Sunday, March 25, 2012


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.

by Anne Nesbet
Ages 10 & up
272 pp.

On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Maya’s own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?

With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family tree—grandmothers who walked in magic, a cousin so unremarkable she’s actually hard to see, and a terrible family habit of betraying one’s brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.

As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.

Anne's debut novel has met with rave reviews. The Horn book calls it "an impressive achievement," and VOYA says The Cabinet of Earths is "a unique, interesting fantasy with just enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages long into the night."

Anne takes a few moments out of her wonderfully busy schedule to visit with us today and share some of her thoughts about her book and books in general. After the interview, be sure to scroll down to find out how to win a copy of The Cabinet of Earths.

1.  Tell about The Cabinet of Earths in one sentence.
To keep her family safe, 12-year-old Maya has to take on the magical underworld of Paris, in which houses have bronze salamanders for door handles, the most beautiful people are all hooked on the sweet-smelling “anbar,” and a shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths has chosen Maya to be its next keeper.

2.  What inspired you to write this story?
Well, the inspiration for THE CABINET OF EARTHS came to me at several times and from several different sources.  I thought up one of the characters in the book (the mysteriously difficult to see Cousin Louise) one particularly grumpy summer day.  Then I moved to Paris, and in the
apartment we rented was a very intriguing glass cabinet with bottles of sand (not earth) in it collected from deserts all around the world--hmm!  And in the neighborhood where we lived were at least two houses with salamander door handles.  At that point what could I do but turn it all
into a story?

3.  What books did you enjoy reading when you were young?
I read absolutely all the time when I was a kid, except for those sad moments where I was being prevented from reading by glaring teachers, sisters who wanted the bedroom light off RIGHT NOW, or carsickness.  I enjoyed all sorts of books, ranging from the Oz books to Nancy Drew.  I
loved A WRINKLE IN TIME and LORD OF THE RINGS and Elizabeth Enright's FOUR-STORY MISTAKE and THIMBLE SUMMER (in which she calls cartwheels "the perfect expression of human joy"--but I was too much of a klutz to be able to turn cartwheels myself).  I loved MRS. PIGGLE-WIGGLE's comical morality tales.  I cried buckets at the end of CHARLOTTE'S WEB.  I loved Jane Langton's magical stories about Concord, Massachusetts (THE DIAMOND IN THE WINDOW).  I was moved by the magical melancholy of MOOMINVALLEY IN NOVEMBER and inspired by stories of courage in hard times, like Laura Ingalls Wilder's THE LONG WINTER or Esther Hautzig's THE ENDLESS STEPPE or Lois Lenski's JUDY'S JOURNEY.  As you can see, I'll just go on and on and on and on, given half a chance.

4.   What books do you enjoy reading now?
I still read almost all the time, most notoriously while I walk.  Recently (past couple of weeks) I have enjoyed THE RING OF SOLOMON (Jonathan Stroud), EMBASSYTOWN (China MiĆ©ville), DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE (Laini Taylor), OKAY FOR NOW (Gary Schmidt), and a bunch of books from my fellow first-time authors, like Gina Damico's CROAK and Marissa Burt's STORYBOUND and Jenn Reese's ABOVE WORLD and (just this morning!) J. Anderson Coats's THE WICKED AND THE JUST.

5.  Tell us a little about your journey to publication.I wrote THE CABINET OF EARTHS, as I said above, during a year in which my family was living in France.  Well, it turns out that there's a very active chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in Paris, so I ended up with the best of all possible critique groups.  What's more, SCBWI brought Rosemary Brosnan from HarperCollins to Paris for a workshop.  One of my critique-group friends told me I HAD to sign up to meet with Rosemary.  HAD to.  Plus, would I mind having my meeting with Rosemary right this very afternoon, since the next day was all scheduled?

