Category Archives: Publishing & Promotion

Book Fairs: Forging Connections Between Authors and Readers

As an author and as a parent, one of the school activities I love most is the book fair. This chance to watch our readers as they browse books and talk about what they’re connecting to is invaluable; it provides a unique peek into what they love about books and characters that I don’t get anywhere else. Obviously, there are other tools and even metrics to measure what’s resonating with our middle grade readers, but book fairs are just special.

Recently, in an effort to enhance the book fair at my children’s school, I piloted a new program called “Meet the Author.” I stole the idea from another book fair I had worked with in Oro Valley, AZ, where their week-long event included two full days of classroom visits from authors whose books were being sold at the fair.

It was a wonderful way to immerse the students in the whole process of publishing—from the crafting and editing of a book to the actual purchase. The visits also offered readers who were able to purchase the authors’ books a tangible reminder of the visit—personally autographed books! The difference between these and the typical author school visit was that it all happened in the classrooms, which provided a more intimate visit than is usually manageable when you pack an entire grade level into a large room.

The event took a lot of heavy-lifting: months of organization and two long days of managing a roster of authors and parent volunteers who could escort our visitors around the school. But oh, the results. Kids were excited and energized; brand new authors were born in every classroom. It was truly wonderful to watch.

When I imported the idea to our school here in northern Virginia, I started small: no budget and only one author for one grade level presentation. I had to depend on the kindness of an author who would be willing to speak for free and still be willing to sign books afterward. That author was Leah Henderson, author of ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL.

Leah was fabulous. Her presentation was interesting, engaging, and interactive. The children loved her slide show, which included photos of Senegal, where her novel is set. They really plugged into her questions, competing with each other to identify which of her geographically diverse photo slides were in Africa.

Even better? Our 6th graders gained a valuable and exciting connection between the book they saw on the shelves at the book fair and the in-person visit from the actual author—the face of the artistry behind the pages.

“Whenever someone can build a connection with a book they’re more apt to pick it up the next time they see it—often curious what other connections they may make. Having a ‘Meet the author’ event before or during a book fair is a wonderful way for students to hear the behind the scenes in an author’s book journey.”

                                                     –Leah Henderson, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL

It’s important to note here that the experience itself—an author visit—wasn’t new for us, nor would it be for most schools that want to try this. Our school in particular is very fortunate in that we have an active librarian who schedules author visits as often as her budget allows: we’ve met some pretty amazing, well-known writers. But this was unique in that the author’s work was on sale at the book fair, so everything happened in real time: students saw the book on the shelves at the fair and heard about it in person. They got to interact with the author. Many bought the book and got it signed, much like bookstore signings, which not all children get to attend.

One student said afterward, “It was very interesting to hear how she was inspired to write the book and I liked that she focused on that instead of giving spoilers about what the book was about. That was really good.”

Another said, “I was interested to find out what it takes to get a book published. It takes a lot longer than I thought, and I didn’t know that before we listened to Ms. Henderson. She was a great speaker.”

What motivated me to share this with all of you is twofold: 1) I wanted to encourage all of you who get to work with school book fairs to consider this idea (if you haven’t already); 2) I wanted to thank all the authors who are willing to cut or eliminate their speaking fees entirely when they are being courted by a local school or a speaker program with no budget. I understand that for many of us, speaking fees are a vital part of our income and we can’t make ends meet without them, certainly not when it involves travel outside our region. But the fees can also be prohibitive. I was so grateful to Leah for her generosity because I had no budget at all; any speaker fee would have come from my own pocket, which I couldn’t do. But the value of Leah’s visit was priceless for our kids, and, I can confirm, gained her some new fans. And if we’re lucky? A few new authors were born that day.

Happy Holidays to all of you, and here’s to a 2018 full of great books and good cheer.

November New Releases

This month we celebrate a cornucopia of wonderful new middle-grade releases. Be sure to tell us which books you’re thankful for in the comments below.

COOL PHYSICS by Sarah Hutton, illustrated by Damien Weighill from Pavilion (November 1st) Aimed at older children and curious adults, this book covers everything you need to know about some of the most complex scientific ideas the world has ever seen, made accessible and fun—Newton’s Theory of Relativity, quantum physics, nuclear fission and fusion, quarks, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and that old favorite E=mc2 are all explained here, clearly and entertainingly. There are also 10 practical experiments to give you even more insight into the theories, including making a pinhole camera, a whirlpool in a bottle and electric circuits with Play-Doh.

