Friday, April 30, 2010


Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, so I thought I'd toss in some news about the graphic novel version of Tantalize: Cyn just received the sketches by Ming Doyle and they look terrific! Cyn's official announcement is here.

Check out a recent Fee Comic Book Day interview with Ming Doyle here.

And if you're looking for some Free Comic Book Day festivities in Austin, check out Dragon's Lair!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ten years of JINGLE DANCER!

Cyn and I were recently delighted to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Cyn's first book, JINGLE DANCER. Check out some anniversary thoughts from Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu, the book's illustrators, and Rosemary Brosnan, the book's editor.

Also, Cynsations is on hiatus for the rest of the month, but do check out the Spring Break links Cyn left.

Finally, here's a new interview with Cyn at the Day Job blog!

Friday, April 23, 2010


BORN TO BE GIANTS: HOW BABY DINOSAURS GREW TO RULE THE WORLD, by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook/FlashPoint 2010), is a 48-page picture book exploring how dinosaurs started out so small and grew so big. Text is straightforward and clear, and the illustrations are rich, detailed, and, occasionally, cute, but not cutesy (because all baby animals are cute, including dinosaurs. Really.).

Of particular interest are the juxtapositions of the prehistoric creatures with contemporary "counterparts," illustrating conjectured behavior. An excellent introduction to the science of juvenile dinosaurs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


HOW TO GET RICH ON A TEXAS CATTLE DRIVE, by Tod Olson, ill. by Scott Allred and Gregory Proch, afterword by Marc Aronson (National Geographic 2010)(ages 8-12) is a 48-page picture book, fictionalized memoir of one A.J. "Little John" Larkin. In 1876, fifteen year old Little John is a buckaroo from Iowa (of all places) who spends a year running cattle on the Chisholm Trail.

Dual page spreads illustrate and explicate aspects of the "wild west," including maps of cattle trails, diagrams of tricks of the trade, pictures of Dodge City, and contemporary photos. Aronson's afterword discusses what is real and what is not.

A fun and lively introduction to the old west, and a companion to HOW TO GET RICH IN THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH and HOW TO GET RICH ON THE OREGON TRAIL.

Monday, April 19, 2010


SAVING MADDIE, by Varian Johnson (Delacorte 2010)(ages 14+). Seventeen-year-old Joshua Wynne is a preacher's son -- a "good boy" in a small town in South Carolina where everyone knows him. But when his childhood friend and (apparently) bad girl, Madeline Smith, returns to town, his faith, intentions, and virginity are tested.

Can he bring back the old Maddie while keeping faith with God and his parents, when he doesn't know who he is himself?

Told in a strong first-person voice, SAVING MADDIE is an elegantly written, non-preachy novel of redemption, intercession, and the courage of faith.

Texas Library Association Conference!

Cyn and I are back from and exhilarating and exhausting few days at TLA in San Antonio. There was more rain than I'd ever seen in San Antonio, which was slightly surreal, but everyone kept their sense of humor about it :-). Cyn was on a panel and had a signing, while I went in a purely supernumerary capacity.

We drove down on Thursday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and headed out to the conference center. The first people we ran into were Pat Mora and Loriene Roy.

We arrived just in time for the Delacortesians' (Shana Burg, Margo Rabb, Varian Johnson, and April Lurie) signings. We also caught ran into Chris Barton, Liz Garton Scanlon, and Tim Tingle, and had a good chat with Peni Griffin and the others manning the SCBWI booth.

Below, Jerry Wermund poses with his latest:

Texas Sweethearts Jessica Lee Anderson, P.J. Hoover, and Jo Whittemore were there in all their glory:

Teri Lesesne and Lois Buckman:

At the joint publisher party, we ran into more old and new friends and met among others, Jenni Holm's bairn, visited with Mark Mitchell and Debbie Gonzales.

Jarrett Krosoczka and Jennifer Ziegler:

Junko Yokota and Kimberly Willis Holt:

Afterward, Candlewick (i.e., Sharon and Jenny) took Cyn and me, Marc Aronson, Kelly Bennett, Matt Tavares, and a host of Texas library luminaries, to dinner at the Fig Leaf.

Next day we hit the conference floor again and caught Kathleen Duey and Jenny Ziegler signing; Victoria Stapleton deftly handed over a copy of Gail Giles's forthcoming DARK SONG; and I nabbed an arc of K.A. Holt's forthcoming BRAINS FOR LUNCH (a zombie novel in haiku).

