Friday, August 7, 2020

Meet Prolific Author, Debbi Michiko Florence

 

Debbi Michiko Florence https://debbimichikoflorence.com/ is the author of a multitude of books for young readers, including the highly successful Jasmine Toguchi and My Furry Foster Family chapter book series. I don’t have room to list all the accolades she’s won. (Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen alone garnered ten awards.) She recently launched her debut middle grade novel, Keep It Together Keiko Carter which has already earned glowing reviews and been chosen as a New England Book Award Finalist.

I just finished Keep It Together Keiko Carter and I loved how Keiko cared so much about everyone around her and tried to make everyone get along. Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t, but she learned much about herself and others in the process. You’ve captured the complex dynamic of middle school perfectly. How do you manage to connect so well with this age group?

Thank you so much! As for connecting with this age group, my strongest memories are from middle school – so many big changes and big emotions! And I think my internal age is stuck somewhere between 12 – 14.

Most of your previous books were early chapter books for 7-10-year-olds. My granddaughters adored them. How is writing for the chapter book set different than writing for middle schoolers? Which age group is more challenging?

I’m so happy to hear your granddaughters enjoyed my chapter books. While writing chapter books and middle grade novels both require strong character development, the plots for chapter books are more straight-forward. Since chapters books are for the newly independent reader, I focus on one main story arc and one main emotional arc with no subplots. While I am a pantser by nature and do not outline for my novels, I do outline for my chapter books. There isn’t a lot of room for me to stray and wander off. I think writing for any audience comes with their own challenges. I love writing for both chapter book and middle grade readers.

You draw on your Japanese heritage in your writing, yet each of your books is totally relatable for readers of other cultures, even when you address the difficult topic of bigotry. How do you decide what aspect of the Japanese culture to highlight in a book? Do you rely on your own experience or do you couple your experience with research?

It’s important to me to write contemporary stories starring Japanese American characters. When I was growing up in Los Angeles, I was fortunate to have a large Asian American community. While being Japanese American is integral to who I am, back then, I saw myself as a typical American teen. I loved reading contemporary stories when I was a young reader, but I never saw Japanese American characters dealing with friendship challenges, crushes, and family drama.

When writing my books, I always start with a premise – usually focusing on relationships, such as family or friendship or in the case or my middle grade novels, romance – and a character. My characters are always Japanese American, and being Japanese American involves more than just that identifier. Culture and tradition run deep and it’s natural that many of my own experiences and emotions become part of my characters.

I also research when necessary, making sure I get facts right, particularly in the Jasmine Toguchi series since Japanese culture played a big part in each book. For Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl, I took a taiko lesson so I would know how Jasmine would feel learning to play the Japanese drum. That was so much fun!

I remember that you had a group of Japanese drummers at your book launch, too. They were amazing.

You’ve volunteered as a raptor rehabilitator and worked as a zoo educator. Your family includes a rescue dog, rabbit, and duck. Your love for animals comes through in My Furry Foster Family series. A dog has an important role in the plot of Keep It Together Keiko Carter, too. How do you approach creating animal characters for your stories?

With the exception of the My Furry Foster Family series which obviously had to have animals as a focus for each book, I didn’t purposefully intend to add animals to my other books. It just kind of happened. It makes sense, though, because I have been an animal lover all my life and I have a degree in zoology.

The flamingo in the Jasmine Toguchi series came about because my editor asked me what Jasmine’s favorite animals was. I knew that Jasmine, due to her independent nature, wouldn’t choose a typical animal and because my editor was originally from Miami, the flamingo seemed like a fun choice. I did research flamingos, particularly for the fourth book Flamingo Keeper. The ultimate reward was getting to feed juvenile flamingos for my book launch at the L.A. Zoo!

For Keep It Together Keiko Carter, I gave Conner a dog because it added layer to make him likeable since he is not very nice to Keiko at the beginning of the book. He was a dog-lover so he couldn’t be all bad, right? And then it just became a great connection between Keiko and Conner that she loved dogs and wanted one, too.

Readers can expect to see other animals pop up in future books for sure. Having worked at a pet store, the Humane Society, and having now had six dogs in my life definitely helps me write dogs into my books. (I’ve also had fish, hamsters, a guinea pig, snakes, birds/parrots, and a cat.)

You’ve traveled widely and have lived in China and Mexico. Have you mined those experiences in your books? Will you in the future?

