Monday, April 23, 2012

Winners of My One Hundred Follower Giveaway

First, thanks to all of you who have commented on my post for my One Hundred Follower Giveaway.  I appreciate the interest of everyone who had requested a book.

Congratulations to the winners:

Grigory wins THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan 

SC wins CHILDREN'S WRITER'S WORD BOOK by Alijandra Mogilner & Tayopa Mogilne 

I will be contacting the winners through email. Thanks again for playing, and I hope to host another giveaway sometime in the near future. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Revenge: Does It Have a Place in Children's Literature?

R is for Revenge...There are plenty of books  with feel-good revenge themes for adult readers. We marvel at Edmond Dantes' stamina in THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO when he makes trouble for those who had him wrongfully imprisoned. Many years ago, when I watched the movie version of WAITING TO EXHALE in the theater, a chorus of "You go girl!" sounded around me as Bernadine sets fire to her cheating husband's fancy clothes and car. In MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, even Hercule Poirot sympathizes with the murderers who took their revenge on the evil Ratchett.

I wonder if feel-good revenge is a concept intended only for adults to enjoy. Although there are definitely stories about revenge involving adolescents in young adult lit, I see stories about revenge in picture books or middle grade novels less frequently. When a young character is mistreated or maligned in  most children's books, the subtle message of taking the high road or using your wit to outsmart the villain often overrides the notion of "playing dirty" to even the score. Even when a revenge seeker makes an appearance in children's literature, they are often adults or non-humans.  In HOLES, Madame Zeroni,  stinging from a broken promise, places a curse on the protagonist's ancestor. In SHREK! (the picture book, NOT the movie) Shrek fights the aggression he encounters from others with even more aggression.

Many young characters, especially in contemporary fiction, encounter hindrances or backlash for seeking revenge. In RAMONA THE BRAVE, Ramona gets in trouble for destroying her classmate Susan's owl after Susan wins praise by copying Ramona's owl. In DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, Greg is ready to fight his former friend Rowley for taking sole credit for their comic when a group of older kids come by to harass them both.  In THE SHADOW CLUB, members initially take revenge on rivals by playing silly pranks, but as the dirty deeds become more vindictive, the perpetrators eventually have to face their guilty consciences.  Attempts at revenge  don't often play out well for young characters.

...But there are exceptions.  In MATILDA, Matilda plays all sorts of tricks on the adults who cut her down, from putting crazy glue on her father's hat to using telekinesis  to intimidate the headmistress at her school. And she gets away with all this consequence and guilt-free.

Can you think of more exceptions in children's books where revenge is considered acceptable behavior, for example, in fairytales? How about books where revenge is a no-no? Should there be boundaries on how revenge  is presented in children's books, young adult books, or adult fiction? Do you like stories where revenge is part of the plot?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One Hundred Follower Giveaway!

I'm going to interrupt my flow in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge to announce I hit 100 followers! This is jumping-on-my-mattress AWESOME! As a way to show my gratitude to all my readers for their support, I'm hosting a one hundred follower giveaway!  

I am giving away 3 super fabulous books to 3 lucky winners:

1. THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan (Middle Grade-Fiction)
2. I FEEL BETTER WITH A FROG IN MY THROAT: HISTORY'S STRANGEST CURES by Carlyn Beccia (Picture Book/Early Reader- Non-fiction)
3. CHILDREN'S WRITER'S WORD BOOK by Alijandra Mogilner & Tayopa Mogilner (Reference)

To enter, this is all you need to do:
1. Follow this blog publicly through Google FriendConnect, if you haven't already. 
2. Comment on this post and let me know which of the three books you'd like and why.

The deadline to enter this contest will be at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, April 22. Three winners will be randomly selected. Winners may not get the book they'd asked for, but I hope they can still be happy with what they end up with. 

Please check back next Monday to see if you've won! If I don't hear from a winner within two days after the announcement of their win, I will choose another winner.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Joke About Writers

Here's something funny I found on the Internet-


(Writer's Digest, 1952) 

There might be a hint of truth in what this cartoon depicts, you think?

 Do you know any other jokes for writers? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Author Interview with Ammi-Joan Paquette

Today's letter for the Blogging A to Z Challenge is the letter I, so I bring to you an interview with Ammi-Joan Paquette, a literary agent and author who writes picture books as well as middle grade and young adult novels. I've read Joan's THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES (Tanglewood Press), a fun picture book detailing the world of fairies. I also read NOWHERE GIRL (Walker/Bloomsbury), a middle-grade adventure novel about a 13-year old girl who leaves the Thai prison she was born and raised in to search for her  dead mother's family in America. Joan took time out of her  busy writing schedule and agent job with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency to answer my questions.


I read somewhere you came up with the idea for THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES while you were out walking with your daughters. Did you and your daughters ever come across a fairy on one of your walks?               Unfortunately, we never did meet any fairies in our tracking adventures—but it wasn’t for lack of searching! As a point of interest, the early drafts of this story stayed true to my daughters’ and my real-life experience: the fairy trackers come to the end of their walk not having actually seen the fairies, who have been lurking just out of sight (though visible to the readers). But after counsel from my very wise editor, I changed the text to what you see in the final version, with the face-to-face encounter at the end giving the story just the right joyful endcap. Those fairies are elusive, but not entirely unreasonable, when the conditions are right!

How did you come up with the idea for NOWHERE GIRL? The idea of a girl, born to an American mother, being raised in a Thai prison is such a grabbing premise for the beginning of a story.  
The inspiration came from reading an article about a young boy who had been raised in a Thai prison, along with his incarcerated mother. I could not stop thinking about this boy, wondering what his life would be like, how he would adapt to the outside world when the time came to reenter it, and what circumstances would bring a mother to this point where keeping her child behind bars was a better choice than the alternative. The character I created in NOWHERE GIRL differs from the original subject—Luchi is female, in her early teens, and born to an American mother. Those elements helped open the story up for me and turn it into something I could really explore and connect with, and hopefully bring to life for readers. 

What makes a story multicultural?
I think that a multicultural story pushes us to think outside the borders of the white American experience that colors so much of today’s fiction. There is no one single culture, background, or upbringing in the world today—we are a glorious mishmash—and I love that the market is opening up more and more to stories which reflect this. It has not been uncommon in past times for manuscripts to be rejected because they were not set in or focused on the US . Recognizing that we live in a big world and there are countless experiences for the sharing is what constitutes multicultural literature for me.

How do you manage your time between your kidlit writing career and agent duties for Erin Murphy Literary Agency? Both occupations operate very much on an ebb-and-flow basis—and luckily, so far everything has gone very smoothly to accommodate both careers. When I am swamped with agent work, my writing necessarily takes a back seat, and when I have a writing deadline, I will ease it up into the foreground a bit more. I do, however, very much view agenting as my primary job. Writing tends to get its back-scratching time mostly on weekends, time off, and occasional high-productivity forays to my local Starbucks.

What were your favorite kidlit books growing up?
Let’s see! I was a big fan of the Anne of Green Gables series; Tamora Pierce; Madeleine L’Engle; Betsy and Tacy; the Little House books. That’s what I can think of off the top of my head!

Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention? 
My newest book, which is just out this spring, is THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS. Following the familiar ground covered by the first fairy-tracking adventure, this book has the same type of gorgeous art-and-photography illustrations (this time by the uber-talented Marie LeTourneau). While the first book explored a more basic outdoor landscape, MERMAIDS takes young readers on a walk along the seashore, investigating the various natural elements to be found there, and hoping for that ever-important sprinkle of magic. It’s a terrific book for spring and summer!