Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


What I've Read, What I'm Reading, and What I'm Going to Read

The last book I read was MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, this year's Newbery winner. I don't always agree with the Newbery committee, but I liked this one a lot. Set during the Depression, it tells the story of 12-year-old Abiline Tucker whose father sends her away to his hometown of Manifest, Kansas for the summer. As she tries to piece together her father's childhood, she discovers secrets about the town's past and its residents. The interwoven stories of the various characters were intriguing and I was happy to return to this book each evening.

The book that I'm reading now is Anne Ylvisaker's THE LUCK OF THE BUTTONS, another historical fiction novel set in the Midwest at about the same time as MOON OVER MANIFEST. I am just easing my way into the novel, but I'm already captivated by the narrator, Tugs Button, a girl born into a hard luck family. Tugs, a sympathetic and believable character, reminds me of children I've known who try hard to make friends, but just fall short of the social graces needed to make things work out. I'm rooting hard for Tugs, and I hope in the end she'll succeed in overcoming her family's history of misfortunes. Funny, fast-moving, and touching, I'm enjoying this one a lot.

And next on my to-read list: the middle grade novel OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt. I don't know a lot about this book, other than it's by the author of THE WEDNESDAY WARS, which is one of my all-time favorites (a book that made me laugh out loud as well as cry, which doesn't happen very often). It's also been recommended to me by people I respect, so I'm happy to have it waiting for me. The fact that I broke down and actually bought the book (rather than waited for it at the library) shows how highly I think of Gary Schmidt as an author.

What I am reading now...

As I've been working on my current novel, I've been seeking other novels written from 2 or more points of view. Two books, in particular, have stood out, and surprisingly they both deal with the World War II era.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, is brilliantly written in the form of letters, revealing vivid personalities and unfolding in a compelling plot. Now that I'm finished reading the book, I miss the characters and am left with a huge desire to visit the Island of Guernsey.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana De Rosnay, is another captivating and heart-wrenching novel told from two very different perspectives.

On a different note is Passing The Music Down, a brand new picture book (Candlewick Press) by my friend, Sarah Sullivan, and beautifully illustrated by Barry Root. I had the pleasure of purchasing and reading it this past weekend when I was in West Virginia. This Appalachian story was inspired by the lives of two renowned fiddlers, and the lyrical words and vivid illustrations bring sweet mountain music to my ears.


What I am Reading Now

Franny Billingsley takes a long time to write a novel. Too long for me to wait. But when that novel comes out, it's the best!

Author The Folk Keeper and Well Wished, she hit it again with a trillion starred reviews for Chime. This fantasy-mystery novel has been worth the wait.


Learning to read like a writer

Just yesterday I picked up this book on reserve from the library. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson was recommended to me by one of my classmates from my novel writing class in response to my workshop submission last week. I'm investigating the link she made between my writing and that of Per Petterson. I've barely begun the story, but am enjoying the rhythm of the language. It is spare and melancholy, very meditative. Perhaps the connection is that Petterson's book is about memories, coming of age, and family. It is not a traditional narrative.

Most of my reading lately is twenty page chunks of novels in progress for workshop discussion. Lucky me to be in a class of such fine writers. I'm also exporing young adult and middle grade novels recommended by these classmates as well as our instructor.


What am I reading now?

When I asked myself the question "What am I reading now?" I had to think about it. I've been on planes a lot the past month, and I've read a few books. I'm halfway through my latest "airplane book", but I still had to stop and think about what it was, which is never a good thing. So that book shall remain nameless and, perhaps, unfinished as I'm now back at home and have things to do. My "airplane book" from last week though, that one is worth talking about because I loved it.

I've been on the waiting list for this one at the library for a long time, but last week I was headed to Houston. I grabbed a book off my shelf to read on the plane, but when I pulled it out while flying from Boise to Salt Lake City, I realized I'd read it before and it wasn't that great the first time. So when I got to the SLC airport, I went into a bookstore looking for a book. And finally gave in and bought The Help. I loved it. And I can't wait for the movie.