I haven’t yet, although I do have a few ideas for books set in Japan where I spent many summers when I was young and is one of my favorite places to visit. And I love books about traveling so don’t be surprised if I write a travel story.

Both Jasmine Toguchi and My Furry Foster Family were series. I hear that there will be a sequel to Keep It Together Keiko Carter, too. How is writing a series different than writing a one-off title? Do you have any advice for writers who’d like to see their books made into a series?

I think writing a series is not hugely different than writing any book, you need a strong main character and a good story. To be honest, I originally wrote the first Jasmine Toguchi book as a stand-alone because I had the idea for Mochi Queen and couldn’t let go of it. I’d been writing novels up till then and knew that the idea for this book wasn’t quite right for a middle grade novel since my main character was in 3rd grade. So, after studying many chapter books, I wrote my first chapter book. But when my editor made an offer on Mochi Queen, she asked for a series which was wonderful, and I came up for three more ideas.

A similar thing happened for Keep It Together, Keiko Carter. My editor asked if I had an idea for a sequel and I told her I really wanted to write a book from the point-of-view from Keiko’s best friend – and so I got to write Just Be Cool Jenna Sakai, which will be published in August 2021. I’m very excited about this book!

One thing I can share about writing series is to give your main character unique traits that can be carried throughout the series – such as Jasmine’s love for flamingos. I’m co-teaching a virtual workshop at The Highlights Foundation in a few weeks about writing chapter book series. I’m hoping it will become an in-person workshop in the future.

Do you have another project in the works? What final thoughts do you have for our readers?

I just turned in copyedits for Just Be Cool Jenna Sakai. I feel very lucky to have been able to write Jenna’s story. While Keiko is a people-pleasure, Jenna is a bit more prickly and independent, so she was a fun character to write. Readers will get to see Keiko in this book, too. I’m working on another middle grade book with my editor at Scholastic, hopefully to be published in 2022, and I’m currently revising a middle grade fantasy about a girl who ends up in a Japanese fable. I have ideas for a chapter book series, as well.

I co-authored a picture book biography with Jamie Michalek, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites with gorgeous art by Yuko Jones that will be published in fall of 2021 (Farrar Straus Giroux). This will be my picture book debut and I’m very excited!

While at a glance one may be awed (as I am) that since 2016 I have had 16 chapter books and one novel published with two more novels and a picture book biography on the way, it’s important for me to share that I have had a very long journey. I started writing with the intention of getting published in 2001. I have collected hundreds of rejections. I have written books that will never see the light of day (rightly so). I didn’t give up. And now my dreams are coming true.

I am in awe, not only of the number of books you’ve published, but of all the projects you have in the works. Wow! Thank you so much for stopping by.

You can purchase personally signed copies of Debbi’s books from Bank Street Books through these links: Keiko Carter: https://www.banksquarebooks.com/keiko-carter

Jasmine Toguchi: https://debbimichikoflorence.com/books/jasmine-toguchi/

If you’d like to learn more about Debbi Michiko Florence and her books, visit her website at https://debbimichikoflorence.com/

 

 

 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Jeannine Atkins and her Pioneering Women


Today I welcome Jeannine Atkins, the acclaimed author of over a dozen books for young readers and for adults.  Through the years, her books have garnered a galaxy of starred reviews and awards. Jeannine teaches writing at Simmons University and makes her home in western Massachusetts.

Welcome, Jeannine! You have written about pioneering women in science, math, the arts, religion, and more. So many courageous women! Did you make a conscious decision to concentrate on writing about women or is this a theme that evolved in your work?

I tend to write in forms I love to read and as a girl some of my favorite books were biographies. And my favorites featured girls, including fiction and biographical blends such as Little Women. As an undergraduate at UMass I took a course called Lost New England Women Writers and learned the joys of research, which set a course.

How do you find your women? What draws you to a subject? Are you always on the lookout for someone new to write about?

One woman often opens a door to another. Recently I’ve focused on women in math and science, and while some names have been more preserved than others, the well-known women often worked with and were friendly with other women, just as famous men worked with men whose names are now barely known. I’m drawn to people who were dedicated to various kinds of wonder, but also those who appreciated ordinary and beautiful parts of life such as spending time with children, working in gardens, having tea with friends.

Have you traveled in the course of your research? Where and for whom? What do you seek in traveling to a place where your subject lived or worked?

