Things are moving along well with my mid-grade novel, Most Beautiful (Royal Fireworks Press). I received my copy of the manuscript for editing yesterday. It looks great and I'm excited that this manuscript is on its way to book form. It won't be long now!
I just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by RoaldDahl. What a delightful classic story. It's sweet and fun. It's also mouth-watering. I found myself snacking as I read often!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about an extremely poor boy, named Charlie, who lives near a chocolate factory. Just when things look the bleakest for Charlie, he wins a chance to tour the chocolate factory. Four other retched children tour the factory along with Charlie. One by one, the tour ends for the mean and nasty children until only Charlie remains. Mr. Willy Wonka, owner of the chocolate factory, chooses Charlie as his heir.
This is a great story to read aloud to younger children as well as a great story for second or third graders to read to themselves. I highly recommend reading this book - Don't just watch the movie!
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is a YA novel about earth in the future after the oil age. Ships in this future run by wind and solar energy. The main character, Nailer, works the dangerous and dirty job of light crew, breaking down old oil tankers. He lives a lowly disadvantaged life and has to choose between saving a rich girl's life or changing his own. He chooses to save the rich girl and ends up changing his life for the better anyway.
This is a great book for boys, ages 14 and up, interested in technology and gritty adventure stories.
Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death, by D.J. MacHale, is about a 14-year-old boy, Bobby Pendragon, who is thrust into a life he's unfamiliar with. The book starts off with Bobby leading a normal life, kissing a girl, playing in the basketball play-offs, and loving his dog. Until his Uncle Press shows up unexpectedly and convinces Bobby to go on an unknown adventure.
Bobby travels to another dimension and saves a world. He learns that he is a Traveler and has a responsibility to fight evil throughout the universe and other alternate dimensions. He's not sure he wants that life, but after his family disappears, he's has no choice but to continue being a Traveler with his Uncle Press.
The story is delivered in a unique way. Bobby writes journals to his friends back on Earth. We read the journals along with his friends.
This book is the first in a series of books. The plot is set up well to carry on for many books. With alternate dimensions and other worlds, the possibilities for Bobby Pendragon are endless.
This series of books is geared toward junior high boys. There's lots of action, a small bit of language, and cute girls.
One of my middle grade novels is being published by Royal Fireworks Press. They are an educational publisher for the gifted and talented. The book is called Most Beautiful. It's about a girl's struggle to discover true beauty set against the backdrop of September 11th. It's one of my special books that I hoped would one day get published.
I just finished reading Louisiana's Song, by Kerry Madden. It's a snapshot of life in the mountains of North Carolina in the 60s. The voice is fantastic and the plot is interesting. This would be a great book for a child that's interested in bluegrass music. I enjoyed reading it.
The Kite Runner, by KhaledHosseini is a story about the former and the modern Afghanistan through the eyes of a young boy. It's powerful and unforgettable. It enlightened and moved me. Khaled Hosseini gives an inside look at the violence that the Afghan people have been battling against for centuries. This is a YA/adult novel, not for young children.
The first book in the 39 Clues series is called, The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan. He does a great job setting up the premise of the story. Two orphans must choose whether they want to take an inheritance or accept a quest. They accept the quest. There is peril and intrigue as soon as they begin the quest. Mysterious characters are introduced and little known history is woven seamlessly into the story. I found it very interesting.
Each chapter focuses on the perspective of a different character. This approach to the story occasionally interrupted the flow for me.
This is an excellent book series for any adventurous child that enjoys reading a good mystery.
Landon Snow And the Auctor's Riddle, by R.K. Mortenson is the first book in a series of six or seven books. I think the message of the book is great, but I got a little bogged down with the fantasy details. I wondered as I read if all the detail was necessary.
I finished reading Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff, a Newberry Honor book. It's because of books like this that I love to read and want to write. I could not put it down. Ms. Giff had me completely tied up with her character, Hollis Woods. The story is told in a unique and fascinating manner using flashbacks and drawings created by Hollis Woods.
I loved the book and recommend it to middle-grade novel readers everywhere.
I am happy to report that I received two new nonfiction picture book contracts this week with E&E Publishing.
E&E Publishing has a wonderful book out about being a freelance writer by Nancy Sanders, called Yes You Can . . . Write Children's Books. Check it out. If you want a career in writing for children, it's an excellent tool to help shape and guide your career.
I just finished reading Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli. It was a Newberry Honor book and I see why. It was thought provoking and uplifting. Maybe it should have been the winner.
The Golly Whopper Games, by Jody Feldman is a clever updated version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I really enjoyed reading it and trying to solve the puzzles myself. I was NOT as good at the puzzles as the main character, Gil! (I would have been out in round one.)
This is an excellent book to read aloud in school. It encourages cooperative problem solving, higher levels of thinking, and math skills.
I loved the book and would encourage 3rd - 6th grade teachers to read it aloud in their classrooms.
I visited a second grade classroom today. The students were working on researching topics and taking notes. I talked about looking at the pictures and reading the captions in a book to find valuable facts when researching.
Then the students got to work. I walked around and helped them find facts and organize their notes.
The students were delightful and I had fun helping them.
This past Saturday, I attended the SCBWI New Years Resolutions Conference in Syracuse, NY.
The morning began with a talk by author Carla McClafferty, a non-ficiton children's author from Arkansas. She offered advice on researching non-ficiton children's books. Her ideas were inspirational. I left feeling ready to tackle a non-fiction writing project.
Illustrators, Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin spoke next. They were hillarious, talented, and down to earth. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them and I gained a great deal from their talk even though I'm not an illustrator.
Randi Rivers, an editor from Charlesbridge, spoke next. She was insightful and helpful about getting the most out of your submission. One thing I found very helpful was her list detailing of the elements of a fiction synopsis. Recently, I hunted for a good guide to writing a ficiton synopsis and I couldn't find one. I will use her list from now on.
Overall, this was one of the best conferences on writing for children I've attended. I plan to attend next year.