MOSQUITOES DON’T BITE ME by Pendred Noyce from Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (November 1st) Mosquitoes don’t bite Nala Simiyu. It’s part of who she is, like being a half-Kenyan seventh-grader whose mother is in a wheelchair. But when a schoolmate’s father–who happens to head up a large drug company–learns of Nala’s special power, the excitement begins. After helping out with mosquito research, Nala has the chance to travel to Kenya to investigate mosquitoes’ reactions to her father’s family. All goes well until a man heartbroken by his daughter’s death from malaria kidnaps Nala. In the midst of a realistic adventure story, this book will introduce young readers to such dilemmas as health disparities, subtle racism, and who owns biological information. Brave, fallible, compassionate and spirited, Nala is a strongly relatable character in a loving, imperfect family.

FIREFLY WILDLIFE ATLAS by John Farndon from Firefly (November 1st) This beautiful book is from the producers of Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals, praised by Kirkus Reviews: “the entries come from all over the world; some are common and others rare, but all are interesting in some way… for browsers and researchers alike, this is a useful and inviting display — and a bargain.”

Firefly Wildlife Atlas is similar but approaches the animal kingdom by means of habitat. It is also remarkable for its scope and presentation, covering almost 1000 animals in meticulous full-color illustrations and concise authoritative text. From millipedes to monkeys, this book offers a detailed and thorough guide to a wide array of the world’s mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as insects, spiders and other invertebrates.

THE GETAWAY (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID #12) by Jeff Kinney from Amulet (November 7th) Greg Heffley and his family are getting out of town. With the cold weather and the stress of the approaching holiday season, the Heffleys decide to escape to a tropical island resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation. A few days in paradise should do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family. But the Heffleys soon discover that paradise isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Sun poisoning, stomach troubles, and venomous critters all threaten to ruin the family’s vacation. Can their trip be saved, or will this island getaway end in disaster?

DANIEL COLDSTAR #1 The Relic War by Stel Pavlou from HarperCollins (Novemeber 7th) Below the surface on a forgotten planet, Daniel Coldstar searches for relics from a lost civilization. Daniel has no memory of his past. All he knows is to do his job and fear the masters of the mines.

Until he unearths a relic more powerful than anything he has ever seen. A relic that might help him escape…

What follows is an epic outer space adventure filled with Truth Seekers, anatoms, Leechers, and the evil Sinja who seek to control the universe.

All that stands in their way is a boy named Daniel Coldstar, whose journey will change the galaxy forever.

HOW OSCAR INDIGO BROKE THE UNIVERSE (AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN) by David Teague from HarperCollins (November 7th) Oscar Indigo has never been good at baseball, so naturally he’s nervous when he has to fill in for his team’s injured All-Star, Lourdes. Luckily, Oscar has a mysterious gold watch that can stop time, which he uses to fake a game-winning home run. Now Oscar’s the underdog hero of his town and even Lourdes wants to be his friend.

But the universe is a precarious place, and you can’t just steal time without any consequences. If Oscar doesn’t find a way to return the time he stole, the universe will unwind completely.

Oscar wants nothing more than to ask Lourdes for help, but what would a baseball star like her think of a guy whose fake home run actually destroyed the universe? But as he and Lourdes grow closer, Oscar understands that it isn’t always what you do that makes you special—but who you are. And that confidence just might be the key to fixing the universe.

MARTHA AND THE SLAVE CATCHERS by Harriet Hyman Alonso, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon from Triangle Square (November 7th) Thirteen-year-old Martha Bartlett insists on being a part of the Underground Railroad rescue to bring her brother Jake back home to their abolitionist community in Connecticut. It’s 1854 and though African-Americans and mixed-race peoples in the north are supposed to be free, seven-year-old Jake, the orphan of a fugitive slave, is kidnapped by his “owner” and taken south to Maryland. Jake is what we’d now describe as on the autism spectrum, and Martha knows just how to reassure him when he’s anxious or fearful. Using aliases, disguises, and other subterfuges, Martha artfully dodges Will and Tom, the slave catchers, but struggles to rectify her new reality with her parents’ admonition to always tell the truth. She must be brave but not reckless, clever but not dishonest. But being perceived sometimes as white, sometimes as black during the perilous journey has thrown her sense of her own identity into turmoil. Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.