Place is really important to me, and is one reasons I like writing historical verse rather than biography. The places where someone lived can fill in details that add texture and may even bloom to metaphor. I like traveling when I can and feeling a sort of mystical connection that also happens in archives, but sometimes I rely on letters or photographs. Concord, Mass. is close enough to feel almost like a second home and it was a treat to walk where May Alcott walked. One Mother’s Day, my daughter walked with me from the Alcott’s home to Walden Pond.

You’ve discussed some women, such as Mary Anning and the Alcotts, in more than one book. How do you manage a fresh approach to a subject you’ve written about before?

Mary Anning and Louisa and May Alcott had such rich lives that have affected me long before and after I’ve written about them. Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands, was the first book I wrote, though not the first to be published. I deeply connected with Louisa as a young writer. Learning about her led me to her artistic sister, May, and many years later I focused on her after seeing her wonderful drawings and paintings in the historic Orchard House, where Louisa wrote Little Women, and being flabbergasted that she could be so dismissive of May/Amy’s art. Unlike the Alcott family where much was recorded, we don’t know many facts about Mary Anning, and I wanted to go back in Finding Wonders and explore more than I could in the picture book, Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. I loved visiting her home by the sea in England, a small town where by the end of the day a shopkeeper greeted me by saying, “You must be the woman who loves our Mary.”

I interviewed you on Lupine Seeds in 2009, soon after your picture book, Anne Hutchinson’s Way, came out (http://lcbrennan.blogspot.com/2009/). In that interview we discussed your approach to “creative nonfiction” and the line you draw between fiction and nonfiction. I noticed that Finding Wonders and Little Woman in Blue are shelved in my library’s fiction stacks. Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon and Wings and Rockets are in nonfiction. How do you view the differences between these books? Was your writing process different?

No, my writing process wasn’t different and I don’t really see them differently. My technique does pose problems for librarians as there’s a blend of nonfiction and fiction, so most shelve where they think readers who want such books are likeliest to find them. Historical fiction like Little Woman in Blue is easier, but I think of my books as being based on true stories, and I stick with the known facts, but imagine my way into the gaps. Poetry has historically blended fact and fiction, which is one reason I love it.

Your next book, coming out in August, is Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math. It’s written in verse, as was Stone Mirrors, Borrowed Names and Finding Wonders. How do you choreograph the dance between poetry and fact? Do you practice poetry regularly? Do you have any advice for those who aspire to writing poetry?  

For me the core of writing free verse about history is compression, so my guideline as I revise is: Can I say this more succinctly? Often details help. I hope small things taken from particular places not only add to setting, but also characterization and even plot and theme as I show how something appeared at one moment, then seems changed in another. I practice poetry regularly, but for me it works best in alliance with story, which is why I like verse narrative. I also read poetry regularly. Some of the tomes, letters or articles I rely on for research are not beautifully written, so for balance, I look to poetry to remind me what language can do.

Most of your books have been for children, but Little Woman in Blue, a historical novel about May Alcott, was written for adults. What made that subject more suitable for adult readers? Do you think you’ll write for adults again?

I was moved by May’s story, but there wasn’t anything in particular about her childhood I wanted to explore. The themes that mattered to me were that of ever-present work versus romance along with sisterly rivalry/ambition and love, so those were adult themes.

Do you have anything new in the works?

I’m smitten with another scientist!

Wonderful! I can't wait to discover who it is. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Thank you for reading!

Indeed! And thank you so much for joining me on Lupine Seeds. To find out more about Jeannine Atkins and her books, visit https://www.jeannineatkins.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monday, May 25, 2020

Interview: Hayley Barrett

My guest today is Hayley Barrett, the author of three very distinct picture books. 

In the lyrical Babymoon, a tiny new person has arrived. Mom and Dad and Baby learn the rhythm of being together through this dawn to dusk story of a baby’s day, taking the time they need to fall in love as a family. (This is the perfect gift for new parents or toddlers welcoming a new brother or sister.) 


Hayley’s second book, What Miss Mitchell Saw, recounts the story of astronomer Margaret Mitchell’s amazing discovery of a comet. Back in 1847, her find caused an international sensation. Could a woman claim the gold and glory of a royal reward? What Miss Mitchell Saw garnered a starred review from School Library Journal and was named a Mighty Girl’s Book of the Year.  

