book review, Children's Writing, Duck and Cover, Giveaway, Holly Schlinder, Janet Smart, Junction of Sunshine & Lucky, Writing

Duck and Cover — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Don’t get it right, get it written.” 
~ Ally Carter ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
While the post HERE I found in Gotham Writers Newsletter focuses on writing mysteries, it has a great lesson an openings that will grab readers. Don’t miss this one. 

When you are feeling stuck, maybe a writing prompt will help. Ride the Pen has 63 of them for you HERE

Character descriptions are tricky. Janice Hardy has some good suggestions HERE to help make them more organic. 

Well, I’m back. I’m still not 100%, but I am getting there. In talking to other parents and grandparents at the baseball field this week (I couldn’t miss any more games!), I’m hearing the cough can hang on for four to six weeks. It’s the cough and tiredness that is still hanging on. I have nearly 1500 unread emails in my box. If I haven’t gotten to reading and responding to your messages and blogs, that’s why. The reality is, I will probably never get caught up on those. All I can do is go forward, and that’s what I will do. 

When I was last here, oh, so long ago, I promised a hard cover copy of Holly Schlinder‘s terrific Junction of Sunshine & Lucky to one of you. The winner this time is Violet Tiger. Congratulations, Violet! If you don’t know her, Violet blogs about middle-grade books at Reading Violet which you can check out HERE. I will get your book out this week, Violet. And I have another giveaway, so please keep reading.

When I was teaching, while teaching wonderful books like Lord of the Flies and Alas, Babylon, I often told my students I was surprised to be standing in front of them since I had spent my childhood thinking about how to get my dad to build a bomb shelter and doing duck and cover drills in school. I grew up fully expecting the world to be blown to bits long before I would be an adult. When Janet Smart contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her new book, Duck and Cover, I was happy to have the chance. I have known Janet through her very smart blog(sorry, I couldn’t resist)   Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch (click HERE) for some time. I also felt the subject matter was one I would relate to, and that it would be fun to revisit those times through someone else’s eyes. I’m glad I had the chance.

Young Teddy Haynes has had some terrible changes in his life. He recently lost his father, and Teddy and his mother have moved from Cleveland to a little town in a holler in West Virginia to live with Teddy’s aunt and uncle and two-year-old twins. These are not wealthy people. Teddy has to not only share a room, but a bed, with his little cousins. But they are good, loving people, and Teddy realizes he has much to be grateful for. It’s not easy to move when you are twelve, but Teddy soon makes a friend. Melvin is a really smart boy, but he has a bad limp from having had polio when he was very young. (Polio was another real scare when I was a kid. It was interesting to have this fear addressed along with others from that time.) Melvin helps Teddy navigate the difficult transition to a new school. Soon Teddy has a small circle of friends and a blossoming romance when the prettiest girl in school, Skeeter, is part of the group. They all share the fear of a nuclear war and Russian missiles pointed at the US from Cuba. Teddy discovers his mother is busy secretly stocking the root cellar with supplies. The kids take a page from that book and set up a shelter in a nearby cave. They raid the local dump for some of the things they need and scrounge attics and homes for other needs. (I used to LOVE going to the local dump to find treasures! I think Janet is my sister from another mother.) 

I have a confession to make. I haven’t finished the book yet (I really have been

Janet Smart

sick), but I will probably finish it by sometime tomorrow. So far (I’m more than two-thirds of the way through), I am loving this one. I have felt absolutely transported to another time and place. I love that about good historical fiction, and this one is good. The characters are all fully-developed and very real. I have lived in a small town, and the setting made me feel that. The story certainly connected for me, but more than that, I think it will connect and paint a picture of that time for my grandchildren and other readers of that age. I think this book will and should find a good audience in middle-grade classrooms. Teachers are always on the lookout for ways to teach particular time periods. This is a terrific portal to small-town America in the fifties and the fears that wore on young people in those times. 


I have an autographed paperback copy I will share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don’t forget to check out Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways. 


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