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Archive for the ‘middle grade fiction’ Category

“Truth is so rare, it is delightful to tell it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

I’ve been curious about Emily Dickinson’s relationship with children ever since learning that she used to lower baskets of gingerbread to the neighborhood kids.

That’s why I loved Burleigh Mutén’s delightful verse novel Miss Emily (Candlewick, 2014). It gave me a good sense of how Dickinson might have interacted with four of the children in her life: her niece and nephew Mattie and Ned (who lived next door at the Evergreens), and the pastor’s kids Mac and Sally, who lived across the street.

This fun and suspenseful adventure, where Emily and the children disguise themselves as gypsies to catch a glimpse of the midnight circus train, is told from Mac’s point of view. It is clear the kids all adore Miss Emily and she, them, united as they are in imaginative play and a singular brand of friendship.

Illustrations copyright © 2014 Matt Phelan

I’m so pleased Burleigh is here today to tell us more about writing and researching Miss Emily. I daresay “the children’s laughing goddess of plenty” herself would be quite pleased with this story, as it celebrates her fondness for children and the importance of remaining true to one’s inner child: therein lies the truth about who we really are and should always strive to be.

Look sharp! The circus train is here. All Aboard! :)

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I’m happy to welcome dear friend and award winning author Margo Sorenson back to Alphabet Soup today. :)

The good news is that her middle grade historical novel, Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue (first released in paperback back in 2003), is now available as an ebook!

Eleven-year-old Tori and her family are struggling with the Great Depression in North Dakota, and the death of her beloved Papa has been the severest blow of all. To aspiring writer Tori, everything is changing for the worse—her friends are acting too grown-up, and her little brother Otto invades her privacy. When a Norwegian bachelor-farmer begins courting Mama, Tori writes in her journal that her life will be ruined. What will Tori discover about forgiveness and acceptance as she tries to keep her life from changing?

I enjoyed learning about Scandinavian customs through this beautifully written novel, which reminded me of childhood favorites like All-of-a Kind Family and the Little House Books, where family ties, simple pleasures and a strong sense of community sustain the characters through difficult times.

In the chapter “Missing!”, Tori reluctantly helps her mother roll lefse for Thanksgiving. She usually loves making the traditional flatbread, but this would be their second Thanksgiving without Papa, and besides, she was angry that Mama had invited suitor Bjorn Oppestadt to dinner. How dare she? He wasn’t family!

Today, Margo talks about rolling lefse with her own family. It sounds like such delicious fun. Adopt me, please :).

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A big day in the world of children’s literature — the American Library Association has announced the winners of the 2014 Youth Media Awards!

2014 Newbery Award for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

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2014 Caldecott Award for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

Click here to see the full list of children’s and young adult books honored today!

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I’m tickled pink (and red, green, yellow and blue) to welcome newly published author, faster-than-lightning reader, This Kid Reviews Books blogger and budding philanthropist Erik Weibel to Alphabet Soup today!

Eleven-year-old Erik is beloved in the kidlitosphere (he started blogging when he was just nine!), and continues to impress everyone with his consistently incisive and candid book reviews and irrepressible enthusiasm for reading and writing.

He worked on his new chapter book, THE ADVENTURES OF TOMATO AND PEA – Book 1: A Bad Idea, for 3 years (i.e., 1/4 of his life). It is the first in a planned trilogy featuring tiny aliens called Smidges from the planet Oarg, and is notable for its cast of colorful, quirky characters, lively narrative with hilarious rapid-fire dialogue, vivid descriptions, and enduring themes (friendship, cooperation, courage, the triumph of good over evil).

In Book 1, super crime-stopper Tomato, his techno-savvy sidekick Pea, and two other Smidges find themselves tricked, then trapped aboard the rocket ship S.S. Poofy with the evil Wintergreen and his unsavory cohorts. After they crash-land on planet EAR-TH, they must all learn to work together to ensure their survival and find a way to return home to Oarg.

Erik displays remarkable writing chops in this fun, quick read, and it’s exciting to see someone so young accomplish so much.

Yet one question remains:

Can this boy cook? :)

After all, he did include a character named Skew in the story, Tomato and Pea’s yellow friend who is a good, resourceful cook. Erik has said there’s a bit of him in each of his characters, and that he loves to cook. You can see why I had to investigate. :) :) :)

And so, my hungry readers –

*drumroll*

for the first time on any blog anywhere –

*trumpet flourish*

Erik the Great Weibel dishes about food in The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, his plans to take over the world, his personal food preferences, and then (*drool*) cooks up two mouthwatering, out of this world, Smidge-approved recipes with his alien friends (including notes and tips). Intergalactic Yum!!

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1. First things first! You’ve probably already heard, but this bears repeating again and again and again:

Colin Firth will be voicing Paddington in the new movie!!

colpadwave

I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I first heard about this last week — actually two lovely writer friends sent me a news link within seconds of each other with the same message: OMG! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!

And I died because I’ve loved Paddington forever, have read all his books numerous times and own 30+ Paddington stuffed bears and visited Paddington Station and like eating marmalade sandwiches and want a duffle coat and give people hard stares and want to change my last name to Brown and, and . . .

I mean, I was excited enough when I heard P was doing a genuine-for-real movie, but then to learn that of all the actors in the entire world with nice voices it will be COLIN FIRTH saying all of Paddington’s lines! Paddington’s character will be computer generated, but as Colin said, “Paddington will have something of me in his DNA because I’m going to do some sessions wearing one of those helmets with cameras to capture my face muscles, and all that data will somehow be incorporated into Paddington.”

Holey moley, two of my favorite guys morphed into one! Colin Firth face muscles for crying out loud. Too, too much!

*faints*

One of my friends said, “It’s almost like Colin’s doing this just for you.” SCREAM. Oxygen, I need oxygen! We’ll have to wait till 2015 before the movie comes out. Sigh. And here I thought I couldn’t possibly love Paddington or Colin any more than I already do . . .

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