Charms & Blessings, David Almond, Joyce Sidman, San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review, Sketches from a Spy Tree, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, What the Heart Knows: Chants

Two Poetry Collections: Sketches from a Spy Tree and What the Heart Knows and a Double Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” ~Thomas Mann~

 Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Interesting post on The Editor’s Blog can be found HERE on keeping the words flowing.

This post from The Editor’s Blog was exactly what I needed at this moment in time. Click HERE for her article on Building Anticipation in Fiction. 

Amazing post on creating character can be found by clicking HERE
Last time I posted, I offered a chance to win The Day My Father Became a Bush by Joke van Leeuwen with extra chances for helping to get the word out. Sometimes those extra chances pay off. It did this time for Akossket. Congratulations, Akossket!. I will be getting the book in the mail to you this week. If you weren’t the winner, stay tuned to the end. I have a DOUBLE giveaway this week.

I have been reading a lot of poetry lately because my writing partner, JaNay Brown, and I have a poetry collection we are beginning to shop around. We are fine tuning things and it is very instructive to look at other collections. I have run across two collections recently that have just knocked my socks off, and I want to be sure you know about these two wonderful books. I think both are middle-grade or older. I truly believe every adult will enjoy these as much as or more than the kids.

The first book is Sketches from a Spy Tree by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Andrew Glass. I picked this book up from my local library, but as soon as I closed the cover, I ordered up a spanking new hardback for me to own. I LOVE this book. It has some of the most nakedly personal and

Tracie Vaughn  Zimmer

powerful poems about being a kid I’ve ever read. In just more than three dozen poems, I felt like I knew young Tracie and all the pain and exhilaration and fullness of a girl coming through the loss of her father through divorce and the rebuilding of a complete family on the rubble left by that occurrence. Some of these poems are simple and sweet. Some sneak up on the reader and knock the wind out of him or her. All together they paint a lively, honest picture of a certain girl of a certain age in a certain neighborhood in America.  

When he left

just three nights before

Mary Anne and I turned nine,

I took the clippers and chopped

those roses back to the soil,

yanked down those long arms

from their trellises.

When I finished,

the yellow petals

looked like shattered glass
scattered against the black night
and me
like I’d wrestled every cat
at Miss Emory’s house.

Joyce Sidman

 The other book I want to tell you about is What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. This is simply a beautiful book. Every poem is a little gem designed to allow the reader a bit of reflection or introspection or hope or warmth. The poems shine a light on dark places and remind the reader that life is full of goodness and light. Every illustration is a treat for the eyes. You can read the review I wrote for the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review by clicking HERE. You will see just how much in love with this book I am. Oh, and Joyce Sidman lives in my home town — Wayzata, Minnesota. What’s to not love.

Don’t come close, dark.

Don’t brush my face with your sticky hands.

Stay as cool and distant as a train whistle.

Don’t single me out,

don’t make me answer your questions.

Let me curl here, safe in my circle of light.


I promised you a double giveaway and here is the deal. I have a gently-read hardback of Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean. If you like myths, you will love this unusual book. You can see the review I wrote for by clicking HERE. I am also offering an ARC of Jumpstart your Creativity by Shawn Doyle and Steven Rowell. You can see the review I wrote for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review by clicking HERE. When I do my next post, I will put names in a hat of those who are followers and leave a comment. If you want more than one chance, please pass the link for this post along through your favorite form of social media and let me know. You will receive extra chances.

Don’t forget to find many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews by going to Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog by clicking HERE.

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