Author Archives: Jennifer Swanson

April New Releases!

Spring has sprung!   Time to get out your lawn chairs and go soak up some sun. Don’t forget to take along a good book. If you need some recommendations, check out these shiny news ones here:

(including one from our very own MUF-er  Tricia Springstubb!)
 Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick)

For whimsical Cody, many things are beautiful, especially ants who say hello by rubbing feelers. But nothing is as beautiful as the first day of summer vacation, and Cody doesn’t want to waste one minute of it. Meanwhile, teenage brother Wyatt is moping over a girl, Mom is stressed about her new job as Head of Shoes, Dad is off hauling chairs in his long-distance truck, and even camp has been closed for the summer. What to do? Just when all seems lost, Cody bumps into a neighborhood boy named Spencer who is looking for a runaway cat. With a new friend and a soon-to-be-found cat, Cody is on her way to the fountain of happiness.

 

The 39-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (Fiewel & Friends)

Andy and Terry are once again inviting readers to come hang out with them in their astonishing 39-story treehouse (it used to be 13 stories, then 26 stories, but they keep expanding). And this year they will have even more time to jump on the world’s highest trampoline, toast marshmallows in an active volcano, swim in the chocolate waterfall, pet baby dinosaurs, and go head-to-trunk with the Trunkinator, since Terry has created the greatest invention that he–or anyone else–has ever invented . . . a Once-upon-a-time machine that will write and illustrate their entire book for them!
What are you waiting for? Come on up!

 

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission  by  Judith Viorst (Atheneum BFYR)

Lulu has put her tantrum-throwing days behind her. That is, until her parents announce that they are going on vacation–WITHOUT LULU. Not only that, but they are leaving her with the formidable Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky, who says hello by bellowing, “The Eagle has landed,” and smiles at you with the kind of smile that an alligator might give you before eating you for dinner.
The second her parents are out of the house, Lulu tries out several elaborate schemes to bring them straight back. But just when she seems to finally be making some headway, her babysitter reveals an astonishing secret…one that has Lulu crossing her fingers that her parents will go on vacation “all the time”–without her.

 

The Black Reckoning by John Stephens  (Knopf BFYR) 
The final book in the bestselling Books of Beginning trilogy that began with The Emerald Atlas, which theNew York Times called “a new Narnia for the tween set.”

The adventures of siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma come to a stunning conclusion when they must find the last Book of Beginning—the Book of Death—before the Dire Magnus does, for when all three books are united, their combined power will be unstoppable.

 

 

Ever After High: Kiss and Spell by Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown BFYR)

What’s a girl to do when she accidentally turns her crush into a frog? Ginger Breadhouse had a hard time growing up with the Candy Witch for a mom. It’s not easy making friends if everyone believes your mom tried to cook Hansel and Gretel! But now that Ginger’s attending Ever After High, she has a chance to forge her own path, and she’s trying to make a name for herself as the host of the MirrorCast show Spells Kitchen. The problem is, she needs viewers!

 

Ellie’s Story by W. Bruce Cameron (Starscape)
Ellie is a very special dog with a very important purpose. From puppyhood, Ellie has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog. She can track down a lost child in a forest or an injured victim under a fallen building. She finds people. She saves them. It’s what she was meant to do.But Ellie must do more. Her handlers–widowed Jakob, lonely Maya–need her too. People can be lost in many ways, and to do the job she was born to do, Ellie needs to find a way to save the people she loves best.

My Life as a Gamer by Janet Tashjian  (Henry Holt BFYR)

Derek Fallon gets the chance of a lifetime–to participate in a gaming company focus group and to test out a new video game called “Arctic Ninja.” Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek thinks his gaming talents will be showcased. But he soon realizes that everyone has got him beat, including whiz kid El Cid. On top of that, school reading tests have begun and Derek feels doubly off his game. Isn’t there anything he’s good at?

 

 

Miss Mayhem by  Rachel Hawkins (G.P. Putnam’s BFYR)

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

 

The Loch Nest Punster by Kate Klise (Harcourt Brace & Co.)

In the seventh and final installment of the popular 43 Old Cemetery Road series, twelve-year-old Seymour Hope has inherited a castle in Loch Ness, Scotland. It could be the perfect summer vacation spot for Seymour and his parents, Olive C. Spence and Ignatius B. Grumply. But Iggy wants nothing to do with the castle. Why? Because it was owned by his uncle Ian, a world-famous psychiatrist and the world’s worst punster. So Iggy stays home to write, and Seymour and Olive set off for Scotland–each with a secret.

 

 

Evil Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster BFYR)

When Ben gets kicked out of the CIA’s spy school, he enrolls with the enemy. This companion to Spy School and Spy Camp is rife with action, adventure, and espionage.
During a spy school game of Capture the Flag, twelve-year-old Ben Ripley somehow accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office—and immediately gets himself expelled. Not long after going back to the boring old real world, Ben gets recruited by evil crime organization SPYDER. And he accepts

 

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant (Random House BFYR)

Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!

