Sunday, October 30, 2011


MANGAMAN, by Barry Lyga, ill. by Colleen Doran (Houghton Mifflin 2011)(ages 12+).  Teen-ager Ryoko Kiyama has entered our world through a mysterious rift and it seems that he's trapped here.  But the redoubtable Dr. Capeletti is working on a Machine to return Ryoko to his world.  In the meantime, it's decided that rather than cooling his heels in a government compound, he should get out and experience life as a normal high-school student.  The problem?  He's from a Manga universe...

MANGAMAN offers a fun story and a clever and sophisticated "meta" treatment of both American and Japanese-style comics.  Both Manga insiders and those unfamiliar with its tropes will enjoy it tremendously.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


MELVIN AND THE BOY, by Lauren Castillo (Henry Holt 2011)(ages 4+).  The boy has always wanted a pet, but nothing was ever just right.  Until one day he happens upon a turtle in the park, so he brings it home.  But Melvin isn't all that active and doesn't seem to like it there.  Does he miss his friends?  Would he be happier back at the pond?

MELVIN AND THE BOY offers fun and humorously expressive illustrations as it provides a satisfying answer to the age-old question, "What's the best home for a turtle?"

At least, one that's smaller than this:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tweens Read Book Festival

Haven't had enough of books, authors, and celebrating reading? 

Then check out the first anual Tweens Read Book Festival, Saturday October 29, at Bobby Shaw Middle School in Pasadena, Texas! 

Richard Peck is the keynoter.  Other participating authors include Crystal Allen, Michael Buckley, Kate Falls, Matthew Kirby, Lindsey Leavitt, Christina Mandelski, Lisa McMann, Jason Pinter, Allen Sitomer, Obert Skye, Clete Barrett Smith, and Andrea White.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Texas Book Festival recap

The sixteenth edition of the Texas Book Festival has come and gone to enormous success.  Congratulations and thanks to the book festival staff, organizers, participants, and volunteers!

Cyn and I started this year at the Children's and YA Authors Reception at the home of David and Amy Roberts (she's on the author's selection committee and one of the advocates for the Festival's Reading Rock Stars program).  One of the nice things about the event is the chance to socialize with other authors you've seen at events and conferences but never really get a chance to talk to.  
I met James Dashner for the first time, and had a chance to get caught up with Libba Bray, Barry Lyga, and Jill Alexander.   

Saturday morning, I took a spin around the exhibits and the Read Me a Story tent, running into Kelly Bennett and Jeff Crosby and a fan:

Cyn did her session on graphic novels with Barry Lyga, while I introduced James Dashner, who spoke on THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy.  We met up again at the signing tent:

Saturday night, we attended the cocktail party at the award-winning home of Eddie Safady on Congress Avenue (Jessica Lee Anderson and P.J. Hoover (l), and Divya Srinivasan, Jo Whittemore, Barry Lyga, and Heather Vogel Frederick (r)):

Afterward, we were whisked off to the Texas State Cemetery, for the Lit Crawl, where the librarians were in costume,

 and the YA authors signed books and greeted their fans (Libba Bray, David Levithan, James Dashner, Jennifer Ziegler):

 Sunday, we attended a session or two, and I introduced Kenneth Oppel, who spoke on his new novel, THIS DARK ENDEAVOR and his experiences in publishing.  Afterward, Cyn and I went with Kenneth Oppel and Kate Hosford to Manuel's for some margaritas and Tex Mex, followed by a drink at the Driskill Bar.

After that, we went home and crashed.  Thanks again to everyone involved in TBF! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Lindsey Lane

Lindsey Lane models Tykeosaurs
Austin author Lindsey Lane sent me this pic of her posing with Tykeosaurs, a board book by Tom Arma, that was given to her daughter on her first birthday.

Lindsey grew up in the northeast and is a former feature writer for the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.  

In addition to be an accomplished playwright, Lindsey is the author of the picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion 2003), illustrated by Melissa Iwai

SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN is now available as an app.  Lindsey discusses the experience of turning a traditional picture book into an app here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Texas Book Festival: Graphic Novels and More!

Just a reminder that the Texas Book Festival is this weekend!

Cynthia will be on the graphic novels panel with Barry Lyga on Saturday, from 11:30-12:30 in Capitol Extension E2.010.

I will be introducing James Dashner (Saturday, October 22, 12-12:45, Capitol Extension E2.014) and Kenneth Oppel (Sunday, October 23, 2:45-3:30, Capitol Auditorium E1.004).  And a host of other Austin authors will be on panels, moderating panels, or presenting in the Children's Read Me A Story Tent.

Check out the article on children's and young adult programming in the Austin American-Statesman.  For a complete list of the children's and YA panels, see my blog post here

For the younger crowd, information on the Children's Read Me a Story tent and Children's Activities tent can be found at the book festival web site here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WriteFest success!

