Thursday, March 29, 2012

WE'VE GOT A JOB: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

WE'VE GOT A JOB: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March, by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree 2012)(10+).  In early May of 1963, thousands of Birmingham schoolchildren took part in a massive campaign to violate the city's segregation laws and thereby flood the city's jails. Over the course of some ten days, more than 4,000 children were arrested, andor had fire hoses and police dogs set upon them.  This is the story of four of them.

In WE'VE GOT A JOB, Levinson provides a perspective on the civil rights movement as a whole, as well as focusing on what it meant to four very different individuals.  With exceptional research including personal interviews with many of the parties involved, Levinson brings to life an inspiring moment of history of children empowered and determined to take on the system.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CHRONAL ENGINE launch week recap and party photos

This has been a busy week, starting with the launch of CHRONAL ENGINE on March 20 and culminating in the launch party at BookPeople and reception at the Leitich Smith Haus.

First, I did want to thank everyone who hosted an interview of me over the past couple of weeks!  Here's a quick-and-dirty link list:
Also, thanks for the nice reviews and/or giveaways:

"The action is fast paced and gripping...[Smith] has a fine ear for youthful dialog and humor." BookMoot

"If you're looking for a fast-paced middle grade adventure/science-fiction story, then this book is for you! The action starts on page one, and it never ends."  Roots in Myth

"Chronal Engine is a fast paced, middle grade adventure perfect for boys and girls that love history, dinosaurs, and time travel."  I Read Banned Books  NOTE: Giveaway is ongoing.

"Chronal Engine is a fun, well-researched novel with an appealing premise. ...[F]or current and former, dinosaur-mad boys and girls, Chronal Engine will be irresistible."  Jen Robinson's Book Page

"I highly recommend this book to everyone who has a kid that loves dinosaurs and time travel"  Turning the Pages

"Greg Leitich Smith’s fast-paced prose, paired with Blake Henry’s graphic novel-like illustrations, will wow even the most dire of reluctant readers. An intriguing time travel adventure, cleverly crafted characters which appeal to both genders, and dinosaurs! Reader, you can’t go wrong with Chronal Engine." Readerkidz

"Greg did amazing research and he presents life in the ancient past with stunning detail and up-to-date science... I give this book the highest recommendation I can."  Book Reviews and More

"Lots of narrow escapes from foes both human and saurapod await these kids in this fast paced novel." The Goddess of YA Literature

Now for a sampling of party pics:

Anne Bustard's dino-cookies!
Explaining something...
The crowd is standing sitting room only
The line gathers for the signing
The Johnsons pose

Party decor
The centerpiece
Before the food is set out
Loriene Roy poses
Mari Mancusi and Avalon
Julie Lake, Mark Mitchell, Shelley Ann Jackson, Debbie Gonzales
PJ Hoover, Joy Preble, Jen Bigheart
Decorative Pteranodon
Waving good-bye...
More photos later...(Cyn has a report with pics here)

A big thanks to: Debbie Gonzales, Gene Brenek, Sean Petrie, and Cynthia Levinson for helping to haul stuff to and from BookPeople; to Tim Crow for taking pictures; to Anne Bustard for her dino cookies of awesomeness; to Daniel Nayeri for the CHRONAL ENGINE cake (top); to Lindsey Lane for her cooler of enormous size; to Kathi Appelt for party favors; and to Brian Anderson for the decorative Exogyra!   

Thanks also to everyone who came and participated!  And a huge thanks to BookPeople and many, many kudos to Central Market and Whole Foods from whence we provisioned the event(s) (Cupcakes and finger sandwiches at BookPeople were from Central Market; the food at the house was Whole Foods -- I'll talk about this more in a subsequent post).

Friday, March 23, 2012

CHRONAL ENGINE Author Profile at Book Reviews and More!

A few weeks ago, Steven R. McEvoy posted a lovely review of CHRONAL ENGINE over at his Book Reviews and More blog. 

Today, he has a twenty question author profile of me.  Go check it out here!

And don't forget: The launch party for CHRONAL ENGINE is at 2 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople in Austin. The program will include an author presentation and dinosaur cookies, cupcakes, and other refreshments.

The picture is one of the gorgeous interior illustrations in CHRONAL ENGINE by Blake Henry.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

CHRONAL ENGINE interview and Giveaway at DEBtastic Reads!

Debbi Michiko Florence just posted an interview with me about time travel, over at her DEBtastic Reads blog. Click here to read

And take a look at her Writers and Illustrators Dinosaur post here:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is CHRONAL ENGINE release day!  To celebrate, I answered a few questions over at Cynsations, where you can also enter to win a signed copy of CHRONAL ENGINE, along with a very hungry T.rex puppet!  Click here to go see!