 

Woof by Spencer Quinn (Scholastic Press)

Spencer Quinn speaks two languages — suspense and dog — fluently.” — Stephen King
There is trouble brewing in the Louisiana swamp — Bowser can smell it. Bowser is a very handsome and only slightly slobbery dog, and he can smell lots of things. Like bacon. And rawhide chews And the sweat on humans when they’re lying.
Birdie Gaux, the girl Bowser lives with, also knows something is wrong. It’s not just that her grammy’s stuffed prize marlin has been stolen. It’s the weird rumor that the marlin is linked to a missing treasure. It’s the truck that seems to be following Birdie and the bad feeling on the back of her neck.
When Birdie and Bowser start digging into the mystery, not even Bowser’s powerful sniffer can smell just how menacing the threat is. And when the danger comes straight for Birdie, Bowser knows it up to him to sic ‘em.

 

The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each other)

by Geoff Rodkey  (Little, Brown BFYR)

This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

 

The Year of Three Sisters by  Andrea Cheng (HMH BFYR)

Astute Anna discovers that sisterhood really can cross continents and cultures in this heartwarming fourth book in the Anna Wang series. Patrice Barton’s lively and warm illustrations bring Anna’s story to life.

 

Graceful by Wendy Mass (Scholastic Press)

An exciting new story in the bestselling Willow Falls series from Wendy Mass
Angelina D’Angelo has left town to see the world. It’s now Grace’s turn to use her magic to protect the people of Willow Falls, and she is up to the challenge. This is her destiny, after all. But destiny is a funny thing-it doesn’t always behave the way you’d expect it to.
Mysterious postcards from Angelina begin showing up in the mail, Grace’s parents are freaking out with worry, and something BIG is coming to town that will affect everybody who lives there. But all Grace is powerful enough to do is turn leftover meatloaf into pizza.
Fortunately, she’s not alone. She has Team Grace on her side Amanda, Leo, Rory, Tara, David, and Connor know a thing or two about magic and how it works. But none of them are prepared for what’s coming, and none of them know how to stop it. Life in Willow Falls is about to change forever.

 

The Adventures of Tabitha and Sparky by R.W. Deane (Yellow Iris Press)

This is a delightful story of the unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog. A story comprised of poems and adventures. Tabitha is a very curious cat, always eager to find out about things that are often none of her business, which continually gets her into trouble. Sparky, on the other hand, is more sensible and reliable, and between the two of them they share many adventures which teach life long lessons.

Winner of Sarah Albee book giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS to

Rosi Hollenbeck!

She is the winner of a signed copy of Sarah Albee’s new book   Why’d They Wear That?

You will be receiving an email shortly, Rosi.

And a  HUGE thank you to Sarah Albee and also everyone who participated in this giveaway and especially for sharing the craziest outfit you ever wore with us!

Interview with Award-winning Author Sarah Albee and a Giveaway!

Please welcome award-winning author Sarah Albee!

Sarah Albsarah-albee1ee is the author of more than 100 children’s books. She has had three of her books appear on the New York Times children’s bestseller list.  She currently has an upper-middle-grade, nonfiction book published in May, 2010 about the history of toilets and sanitation entitled POOP HAPPENED! A History of the World from the Bottom Up, and a follow-up title under contract due out in 2013 about how insects have affected human history. She blogs daily on a variety of science and social history topics geared toward middle-grade readers (sarahalbeebooks.com/blog). She spent nine years as an editor at Children’s Television Workshop, working primarily for Sesame Street and attending both the Bologna and Frankfurt Book Fairs.

 

Here’s her new release!

Why’d They Wear That?  from National Geographic Kids (Feb 2015)
Move over Project Runway. Get ready to chuckle your way through centuries of fashion dos and don’ts! In this humorous and approachable narrative, kids will learn about outrageous, politically-perilous, funky, disgusting, regrettable, and life-threatening creations people have worn throughout the course of human history, all the way up to the present day. From spats and togas to hoop skirts and hair shirts, why people wore what they did is an illuminating way to look at the social, economic, political, and moral climates throughout history.

Fanatastic reviews for her new book:

“Now see, the reason I like National Geographic Kids is that they’re reliable.  Take Why’d They Wear That?, for example.  You know what you’re getting here, even if you don’t know the details.  Mind you, the details are where all the good stuff is.” - School Library Journal

“Full of period images that show off every bustle, frill, and rivet, this wide-ranging guide to clothing throughout time will fascinate history and fashion buffs alike.”Publisher’s Weekly 

 

Thanks for joining us Sarah! Here are some questions we have for you: 

You write both fiction and nonfiction- Do you like one genre better?