A number of years back, Cynthia and I ran a couple of writing workshops out of our house we called WriteFests.  Basically, we anonymously brought in authors, did full manuscript critiques (also anonymously), and arranged writing exercises and activities around the manuscripts.  Cyn explains it here, and did running updates for the last one here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

A number of published novels came out of the workshops, with at least one more still forthcoming. 

Two of the biggest successes to come out of the workshop(s) were Kathi Appelt's THE UNDERNEATH, which won a Newbery Honor and was a National Book Award Finalist; and Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, which won the Printz Award

This month, we've been celebrating another WriteFest success:

Congratulations to Franny Billingsley on being named a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award and receiving a Boston Globe/Horn Book honor this year for CHIME

Saturday, October 15, 2011


BONE DOG, by Eric Rohmann (Roaring Brook 2011)(ages 4+).  Ella, a dog, makes a promise to Gus, a boy, to be with him always.  So on Halloween, when Gus finds himself attacked by a bunch of skeletons, Ella, now a skeleton dog, appears and brings with her a pack of friends...

With whimsical illustrations and tall-tale vibe, BONE DOG provides a perfect and satisfying treat for Halloween.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dinosaur Valley State Park

T.rex with excellent taste in reading
Author Jessica Lee Anderson and her husband road-tripped up to Glen Rose and Dinosaur Valley State Park last weekend, and sent me some pictures :-). I've blogged about dinosaur tracks before, and these tracks in particular, but I haven't yet been there to see them myself.

Theropod tracks
I understand that it's a particularly good time to see the tracks, since the drought means that many of the tracks which would normally be underwater aren't.

The largest of the theropod tracks are thought to be those of Acrocanthosaurus, a fin-backed carnivore related to Allosaurus

Incidentally, Jessica will be signing her new book CALLI at The Book Spot in Round Rock this Saturday from 12 to 2 PM.  P.J. Hoover will also be there, signing SOLSTICE, now available in paperback.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DIABOLICAL cover art!

Check out the cover art for DIABOLICAL, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, January 2012)!

When "slipped" angel Zachary and his werewolf pal, Kieren, are summoned under suspicious circumstances to a mysterious New England boarding school, they quickly find themselves in a hellish lockdown with an intriguing assortment of secretive, hand-picked "students."

Plagued by demon dogs, hallucinatory wall decor, a sadistic instructor, and a legendary fire-breathing monster, will they somehow manage to escape? Or will the devil have his due?

Best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites heroes fro the previous three novels in the Tantalize series--including Zacharys girl, Miranda, and Kieren's love, Quincie--along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.

Read the first 10 pages of DIABOLICAL (Candlewick, 2012) here. Note: the book is told from the alternating points of view of Zachary, Kieren, and Miranda. Quincie is not a point of view character, but she is a main character in the story.

CYNSATIONAL GIVEAWAY:  Enter to win BLESSED, TANTALIZE: KIEREN'S STORY, and/or a Sanguini's T-shirt! Author-publisher sponsored. Deadline: Oct. 17. See this post (click preceding link and scroll) for more information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


THIS DARK ENDEAVOR: THE APPRENTICESHIP OF VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, by Kenneth Oppel (Simon & Schuster 2011)(Brilliance Audio)(ages 12+).  At sixteen, Victor Frankenstein and his twin Konrad have lived  charmed lives.  Members of one of the most prominent families in late 18th century Geneva, they have had the finest educations and wanted for nothing.  But when Konrad mysteriously falls ill and the doctors can do nothing, Victor embarks upon a alchemical quest of his own...

THIS DARK ENDEAVOR provides a fascinating look at the coming of age of one of the most intriguing characters in English literature.  Altogether, an elegantly dark and atmospheric novel.

Update:  Read an interview of Kenneth Oppel at Cynsations. Also, note that Kenneth Oppel will be appearing at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, October 23, from 2:45-3:30, in Capitol Auditorium E1.004.

Monday, October 10, 2011


KING OF ITHAKA, by Tracy Barrett (Henry Holt 2010)(ages 12+).  Telemachos's father Odysseus has been gone nearly his entire life - at first in answer to King Agamemnon's call to fight the Trojans, but since then, no one knows where.   Still, for the most part Telemachos has had it easy.

Now, he must step up and leave Ithaka to find his father, or the kingdom (and his mother) will be lost to them.  Accompanied by the centaur Brax and the young stowaway Polydora, he sets off to the mainland and on his quest...

KING OF ITHAKA offers an exceptional voice that evocatively captures Bronze Age Greece as it retells The Odyssey of Homer. The setting is richly drawn and the character of Telemachos is compelling and believable.  In short, KING OF ITHAKA is a winning historical fantasy with just the right amounts of action and humor.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


RAH, RAH, RADISHES! A Vegetable Chant, by April Pulley Sayre (Beach Lane 2011)(ages 4+).  This whimsical picture book offers bright illustrations of vegetables at a farmers' market and accompanying cheerleader-style text.

It's terrific fun and provides a great introduction to familiar and obscure vegetables alike.  

