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Thursday, October 12, 2017

RIDE ON, WILL CODY! An Interview with Caroline Starr Rose

What a treat to have Caroline Starr Rose on the blog today!

I first fell in love with Caroline's writing with the beautiful novel-in-verse, May B. I immediately bought it, knowing that it would be a book I wanted to share with my daughters (I've since read it with my oldest, and she loves it!).

Since then, I've eagerly awaited all of her releases, from the gorgeous and poignant Over in the Wetlands to her most recent middle grade novel, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine, a thrilling adventure set deep in the Yukon wilderness.

Read on for a summary of her latest picture book, RIDE ON, WILL CODY! and an interview about this exciting addition to Caroline's  award-winning literature for children. A teacher's guide is available HERE.

Racing, flying,
ever riding,
hurry, hurry on ahead!
As legend has it, before he was America’s most beloved Wild West showman, young Will “Buffalo Bill” Cody rode for the Pony Express. This lively, lyrical, and action-packed story tells of Will’s famous twenty-one hour journey through Wyoming, where he rode close to 300 miles on twenty-one horses! The trip was said to be the third-longest ride in Pony Express history. Whether truth or myth, Will Cody’s account helped ensure that the story of the Pony Express lived on.
Hi Caroline! This sounds like such a fun story and a great read-aloud! There are so many vibrant characters from the Frontier West. How did you decide to write a picture book about the young man who grew up to be Buffalo Bill?

In 2012, my family was on vacation in Colorado. I happened to notice a sign in Golden for a Buffalo Bill Museum and convinced my family we needed to stop in. As I walked through the exhibits, a story idea began to stir. I didn’t know the specifics, but I knew it would be about Buffalo Bill. The following January, I checked out a number of research books. I was pretty convinced my story would focus on Cody’s Wild West show, but his Pony Express work (if it happened at all — most historians now believe his Pony Express years were fabrication) was what really caught my attention.

Tell us one fun item that you came upon during research that did not make it into the book?

I love this quote from Buffalo Bill about writing. It sums up his no nonsense personality pretty well (and humors me as an author):

“Life is too short to make big letters when small ones will do; and as for punctuation, if my readers don’t know enough to take their breath without those little marks, they’ll have to lose it, that’s all.

Writing about historical figures can be daunting. What advice would you give writers who are looking to represent a person from history with limited text and just 32 pages to work with?

Go deep rather than wide. A historical picture book isn’t meant to cover everything in a character’s life. Pick a moment and shine a light on the character’s response to the event. Show us her bravery or his curiosity, her commitment or his determination. Let us live the moment right alongside the character. Leave us feeling as if we’ve been there!

You’ve written prose and verse novels, nonfiction, and picture books. How do you ease from one storytelling voice to another? Do some types of writing come more easily than others for you?

I’m not sure I move from one storytelling voice to the next with ease, but I do think it’s important for the story to be in charge of its form and not the author. Each piece has one best way it can be communicated. I sometimes know if a book will be verse or prose going in, but sometimes not. 

What’s really important, though, is not to force a form on a piece of writing because it’s what I’m most comfortable with or is what I want to try. I need to listen to the work — sometimes through trial and error — to find the best way to “show” it to the world.

Verse is absolutely easier* for me than prose. It somehow feels more natural (even though I wrote three prose novel manuscripts before writing my first book, the verse novel, May B.). I don’t want to rest on what feels most familiar, though.
*It’s important to point out no writing is every easy, at least for me!

I love your cover! Did you get to offer input during the illustration process?

I love it, too! The action and the colors are just perfect.

I had much more input with WILL CODY than I did with OVER IN THE WETLANDS. Perhaps it’s because I was with a different publishing house or because the story was historical fiction or maybe a combination of the two. I got to see early sketches and comments meant for illustration Joe Lillington from both the art director and my editor. I was also invited to leave comments about the depiction of the setting, historical elements — anything, really. It was so interesting to watch those sketches become the final art.

Caroline, thank you so much for visiting Falling Leaflets, and congratulations on another wonderful book! Readers, click on the links below to purchase RIDE ON, WILL CODY! for yourself, your friends, and your family:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

THE GREAT HIBERNATION by Tara Dairman- Release Day Giveaway!

Today is the day!

Tara Dairman's fourth book, THE GREAT HIBERNATION, is out in the world, and you don't want to miss it. Leave a comment to be entered to win an eBook~ winner will be chosen on 9/19. UPDATE: THE WINNER IS VERONICA BARTLES. Congratulations, Veronica! I'll get in touch via your social media.

I could go on and on about the cleverness and heart of this book~ about the characters and the setting~ about Jean Huddy's courage~ about a town where the PARENTS ALL FALL ASLEEP! When I told my 8-year-old the premise, she said, "OMG, Mom. That is so cool."

She was excited to hear that she'll be seeing Tara and getting a signed book at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA on Saturday, September 23, at 3:00 pm (psst, you can come too!). Read on for a book summary and much praise from reviewers.