Debbie Leland poses with the arc of Holler Loudly:

Cyn did a teen book chat while Brian Yansky signed arcs of the terrific ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES at the Candlewick booth. Then we were off to Cyn's panel on "A Conversation Between Books and Technology" with Jay Asher, Cory Doctorow, Maureen Johnson, and Jude Watson. The room was packed and the panelists were funny and informative.

Below, April Lurie, Frances Hill Yansky, and Brian Yansky pose.

We finished up the conference the next day with Teri Lesesne and Rosemary Chance book-talking some YA and tween titles.

And for reasons I don't understand, Clifford the Big Red Dog now walks upright.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow/HarperCollins 2010)(ages 12+) is the deliciously Machiavellian follow-up to THE THIEF, THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, and THE KING OF ATTOLIA.

In brief, it is the story of the quest of Sophos, erstwhile companion of the Thief of Eddis, to secure the throne of Sounis: Effete and affable, Sophos is kidnapped in a coup attempt by fractious barons (but abetted by the ambassador from the Medan empire) against his uncle. His only hope is to bide his time and escape to Attolia. But can Eugenides himself, even with the aid of both Attolia and Eddis, harden him enough to help unite the peninsula against the Mede?

Once again, richly-drawn and sometimes disturbing characters and political and diplomatic intrigue abound in this in-one-sitting read.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tomorrow is Operation Teen Book Drop!

Operation Teen Book Drop will deliver 10,000 new books to teens on Native reservations and tribal lands, an event that coincides with Support Teen Literature Day.

In addition, more than 100 top young adult authors will leave their books in public places for young readers to discover, and members of the public can buy books online and have them shipped to tribal libraries.

In its third year, Operation TBD is part of a massive effort by librarians, young adult authors, and avid readers to spur reading on a nationwide scale. The day aims to encourage teens to read for the fun of it.

The effort is coordinated by readergirlz, the Young Adult Library Services Association, GuysLitWire, and a new partner, If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, a national reading club for Native children.

Everyone who participates in Operation TBD is invited to celebrate at the TBD Post-Op Party on April 15 at the readergirlz blog.

For more information, go see this post on Cynsations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Greater Houston Teen Book Con

(above, Omni koi)

Cyn and I are just back from Houston, where Cyn was a panelist at the first annual Greater Houston Teen Book Convention, held at Alief Taylor High School and in conjunction with Blue Willow Book Shop.

In addition to keynote speaker Sharon Draper, featured authors included Cynthia (Tantalize and Eternal), Beth Fantaskey (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jekel Loves Hyde), Marjetta Geerling (Fancy White Trash), Jon Skovron (Struts and Frets), Judson Roberts (The Strongbow Saga), Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules), George O'Connor (Olympians Rule), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo, Runaways), Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Sisters in Sanity and You Can't Get There from Here), The Fillbach Brothers (Maxwell Strangewell, Road Kill, Clone Wars), Elizabeth Eulberg (The Lonely Hearts Club), and Paula Morris (Ruined).

(Blue Willow-ers)

After a quick and pleasant drive up US71/I-10 (the wildflowers are spectacular this year), we checked in at the Omni Houston Westside, had dinner and enjoyed the koi pond. Then we were off to Blue Willow itself for a lovely reception (oddly, we had never been there before, although we'd met all the folks at Mid-South and other events). We then went back to the Omni for a late night snack and a drink with a couple of the other speakers.

Next morning, we were up early, but not too early, and headed over to Alief Taylor High School. There, the organizers had set up a great speakers' lounge off the library, where we could retreat, etc.

(Sharon poses with her water bottle)

Sharon Draper delivered a terrific keynote, which was followed by a really good lunch from Whichwich. Afterwords, were the two breakout sessions (from the choice of three). I went to the generic YA and the graphic novel sessions. Following that was the signings in the school cafeteria.

(The brand-spanking new Alief Taylor High School).

Thanks to everyone who came and thanks to the organizers, librarians, volunteers, and booksellers. See y'all next year!

Cyn's post is here.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


THE HEALING SPELL, by Kimberley Griffiths Little (blog)(Scholastic, Summer 2010)(ages 8-12). Eleven year old Livie lives with her family deep in the bayou and other than that, is a pretty typical kid trying to hide her pet alligator, get along with her cousin, and deal with her sister's upcoming wedding.

But her mother is in a coma and Livie has become estranged from her father. And when her mother is brought home, the house is turned upside down to ensure she is properly cared for. Livie feels responsible and knows the only way to make it right is to find a way to wake her Mom up...

THE HEALING SPELL is lush, fascinating, sweet, and atmospheric. Readers will empathize with Livie as they immerse themselves in the bayou setting.


Check out the trailer:

And, you can download the music here!
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