 


Hayley adds, since we last connected, it was named a MA Book Must Read and longlisted for a MA Book award. It’s also one of five NE finalists for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award. J I couldn’t be more proud of it. 

Hayley’s third book, Girl Versus Squirrel, is the rollicking tale of an intrepid girl and a resourceful squirrel’s battle of wits. It will be coming out on August 11th and I can’t wait to read it. 


Hayley, you’ve written fiction and nonfiction, poetic books and funny books, books for the very young and books for school age readers. Everything you write is a new and delightful surprise. What threads tie your body of work together? You’ve mentioned that there are elements of nonfiction in everything you write, can you tell us more about that? 

As a young person, I was more information-hungry than entertainment-hungry. I looked to books to teach me about the world. When I read (and reread) the LITTLE HOUSE books, I wanted more than to pal around with the Ingalls family. I longed to learn how to build, grow, and make whatever I might need. When I read (and reread) BLACK BEAUTY, I learned how to respectfully care for horses and how to avoid the careless mistakes that ruin them. In books, information was there to be found, and I wanted all of it. 

This is why I try to include solid, well-researched facts in all of my books, even the lighthearted, fictional ones. For example, in GIRL VERSUS SQUIRREL, the animal character’s behavior is believable because it’s scientifically accurate. I know because during my research, I consulted a well-known squirrel expert. Yep. 

Why newborns? Why Maria Mitchell? Why squirrels? What was the spark that generated each of your projects? What do you hope your books accomplish? 

Well, this world is a fascinating place, isn’t it? I find I’m interested in nearly everything, so naturally, I like to write about nearly everything. That’s one of the joys of writing picture books. I can write about whatever catches my fancy. 

The inspiration for BABYMOON happened many years ago. At that time, I was attending Penn’s nursing school in preparation to become a Certified Nurse Midwife. Although our family plans changed and I did not complete the program, I never forgot what I learned about the importance of welcoming babies with gentleness and respect. A new family must be allowed to rest and bond, but in our increasingly busy and distracted world, such families are often pressured to “bounce back” to “normal life.” We forget to take time to nurture and protect those who need it most. BABYMOON—the term was coined by a British anthropologist—is my effort to reclaim that sense of restful space. 

I must have read about Maria Mitchell when I was a girl, and she stayed with me. From time to time, I’d come across her name in something I was reading, and it always piqued my interest. Finally, I was interested enough to research her life and accomplishments in earnest. That’s when I began writing WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW. 

GIRL VERSUS SQUIRREL also came from my childhood days. As a kid, I spent hours watching the squirrels that lived in my neighborhood. If they were feeling sociable, they’d sometimes sit on the fence and let me talk to them. I’d cluck and chirp as best I could and they’d reply in fluent squirrel. If they ever tried to speak my language, I never noticed, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Squirrels are mighty smart people. 

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your writing process? Is there a particular aspect of the writing journey that challenges you most or is each project different? 

Some writers enjoy the revision process, but I find it deeply challenging. A picture book’s text is necessarily spare, yet its story and characters must be well-developed and engaging. To accomplish this requires painstaking work and focus, and the resulting manuscript is delicate, much like a sandcastle. Changing even one small part of the whole invites collapse of the structure. 

Still, unless I want my work to molder in a drawer, I must revise. The process of revising BABYMOON was profoundly instructive and, to be honest, something of an ordeal. Revising any manuscript is tricky, but one that rhymes? Doubly so. To follow the sandcastle metaphor, it’s like trying to modify a castle that’s finished and dry. At the slightest touch, those seemingly solid walls with their boxy battlements will disintegrate and must be resurrected into an entirely new, structurally stable, and equally compelling creation. GULP. 

I’ll probably spend the rest of my life making peace with the revision process, but that’s a happy prospect. I’m fortunate to be doing the work I love. 

Your picture books have all been illustrated by others. What is your experience with the author/illustrator dance? 

I love partnering with illustrators! They get to do what they like to do best—create art—and I get to do what I like—wrangle words. There’s a strange sort of disconnected collaboration that’s required to make a picture book. Both parties are creatively separate and yet somehow, they end up in a new place together. That’s the magic we all hope for and work toward. When it happens—that magical pairing of words and images—the result is something truly special. 

Now that I have a few books in the world, I realize how much I enjoy having books that differ from one another visually. BABYMOON bears no resemblance to WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, and GIRL VERSUS SQUIRREL looks nothing like THE TINY BAKER. I appreciate each of my illustrators, and I’m committed to supporting not only our shared “book babies,” but all of their future work too. 