I love that I get to do both. And I do think writing for different genres is a great opportunity. My fiction editors appreciate that I like to do research. And my nonfiction editors appreciate that I know how to tell a story. At present, though, my passion is nonfiction.

  What was it like working at Sesame Street?

It was a fantastic place to work. I landed a job there soon after I graduated from college. I loved the humor, the music, the travel, the creativity—and just being surrounded by so many talented people. It was a dream job.

                       

Your nonfiction books are so much fun! How did you get interested in writing nonfiction?

Thanks for that! I’ve always been interested in nonfiction. As a kid, I read the World Book Encyclopedia for fun. It’s only been in the last 6-7 years, though, that I’ve been able to devote larger chunks of time to researching and writing longer, middle-grade books. For years, when my kids were young, I wrote a lot of work-for-hire and younger fiction and nonfiction. It was fun, and rewarding, and I learned how to meet tight deadlines and never get writer’s block. But now that my kids are older and don’t need me around as much, I feel like I’m in a new phase and I’m loving the flexibility to choose a topic I’m passionate about and plunge into it.

 Three of your nonfiction books, including your newest, take a specific topic from the beginning of civilization to the present time. Why so broad a category?


I often ask myself that very question—why do I keep writing the same book over and over–the history of the whole world from ancient times to the present? But what I love to do is to trace one theme chronologically through human history, ideally a theme that kids will find interesting. First sanitation (okay, poop), then insects, and now, with my new book, crazy fashions. Chronology is really important to me. Some might call a broad sweep through history superficial, but often kids don’t get enough context when they study historical units in school. They might study ancient Egypt, or the American Revolution, but they may not have a good sense where and when these events fall on the historical continuum. And the beauty of tracing a theme through history is that I am not limited to one time or place—I can take a snapshot of the world from multiple places and perspectives, as long as I can relate them all to my theme. For instance, in Why’d They Wear That? in the chapter on the seventeenth century, I was able to include the Pilgrims in America, Oliver Cromwell in England, Louis XIV in France, sedan chairs, tanning leather, and the weird trend of wearing face patches—because I could tie everything together with fashion.

 How much time does it take you to research one of these books? Where do you start?

                                                

I spend about a year doing research—but it’s not all I’m doing, of course. I usually have various book projects in different phases at the same time. For instance, I just finished two new book proposals, and am working on a first draft for my 2017 book, but am beginning research on a new idea. And my new book, Why’d They Wear That? (National Geographic), launched on February 10th so I’ve been super busy with publicity for that.

For research, I have the greatest library nearby—my husband is a high school teacher, and we live close to his school. His school’s library has fantastic subscriptions to various academic search engines, and the librarians are awesome and helpful. I make frequent trips to DC to research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives, and then, depending on my topic, to more specialized academic libraries. I also interview experts, in person if possible, but also via Skype.

  Do you travel to places to research your books or do it from your house?

A little of both. Every place I go—whether it’s a school visit in another state, a family vacation, or a museum trip—I see as a research opportunity. And whenever I can, I visit a place I want to write about, to get a feel for the sights, sounds, and smells. I’ve been to the Paris sewers, and Lyon, France where they still make silk, and a cotton mill museum in Lowell, Massachusetts so I could hear for myself how deafening the sound of the looms are. And last fall, I visited the poison plants garden at Cornell University to research a future book project.

 Can you tell us three fun and unexpected facts you discovered when researching your latest book?

Early versions of men’s athletic trunks—the kinds acrobats and boxers wore in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century—were the same in front and back, which must have resulted in a terrible wedgie.

Shoes, even for the wealthy, who could afford custom-made shoes, did not come in right and left until the latter part of the nineteenth century.

old-shoes

As late as the nineteenth and even early twentieth century, most young boys in Europe and America from well-to-do families wore petticoats up until the age of six or seven, when they’d be “breeched,” and dressed in pants. Once you start looking for them in portrait paintings, you start to see boys in dresses everywhere.

Okay, one more: 4. In seventeenth century Venice, most men, women, and children wore masks for a huge part of the year, and not just during Carnival season. It made it hard to tell the identity, or social class—or even the gender, sometimes—of most people, and allowed them to participate in some serious debauchery incognito. It was quite a bizarre phenomenon.

 What tips can you give people if they want to write nonfiction? 

Find a topic you feel passionate about, and don’t worry about whether it will “sell.” It’s a really exciting time for nonfiction right now—there’s so much great nonfiction being published, and writers can really develop their own voice and style, more than ever before.

Thanks for joining us Sarah!!

Giveaway!

Sarah has generously donated an autographed copy of her new book,

Why’d They Wear That?  

To win this prize, tell us the craziest outfit you ever wore below.  

************

Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 20 nonfiction books for kids.  Like any good scientist and author, Jennifer is rarely without a notebook and she writes down her observations throughout the day. It is a practice she encourages many young readers and writers. You can visit Jennifer at  www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com,  her special place to explore the world.