these libraries need your help!

We were very lucky not to have experienced any flood damage from Hurricane Irene here in our part of Virginia, but there are libraries in upstate New York and Vermont who’ve suffered devastating damage and still need lots of help.

Author Kate Messner has done a fantastic job of keeping everyone updated on the relief efforts for the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, New York, and the West Hartford Library in Vermont, which lost its entire children’s collection. There are many ways to help, including sending a check directly to the libraries involved, contributing to a library gift card at The Bookstore Plus, or, if you are an author or illustrator, contributing a signed book for a fundraiser to be held in October.

So far, the response has been terrific, with donations coming in from all over the world. I was about to send a box of books to Upper Jay, but have decided to hold off for now, as they are worried about storage space and the potential for more flooding. As Kate mentions in this update, the best way to help right now is by sending a check or by calling the bookstore to order a recommended book or by contributing to the library gift card. If you haven’t already done so, please click here to read Kate’s posts about the libraries, with full details about how to help.

soup of the day: sugar and ice by kate messner!

“The pace of the music picked up as she gathered speed, and everything left her except the feel of the cold air on her face, her blades on the ice, her movements in time to the music.” ~ Kate Messner, Sugar and Ice

It’s time to put on our sparkly skirts, lace up our skates, and do a triple toe loop and a couple of flying spins to celebrate the official release today of Kate Messner’s brand new middle grade novel, Sugar and Ice (Walker, 2010)!!

Last year, Kate gave us The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z (Walker, 2009), which won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award, definitely enhanced my appreciation for autumn leaves, and got me hooked on  introduced me to a delicious distraction called Nonna’s Funeral Cookies (nom nom).

And now, with Sugar and Ice, we have a small town maple farm, the fascinating world of competitive figure skating, a bit of beekeeping, a Thai restaurant, a Fibonacci school project, a cast of interesting, fully-realized, believable characters, and a highly palatable menu of enticing edibles: hot chocolate, corn chowder, egg salad and turkey sandwiches, pad thai, pizza, PopTarts, and *wait for it* — blueberry pancakes!


Ricotta Hotcakes (recipe here) from michelle une-deux senses/flickr.

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Tall stack dripping with melted butter and maple syrup. Want. (You will soon want, too. Trust me.)

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soup of the day: champlain and the silent one by kate messner

  Three Cheers for Kate Messner!

Her second historical novel for middle grade readers, Champlain and the Silent One (North Country Books, 2008), is officially out today!


The Innu call him Silent One, because he hasn’t spoken a word since his uncle was killed by the Iroquois. In the winter of 1609, Samuel de Champlain and his men befriend the Innu and promise to help them fight their enemies. For the first time, Silent One must join the war party, journey far from home, and find his voice in order to save his brother and his own spirit.

The gorgeous cover was painted by Kate’s mother, artist Gail Smith Schirmer, who, as you may recall, also painted the cover of Kate’s first novel, Spitfire (North Country Books, 2007), winner of the Adirondack Literary Award. Storyteller and writer, Joseph Bruchac, says of Champlain and the Silent One:

Kate Messner’s sense of American history and human nature is as strong as her clear, evocative prose. Her multicultural cast of characters truly comes alive in this wonderful little novel that gives one of the best pictures I’ve yet seen of that period of early contact.

Definitely sounds like another winner for uber talented and prolific Kate :)!

Today, especially in her honor, we are serving Champlain Chowder with a Cracker Canoe. I know once you taste this, you’ll want to loudly slurp and burp your congratulations.

Thanks for writing another great book, Kate, and best of luck with it!


Find out more about Kate and her books by visiting her website and blog.

Edited to add: Kate has just informed me that her new book is actually being released next week, contrary to what Amazon says. So, we’ll just keep her soup warm while you click on over to preorder :).