I guess I must have said yes, because the next thing I remember was heading off to meet with the scary Harper editor, a bunch of pages clutched in my (trembling, naturally) hands.  Rosemary wasn't feeling well (in fact, she was really feeling bad!), so I had to go up to her room, where she heroically read those pages, chuckled a few times, and said, "Send this to me when you're done!"  (---Notice how real life sounds like a fairy tale when you just cleverly edit out a few details, like about twenty-six revisions and the fact that THE CABINET OF EARTHS was the fourth novel I had written and all those bouts of writerly despair in the early years of the twenty-first century?  But when things suddenly click, it IS like magic!)
6.  What can we expect from you in the future?
The next book is called A BOX OF GARGOYLES, and it continues the story of Maya's adventures in Paris.  I think the book after that will be about something completely different!
Thank you so much, Laurisa, for this interview!  It gave me a chance to be all nostalgic all over again for that magical year I spent eating croissants and writing under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  Well, almost under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  Fairly close to the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, on days when the sun was out!  :)


Anne Nesbet has graciously offered to giveaway 1 copy of her book The Cabinet of Earths. To be eligible to win, just leave a comment below along with an email address so I can contact you. Extra entries can be earned by Tweeting this post or posting it on Facebook. Just be sure to mention what you did. The giveaway will run through April 10th.


  1. This book looks like it would make a great gift for my 13yr old grandson. He loves to read, and loves anything that even whiffs of supernatural or paranormal.


    Link to my Twitter post!/NoraAdrienne/status/184035356604248064

  2. I've been waiting to read this book for quite some time - I'm so excited that you're giving it away! Thank you!

    pherlaithiel (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. It looks like as children, we read the same books. Now that we're adults and can read anything we want, we continue reading almost exactly the same materials. Good reading is good reading, regardless of the age of the audience!

  4. I would love to read THE CABINET OF EARTHS with my daughter thank you. It looks wonderful.


  5. Thank you for the chance to win this book. It sounds awesome. Can't wait to read it.

  6. Sounds like a really fun read! The cover is just fabulous :)


    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  7. Wow, this sounds like a great middle grade book.

  8. I've had my eye on this for a while! Thanks for the giveaway!

    kemendraugh at gmail dot com

  9. My kids and I are reading this aloud RIGHT NOW! We love it! (And we already have a copy, so please let someone else win this fantastic story).

    Thank you so much for the interview! While walking my dog yesterday, I passed a woman reading a book (as she walked). I only wish I could manage my dog, walking, and reading all at once; I may have to practice and see if I can handle it.

  10. Funny that we're both interviewing Anne & giving away her book the same day. Don't enter me in the contest. Loved your interview and learning more about Anne's experience with her publisher and the books she likes to read.

  11. I just read Natalie's interview with Anne - interesting to learn more with your different interview questions. Like Anne, I read while I walk and recently enjoyed some of the same books she mentioned - Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Okay for Now.

    My daughter is named Maya like the main character in Cabinet of Earths, and she would love this book! Thanks for the giveaway-
    kristinbartleylenz at gmail dot com

  12. I am really looking forward to reading this one. I especially enjoy books that occur in worlds unfamiliar to me. That's how I do my exploring. :)

  13. I haven't heard of this one before - sounds great. Thanks for the tip :)

  14. My little brother really wants to read this :D
    puieread at yahoo dot com

  15. This one sounds like a lot of fun: I'd love to win a copy! aippersbach at shaw dot ca

  16. I've featured this book on my blog a few weeks ago. It would be neat to win :D
    Thanks for the interview too. Once I'm done reading this one I will be looking forward to A BOX OF GARGOYLES.

    email: ank272(at)live(dot)com

  17. LOL, I loved the magically edited road to publication story! This sounds like such a fun read.

  18. I liked this interview, thanks...and boy, would it not be great to not get carsick whilst reading? What would that be like? Thanks for the opportunity to have a copy of my own of this book--it's high on my to read list!

  19. I love reading middle grade books and this sounds really interesting.

  20. Yay, Anne!!! She's an awesome person and author!!! Great interview and giveaway, Laurissa!

  21. sounds terrific! i'd love to give it a read. happy mmgm!
    gina dot carey at gmail dot com

  22. yay! what a great read! thansk so much!

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  23. Growing up I loved Nancy Drew as well, and I still love Lord of the Rings. I still own my whole collection of Nancy Drew books :)

    thebookcellar @

  24. Great interview--thanks for posting it! Would love to read another excellent MG book!

    tlconwaywriteshere (at) gmail (dot) com

  25. I'd love to win this for my grandson. I'm trying to get him to do more reading and I know he would enjoy this book!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com


    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  27. One more cute looking book to watch for. :)

  28. The Cabinet of Earths sounds like a great book! I love the cover. There are lots of beautiful photograph-type covers out there but that's the problem. There are too many of them. I really like this more cartoon-drawn cover! Got my attention right away!

  29. oh man...I am back to leave my email address!

    justdeb @ debamarshall dot com