MUTANT BUNNY ISLAND by Obert Skye, illusrated by Eduardo Vieira from HarperCollins (November 7th) Ten-year-old Perry Owens has learned everything he needs to know from comic books. So when Perry receives a troubling message from his favorite uncle, Zeke, he knows exactly what’s wrong. Obviously, evil newts wearing trench coats must have kidnapped Zeke. Now they’re holding him hostage somewhere on Bunny Island, the remote vacation destination that Zeke calls home.

On his own, Perry travels to Bunny Island, where dozens of bunnies are running wild. One in particular doesn’t seem quite right. A creature this cute shouldn’t exist in nature. Are there truly evil newts on the loose, or something much stranger…and more disturbingly adorable?

CICI’S JOURNAL: The Adventures of a Writer in Training by Joris Chamblain, and Aurelie Neyret from Feiwell and Friends (November 7th) Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?

In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.

A CHILD THROUGH TIME from DK (November 7th) An original look at history that profiles 30 children from different eras so that children of today can discover the lives of the cave people, Romans, Vikings, and beyond through the eyes of someone their own age.

History books often focus on adults, but what was the past like for children? A Child Through Time is historically accurate and thoroughly researched, and brings the children of history to life—from the earliest civilizations to the Cold War, even imagining a child of the future. Packed with facts and including a specially commissioned illustration of each profiled child, this book examines the clothes children wore, the food they ate, the games they played, and the historic moments they witnessed—all through their own eyes. Maps, timelines, and collections of objects, as well as a perspective on the often ignored topic of family life through the ages, give wider historical background and present a unique side to history. Covering key curriculum topics in a new light, A Child Through Time is a perfect and visually stunning learning tool for children ages 7 and up.

THE LOST FROST GIRL by Amy Wilson from Katherine Tegen Books (November 7th) With a name like hers, Owl never expected her life to be normal, at home or at school. But when Owl finds out that she is Jack Frost’s daughter, her world shifts beyond what she could ever imagine.

Determined to meet him, Owl delves into Jack’s wonderful world of winter and magic–the kind of place she thought only existed in fairy tales. And as she notices frost patterns appearing on her skin and her tears turning to ice, Owl starts to wonder if being Jack Frost’s daughter means that she has powers of her very own.

At once breathtaking and brimming with heart, The Lost Frost Girl is a story of family, friendship, and the magic of embracing who you are meant to be.

THE REAL MCCOYS by Matthew Swanson, illustrated by Robbi Behr from Imprint (November 7th) Her name’s Moxie. Moxie McCoy.

Bold, opinionated, and haplessly self-confident, the world’s greatest fourth-grade detective faces her biggest challenge! When someone kidnaps beloved school mascot Eddie the Owl, Moxie is on the case―but she’s forced to fly solo now that her best friend (and crime-solving partner) has moved away.

Moxie must interview her classmates―both as potential new best friends and as possible suspects. She finds clues and points fingers but can’t save the owl on her own. Enter Moxie’s little brother, Milton. Quiet, cautious, and boring as a butter knife, he’s a good listener.

Can the Real McCoys form an unlikely alliance and solve the crime of the century?

LILY’S  MOUNTAIN by Hannah Moderow from Houghton Mifflin (November 14th) Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally. In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting–and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places. 

GOLDELINE by Jimmy Cajoleas from HarperCollins (November 14th) In the wild, free woods of the Hinterlands, where magic is as real as stories are, Goldeline travels from camp to camp with Gruff and his bandits, getting by on the things they steal from carriages that pass through the woods.

But someone is after Goldeline. The same man who wants to cleanse the Hinterlands of anyone who’s different–and who convinced the overzealous Townies that her mother was a witch–suspects that Goldeline might be a witch, too. Now Goldeline must summon all the courage and magic she got from her momma to escape her pursuers, save her friends, and maybe even find a place to call home.

PENELOPE MARCH IS MELTING by Jeffrey Michael Ruby from Delacorte (November 14th) Something sinister has come to Glacier Cove, an icy-cold town that sits on top of an iceberg. Nothing bad ever happens here. Until now. And it’s up to Penelope March to stop it. Mmm-hmm, that Penelope–the bookworm who lives in the ramshackle house with her brother, Miles. The girl with the mom who–poof –disappeared. The one everyone ignores . . . except strange Coral Wanamaker, a tiny thing with raven-black hair and a black coat. When Penelope meets someone who seems to know secrets not only about Glacier Cove but about Penelope herself, she and Miles are pulled into an ancient mystery. Together, they’ll face the coldest, cruelest enemy ever known. Looks like the girl who only reads about adventures is going to start living one. Magic cookies. Volcanoes. Penguins. Sea monsters.  And a girl hero with the strength and imagination to spring into action.

