chris Ewald

Hildie Bitterpickles has the perfect home until a cast of noisy neighbors move in next
door. Who can sleep near a giant clomping on his beanstalk, children running all over their
shoe house or three blind mice who like to play with hammers and saws?     HildieCoverFINAL

“Bewitchingly funny, Hildie Bitterpickles’s story leaves kids howling with laughter while
sharing with them a lesson about how to solve our problems and get along with others.”
– Mr. Gilvarry’s Third Grade, Southold Elementary School

“This magical story teaches us all that it is better to face your troubles, rather than run
away from them. Young readers will delight as they recognize some noisy guest stars among
the pages, visiting us from classic fairy tales.”
– April Howe, Villa Park Public Library
ISBN: 978-1-939547-23-1        Ages: 4 to 8

Mira’s Diary: California Dreaming By Marissa Moss
Mira travels to 1864 San Francisco to confront her mother about changing history only to learn that things aren’t what they appear and much more is at stake than she could have imagined.
In the last book of the time-travel series, Mira explores the past of her familiar Bay Area,
discovering layers of history in San Francisco and learning the real reason her mother has
been working to change history. On the way, she meets Mark Twain and uncoversMiraCalifCvr the Watcher’s real identity.

“Readers will enjoy this enthralling glimpse of history.”
– School Library Journal
“An engrossing, diary-style blend of history, mystery, and time travel.”
– Publishers Weekly

ISBN: 978-1-939547-22-4    Ages: 8 to 13

 

 

Busy Busy by Lucy Scott

What do toddlers really do all day? Busy, Busy lets you in on the secrets of their imaginative world.
Parents may think their toddlers are simply playing or making messes, but really they’re building cities, going on exciting adventures, and creating masterpieces.

“Busy Busy captures in stunningly detailed illustrations the glory that is an energetic toddler. Kids will adore seeing what a mess the nameless busy, busy narrator can make in this quirky, fun book.”
– Martha Pettit, Folio Books                 BusyCvr

“In the delightful Busy Busy parents are sure to recognize their own child, whether she is an explorer, an architect, a master chef, or just plain tired.
– Jim Averbeck, author of One Word from Sophia
ISBN: 978-1-939547-25-5
Ages: 3 to 5

Please address any questions to Marissa Moss:
marissamoss@crestonbooks.co
Creston Books
PO Box 9369
Berkeley, CA 94709

facebook.com/crestonbooks

Twitter @CrestonBooks
http://www.crestonbooks.co

 

Celebrate Multi-Cultural Children’s Book Day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Why not join the celebration by reading some great books that honor all kinds of cultures.  Here are some old and new ones from my collection:

1. THE PEACE BELL by Margi Preus (Illustrated by Hideko Takahashi (Henry Holt 2008): This story is inspired by the American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell that was brought to America by a US Navy Peace crew who found it abandoned in a Japanese ship yard after the end of WWII. They later brought it back to Japan as an act of friendship and peace.  Another book by Margi is the MG historical WEST OF THE MOON, that takes place in Norway.  A wonderful introduction to Scandinavian culture and a riveting folktale.

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2. IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA by Muon Van, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books 2015): A beautifully illustrated and tenderly told circular tale of a Vietnamese fisherman and the family who waits for his return. This book has received numerous starred reviews and well-deserved accolades.

3. LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt DeLaPena just won the 2016 Newbery Medal.  Take a peek at this delightful story honoring Hispanic culture.

What are some of your favorite multi-cultural titles?

Why not gather your children around and read them again while enjoying a piece of chocolate cake…The 27th is also National Chocolate Cake Day!