Author Archives: T. P. Jagger

More Free Middle-grade Books – Happy MUFiversary, Part 2!

Last week, as we blasted our way into a month-long MUFiversary to celebrate 7 years of the MUF blog, we gave you a chance to be one of seven different winners of an author-signed book . Well, this week brings another great opportunity for free middle-grade books. But this time, there’s a catch.

As middle-grade writers, all of us MUF folks have a special place in our hearts for middle-grade readers. And where is it easy to find a load of middle-grade readers? . . .

At school!

(Okay. I know this is bad timing. Most of our middle-grade readers are not at school right now. They’re busy sleeping-in and luxuriating in the early stages of summer vacation. But you get the idea.)

Anyway, over the past year, we’ve squirreled away a variety of new releases and Advanced Readers’ Copies (ARCs) of middle-grade books*. Now, we’re ready to do a giveaway of a whole bunch of those books to one lucky school!

*Major shout-out to Simon & Schuster and Candlewick Press for sending us copies of so many great books we can feature on MUF and use in giveaways!

Here’s the scoop:

>You can leave a comment on this post, nominating an elementary school or middle school to receive approximately a dozen new middle-grade books for its library. Just tell us the NAME OF THE SCHOOL and the CITY AND STATE where it’s located. By leaving a comment with this information, you’ve automatically given the school a chance to win.

>Then you can earn extra entries for the school by sharing about our giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can further improve the school’s odds of winning by having other parents, teachers, and friends nominate the same school.

>Next Wednesday, June 21st, 2017, we’ll randomly select the winning school and ship an assortment of middle-grade books to add to the school’s library! (The winning school will receive about half of the stash pictured above. The remaining books will be used in our final MUFiversary giveaway on Thursday, June 29th.)

The giveaway closes at midnight (ET) on Tuesday, June 20th. Be sure to check back next Thursday, June 22nd, for our next MUFiversary giveaway!


NOTE: Due to shipping costs, this week’s giveaway is only open to elementary schools and middle schools in the United States.

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7 Free Books to Celebrate 7 Years – Happy MUFiversary!

WARNING: This post is going to contain a lot of 7s, which have been underlined for your convenience. Keep in mind that 7 is a lucky number. If you don’t believe me, here’s the evidence:

This post includes free books for 7 lucky winners.

See. I told you 7 was a lucky number.

Anyway, if you haven’t glanced at your calendar today, please note that it’s June 7th, 2017. That happens to be exactly 7 years after MUF’s very first blog post blasted its way across the internet. Clearly, this is cause for celebration!

After 7 seconds of exhaustive research (I asked both of my dogs), I determined that this is the only 7th MUFiversary ever celebrated in the combined history of Earth and the other 7 planets in our solar system. I had to make it memorable. Epic even.

But how exactly does a guy go about epically celebrating a 7th MUFiversary?

I begged people for stuff.

The results of my begging now become your reward as MUF turns the entire month of June into an extended 7th MUFiversary Giveaway Party. For the next four weeks, MUF will hold a major weekly giveaway of free middle-grade books. And today we’re going to kick things off by taking SIGNED books from 7 different middle-grade authors and giving you a chance to be 1 of 7 lucky winners.

Here are the 7 giveaways for this week, along with a bit of 1-question-each (7 total!) Q&A fun with the 7 authors.


The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper by Annabelle Fisher1)      Let’s start with double-the-fun thanks to TWO books by MUF’s Annabelle Fisher (www.annabellefisher.com): THE SECRET DESTINY OF PIXIE PIPER and its brand-new sequel PIXIE PIPER AND THE MATTER OF THE BATTER. (Yep. One of the 7 lucky winners will get signed copies of both books!) Poetry whiz kid, Pixie discovers she’s a descendant of Mother Goose and that her rhymes have special powers. But to join the Goose Family and protect their legacy, she must be “braver than brave” and “truer than true”!

Question: What animal did you most enjoy writing about in a book and why?

Annabelle: Writing about Pixie’s goose, Destiny, was a lot of fun. Since Destiny first appears as an egg that Pixie finds in the woods, I got to go through the process of hatching a gosling in a homemade incubator, along with my character. I did a lot of research about pet geese and their humans. They have lots of personality! Pixie and her gosling have an amazing bond. It made me want to get a pet goose!


My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros2)      Another MUF author, Andrea Pyros (www.instagram.com/drelet), is giving away MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK, which—due to its title—absolutely had to be a part of our epic MUFiversary. When Nina’s BFF dumps her for a cooler new girl, Nina’s got to find a new crew. With the help of the other allergy kids at the peanut-free table, Nina might not just survive seventh grade, but figure out how to rock it!

Question: What’s the BEST writing advice you’ve ever received?

Andrea: For me, the best writing advice was to read as much as possible. I know it’s nothing earth-shattering, but when we’re all so busy, and there are so many things to grab our attention (ahem, cough, cough, Facebook, I’m looking at you), sitting down with a book in the genre you want to write in can be an amazing learning experience—and a great motivator!


3)      MUF’s Jennifer Swanson (www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com) has us covered with some nonfiction: ZOOLOGY: COOL WOMEN WHO WORK WITH ANIMALS. Love to work with animals? Zoology: Cool Women Who Work With Animals introduces readers to three women in the field of zoology who are making an impact and inspiring the next generation of zoologists.

Question: What is the strangest fact you’ve learned while researching your nonfiction book?

