Applewhites at Wit's End, Ellen Ramsey, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Middle Grade Books, The Year the Swallows Came Early, Writing

The Year the Swallows Came Early — A Review and Giveaway

Thought for the day:

“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t–and, in fact, you’re not supposed to–know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.” ~ Anne Lamott ~
A gift for my writer friends:
 Here are a couple of links I think you will find valuable.

For my fabulous giveaway, the winner is Ellen Ramsey! (Cue the fireworks please!) Congratulations to you, Ellen. I will be sending you a copy of Applewhites at Wit’s End. It is such a fun read, and I know you’ll enjoy it. I have another giveaway for today, so stay tuned.

A couple of weeks ago, I was the winner of a book on Elizabeth Stevens Omlor’s fun and informative blog, Banana Peelin’s: Up and Downs of Becoming a Children’s Writer. You can hop on over to her blog by clicking HERE. The book I won is The Year the Swallows Came Earlyby Kathryn Fitzmaurice. This is a lovely middle-grade novel and I’m happy to not only tell you about it, but offer my autographed copy to one of you out there in my giveaway today.

Eleven-year-old Groovy Robinson has plans for her future. She loves to cook and dreams of going to culinary school when she is grown. Her mother, a beautician, checks their horoscopes every day, and Groovy’s says she should “expect the unexpected.” That is the day big changes happen for Groovy. While she and her dad are walking into town, they are stopped by the town policeman, Officer Miguel. Before Groovy knows it, her father is being driven away in the back seat of the town police car. She is sure it’s a mistake, but when she tells her mother what has happened, her mother not only knows, but tells Groovy she is the one who called the police. It seems Groovy’s great-grandmother had left her enough money to send her to culinary school, but Groovy’s father gambled it away.

“I still thought a lot about Daddy. I thought about him during music class when Mr. Perez asked the class to play a slow song. I’d play that song on my oboe like I was the one who wrote it, like every high and low note was telling my story.”
Groovy’s best friend, Frankie, is there for her, along with his older half-brother, Luis, who owns The Swallow, a great little restaurant in the small town of Capistrano, California, where they all live. Luis often invites Groovy to help with the cooking at The Swallow and even shares some of their secret family recipes with Groovy, helping her work her way through her troubles at home.
Kathryn Fitzmaurice

The main story of Groovy and her troubles is nicely paralleled by Frankie’s story. His mother left a couple of years earlier, promising to not be gone long, but she hasn’t been back since. Frankie is so angry about this situation that he is sick to his stomach most of the time, popping antacids as if they were candy. Frankie and Groovy help each other come to grips with their problems and find their ways through to the other side of these troubles. All this happens against the backdrop of Capistrano, the mission ruins to which tiny swallows return each year to nest. This renewal of nature bears the promise of the future Groovy and Frankie have through forgiveness and love. Not everything is answered in this sweet novel, but then not everything is answered in life.

The Year the Swallows Came Early is a realistic story that will strike a note with far too many middle-grade kids. Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s writing is wonderful, and a charming cast of small-town characters round out and support the story. Middle-grade girls will be especially enchanted by this book, but so will many others. I know I enjoyed every word.
One of you will win a gently-used, nicely-inscribed and autographed copy of this book. Just leave a comment and I’ll put your name in the hat. Blog, link on Facebook, or Tweet a link to my blog and let me know for an extra entry.

If you are interested in more great middle-grade books, check out Shannon Messenger’s great blog every week on Mondays for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Click HERE to visit.

On the book giveaway, this is for U.S. only. Sorry, but it would be too expensive for me to send books out of the country. But please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.

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