Caleb's Lighthouse, Esme Dooley and the Kirkkomaki Circus, Holly Trechter, Jane Donovan, Review, Simone Lia, They Didn't Teach THIS in Worm School!, Tracy Schuldt Helixon, Writing

Esme Dooley and the Kirkkomaki Circus — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” 
~ Bill Gates ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Feeling overwhelmed by writing? Anne R. Allen’s post HERE will help you set up process goals to make your writing more manageable. 
Searching for words? The new Merriam-Webster has added 250 new words HERE this year. This is pretty fun. 
Agent Joyce Holland has written an excellent essay HERE on what NOT to do when finding an agent. 

I had a wonderful experience recently. I don’t know how many of you write in rhyme, but I have some picture book manuscripts in rhyme and some story poems I work on now and again. I’ve even had some success with these. Sometimes things just demand to be written in rhyme, but try as I might, I never seem to solve all the problems of meter on my own. I read about a service somewhere — can’t remember where — but I gave it a try. The service is called Rhyme Solutions and woman who runs it is Jess Carroll. Her service is so affordable, it was a no-brainer for me to try it. My manuscript came back quickly with exactly the help I needed on it. I sent her another, and got the same great, fast service and a big BONUS! On my email signature, I have the link to my daughter Maggie’s crowdfunding campaign for her cancer treatments. Jess Carroll went to the link and not only made a donation (Thank you, Jess!) but also committed to donating a portion of every contract she gets for her rhyme service until Maggie’s campaign is fulfilled. How cool is that? So if you have anything that rhymes that you need a little help with, please check out Jess’s service HERE. I have used her twice and will be sending more work her way soon. This community of children’s writers is really fantastic.

If you are anywhere near New York City, Maggie’s show will open off-Broadway the end of the month. They are in previews now. I won’t be here blogging two weeks from now because I am flying out for the opening. HERE is the link to more info about the wonderful new musical. 

Last week I offered a double giveaway — a signed copy of Caleb’s Lighthouse by Tracy Schuldt Helixon and They Didn’t Teach THIS in Worm School by Simone Lia. Our winner this week is cschwanke2013. Congratulations to you! I will get your books out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another giveaway this week, so please keep reading.

This week’s offering is Esme Dooley and the Kirkkomaki Circus by Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review
Esme Dooley is only eleven years old, but that doesn’t mean she can’t solve mysteries. She and her cousin, Tommy, are best friends as well as cousins, and Tommy stays with Esme through thick and thin as she follows clues and tries new, daring ventures. Their grandmother, Papuza, announces she is going to take the two of them with her as she goes on a journey to find someone she thought was dead long ago. Papuza tells them how, when they were children, Arthur was Papuza’s cousin and best friend, just as Esme and Tommy are now, but Arthur has been gone for sixty years. At least that’s what Papuza thought. Her adventurous childhood had included working as a miner and in a logging camp, where she had become friends with a girl named Katrina Kirkkomaki. Katrina always wanted to have a circus. When Papuza sees a newspaper ad for a Kirkkomaki Circus, she sends a telegram and discovers it is her old friend who runs the circus, and Katrina had been contacted by a detective looking for Papuza. The detective has news of Arthur. Papuza, Esme, and Tommy embark on a journey to meet the circus, see Katrina, and get in touch with the detective.

Complicating everything is old Aunt Hatch, a hateful relative who seems to want Esme dead. The three travelers leave town quickly after an incident with Hatch. They travel in a gypsy wagon and have lots of adventures along the way. They run across animals that seem to have escaped from a circus, and when they finally arrive there, they discover there are all kinds of strange and dangerous things happening at Katrina’s circus. It seems someone is trying to destroy the circus. Esme decides it will be up to her and her self-proclaimed sleuthing skills to find out just who the culprit is. This is no easy task. People are being injured, and some injuries are life-threatening. Every time she turns around, Esme seems to find a new suspect, and Tommy is finding just as many. There are enough red herrings in this mystery to populate a town.

Co-authors Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter have written a fast-paced, episodic adventure with an amazing cast of characters who are quirky and perfect to populate an old-time circus. From a snake charmer to a bearded lady to a sage, an old fortune teller to a mermaid and more, there is something for everyone in this book. There are so many characters that it would have been a welcome addition to have a character list to refer to, because some characters disappear for longish periods and the book is much longer than is ordinary for the middle-grade audience for which it is intended. It will take focused, robust readers to complete reading this one. The charming silhouette illustrations by Jane Donovan add nicely to the story.

I have a gently-read paperback of this for 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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