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Knights, castles and dragons, oh my!

Thomas and the Dragon Queen, a lively middle-grade novel, has knights, castles, mighty war horses, princesses and dragons. The reader starts out thinking they know what they are getting from a book with those ingredients, but Crum turns almost every one of those characters and plot devices on their ears. So much fun!

Loner in the Garret and Other Books to Keep You Company While Writing

Everyone who writes has days when they wonder what they heck they are doing. On a good day you can move past that and put some words on a page. On a bad day, you binge watch Frankie and Grace on Netflix, am I right?

Dragons, Chocolate: A great combination

After reading Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis, I wonder that there aren’t more books that combine chocolate and dragons. That’s a winning and — to my mind — unique combination. Burgis does a great job creating spunky characters who face daunting challenges but prevail with bravery, honesty and a little help from their friends.

A Middle Grade Novel That Knocks Cliches on Their Head ... Heads?

Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books) is not a new book, but it is one of the most fully nuanced stories of middle school that I’ve read.

Author Will Make You a Fan of Non-Fiction

As a longtime fan of local author Patricia Hruby Powell, I’m pleased to review her latest book, Struttin’ with some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong Becomes the First Lady of Jazz (Charlesbridge). One of Powell’s many talents is telling a narrative non-fiction story with bounce and verve. Her language and rhythm pulls even the most reluctant reader right into her story. Illustrations by Rachel Himes further enliven the text.

The Difference Between the Almost Right Word and the Right Word….

It is not unusual for people to comment on my vocabulary. Although it is typically not critical, I feel squeamish. How can people not know these — to my mind — perfectly ordinary words and how can they function without them?

Ranking Mind Set Vs Excellence Mind Set

I don't remember how or where I head about this book, Performing Under Pressure. It's not the kind of book I typically am drawn to (give me a de-cluttering book any day!), but there were a few sections that resonated with me so much that I photocopied them and they have been floating around on my desk for months. 

Wishtree: A Tree with a Story to Tell


“It’s hard to talk to trees. We’re not big on chit chat. That’s not to say we can’t do amazing things, things you’ll probably never do. Cradle downy owlets. Steady flimsy tree forts. Photosynthesize. But talk to people? Not so much.”

With that opening, who wouldn’t want to dive into Katherine Applegate’s latest book, Wishtree (Feiwel and Friends)?

Amy Stewart Adds Bling

I am a huge fan of Amy Stewarts Kopp sisters series (Girl Waits With A Gun, etc). If you don't know them, I urge you to check them out. So Amy is one of the few writers I folow on Goodreads. Recently she added this editing tip that I just love! It's about that final edit before you send you manuscript off. Some of her suggestions, like reading each page out loud, I know is spot on but painful. I know to do this but sometimes try not to. Partly I am lazy, partly I hate the sound of my voice but mostly because I know I will discover ugliness that I will have to confront!

Two Stories With Evil Aunts

Recently two different books I read featured unfeeling, tightly wound aunts. That is something I haven’t seen much of and so, for that admittedly feeble reason, I’m going to talk about both books.

In Stitch in Time (by Daphne Kalmar, Feiwel and Friends), Donut’s father dies unexpectedly, leaving her an orphan. Aunt Agnes shows up: all lumpy oatmeal, woody turnips, and the endless clickety clackety of knitting needles.


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