Two-in-One Giveaway (plus a bonus)!

Reluctant reader? Budding artist? Animal lover? These two new middle grade appeal to all of the above–as well as pretty much everyone else!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lowdown on Elise Gravel’s book:
Olga finds a creature in her garbage can one day, and all it says is “MEH!”
It won’t eat, it won’t sleep, it snores, it stinks, and Olga studies it like
mad. She adores it and eventually names it after herself–an OLGAMUS. Over the next days, she discovers a great deal of information not only about herself, but abouteverything from the scientific method and Jane Goodall  to the ins and outs of friendship and every human’s use for living in a community.

 Gravel is an award-winning author/illustrator from Quebec. She is the
winner of the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration in
French, and is well-known in Quebec for her original, wacky picture books.
She has published a number of books with US publisher Blue Apple as well as
a graphic novel for Roaring Brook Press. She is inspired by social causes and is
likes projects that can handle a good dose of eccentricity. Follow Elise on
<https://www.instagram.com/elise_gravel/?hl=en> Instagram.

The inside info on Tom Watson’s book:

In this first adventure in a new series, it’s a big day in the big city for
Stick Cat and his best friend, Edith. There are treasures to hunt, songs to
sing, pigeons to catch, and naps to take. But way up on the 23rd floor,
danger lurks just around the corner. Terrible noises and violent crashes
trap a desperate man in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will need
to navigate his way across the alley—and around Edith’s peculiar ways—to
attempt a rescue.

Watson  is also the author of the Stick Dog series. and the Stick Cat series. Tom does not have a cat. So his ideas for the Stick Cat series come from a whole different place. He’s not sure where that place is exactly, but he knows it’s kind of strange there. While he has your attention, Tom would like to make one thing perfectly clear: There are not going to be any other stick animal books. There won’t be a Stick Monkey, for instance. Or Stick Chicken (even though that’s fun to say) or even Stick Giraffe (even though that would be fun to draw). 

Bonus! Watch these how-to-draw videos from the two artists:

watch (1)       watch

To enter a drawing to win a copy of each book, as well as art prints from each of the two creators, please leave a comment below. Only U.S. residents are eligible.

Tricia Springstubb

Pocket Poetry for the Poetry Deficient

I, the World’s Worst Poetry Spokesperson, invite you to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day 2017 on April 27th. If you aren’t familiar with the event, the experts from the Academy of American Poets have an excellent explanation and links to downloadable pocket poems at their website.

Poetry reminds me to keep an open mind about things. It reminds me to give things I may not seem to like an honest chance. It reminds me the best horizons are the ones which expand the experiences. Put a poem in your pocket and a smile on your face for this special day.

In celebration, I like to rehash this personal poetry story for Pocket Poetry Day.

Back in sophomore honors English, my teacher, Mrs. Goheen, gave us the assignment of memorizing and reciting a poem in front of the class. I was not a huge fan of poetry to begin with, even though this IS getting better as I mature, so this was an assignment akin to flossing and brushing the dog’s teeth. When I saw poetry in books, the words got fuzzy and began to dance around in a deadly vortex. I readily admit now there are several poems and poets I really like: Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Greg Pincus, Poe, Frost, etc.

Well, anyway, completely true to my young academic form, I forgot all about the memorization assignment until late evening the night before we are to be thrown to the wolves. I searched frantically through our home bookshelf, listening to the “I told you so’s” from my dear mother and the taunting coming from my brothers. All in the Hays House went to bed that night thinking old Mike was toast in the morning when English class rolled around.

I sat in class the next morning waiting to be called to the gallows. When my name was finally called, I could feel Mrs. Goheen anticipating my impending epic failure like a hawk eyeing a lone field mouse in the pasture. Honestly, I was probably the last over the cut line to get into honors English. I was a seat filler, a butt in the seat. The dumbest kid in the smart group. And, let me tell you, being a decent athlete did not help me one bit with the “honors” class teachers.

So, there I am, standing in front of the class trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I cracked my knuckles and cleared my throat for a little slapstick comic relief, took my best Shakespearean stance, and began…

The Duck
by Ogden Nash
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

I can’t remember what grade I received on the project. The audience seemed entertained and Mrs. Goheen unexpectedly seemed satisfied with the selection.(Note: She saw me as a dumb jock up at this point in our relationship, and I didn’t really do anything to convince her otherwise until my late year cutting-edge, incisive book report on a Bob Dylan biography.). I am sure it was probably a B+. I do recall Mrs. Goheen asking why I picked that particular poem. I lied. I told her it was my favorite poem. But in all reality, the poem fit when written on my tennis shoe. You know, just in case I got stage fright.

It’s probably fitting “The Duck” became my favorite poem and, to date, the only poem I have burned to memory. In its 30-word entirety!

Thank you, Ogden Nash.

Do you have your own personal version “The Duck”? A poem that holds a special place for you.

What poem do you carry around in your pocket and in your heart?

Please share in the comments and/or write a one-line poem to celebrate the day. 

Happy Poem In Your Pocket Day to one and all!

Poetry gives us a different lens through which to view and/or try to explain the world around us.

Mike Hays on Facebook
Mike Hays
Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded sports enthusiasts, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports related topics at www.coachhays.com and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.wordpress.com. He can often be found roaming the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.

Speaking of Shakespeare

Well, technically no one was speaking of Shakespeare, but maybe we should have been speaking like him. The reason: yesterday was officially Talk Like Shakespeare Day.