Here's a shot of it on the "New Releases" shelf at BookPeople:

And here's one of the amazing interior illustrations by Blake Henry:
And don't forget:  The launch party for Chronal Engine (Clarion, 2012) is at 2 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople in Austin. The program will include an author presentation and dinosaur cookies, cupcakes, and other refreshments.

Order the book.

Monday, March 19, 2012

CHRONAL ENGINE interview at "Writing with a Broken Tusk," Part 2

Greg at Dinosaur Park, Bastrop
Part 2 of my interview with Uma Krishnaswami is now posted over at "Writing with a Broken Tusk."  Here's the link.

CHRONAL ENGINE releases on March 20!  The Release Party for CHRONAL ENGINE is at BookPeople at 603 N. Lamar on March 24, at 2 PM!

And I just heard:  The sequel to Uma's THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING releases in 2013!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Donna Jo Napoli

Donna Jo Napoli is the author of numerous books for young readers, including (most recently) the TREASURY OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY (National Geographic 2011), and LIGHTS ON THE NILE (HarperCollins 2011).   Her books have received countless awards and a veritable globular cluster of stars.  You should read them all.

She lives outside Philadelphia, holds degrees in mathematics and linguistics, and is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College. 

Above, she poses with her grandchildren, Hayden (Triceratops) and Aspen (dragon).

Friday, March 16, 2012


Today, I'm interviewed about Dinosaurs, Writing, and Research, by Sarah Blake Johnson at her Explorations blog:  Click here to read.

And see my Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs post with Sarah here.

Also, a reminder: CHRONAL ENGINE releases on March 20!  The Release Party for CHRONAL ENGINE is at BookPeople at 603 N. Lamar on March 24, at 2 PM!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Auction of signed CHRONAL ENGINE at Authors for Henryville

Go check out the Authors for Henryville blog! 

CHRONAL ENGINE is one of the books being offered for auction as part of a fund-raiser to help those who suffered from the tornadoes earlier this month.

Click here to bid on CHRONAL ENGINE.  This round of the auction goes until 9 PM Eastern time, on March 15. (Beware the Ides!)

For other authors on the current auction, click here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CHRONAL ENGINE interview at "Writing with a Broken Tusk"

Uma Krishnaswami posted part 1 of a discussion we had over at her blog, "Writing with a Broken Tusk." 

Uma is the author of a number of picture books, as well as the hilarious middle grade novel, THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Elizabeth Dulemba

Graphic designer Elizabeth O. Dulemba is the author of more than a dozen picture books, the most recent being THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA (Sterling 2010).

She is the illustrator coordinator for the Southern Breeze chapter of the SCBWI; a Board Member of the Georgia Center for the Book; and has taught illustration at the University of Georgia.  She blogs at Elizabeth O. Dulemba and runs Coloring Page Tuesdays.

Above, she poses with a googly-eyed hadrosaur (sp. indet.) at a school in Augusta.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tohoku Earthquake books: TOMO and MELTDOWN

One year ago tomorrow, one of the five largest earthquakes ever recorded struck Japan.  Almost sixteen thousand were killed and thousands more were injured or missing.  More than one hundred thousand buildings were destroyed.

TOMO, ed. by Holly Thompson (Stone Bridge Press, March 10, 2012)(12+) is a young adult collection of stories by authors from around the world, all of whom have some connection to Japan.  Per the flap copy, the book offers "[t]ales of friendship, mystery, love, ghosts, magic, sci-fi and history [that] will take readers to Japan past and present and to Japanese communities abroad."  A portion of the proceeds will go to long-term relief efforts for teens in Tohoku.

Edited and with a Foreword by Holly Thompson, TOMO contributing authors and artists include Andrew Fukuda (Crossing), Liza Dalby (The Tale of Murasaki), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man syndicated comic), Alan Gratz (The Brooklyn Nine), Wendy Nelson Tokunaga (Love in Translation), Deni Y. B├ęchard (Vandal Love), Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator of I’m Bored), Graham Salisbury (Under the Blood-Red Sun), Naoko Awa (The Fox’s Window and Other Stories), Suzanne Kamata (The Beautiful One Has Come) and Shogo Oketani (J-Boys), among others.