IN THE COUNTRY OF QUEENS by Cari Best from Farrar Straus Giroux (November 28th) Eleven-year-old Shirley Alice Burns lives with her domineering mother, Hurricane Anna, and loving Grandmother. One day she unexpectedly discovers that her beloved father isn’t in Absentia as her family would have her believe, but dead. And she understands all too well why they haven’t told her; she’s always been shy and quiet, and Anna has always been protective of her. But if Shirley doesn’t start speaking up, she isn’t going to be able to do the things she wants to do: go on vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee with her cousins, stop taking ballet lessons, and talk about her father. Through the help of a mouse, her hero Pippi Longstocking, and her cousin Phillie, Shirley finds the strength to give her dreams a voice and convince everyone, even Hurricane Anna, that she doesn’t need to be sheltered, especially from the truth. IN THE COUNTRY OF QUEENS is the debut novel from acclaimed picture-book author Cari Best.

CHARLIE NUMB3RS AND THE MAN IN THE MOON by Ben and Tonya Mezrich from Simon and Schuster (November 28th) Charlie is recruited to use his mathematical prowess to discover what happened to a box of stolen moon rocks in this follow up to Bringing Down the Mouse.Charlie Lewis is really good at math. So good, that he’s approached by a mysterious woman who needs his help. The woman is carrying an incredible item: an actual moon rock, one of the most valuable objects on Earth, and she’s investigating the theft of a box of moon rocks from NASA’s vault at the Johnson Space Center, and believes the stolen rocks are now in the possession of a former astronaut. Although she claims to work at NASA, Charlie suspects she is something else–but he decides the adventure is too good to pass up. Charlie and the whiz kids go undercover by entering the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s paper airplane contest, and head down to the nation’s capital. Working together, they master the principles of aerodynamics, wind science, and gravity to excel in the competition.Charlie must decide how far he’ll go to solve the mystery of the stolen moon rocks; is he willing to betray a new friendship? Or has he unwittingly been drawn into something even bigger than some missing chunks of the moon?

ODDITY by Sarah Cannon from Feiwel and Friends (November 28th) Welcome to Oddity, New Mexico, where normal is odd and odd is normal.

Ada Roundtree is no stranger to dodging carnivorous dumpsters, distracting zombie rabbits with marshmallows, and instigating games of alien punkball. But things haven’t been the same since her twin sister, Pearl, won the town’s yearly Sweepstakes and disappeared . . .

Along with her best friend, Raymond, and new-kid-from-Chicago Cayden (whose inability to accept being locked in the gym with live leopards is honestly quite laughable), Ada leads a self-given quest to discover Oddity’s secrets, even evading the invisible Blurmonster terrorizing the outskirts of town.

But one of their missions goes sideways, revealing something hinky with the Sweepstakes . . . and Ada can’t let it go. Because, if the Sweepstakes is bad, then what happened to Pearl?

Coming Soon– STEM Tuesday!!!

in NOVEMBER


Announcing  a brand new addition to  the Mixed Up Files Blog:

STEM Tuesday!!

 

 

What is STEM ?

STEM covers the topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

STEM Tuesday is a brand new addition to the Mixed Up Files blog here to shine the light on books about this amazing and critical topic. With all that is going on in the news lately, it is more important than ever to introduce young readers to the FUN and exciting STEM books that are out there.

STEM books ENGAGE. EXCITE. and INSPIRE young and old readers alike.

<a href="http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school">School vector created by Freepik</a>

Image by Freepik.com

 

They encourage students to ask questions, have discussions, engage in problem-solving, and interact across boundaries of knowledge. They invite readers to notice the science all around them!

If you’ve always wondered where to find out about the great new middle grade  titles in STEM , look no further.  You have FOUND your spot!

JOIN US ON NOVEMBER 7TH AS WE KICK OFF

OUR FIRST EVER

STEM Tuesday! 

 

What is STEM Tuesday? 