If you weren’t aware of this auspicious holiday and missed the occasion to impress your friends with quotes from Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, here is an opportunity to celebrate in a way that might be more fun. Get your Shakespeare on and take a look at these middle-grade books inspired by the Bard.

To read or not to read? What? Of course you should read these fabulous books!

Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last by Avi

Star-crossed love. Betrayal. Death. Comedy? Peter Saltz (Saltz to his friends) and Anabell Stackpoole like each other, but they’re too shy to do anything about it. Thank goodness for Saltz’s best friend, Ed Sitrow, who masterminds an eighth grade production of Romeo and Juliet-starring none other than Saltz and Stackpoole as Romeo and Juliet. But getting the two reluctant lovebirds together is a bigger task than anyone anticipated, even with Shakespeare’s help. What ensues is the most hilarious, disastrous, and unprecedented rendition of Romeo and Juliet in history!

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood

Widge is an orphan with a rare talent for shorthand. His fearsome master has just one demand: steal Shakespeare’s play Hamlet--or else. Widge has no choice but to follow orders, so he works his way into the heart of the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s players perform. As full of twists and turns as a London alleyway, this entertaining novel is rich in period details, colorful characters, villainy, and drama.

William’s Midsummer Dreams by Zilpha Keatly Snyder

From three-time Newbery Honor author Zilpha Keatley Snyder, “an adventure story with a lot to say about identity, ambition, and character” (Kirkus Reviews). After a year living with Aunt Fiona, William is off to audition for the role of Puck in a summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But getting the part is just the beginning. Now William has to deal with a jealous rival out to sabotage him, a not-so-secret admirer, and the way the Baggetts still haunt him in nightmares. William’s summer is filled with acting and costumes and applause, but he still worries sometimes that he and his younger siblings will never be able to shake off the past. But when the Baggetts show up again, William realizes that he is braver than he thought, and that all will turn out okay.

All the World’s a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts by Gretchen Woelfle, illus. Thomas Cox

Suddenly a hand gripped the back of his neck. “Cutpurse!” Kit is caught! Twelve-year-old orphan Kit Buckles, seeking his fortune in Elizabethan London, has bungled his first job as a pickpocket at the Theatre Playhouse where the Lord Chamberlain’s Men are performing. To avoid jail, Kit agrees to work for the playhouse and soon grows fond of the life there: the dramas on–and offstage. Things get truly exciting when Kit joins the plot to steal the playhouse from the landlord who has evicted the company.

Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave by Deron R. Hicks, illus. Mark Edward Geyer

Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford has a serious mystery on her hands. Will she discover the link between her family’s literary legacy and Shakespeare’s tomb before it’s too late? Antique paintings, secret passages, locked mausoleums, a four-hundred-year-old treasure, and a cast of quirky (and some ignoble) characters all add up to a fun original adventure. Readers will revel in a whirlwind journey through literary time and space in real-world locales from Mont St. Michel to Stratford-Upon-Avon to Central Park.

Tower of the Five Orders by Deron R. Hicks, illus. Mark Edward Geyer

Colophon Letterford’s life changed overnight when she uncovered Shakespeare’s lost manuscripts. Now the authenticity of those manuscripts is in question and the family publishing business is in danger. In this exciting mystery, thirteen-year-old Colophon travels from Oxford’s lofty Tower of the Five Orders to the dank depths of London’s sewers in her pursuit of truth and honor. But the stakes are high. Budding cryptologists, Shakespeare fans, and mystery lovers alike will revel in the twists and turns of this fascinating middle grade sequel to Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave.

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

All Hamlet Kennedy wants is to be a normal eighth grader. But with parents like hers –Shakespearean scholars who actually dress in Elizabethan regalia in public –it’s not that easy. As if they weren’t strange enough, her genius seven-year-old sister will be attending her middle school, and is named the new math tutor. Then, when the Shakespeare Project is announced, Hamlet reveals herself to be an amazing actress. Even though she wants to be average, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she — like her family — is anything but ordinary.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

Holling Hoodhood is really in for it. He’s just started seventh grade with Mrs. Baker, a teacher he knows is out to get him. Why else would she make him read Shakespeare . . . outside of class? The year is 1967, and everyone has bigger things than homework to worry about. There’s Vietnam for one thing, and then there’s the family business. As far as Holling’s father is concerned, nothing is more important than the family business. In fact, all of the Hoodhoods must be on their best behavior at all times. The success of Hoodhood and Associates depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has Mrs. Baker to contend with?

King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

Only in the world of the theater can Nat Field find an escape from the tragedies that have shadowed his young life. So he is thrilled when he is chosen to join an American drama troupe traveling to London to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a new replica of the famous Globe theater. Shortly after arriving in England, Nat goes to bed ill and awakens transported back in time four hundred years — to another London, and another production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Amid the bustle and excitement of an Elizabethan theatrical production, Nat finds the warm, nurturing father figure missing from his life — in none other than William Shakespeare himself. Does Nat have to remain trapped in the past forever, or give up the friendship he’s so longed for in his own time?

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing–and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.
As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama. In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

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Dorian Cirrone
Dorian Cirrone's most recent middle-grade novel is the award-winning,THE FIRST LAST DAY. She has published several books for children and teens and is the Co-Regional Advisor of SCBWI-Florida. Visit her at www.doriancirrone.com