In the middle of creating these books, you also contributed to a poetry anthology, An Assortment of Animals. What was it like collaborating with other authors on this project? Does your work as a poet influence the way you approach picture books? 

The Writers’ Loft is the center of my writing life, and I’m glad I can contribute to their anthologies. I only rarely write poetry, but I adore rhyming. Once I begin to hear the music and rhythm of a poem in my head, I can’t help but work on it. That’s what happened for the first anthology, AN ASSORTMENT OF ANIMALS, for which I wrote a poem about a prehistoric equid. There’s another anthology coming, all about the ocean and its creatures, and I contributed two poems, one about diatoms and another about right whales. 

I hear that there is a fourth book, The Tiny Baker, on its way. Illustrated by Alison Jay; it will be published by Barefoot Books.  Could you tell us a little about that? 

Gladly! THE TINY BAKER is a sweet story about the proprietress of a bustling teashop that caters to stylish ants and other elegantly attired insects. When kitchen disaster strikes, her can-do clientele work together to help their baker friend. I just saw the color proofs, and the art by Alison Jay could not be more perfect. Wait ‘til you see the sugary delights she cooked up! 

Oh, sounds delicious! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 


I’d like to add that the children’s literature community is wonderfully friendly and welcoming. If any of your readers are thinking about writing or illustrating for young people, they should go ahead and jump right in. The water’s fine, I promise. 

Thank you so much for being my guest today! You can find out more about Hayley Barrett and her books at https://hayleybarrett.com/.    

 

 


Monday, May 18, 2020

Author Roundup: Hazel Mitchell

Hazel Mitchell and Toby
When I interviewed Hazel Mitchell back in 2012, http://lcbrennan.blogspot.com/2012/02/hazel-mitchell-interview-and-contest.html, she had just illustrated her first nonfiction book, Hidden New Jersey. She was hoping that project would lead to others.
Boy, did it! At this point Hazel has illustrated or written and illustrated twenty-two books. Here is just a partial list of her titles:
Oceanly, written by Lynn Parrish Sutton and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, a sweet lullaby for beach-going toddlers.

Borrowing Bunnies, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, a heartwarming book written by Newbery Honor winning author, Cynthia Lord, about her experience fostering rabbits.
Imani’s Moon, written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, about tiny Imani and her Maasai village where the animals always have something to say and a girl can touch the moon. (Reading is Fundamental Multicultural Booklist) 

How Do Fairies Have Fun In The Sun?, Fairies 1,2,3,  and Do Fairies Bring The Spring? all part of a fun fairy series written by Liza Gardner Walsh and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell. 
Toby, written and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, about a rescue dog’s struggle to adjust to life within a family and the boy who helps ease him into his new home. (Dog Writer’s Association Children’s Book of the Year) This book was inspired by Hazel's poodle, Toby. 

Hazel’s 23rd book, The Fall Fairy Gathering, the last of her seasonal fairy series, will be coming out in July from Down East Books.

She has another book coming out in 2021 which she will write and illustrate. What is it about? That’s still a secret, but there just might be kittens…You can find out more about Hazel Mitchell and her delightful books at http://www.hazelmitchell.com/


Monday, May 4, 2020

Author Roundup Leslie Bulion

In my first interview http://lcbrennan.blogspot.com/2012/09/leslie-bulion-and-universe-of-fair.html with Leslie Bulion, she discussed her humorous middle grade novel, The Universe of Fair. This is one of my all-time favorite books, with quirky characters involved in riotous situations which often tug at the heart.

The Universe of Fair also incorporates physics. Physics, as in science? Yup, that’s right. And the physics is woven into the story in a seamless and amazing way. Leslie has a master’s degree in science, so it makes sense that it often wends its way into her writing.



In fact, Leslie’s recent series pairs science with poetry. Hey There Stink Bug, At the Seafloor CafĂ©, Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse, Leaf Litter Critters, Superlative Birds, and her latest title, Amphibian Acrobats are fun and fabulous. Superlative Birds was just named to NCTE Notable Poetry List and both it and Amphibian Acrobats received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. 

To quote Kirkus’ review of Superlative Birds: "With characteristic humor and carefully crafted language, poet Bulion offers readers amazing facts about birds of our world...