Saturday, October 08, 2011

THE DEATH CURE [updated]

THE DEATH CURE, by James Dashner (Delacorte 2011).  In this follow-up to THE MAZE RUNNER and THE SCORCH TRIALS, Thomas and the Gladers, having survived the challenges of the Maze and the gauntlet of the Scorch Trials, are now confronted directly with those behind WICKED itself.

Although told their trials are over, Thomas doesn't know whom he can trust.  When some of his memories begin to come back and when he learns that WICKED is planning another set of trials with another set of Immunes, he knows he has to do everything in his power to destroy WICKED.  But what can a handful of Gladers do to take down the most powerful organization on the planet?

 THE DEATH CURE offers edge-of-your-seat excitement and dystopian chills, while providing a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and Thomas's story.

Update:  James Dashner will be appearing at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, October 22 from 12-12:45 in Capitol Extension E2.014. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011


My Clarion editor Daniel Nayeri has a new book out this month from Candlewick -- a collection of four YA novellas, titled STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW. 

Per the catalog copy:

This bold collection of novellas by Another series author Daniel Nayeri features four riveting tales. These modern riffs on classic genres will introduce young adult readers to a broad range of writing styles that explore universally compelling themes such as identity and belonging, betrayal and friendship, love and mortality.
Straw House: A Western sizzling with suspense, set in a land where a rancher grows soulless humans and a farmer grows living toys.

Wood House: This science-fiction tale plunges the reader into a future where reality and technology blend imperceptibly, and a teenage girl must race to save the world from a nano-revolution that a corporation calls "ReCreation Day."

Brick House: This detective story set in modern NYC features a squad of "wish police" and a team of unlikely detectives.

Blow: A comedic love story told by none other than Death himself, portrayed here as a handsome and charismatic hero who may steal your heart in more ways than one. With humor, suspense, and relatable prose, this hip and cutting-edge collection dazzles.

Written entirely on an iPhone, this quartet of YA novellas by Another Pan and Another Faust author Daniel Nayeri showcases four different genres.
Check out these awesome videos:

"Toy Farm"

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Toy Farm Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

"Our Lady of Villains"

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Our Lady of Villains Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

"Wish Police"

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Wish Police Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

"Doom with a View"

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Doom With a View Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Terra Nova

Monday night was episode 2 of Terra Nova, the new Spielbergian dinosaur time-travel TV series.  For those not familiar with it, the premise is that in a dystopian twenty-second century, a time portal has been discovered which allows travel to an indeterminate location some 85 million years in the past.  Humanity has established an outpost there and is sending colonists back in "waves."

My only comment at the moment? 

Needs more dinosaurs. 

Thank you. 

That is all.  

Monday, October 03, 2011


ALIENS ON VACATION, by Clete Barrett Smith (Disney/Hyperion 2011)(ages 8-12). First in a series.  When thirteen-year-old Scrub is sent to live with his grandmother in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, he soon comes to realize there's more to her than just an aging hippie.  Instead, her house is an intergalactic bed and breakfast, sort of a rustic vacation spot for advanced aliens who want to get away from it all.  To his chagrin, Scrub is immediately sent to work helping the aliens blend in as humans and generally keep out of the way of the suspicious sheriff...

ALIENS ON VACATION is a light and funny romp, with quirky characters and an even quirkier situation.  Scrub and his travails will engage and entertain the extraterrestrial in everyone. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival 2011 wrap up

Yesterday we celebrated the 2011 Edition of the Austin Teen Book Festival.  Twenty-eight authors presented on five panels: Alternaworlds, I Heart Love Stories, Pen Fatale, Supernatural Suspense, and Real Life is Messy. 

Previously held at Westlake High School, the book festival moved this year to the Palmer Events Center at Auditorium Shores in the heart of downtown.

 In honor of keynote speaker Scott Westerfeld, the theme of the day was "steampunk."  The Austin Public Library had a steampunk photo booth and steampunk vendors showed their wares in the main hall.  The steampunk decor even made it to the author's green room, which included elegant book-ish decorations:

A middle school theatre troop performed Michael Jackson's Thriller with great aplomb and enthusiasm:

 Then we were led into the freight elevator for the trip to the panel site:

Attendance for panels was standing room only:

 Lunch was a traditional tortilla soup, with plenty of time for mugging to the cameras:

David Levithan, John Corey Whaley, and Andrea Cremer
Jeff Herbach and Christina Mandelski
Rosemary Clement-Moore, Brian Yansky, Jonathan Maberry (seated, foreground).  Heather Brewer and Greg Leitich Smith (standing).  Scott Westerfeld and Jenny Han (seated, background)
 There were more panels post-lunch and book sales (handled by BookPeople) and signings were massive:

The author-moderator after-party at Highball, featuring food, drink, bowling and karaoke, was also enormously fun.

Thanks to everyone who organized, planned, volunteered, and attended!  Can't wait till next year! 
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