Jennifer: The most interesting fact I learned in researching this book is that the very first female zoologist was Pythias of Assos, who was the wife of Aristotle. She helped him to create his encyclopedia of animals.


Greetings from Witness Protection by Jake Burt4)      Jake Burt (www.JBurtBooks.com) has a debut middle-grade novel I’ve already added to my own Goodreads to-read list: GREETINGS FROM WITNESS PROTECTION. Nicki Demere, an orphan and pickpocket, is recruited by the Witness Protection program to join a family on the run from the nation’s most dangerous criminals.

Question: How do you select the names of your characters?

Jake: I’m a fan of names with hidden meanings, so I name my characters with little Easter eggs that reveal or complicate their personalities. For example, the main character of Greetings is Nicki Demere. She’s a first-rate pickpocket, and “to nick” something is slang for stealing. “Demere” is a play off the Latin verb meaning “to subtract” or “to disappear.” Nicki was doubly fun to name because I got to do it twice; when she enters Witness Protection, she gets to pick her own new name. . . .


The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla5)      Sally J. Pla (www.sallyjpla.com) offers us THE SOMEDAY BIRDS, a copy of which happens to be sitting on my nightstand at this very moment. Charlie, a 12-yr-old bird-loving boy who hates change, takes us along on a raw, funny, poignant cross-country journey to see his injured father—and to find a mysterious bird guru.

Question: How are you like your main character?

Sally: I am also autistic, although if you met me, you might not guess it. I have grown out of a lot of my challenges. I have a much easier time of things than Charlie does in the book. When I was a kid, however, I felt many of the feelings Charlie feels while dealing with the world.


The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall6)      Jodi Kendall (www.jodikendall.com) is giving away a signed ARC of THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY plus some bonus swag to brighten someone’s day. 11-year-old Josie makes it her mission to save the piglet named Hamlet that her brother brings home from college, as she and Hamlet each struggle to find their place in a crowded, chaotic family.

Question: What’s one event from your life that you’ve never worked into a story but you’d like to?

Jodi: Once, on a wildlife expedition for work, I tracked wild elephants through the rainforest in Malaysia. I’d love to write more about my past animal adventures in future books!


Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen7)      We’ll cap off this week’s giveaways with yet another MUF-member contribution, this time courtesy of Beth McMullen (www.bethmcmullenbooks.com). Some lucky soul is going to receive a signed ARC of Beth’s debut novel, MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS. Abby Hunter arrives at boarding school just to discover it’s a secret training facility for kid spies. And now that her mother has gone missing, they want to use her as bait.

Question: What is the weirdest place you’ve had a good idea for a book?

Beth: On the checkout line at Target. I had to excuse myself so I could write the idea down before it disappeared out of my head forever. The young woman behind the counter thought I was insane. And probably she was right.


Want to be one of the 7 lucky winners? There are 7 different ways to earn entries! You can leave a comment below, follow MUF on Twitter, share about the giveaway on FB, and more. Give yourself loads of opportunities to win by earning all 7 different types of entries. The giveaway closes at midnight (ET) on Monday, June 12th. Be sure to check back on Thursday, June 15th, for our next MUFiversary giveaway! (Eligible only to U.S. addresses.)

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A Lucky List o’ Books for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day green foodIf my children ever develop green-food-coloring allergies, it will be St. Patrick’s fault. That’s because on St. Patrick’s Day, I float green shamrock Lucky Charms marshmallows on top of my kids’ green-dyed milk. I serve them not-so-orange orange juice and various greenified culinary delights. But don’t worry—I always incorporate a bit of natural greenness, too. On St. Patrick’s Day, even broccoli gets a little love.

Anyway, with my thoughts today naturally meandering toward Green Eggs and Ham, I decided to generate a list of middle-grade books that fit into a St. Patrick’s Day-themed list o’ books. Here goes. . . .

Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Jones: From The Bailey School Kids series, this chapter book is an oldie-but-goodie for younger middle-grade readers.

Leprechauns in Late Winter & Leprechauns and Irish FolkloreLeprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne: Another leprechaun. Another oldie-but-goodie series (Magic Tree House). Another chapter book for younger middle-grade readers. And for an extra bit of fun, there’s even a nonfiction companion book that’s part of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series: Leprechauns and Irish Folklore.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila TurnageThree Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage: When I think St. Patrick’s Day, I think shamrocks. And when I think shamrocks, I think of lucky four-leaf clovers. So obviously, any book with the word lucky in the title must be a perfect St. Patrick’s Day fit. It also doesn’t hurt that the first book of the Tupelo Landing series won the Newbery Honor Award.

The Hard Pan Trilogy by Susan Patron: Ten-year-old Lucky is a memorable character I couldn’t help but love in The Higher Power of Lucky (book #1), Lucky Breaks (book #2), and Lucky for Good (book #3).

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money by Tommy Greenwald: Okay. I hear your question already:

WHAT THE HECK IS THIS BOOK DOING ON A ST. PATRICK’S DAY BOOKLIST?!?!?

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money by Tommy GreenwaldWell . . . St. Patrick’s Day means lots o’ green. So does money. And since I really like the Charlie Joe Jackson books, that connection was good enough for me. And just in case you’re still skeptical, please note that the book is written by Tommy GREENwald. Yep. It belongs.

Do you have a favorite middle-grade book that also fits into this St. Patrick’s Day booklist? Tell us about it in the comments below. (Receive a pot-of-gold bonus if you also recommend a green food I end up feeding my children this evening. But no peas. My daughter’s not a fan.)