Saturday, April 30, 2016

Celebrate El Dia de los Ninos & Indie Bookstore Day!!!

Today we celebrate two special occasions: EL DIA DE LOS NINOS, a celebration emphasizing the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. For more information, visit the official website,

It is also INDIE BOOKSTORE DAY!!! So, today is the perfect day to run to your local bookstore and purchase an honest to God, real book to support independent businesses and keep them open! Learn more here:

In recognition of both of these events, I'd like to suggest some diverse books for kids that are worth plunking down your dollars for. Enjoy!

Last Stop on Market Street

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Paper Wishes

 Ten-year-old Manami did not realize how peaceful her family's life on Bainbridge Island was until the day it all changed. It's 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Manami and her family are Japanese American, which means that the government says they must leave their home by the sea and join other Japanese Americans at a prison camp in the desert. Manami is sad to go, but even worse is that they are going to have to give her and her grandfather's dog, Yujiin, to a neighbor to take care of. Manami decides to sneak Yujiin under her coat and gets as far as the mainland before she is caught and forced to abandon Yujiin. She and her grandfather are devastated, but Manami clings to the hope that somehow Yujiin will find his way to the camp and make her family whole again. It isn't until she finds a way to let go of her guilt that Manami can reclaim the piece of herself that she left behind and accept all that has happened to her family.


Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you…
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.

Child of Spring

Basanta, an Indian girl balanced on the edge of childhood and young adulthood, narrates Zia’s second novel (after The Garden of My Imaan) with a vivacious voice. She lives in a hut in a small village with her parents and younger sister, begrudgingly working alongside her mother at the “Big House” as a servant. A keen observer, Basanta views the world as rich with imagery; her employer’s privileged daughter, Little Bibi, can be “fiery as a mango pickle,” while a jamun tree “rained down fat berries that splattered the ground with purple.” After finding a lost ring belonging to Little Bibi, Basanta decides to keep it for herself. Guilt gives her a “worried heart,” and she slowly matures, using her good fortune to help less fortunate friends who often go hungry.

Manatee Rescue

Manuela had imagined that killing a manatee would be like killing a very big fish, just more exciting. But when her father successfully harpoons one, leaving its baby orphaned, she finds that her feelings have changed. She vows to rescue the baby manatee and return it to the river. But she soon realizes what an enormous task she’s taken on. Will she be able to save the baby manatee—and protect him from being hunted in the future, too?

Friday, April 29, 2016


* Help A School In Need
* Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer
* We Need Diverse Books...and Authors


David Mitchell
Random House
Adult - Horror

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. . . .

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.


I've gotten hooked on horror novels lately, and after Googling the top horror novels of 2015, I ordered a copy of SLADE HOUSE by the author of CLOUD ATLAS, David Mitchell.

The premise is an interesting twist of the haunted house theme. The door, or aperture, to Slade House appears only once every nine years to admit a new victim of The Twins. The Twins, Norah and Jonah, are soul vampires, devouring unsuspecting souls to fuel their own for another almost decade. But things start to unravel with each successive murder.

I enjoyed Slade House. The book is divided into five separate sections, and each section is divided into more subsections that are very short. So it was an easy read. The story itself is clever and well-written. It's a fun romp that kept me curious enough to keep turning pages. As far as being a horror novel, this is one of the more mild books I've read. A good ghostly tale that is more entertaining than scary. I'd recommend it to anyone taking the genre out for a test drive.

All in all, I give it a strong four stars. A light, enjoyable read...might be good for Halloween.


Profanity: High
Sexuality: Moderate
Violence: Moderate

Saturday, April 23, 2016


* We Need Diverse Books...and Authors (Part 1)
* Win a copy of A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE and $25 PayPal Cash
* Ruta Sepetys' SALT TO THE SEA

Middle Grade Monday is a weekly collection of blog posts assembled by author Shannon Messenger. For a complete list of posts, visit Shannon's blog HERE.
...and help a school in need

I'm thrilled to announce the release of my newest non-fiction title. The Kids' Guide to Writing Fiction teaches children from ages 8 to 18 how to tap into their imaginations and craft their own stories.

For each copy purchased HERE during the months of April & May, one copy of The Kids' Guide to Writing Fiction will be donated to the Stony Creek Joint Unified School District in Elk Creek, CA.

Many of the students in Elk Creek live on tribal lands and have limited access to libraries and bookstores. For many years, the district's Special Education Specialist, Lorna Cox, has spent her personal funds on purchasing and distributing books to these children. In 2015-16, Middle Shelf Magazine adopted the district, donating several hundred books as well. Now Skyrocket Press would like to do our part.

Help us reach our goal of sending these kids 100 books by May 31st. Please consider ordering The Kids' Guide to Writing Fiction for a child, grandchild, or student today.

[Note: While the book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, only orders placed through this link can be counted.]

Thank you for your support.

In The Kids' Guide to Writing Fiction, students explore the building blocks needed to construct a story; characterization, setting, plot, perspective, plot, imagery, and dialog. Then, using these building blocks, they create their own stories.

Accessible to both the struggling student and the budding novelist—as well as to teachers, and even adult aspiring writers, author Laurisa White Reyes presents key elements of story writing and clarifies them with examples and worksheets. Concepts are explained in simple, clear language while gently introducing vocabulary words. The Kid's Guide to Writing Fiction offers welcome guidance to storytellers of all ages.

