Thought for the Day:
“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”
~ Michele Ruiz ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Jill Hedgecock wrote a terrific post HERE for The Creative Penn that gives you a way to use visual inspiration for your writing.
I’m always looking for help with query letters. Uninspired Writers has a wonderful step-by-step approach HERE.
HERE are 10 Tips for Good Storytelling from Michael Moorecock. I think number 10 might be the most important one here.
I have had quite a week. On Friday, I had a milestone birthday (although at this age, every birthday is a milestone) and turned 75. Yes, 3/4 of a century. Yow! Friday evening my daughters made me a favorite dinner — linguini and clams from my good friend Barbara Porreca’s recipe — and my granddaughter made a caramel cheesecake as good as any you could get at the Cheesecake Factory. On Saturday morning we had scheduled a Zoom call with Sonni, our exchange student from Hamburg, Germany who spent her senior year with us a long time ago. We try to Zoom a few times a year, and I was looking forward to it. Maggie suggested I use my desktop with the big screen as Sonni had a surprise for me. I thought she might have her husband and kids on the call, but it was actually a Zoom surprise party for me with my three sisters, almost all their kids, some of my former students, some lifelong childhood friends, some writer friends, and my daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids. It was really something. Since it’s my birthday weekend, the meme is about me.
I want to mention a couple books I’ve gotten recently. I normally don’t talk about picture books here, but I won a wonderful one from Carol Baldwin on her BLOG. She has lots of good writing information and gives away a lot of books on her blog, so check it out. Anyway, I won a copy of Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. It is a terrific example of a picture book biography and of diverse literature we are seeing these days. The writing and art are both spectacular, and it would make a good read-aloud in middle-grade classes.
The other book I want to mention is Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. This is definitely an adult book. It’s a mystery of sorts, a book about a writer, and one of the funniest premises for a book I’ve ever read. Want to escape for a while? Here is your vehicle.
Now on to the business of the day. The publicist from Candlewick Press and Walker Books US sent me some books a while back. In that bunch was The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle and illustrated by Jo Rioux. It is a middle-grade mystery that will have young people enthralled.
Clara lives with her uncle in a gloomy, crumbling old mansion away from others on the spooky moors somewhere in the British Isles. Her uncle ignores her most of the time, and Clara is stuck each day with a governess teaching her the most boring lessons possible. She has no one to play with and nothing beyond books to stave off mind-bending boredom. Then one day, her uncle fires the cook, tells Clara to pack a bag, and drops her off in the nearby village. She decides to have a cake and tea while she waits, and when she reaches in her pocket, she finds 200 pounds in ten-pound notes and a note from her uncle letting her know he has dumped her there and left. She walks back to the old mansion and, when she arrives, finds a For Sale sign in front of the house and a boy named Peter and his cat waiting for her. He has been sent to stay there while his Granny is recovering from an illness. The two decide they need to fend for themselves and try to figure out why they have both ended up here, abandoned. They tell each other their separate stories and become fast friends. But it is when they find a hidden shoe that their greatest adventure and a true mystery begins.
Author Judith Eagle has created a real page-turner with plenty of tension and some very heroic and resourceful young characters. The mansion and the moors make for a perfect setting for this mystery. It is a moody place and a challenging place for these young characters, but when they are driven from it, the pace really picks up. Their problems become more dire and the mystery greater. But this is all wrapped up satisfactorily and has a sweet ending that will leave young readers content. The occasional fun illustrations by Jo Rioux add nicely to the story and will help to keep the kids turning the pages.
I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.