A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree, Book Giveaway, Jennifer Bayse Sanders, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Sacramento Book Review, Shannon Whitney Messenger

Another Great Book by Kathryn Fitzmaurice and a Giveaway

Thought for the day:

 “[A] piece of creative writing, like a day-dream, is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.” ~ Sigmund Freud ~
A gift for my writer friends:
 Here are some links I think you will find valuable.
Something I always need to think hard about, the old bugaboo, Lay vs. Lie – http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/lay-vs-lie?et_mid=585141&rid=3028165
This one is just plain fun and I want one!! – http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/famous-small-offthegrid-worksp-140587
An Announcement:
My first actual published work, other than the book reviews I write for Sacramento Book Review, is now out. An anthology called A MiracleUnder the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith, and the True Gifts of the Season, published by Harlequin, is now available for early Christmas shopping. My story, Christmas Without Snow, is part of this collection put together by Jennifer Basye Sanders. To check it out, just click on the title.

For my fabulous giveaway, the winner is Christina Mercer! (Cue the trumpets please!) Congratulations to you, Christina. I will be sending you an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Year the SwallowsCame Early. It is a terrific book, and I know you’ll enjoy it. I have another giveaway for today, so stay tuned. By the way, Christina is also a writer and has a wonderful blog with great links, so stop on over and check it out by clicking HERE.

As I mentioned last week, I won The Year the Swallows Came Early. When the author, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, sent me the book, she also sent me a copy of her newer book, A Diamond in the Desert! How cool is that? I had already promised to review TheYear the Swallows Came Early, and didn’t know when I might get to A Diamond in the Desert, but when I noticed it was historical fiction, a favorite of mine, AND had baseball, also a favorite of mine, I packed it along when I went on vacation recently. Let me tell you about this wonderful book.
It is 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and American citizens of Japanese descent are being herded onto trains and buses with only what they can carry, to be transported to internment camps around the western United States. Twelve-year-old Tetsu Kishi is sent with his mother and little sister, Kimi, to Gila River, Arizona. But Papa is arrested and is being sent elsewhere. The family doesn’t know for how long.
“Her eyes searched mine, and I could see they were telling me the part she couldn’t say aloud: how she’d given away everything she treasured, a lifetime of things, and she didn’t know when my father was coming back, and she couldn’t take losing one more thing.”
Tetsu is a baseball star in his neighborhood, a terrific first-baseman and a solid hitter. He is the captain of his team. Besides his family, baseball is the most important thing in his life. Now he has to leave everything important to him behind, and he has no idea when or if he will play again.
The camp is a dismal place, but Tetsu and his family try to make the best of it. Tetsu makes friends with George and Horse, a couple of kind of tough guys who seem unlikely friends for a boy like Tetsu. Kimi catches lizards and makes pets of them, but she misses their dog terribly. Mama takes a job in the mess hall to earn some money and is gone often, leaving Tetsu to deal with his sister’s needs. Two boys move in next door. Both boys play ball, and their father is a baseball coach. The coach vows to build a team and a baseball field to give the boys something to work for and give them some joy. But the lack of privacy and stark living conditions set up some problems for the family that take a terrible toll. Tetsu becomes impatient with his sister and runs off to play baseball, but he has to grow up in a hurry and decide what is really important to him when Kimi goes missing. A most unlikely hero steps up.
This is a quiet story told with absolutely beautiful writing, spare and poetic, rich and complex, a true surprise for what is really a boy story with sports in a very barren setting. The characters are complete and realistic in every way; the story is compelling and believable. It is clear Kathryn Fitzmaurice did her research. She has written a story that is destined to become a classic and will be read and enjoyed by boys and girls and adults. It is the kind of book kids will read over and over and will never suspect they are getting a big dose of history along the way. A Diamond in the Desert is a remarkable, memorable piece of work that should be in every library and on every middle- and high-school class reading list. Were I still teaching, I would certainly be using it in my class. If you don’t read another book this year, well, first of all, shame on you, but really this is the one to read. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!
This is the kind of book that would usually have me saying, “I can’t part with this one, so, sorry, no giveaway this week,” but I happen to have two AUTOGRAPHED copies (an embarrassment of riches!), so I am giving away one. 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 looking for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday books, hop on over to Shannon Messenger’s blog by clicking HERE. You can also check out her brand-spankin’-new book Keeper of the Lost City there as well.
And don’t forget to check out my story in A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree.
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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