EVERY MONTH  we will be highlighting middle grade books with a particular topic in STEM

EACH WEEK we will be delving into the ways these books can be used in the classroom, offering resources for how to make connections between these STEM books and other topics,  making real-life connections to these STEM books that will encourage discussions and provide valuable resources, and finally we will be offering an interview with a real-life STEM author plus a giveaway of their book!

We have an amazing team of middle grade STEM authors and enthusiasts to bring the excitement of this topic alive.

Let me introduce you to the weekly topics and the fabulous STEM Tuesday Team:

Week 1:  STEM Book List of the Month

This week will highlight a list of 8-10 titles of STEM middle grade books that fit our theme of the month. They will all have links and a bit of information to intrigue you into learning more about them.

This week’s team is:

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of the Green Earth Book Award and a finalist for the AAAS/Subaru Science Books and Films Award, her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how her writing skills give a voice to our beleaguered environment. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

 

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the 2017 Green Earth Book Award and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She loves sharing her excitement about nonfiction with readers and fellow writers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. www.nancycastaldo.com

 

Week 2: STEM Tuesday In the Classroom

This week’s post will highlight a few of the books on week 1’s list and give teachers/librarians specific activities for using these books in the classroom. Designed for hands -on activities, discussions, engaging inquiry and MORE!

This week’s team is:

When Michelle Houts was eight years old, all she wanted was a chemistry set. She got it, and, sadly, she doesn’t remember doing a whole lot with it. What happened to her enthusiasm and confidence? Years later, writing fiction and nonfiction for young readers, she realized that girls identify as “science-y” (or not) at an early age. Her most recent books feature ground-breaking women and curious young scientists. Find out more about author and speaker Michelle Houts at www.michellehouts.com

 

 

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano has been paid to stay overnight at a science center and has enjoyed her share of after-hours staff parties at museums, where she and her husband once won a prize for a costume modelled after the Boston Museum of Science’s Van der Graaf generator exhibit. Carolyn’s work is all about creating vivid science and engineering learning experiences—interactive exhibits, innovative teacher professional development programs, national curricula, and fresh, accessible, and sometimes quirky science and STEM books for kids. She splits her career between STEM educational consulting and writing kids’ STEM and science books. Find her at http://carolyndecristofano.com and on her Facebook author page, AuthorCarolynD.

 

WEEK 3:  STEM Tuesday Crafts & Resources

An out-of-the-box way to use these STEM books in the classroom, library, or at home. Could be an ELA-Science type connection AND/OR a Real-World connection, or even genres of STEM books, how to write, them… whatever. Like the scientists many of us are, this week may be unexpected, but will always be EXCITING!  

This week’s team:

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity 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/training related topics at www.coachhays.com and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.wordpress.com. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.

 

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. The weirder, the wackier, the better. An award-winning educator, Heather uses yuck appeal to engage young minds. She has a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in environmental education and has written a dozen nonfiction books including How Rude! Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners (Scholastic) and her upcoming Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill(Bloomsbury). Inquiry is her life. www.HeatherLMontgomery.com

 

WEEK 4: STEM Tuesday Author Interviews and Giveaways

This week will highlight one middle-grade STEM book author. You will get a peek inside the mind of an actual STEM author and learn how and why they wrote their book. Be sure to comment this week because you will be entered to win an autographed copy of the book!

 

This week’s team:

Mary Kay Carson is the author of more than fifty books for kids and teachers about space, weather, nature, and other science and history topics. She has six titles in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s esteemed Scientists in the Field series, including Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard and Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt. Learn more at: www.marykaycarson.com.

Evolutionary biologist-turned-author Amber J. Keyser has an MS in zoology and a PhD in genetics. She writes both fiction and non-fiction for tweens and teens. She loves to explore the intersection of art and science in her work. More information at www.amberjkeyser.com. Connect with Amber on Twitter @amberjkeyser.

 

And then there’s me, Jennifer Swanson, the creator & administrator of STEM Tuesdays:

Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award winning author of over 25 nonfiction books for children. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge) which was named an NSTA Best STEM book of 2017 and an NSTA Outstanding Trade Book 2017Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, and a Nerdy Book Club award. Her book, Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat, from 21st Century Books/ Lerner received a Junior Library Guild Selection. You can visit Jennifer at her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

So join us back here on November 7th for the FIRST STEM TUESDAY ever!

Stop by and “Get your STEM on”!!

#STEMROCKS!