Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Breaking news;)

I just learned that The Compound made the 2011-12 Oregon Battle of the Books list for grades 9-12. Here's a photo of the finalists.

And yes, there is The Help, the book I recently read and blogged about. I never expected to have a book of mine end up on the same list as that. Very cool.


The Book I Just Finished Reading by Betsy Woods

I have just finished a novel by British author, Sarah Dunant, titled Sacred Hearts. The read was a time-machine. The novel is set in 1570 and is set inside the walls of an Italian covent. It was a treatise in part on the shackles young women had to bear then, and how those bindings limited their life experiences. The novel also revealed the interior workings of the covent and how, it both thwarted the off-cast women, and encouraged their passions and intelligence.

The intricate Renaissance world is exposed admist a passionate love story, stories of love and friendship, horror, and the biting political climate of the Counter-Reformation. It is also a story that at its core is about secrets.


Studying the Master of Barnyard Fantasies

Like others on this blog, my recent reading list has consisted of titles thematically related to the story I’m currently writing—in my case, a chapter book involving barnyard animals. And so for inspiration I naturally turned to the books of Dick King-Smith, dubbed the “Master of Barnyard Fantasies.”

King-Smith is most famous as the author of Babe: the Gallant Pig, but with over a hundred titles to his credit, he wrote many other great books. Some of my personal favorites, all of which I have reread this spring, include The Fox Busters, Pigs Might Fly, Martin’s Mice, and Three Terrible Trins. I also discovered a book I had not read before, Clever Duck, which is now on my list of favorites.

When you delve into a King-Smith book you are assured of a funny, thoughtful, and entertaining read. My only qualm is that he sometimes sacrifices character development in favor of plotting—but his plotting is frequently so brilliant that there is still plenty to inspire me and also to study.

Do you have a favorite King-Smith book?

What I just finished and What I am currently Reading...

I have just finished reading SPARROW ROAD, a new middle grade novel by the author, Sheila O'Connor. It is her first middle grad novel. She has published two adult novels that are brilliant. Sparrow Road takes place over a summer at an artist's colony somewhere in the midwest. Raine, the 12 year old main character, meets artists and writers, a composer, and even a spirit of an orphan boy who used to live there when the artist colony was an orphanage. The blend of writing, visual arts, history of the colony and Raine's own mysterious past make for one of the most colorful, heartfelt books I have read in a long time. I cannot recommend it enough!
Currently I am reading THE FAR CRY, by Emma Smith. It is one of the Persephone books-- a publisher I recently discovered and am completely in love with. This wonderful tale begins in England, post WWII and follows a 14 year old Theresa on a boat journey to India. When the boat docks at Bombay, Smith's descriptions of not only the visuals, but also the emotional intensity of her main character brings this world alive so vividly, I cannot stop reading it-- but I have a book deadline and it is killing me!