The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founders fell asleep for months.
This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well.
A few hours later, all the adults fall into a sleep from which they cannot be woken, and the kids are left to run things. At first, they have a blast. But then the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force, and pretty soon Jean begins to suspect that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town.
Courage, teamwork, and scientific smarts unlock an unusual mystery in this delightful and funny story about one girl who inspires the kids around her to join together to save their home.
Praise for The Great Hibernation
“Definitely will not induce drowsiness. Utterly original.”ADAM REX
author of The True Meaning of Smekday and the Cold Cereal Saga
“Imagine Lord of the Flies as a comedy set in snowy terrain and you have The Great Hibernation: a hilarious, whip-smart page-turner you don’t want to miss.”
New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code
Memorably humorous…Lighthearted enough to entice readers with the silly premise and whimsical illustrations sprinkled throughout, this middle grade book nonetheless explores some rather important political ideas about individuality and the need for a balance of powers in governance. A strong selection for most middle grade shelves.
“Quirky without being over-the-top, Dairman’s novel is a funny, wintry romp that explores just what might happen if kids were in charge.”-BOOKLIST
“[A] whimsical mystery…The fast-paced plot belies the sleepy small-town setting, and it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters who genuinely love their village and their families, whatever their quirks, instead of yearning to escape them.”-BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS (BCCB) 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Under the Bottle Bridge~ Release Day, Reviews, & Events

Today is release day for Under the Bottle Bridge! Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a hardcover~ I'll pick a winner on Saturday, September 16.

If you read Under the Bottle Bridge, you'll meet:
Minna Treat, Crash Hardly, a mysterious newcomer, mischievous twins named after tea, an uncle with 82 parenting books (and counting), and an Irish Wolfhound named Beast.

You'll encounter:
Bottle messages, historic disasters, lots of sneaking around, and a stinky incident involving pumpkin-flavored pickles & pickled pumpkin slices.

And you just might:
Want to take up woodcraft/glassblowing/candlemaking, buy tick spray, get the urge to go foraging for wild edibles, think twice next time geese honk overhead, and wonder where your personal bridge is taking you in life.

Here are a few review excerpts:

"Beautifully written, with vivid characters, this exploration of family and friendship shines from the first page...Give to fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting By 7s." -School Library Journal

Minna's coming-of-age story is as solid and well-crafted as the furniture made by her uncle, and the bottle mystery is engrossing...truly poignant. Hand this to fans of Turnage's Three Times Lucky." -Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

"Lawson creates an engaging cast of characters." -Kirkus Reviews

Here's where I'll be online and in-person in the coming weeks. I'd love to see you in the comments of a post or in-person!

Wednesday, September 6: I'll be at one of my favorite blogs, Literary Rambles. I'm giving away a hardcover and my AMAZING agent Tina Wexler is offering a free query critique!

Thursday, September 7: I'll be at Tara Dairman's blog with a recipe for hearth milk and a hardcover giveaway.

Books of Wonder – New York, NY 
Sunday, September 17, 4 pm
Middle-grade panel and launch party! (with Tara Dairman, Tracey Baptiste, & Alison Cherry)

One More Page Books – Arlington, VA 
Saturday, September 23, 3pm
Kidlit panel! (with Tracey Baptiste, Caroline Carlson, & Tara Dairman, moderated by Madelyn Rosenberg)

Here are some links, for anyone looking to get a copy:

IndieBound (find your nearest independent bookstore)
Barnes & Noble

Under the Bottle Bridge is also available as an audiobook, via Dreamscape.

In the tradition of Rooftoppers and Three Times Lucky, critically acclaimed author Jessica Lawson returns with her fourth whimsical, lyrical, and heartfelt middle grade novel about a girl who’s desperately trying to keep her life together, when everything seems to be falling apart.

In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York’s annual AutumnFest, twelve-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village’s 300-year-old bridges, she can’t help but wonder who’s leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly…could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she’s been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let the Countdown Begin! ARC Giveaway~ UNDER THE BOTTLE BRIDGE

Less than a month from now, my 4th book will be released!

This is a story full of legacy, traditional arts, mysterious messages, changing friendships, and hearth milk.

It's a story about an uncle trying hard to be a parent and a child trying hard to parent herself.

It's a story about impossible searches.

Most of all, it's the story of Minna Treat, a young girl with a big heart, a somewhat smart mouth, and a secret quest.

And there's a dog in it, too.

To enter the giveaway, tell me which type of traditional artisan you would be, given the chance (or tell me one that's not on the list!): 

Chandler (candlemaker)

A winner will be chosen on 8/11. UPDATE: Via Random.org, the winner of the ARC is Faith Hough! Congrats, Faith! DM me on Twitter and let me know your preferred shipping address. The next giveaway will be on 8/16 over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York’s annual AutumnFest, twelve-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village’s 300-year-old bridges, she can’t help but wonder who’s leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly…could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she’s been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Paperback Birthday! Giveaway of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA

Hi All,

So the winds are changing, the Lawsons are moving into an old stone house next week (I'll keep you updated on the status of pet chickens, but for now, just know that we'll have one available for naming via suggestion~ all name suggestions must be from a book), and ...

the paperbacks of Waiting for Augusta are out today! Leave a comment for a chance to win one! I'll choose a winner on May 17th. UPDATE: The winner is Books4Learning! Please let me know a good mailing address and I'll send the paperback your way!