Friday, April 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: WINTER by Marissa Meyer

WINTER: The Lunar Chronicles
Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends
Ages 12 - 17

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. 

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long. 

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.


Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles is my favorite series of all time! It was sheer torture waiting a year between books. This fifth and final installment follows Cinder and all her cohorts into rebellion against evil Lunar Queen Levana and her sinister thamauturge Aimery. We become better acquainted with Winter, Levana's delicate, kind, and beautiful niece who becomes instrumental in Cinder's efforts to reclaim her throne.

Winter, like all the books in the series, is packed with adventure, romance, humor, and compelling characters that truly make you fall in love over and over again. While all the romantic couples in the series are endearing, my favorite is Wolf and Scarlett. Go Team Wolf!!!

It is so hard to believe that after loving The Lunar Chronicles for four years, it has come to an end. Nooooo!!!!!! Winter brings the entire story to a satisfying and smile-inducing end. And if you haven't read Cinder, the first book in the series, yet...what are you waiting for???


Violence: High
Profanity: None
Sexuality: Mild

Thursday, April 21, 2016


A Hard Look at Diversity and Children's Books, Part I

On Friday, April 1st, I gave a presentation on diversity at the AWP (Associated Writers Program) Conference in Los Angeles, CA. In the children's book industry, there has always been a wide gap between the numbers of diverse children who read books versus the percent of those books who feature diverse characters. 

For example, in 2014 51% of children enrolled in American schools were of diverse ethnicities: black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, and so forth. And yet out of the 3200 books for children published that year, only 12% featured characters of color, up a mere 9% from a decade earlier.

Fortunately, thanks to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign (founded in 2014) and other grass roots movements, the publishing industry now recognizes the discrepancy and is making an effort to correct it. However, what I've discovered is that many of these efforts, while positive, are resulting in more white authors writing diverse books, while what we really need are more diverse writers.

The children's book publishing industry is suffering from a lack of diversity. In 2014, 88% of all children's books published were written by white authors, and 79% of industry professionals (editors, publishers, publicists, etc.) are white.

In my presentation, I posed questions that we in the industry still need to address. Why aren't more people of color writing books for children? How can we reach today's diverse youth and encourage them to become tomorrow's storytellers?

The problem is complex, including issues such as high school drop out rates, poverty, the inaccessibility of books in low income communities, and so forth. Motivating white authors to write books with diverse characters so children of color can see themselves in the books they read is just the first step to correcting a problem that has existed for more than a century.

As a mother of five children of Hispanic origin (their father was born and raised in Guatemala) and as a concerned author of books for children, my books all feature diverse characters. I believe it is my duty and privilege to help heal our industry and to nurture children of all races and backgrounds through the stories I tell.

How can you help? If you are an author, write stories with diverse characters. If you are a teacher or librarian, stock your shelves with diverse books. If you are a parent, purchase and read diverse books to your children.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

MMGM: Win a copy of A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE by Dorthea Jensen

* Sign up for my newsletter and get a FREE STORY!
* GREENHORN by Anna Olswanger -- Now a Movie!
* Ruta Sepetys' SALT TO THE SEA -- A Must Read 

Middle Grade Monday is a weekly collection of blog posts assembled by author Shannon Messenger. For a complete list of posts, visit Shannon's blog HERE.

Scroll down for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Title: A Buss From Lafayette
Author: Dorothea Jensen
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult Historical Fiction
Recommended Ages: 10-17
Number o f Pages: 266
Publisher: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: April 22, 2016
Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the early 19th cen tury. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother , Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara resents that her late mother ’ s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make mat ters worse, “ Prissy Priscilla ” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clar a act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dr ead Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this. Duri ng the last week of June, 1825, Clara ’ s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seve n days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, herself, and about Lafayette. S he comes to understand the huge and vital role the young French aristocrat played in Am erica ’ s Revolutionary War and to see that her problems might not be quite so terrible aft er all.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo

About the Author: Dorothea Jensen

Dorothea Jensen, born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in C hillicothe, Illinois. She majored in English literature at Carleton College. After teaching high-school English and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, she earne d a master s degree in education at the University of New Mexico. In 1989, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published Dorothea s novel for young readers about the American Revolution, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. In addition to other honors, it was named an Internation al Reading Association Teacher s Choices Selection and is read in classrooms throughout th e U.S. A Buss from Lafayette is set in the small New Hampshire town where Dorothea lives. Two thing s inspired her to write this story. First, was learning that Lafayette pass ed right by her house during his 1824-5 Triumphal Tour. Another was meeting a woman whose a ncestor received a kiss from Lafayette. That buss, passed down through generations, eventually came to Dorothea. This sparked her interest in Lafayette s contrib utions to our struggle for independence. Dorothea also enjoys writing rhyming verse. She has written a series of award-winning illustrated modern Christmas stories in verse fe aturing Santa's Izzy Elves.

For more information about Dorothea and her books, please visit

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card
 or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: May 2, 11:59 pm, 2016 Open to: Internationally How to enter:  Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WI N. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn t hrough the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the wi nner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Fa cebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Dorothea Jensen and is hosted and ma naged by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to