When I talked with Leslie Bulion about her Author Roundup, she was just about to Zoom out to meet with students in Texas. So if you’d like to know more about Leslie, her books, or her workshops, visit https://www.lesliebulion.com/


Friday, April 10, 2020

Author Roundup: Kimberly Newton Fusco and Alexis O'Neill



When I last interviewed Kimberly Newton Fusco, she had written a memorable YA novel, Tending to Grace, about Cornelia, dumped in a backwoods cottage to live with her great aunt Agatha. That book won numerous honors, including the ALA Schneider Family Book Award.

Kim had just come out with her second book, The Wonder of Charlie Anne, set during the Great Depression. Charlie Ann mucks out the privy, makes vinegar pies, and befriends an African American girl, inflaming the bigotry of her backwater town.  That book also reaped two starred reviews (Kirkus and School Library Journal)  and multiple awards.

Since then, Kim’s published two more beautiful novels, Beholding Bee (published in the U.K. as The Daring Escape of Beatrice and Peabody) featuring Beatrice who has been orphaned by her carnival parents. Bee travels with the show, helping Pauline at the hot dog stand and trying to hide the birthmark that covers almost half her face. Pauline assures Beatrice that the mark was put there by the kiss of an angel. When Pauline leaves to take a better job, Beatrice strikes out with a stray dog, a piglet, and an angel only she can see, to find her true home.

Kim’s newest novel is Chasing Augustus. Dumped with her grumpy grandfather when her mother takes off for California, Rosie’s only friend is her dog, Augustus. When grandpa tells Rosie she can’t keep a big sloppy dog like Augustus in their skinny apartment, she sets off on her bike, searching for her dog on a new road every day. Chasing Augustus was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Random House Children’s Indie Spotlight Pick. To read a sample of her luminous prose, visit http://www.kimberlynewtonfusco.com/ 

Alexis O’Neill is the author of the acclaimed Estela’s Swap, Loud Emily, The Worst Best Friend Ever, and The Recess Queen. I interviewed Alexis when she had just come out with The Kite that Bridged Two Nations, a nonfiction book about young Homan Walsh who managed to fly his kite across the roaring Niagara River, a kite carrying the first line for the bridge that would connect the United States and Canada.

This past March, Alexis published Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children the biography of a pioneering photojournalist. It’s already Amazon’s number one title for Children’s American History of the 1800’s and garnered glowing reviews. Find out more about Alexis and her books at http://www.alexisoneill.com/
  



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Author Roundup: Padma Venkatraman and Leslie Connor


When we last talked to Padma Venkatraman, she had just released her second book, ISLAND'S END.

Since then she’s published two more wonderful books. The first was A TIME TO DANCE, the uplifting story of a dancer struggling to recover from a debilitating accident.

Then came THE BRIDGE HOME, which I love, love, love. Apparently, others do, too, since it has won over twenty awards, including the Golden Kite and being named the middle grade Global Read-Aloud for 2019.

THE BRIDGE HOME is the heartwarming story of Viji and her developmentally disabled sister Rakku as they gather a chosen family and make a home in the dangerous streets of Chennai. You can listen to a sample. To find out more about Padma and her incredible books, visit her website Padma Venkatraman

Leslie Connor visited my blog back in 2013 to talk about CRUNCH the story of how a young boy with a bicycle repair shop copes when the nation’s gas pumps run dry. Every book she’s published since has been extraordinary.

ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK follows Perry, whose mother is incarcerated. He has grown up with her in prison, but the new district attorney insists he be removed and put into foster care. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry searches for the truth about her crime.

THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE gives voice to Mason, who struggles with reading, but always tells the truth as he knows it. The bully next door torments Mason, saying he is responsible for the death of his best friend, Benny, found dead in the Buttle family orchard.  When Mason’s new friend Calvin goes missing, Mason is desperate to find him.

Both these books won multiple prestigious awards and MASON BUTTLE was a National Book Award finalist. I expect no less from Leslie’s latest book, which just came out in February. A HOME FOR GODDESSES AND DOGS tells Lydia’s story as she deals with grief after her mother’s death and adjusts to life with her quirky Aunt Brat, her wife, and a troublesome stray dog. Learn more about Leslie Connor and her books at www.leslieconnor.com

Meet Prolific Author, Debbi Michiko Florence

  Debbi Michiko Florence https://debbimichikoflorence.com/ is the author of a multitude of books for young readers, including the highly su...