Saturday, August 29, 2009


STONEWALL HINKLEMAN AND THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, by Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger (Dial 2009). Twelve-year-old Stonewall Traveler Hinkleman was named after a general who got shot by his own troops, and a horse. His parents are Civil War re-enactors and he's sick of having to spend weekends in leaky tents and wearing itchy, hot, wool clothing, and could there be anything more dorky than being the bugle boy?

But then he encounters a pretty girl, a corrupt politician, and a mysterious vendor, and suddenly finds himself transported back into the real First Battle of Bull Run Manassas, where he will need to use all the knowledge he's unwillingly picked up over the years to prevent the South from rising again and changing the course of American history.

STONEWALL HINKLEMAN is an entertaining and sophisticated romp that nevertheless provides a serious look at the first battle of the Civil War. The sarcastic, first-person voice is just right and gradually grows less snarky, more thoughtful (but still full of wit), as Stonewall experiences the real, not re-enacted battle, and grows to appreciate the real people involved therein. In STONEWALL HINKLEMAN, Hemphill and Riddleburger have succeeded in the difficult task of pulling off a novel based around a grim historical event that is both fun and thought-provoking.


FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE, by Allen Zadoff (Egmont 2009). Sophomore Andrew Zansky has a forty-eight inch waist and weighs in at 306.4 pounds, and he's only the second fattest kid in school. His mom's a caterer, his dad's a lawyer (they're divorcing), his sister is thin, he's being plagued by a bully, and April, the girl of his dreams, just transferred in to his high school.

To impress April, he jumps at the chance to join the football team, where he's immediately made starting center and, for a while, enjoys the rise in popularity and new-found fame. But then he discovers that things just might not be as they seem...

FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE will resonate with everyone who's ever been on the outside looking in and everyone on the inside looking to get out. Andy is smart and engaging and the supporting cast also feels real and well-rounded. In short, FOOD GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE is a funny and sometimes bittersweet tale of a boy who's just growing into himself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

We're going to need bigger bookshelves...

Okay, so I haven't been blogging many books this summer, for several reasons.

First, I've been in the process of finalizing a new new manuscript and revising an old new manuscript, so that hasn't left a lot of time for extra reading or time to go to the book store.

Second, we haven't actually been receiving many books, which we had attributed to the slow economy (i.e., we assumed that publishers weren't sending out review copies to the same extent as previously). Well. We just discovered that the post office has been holding incoming packages addressed to our PO Box without letting us know they were being held (No, we don't know why). Yesterday, we went to pick up our mail, and discovered three months worth of review copies. (That's six postal bins worth). Pretty much everything from review copies from publishers and copies from individual editors and individual authors since about the beginning of June...

Oh, and am I the only one disturbed that most of the objects at IKEA labeled "bookscases" are in fact designed to hold one's television?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More writing ...and the odd pizza

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a writer's workshop at the home of Austin SCBWI founder Meredith Davis. We broke into small groups to critique first ten pages of manuscripts in progress and then had workshop-wide sessions with all the participants. It was a terrific event, full of camaraderie and even some excellent writing :-).

My small group consisted of Chris Barton, Helen Hemphill, Alison Dellenbaugh, Lyn Seippel, and me. The manuscripts were all a pleasure to read -- it's always fun to peer into the creative processes of other writers.

Other participants included Brian Anderson; Varsha Bajaj; Chris Barton; Donna Bratton; Gene Brenek; Shana Burg; Meredith Davis; Alison Dellenbaugh; Debbie Gonzales; Helen Hemphill; PJ Hoover; Julie Lake; Carmen Oliver; Lyn Seippel; Andy Sherrod; Don Tate; Brian Yansky; Frances Hill Yansky; and Jenny Ziegler

For pictures, Donna Bowman Bratton posts here; Don Tate posts here; Deb Gonzalez, here; and P.J. Hoover, here.

And here's the odd pizza (from the lakefront pub we retired to afterward):

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...