Monday, March 29, 2010

Austin news...[updated]

March has been a busy book month for Cyn and me. In addition to IRC and receiving final edits on BLESSED, Cyn is poring over the sketches for the graphic novel version of TANTALIZE even as we speak. While the novel is told from Quincie's point of view, the graphic is told from Kieren's and includes additional scenes and characters (An announcement about the illustrator will be forthcoming from Cyn's blog).

Also, it's been a month (or so) of celebrating book releases by Austin authors! In the picture to the left, Jo Whittemore poses with her own Front Page Face-off; April Lurie's The Less-Dead; and Varian Johnson's Saving Maddie. Jo's party was at BookPeople earlier this month, and April and Varian had a joint party Saturday.

Other Austin authors with 2010 releases who were present included P.J. Hoover (The Necropolis (CBAY 2010)); Bethany Hegedus (Truth with a Capital "T" (Delacorte 2010)) and Brian Yansky (Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (Candlewick 2010)). The latter pair share the same release date of October 12.

Now, go out and read!

[Update] Oh, and check out the article on Cyn at the Lawrence Journal World!


HOLLER LOUDLY, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, ill. by Barry Gott (Dutton, Nov. 2010).

Flap copy:

Holler Loudly has a voice as big as the Southwestern sky, and everywhere he goes people tell him to "Hush!" From math class to the movies and even the state fair, Holler's LOUD voice just keeps getting on people's nerves. But Holler can't help himself--being loud is who he is!

Will Holler ever find a way to let loose his voice--without getting into trouble?

We were delighted to recently receive ARCs and cover art for Cyn's forthcoming picture book, HOLLER LOUDLY. It's a tall tale about a very loud boy who is always told to hush but learns that sometimes, it's more than okay to be LOUD. Drawings are bright and bold, evocative of the humor and tall-talish aspects of the text.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Illinois Reading Council

Cyn and I are just back from Springfield, Illinois, and the annual conference of the Illinois Reading Council. We were both delighted to be there (I hadn't been back to Springfield since an eighth grade class trip), especially since we'd didn't make our originally scheduled visit to the conference in '08 because the airline canceled our flights.

We flew in Thursday afternoon, connecting through O'hare without a hitch, had a quiet dinner at the hotel and then were off to the Hear the Authors Read and late-night autograph session. Other authors and Cyn and I each read for five minutes and then autographed. Others who read were Mary Amato, Nick Bruel, Andrew Clements, Laurie B. Friedman, Will Hobbs, Eric A. Kimmel, Laurie Lawlor, Judith Byron Schachner, and David Wiesner.

Friday, we were up early for our sessions. We spoke to enthusiastic audiences about our writing processes and focused primarily on our books set in Illinois, including Eternal; Indian Shoes; Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo; and Tofu and T.rex.

We had run into April Halprin Wayland at our signing and so she came with us and we induced Esther Hershenhorn away from her research to have lunch at Lindsay's, in the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, next door to the convention center. We talked publishing (of course) and caught up on the news of old friends.

That evening, we had dinner at Saputo's with Cynthea Liu, Jen Cullerton Johnson, Michelle Duster, and Trina Sotira, who were there to do a panel called "Global Learners = Global Problem Solvers." Food was excellent, conversation was lively and engaging, and we all stayed out way too late.

The next morning, Cyn and I headed down to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. (In the picture, I'm holding Harry Mazer's MY BROTHER ABE: SALLY LINCOLN'S STORY, while Abe is holding onto AESOP'S FABLES).

The museum is terrific. In addition to a couple of multimedia shows, the two main exhibits feature walk-throughs of Lincoln's youth and life and his presidential years. Other exhibits included a selection of artifacts, including one of Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hats and a variety of letters and other documents. The rotating exhibit featured Lincoln's ag policies, including his role in establishing the land grant universities.

If you're in the neighborhood, I highly recommend the museum (heck, next time you're in Chicago or St. Louis, tack on an extra day or two and go see the Lincoln Tomb, the Lincoln Home, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, and the old and new state capitols while you're at it. Also, Esther reports that the library is excellent for research.).

That afternoon, we made it to the airport early, but needn't have bothered. The plane to Chicago was delayed more than an hour (although we ran into Steven Layne, MaryAnn Rodman, and Gail Carson Levine at the airport) and then, our Austin flight was delayed four hours. We didn't get in until after midnight. I think the airline gods were paying us back for the great weather we'd had in Springfield (Thursday and Friday it was in the 60s)...