Waiting for Augusta is the story of Ben Putter, a boy who believes he has a golf ball stuck in his throat. He steals his dad's cremation urn and sets off on a journey to scatter the ashes, fulfill his dad's final wishes, and hopefully make that darn ball go away. A mysterious runaway joins up with him, with an agenda of her own. Here are some nice things some reviewers have said:
  • "A whimsical, heartwarming, multilayered story about finding grace enough to accept the flaws in those we love and courage enough to act from our most deeply held beliefs."– Kirkus Reviews
  • "This moving and emotional coming-of-age story tackles themes of racism, friendship, and growing up. . . . An absorbing work of historical fiction."
    – School Library Journal
  • "Best for readers who like a wealth of plot and southern setting, as in Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky (2012)."
    – Booklist Online
  • "This is a beautifully written book that will tug at the heart strings of readers. The writing is lyrical and rich with imagery...This is a worthwhile addition to library shelves."
    – School Library Connection

“Colorful, quirky, and full of heart, with an ending readers won’t forget.”
– Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor-winning author of Savvy, Scumble, and Switch (PS, I LOVE Ingrid Law books and was so excited about this blurb!)

AND the paperbacks happen to have a sneak peek of my upcoming book (September 2017) Under the Bottle Bridge

Just leave a comment to enter!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Review & Giveaway: K.M. Walton's ULTIMATUM

Hi All~

Life's been very busy lately, so my apologies about not getting around the blogosphere as much as I used to.  I'm buying my very first home (!!!), which is a process full of excitement and phone calls and insurance stuff and budgeting and more phone calls and that sort of thing.

After moving from Colorado to Pennsylvania last Fall, I was lucky enough to connect with a group of writers in the area (including Dianne Salerni, author of lots of awesome books including The Eighth Day series, and the fabulous Joanne Fritz, who writes middle grade fiction and blogs over at My Brain on Books). It was at a recent get-together that I met K.M. Walton, an author of young adult books who had an upcoming book launch. I planned to attend the launch, but unexpected travel plans got in the way.

I called the store ahead of time and bought two signed copies and today, lucky readers, I'm giving one away! JUST LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED~ a winner will be chosen on Monday, April 3. UPDATE: The winner of the signed copy of ULTIMATUM is... Julia Tomiak! Congratulations, Julia, please email me with a good shipping address and I'll get it sent to you!

Here's the publisher's summary:

From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what's more important: family or their differences.
It's not Oscar's fault he's misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he's been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.
Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother's death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.
But when their father's alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons--and each other--if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

My reading diet is largely made up of chapter books and middle grade books these days, and I found myself reading ULTIMATUM slowly at first, trying to reacquaint myself with language/style aimed at older readers. By the end, these characters were so real to me that I desperately wanted a sequel in my hands. My review is below~ click HERE to read the STARRED Publisher's Weekly review.

I started K.M. Walton's ULTIMATUM slowly~I eased in, getting used to the distinct voices of brothers Oscar and Vance. By the last hundred pages I was racing through to see what would be resolved and what wouldn't. This story--of grieving, of individual pain, of the complexity of brotherhood, and of what we do when offered second chances of connection--touched me deeply. It felt authentic~ though the father figure is about as bad as you can imagine, there are tiny glimmers of heart, even in him. Technically, I was so impressed with the execution of Walton's approach~ dual narratives and a timeline both in the past and present. Great ending, many tears throughout. Highly recommended.

Okay, that's all from me~ just leave a comment to enter! If you'd like, you can mention that last great YA book that you've read (or any book).

Monday, February 6, 2017

COVER REVEAL of my next book! Introducing... Under the Bottle Bridge

Hi All! My next book, Under the Bottle Bridge, will be released by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 5th, 2017! You can add it to your Goodreads account HERE, but for now you can see it up on Amazon here.

The setting is the fictional town of Gilbreth, New York, a place that puts great stock in traditional arts~weavers, blacksmiths, silversmiths, glassblowers, bakers, herbalists, and the like. My protagonist, young Minna Treat, comes from a long line of woodworkers that can be traced back to the founding of Gilbreth. She and her uncle (who's also her legal guardian) are the very last of the Treats... and if Minna can't find a solution, they may be the first to leave the place that's been their family home for generations.

It's a story of bridges, secrets, legacy, message bottles, seasons of change, family, hearth milk, and things lost and found. I'll do an ARC giveaway in the coming months, but for now, I'm so pleased to share the cover with you.

The artist, the incredible Sonia Kretschmar, did such an amazing job of capturing the heart of the novel (the official summary is below). I hope you love it as much as I do!




In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York's annual AutumnFest, 12-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village's 300-year-old bridges, she can't help but wonder who's leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly... could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she's been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.