MELTDOWN: THE NUCLEAR DISASTER IN JAPAN AND OUR ENERGY FUTURE, by Fred Bortz (Lerner 2012)(ages 10+).  Physicist Bortz offers an account of the earthquake, its effects on the  nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and efforts at remediation.  Additional sections discuss the context of nuclear power and its place in the production of electricity.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Katniss and Ender...

Next month, when THE HUNGER GAMES movie releases, a group of us from the Austin youth literature community are planning to go see it at the decadently luxurious Capitol IPIC Theatre in The Domain (Yes, we're being ironic).  Anyway, in anticipation thereof, I decided to actually read the book.  I am not going to give it a full review here, but will say that I read it in one day, enjoyed it, and look forward to diving into the next two. :-).

I did want to observe, however, that, given all the hand-wringing I've seen about it from some quarters, it was considerably tamer than I was expecting. It reminded me somewhat of ENDER'S GAME, but less brutal, even though there is a higher (human) body count.

I'm not sure why.  Perhaps because ENDER'S GAME is more science fiction-y and THE HUNGER GAMES feels more fantasy-ish (at least to me).  Or perhaps it's because ENDER'S GAME wasn't originally written "for" a teen audience.  Or, I could just be getting old...:-).

No dinosaurs, however, were harmed in either book.    

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Laura Jennings

Laura Jennings grew up in Kempner, Texas, and studied fine art at Central Texas Community College and Texas Tech University, as well as animation at Austin Community College.  She has developed characters for the video game Shard and is a member of Austin SCBWI.

Laura had some terrific dinosaur pieces on display at the Austin SCBWI's annual conference last month.  Above, she poses with some of the creations. Another appears below.  You can check out more of them at her gallery here.

How to be a Children's Book Illustrator (Mark Mitchell's blog) has an interview with Laura here and Laura's main deviantArt page and blog are here.

Monday, March 05, 2012

FAT KID RULES THE WORLD movie - World Premiere at SXSW!

The world premiere of the movie based on K.L. Going's Printz Honor winning novel, FAT KID RULES THE WORLD (Putnam 2003), will be this Friday during the SXSW Film Festival.  There will be additional showings throughout the week. 

Check out the official schedule here.

Also, Kelly will be signing the book at the Barnes & Noble booth at 2 PM on Monday, March 12.  Be sure to pick up a copy!

Cynthia has a Story Behind the Story interview with Kelly on the novel here.  Check out Kelly's blog and her account of the first private screening here.

For the record, Cynthia and I "met" Kelly when she worked as an assistant to our agent, Ginger Knowlton.  We've never met in person, but were thrilled when (a) we found out she was writing and (b) won a Printz Honor for FAT KID! (And her other books are great, too).

Sunday, March 04, 2012


INVISIBLE SUN, by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow, April 2012)(ages 14+).  Former Regulators, now outlaws, Durango and Vienne are on a quest to retrieve data about Durango's past and the still-percolating plots his father left behind.  But the mission goes awry when Vienne is captured by agents of the insurgent mastermind Mr. Lyme. 

Can Durango get her back or is he doomed to lost both her and all of Mars?

INVISIBLE SUN is a riveting and action-packed companion to BLACK HOLE SUN, revisiting a Mars that is red in tooth and claw.  With sardonic wit and intricate plotting, Gill brings a dystopian world to life.  Readers will eagerly await the conclusion to the trilogy.     

Friday, March 02, 2012

Texas Independence Day! Lone Star Dinosaurs!

Happy Texas Independence Day!  One hundred and seventy-six years ago today, the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed in Washington-on-the-Brazos

So far as I know, there were no dinosaurs there.  :-).

Texas does, however, have a rich legacy of dinosaurs, primarily from the Triassic and the Late Cretaceous Periods.  So I commend to your attention Louis Jacobs' LONE STAR DINOSAURS (Texas A&M Press 1999), illustrated by Karen Carr.  It's chock-full of fascinating information on dinosaurs in the Lone Star state. 

LONE STAR DINOSAURS was, naturally enough, one of the resources I consulted when writing CHRONAL ENGINE and was a major factor in my deciding to set the Cretaceous scenes in prehistoric Texas (the contemporary scenes are in the Bastrop area).

In particular, according to the National Park Service website, the Aguja and Javelina Formations in the Big Bend area have been a source of over ninety dinosaur species, nearly one hundred plant species, and more than two dozen fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and early mammals. These include the dinosaurs AlamosaurusTexacephale, Kritosaurus, and Edmontonia, as well as tyrannosaurs and deinonychosaurs; the crocodilian Deinosuchus; the pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus; and more. At least some of these appear in CHRONAL ENGINE. :-).

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