Altogether, it was a fantastic conference! Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers and attendees; and apologies again, for having to cancel in '08!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN, by Josh Berk (Knopf 2010). Will Halpin is overweight and mostly deaf. This year, though, he's left the School for the Deaf for Carbon High. At first, he struggles in his efforts to mainstream himself, warily becoming friends with Smiley, the weirdest kid in school. But then Pat Chambers, the school's star quarterback (and all-around jerk) is killed on a field trip to the local coal mine.

Can Will and Smiley solve the mystery? Was it the pot-smoking bus driver? The sexy math teacher? The on-again, off-again girlfriend? Enemies of Pat's father, the casino owner? Or was it the ghost of Dummy Halpin, who died in a mining accident a century ago?

Together, Will and Smiley unearth more than they bargained for...

THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN is a wry mystery that illuminates the social intricacies and mayhem of high school. Will's attempts to both solve the puzzle and become something different are funny and well-wrought and should resonate with anyone who has ever tried to fit in someplace new.

Friday, March 12, 2010


THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS, by Jacqueline Houtman (blog)(Front Street 2010)(ages 8-12). Eddy Thomas is strangely literal, socially awkward, and in some ways brilliant. He likes to spend his time tinkering with his inventions and doesn't really understand human interaction. People and crowds are often too much for him; to calm down, he recites the periodic table or jumps on a mini-trampoline.

His latest obsession is the retirement of Jim, the local crossing guard. With almost a quarter of the vehicles failing to come to a complete stop, how will kids get safely to school?

When he meets recently-transferred science geek Justin and his friend Terry (she of the lapis lazuli hair), Eddy comes to solve the problem of the intersection and discover what friendship really is all about.

In THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS, Houtman skillfully captures Eddy's voice and the racing of his thoughts as he is continually interrupted by those he doesn't understand. Science and Eddy's obscure knowledge are elegantly and thematically interwoven in this sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, story of Eddy's growth.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


INCARCERON, by Catherine Fisher (Dial 2010, orig. published in the UK 2007). A century and a half ago, the Sapienti created Incarceron, a prison as vast as worlds, from which no one can escape. In it, they sealed in their criminals and their dregs and their undesirables. They thought they had created a paradise. But Incarceron was alive, and without mercy.

Three years ago, at fifteen, Finn woke up in a cell in the prison, without memories, but with the conviction that he didn't belong there: that he, alone of all the inhabitants of Incarceron, was from the Outside. For now though, he lives in a world red in tooth and claw. But he's determined to make it back Outside, although has no real hope of doing so. And then he finds a crystal key and a link to a girl...

Outside, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, lives in a stagnant world governed by the Protocol, defining a society that exists in a pre-industrial revolution state of grace. Or at least, that was the theory. But unrest teems just below the surface...Claudia herself is doomed to an arranged marriage. Unless, she thinks, she can help Finn escape, and reveal the truth that the prison, still believed to be a paradise, is actually an anarchic hell.

INCARCERON is a gripping read, filled with action and suspense. Finn and Claudia are intriguing and compelling mirrors of each other; minor characters likewise shine. INCARCERON offers a rich story amid a fascinating and disturbing construct of societal engineering gone awry. A sequel, Sapphique, was published in the UK in 2008.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

ETERNAL news! [Updated]

Cyn and I were delighted to hear that the paperback for ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith debuted No. 5 on the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestsellers list (dated March 14, 2010, for the week of February 27)!

Also, ETERNAL, and its companion, TANTALIZE, are now both available in hardcover, softcover, audio, and electronic formats.


Check out an interview with Cynthia at Hunger Mountain!

Update 2:

Link to the online list here.

Update 3:

ETERNAL's second week on the NYT children's paperback bestseller list!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


JUMP, by Elisa Carbone (Viking, May 2010)(ages 12+). At sixteen, P.K. decides that boarding school is not in her future, whatever her parents might think. So she grabs her climbing gear and plans to run away. Joined by a gorgeous and mysterious boy from her climbing gym by the name of "Critter" (who has a secret past of his own), she hitchhikes across the country on a quest for the perfect rock and self-discovery.

Told in alternating points-of-view, JUMP is compelling and suspenseful, part thriller, part romance, and part coming-of-age story.
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