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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lil Dude in Kindergarten and Book Recommendation

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Hey guys!

So, my Lil Dude started *kindergarten* last week!  Can you believe it?  (This morning he's home sick with a cold, though, dressed in a Superman outfit and, at this moment, directing (bashing, actually) his remote control police car into my desk chair in an attempt to get my attention.

*time lapse*

Okay, situation under control now.  So, as I was saying, car-bashing aside, my Lil Dude is now becoming a Big Dude, *sniff sniff.*.... If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember this post I did just after we adopted him from Guatemala when he was nine months old.

On a different note, I thought I'd let you know about one of the many great books I've enjoyed this summer. Here is Jeannie Mobley's charming older-middle-grade novel, Katerina's Wish (ages 8-12)... such a sweet cover, isn't it?

Jeannie and I have much in common-- she also has an anthropology background, also lives in northern Colorado, and has the same agent as me (Erin Murphy).  Jeannie and I actually worked together in the anthropology department at the local community college (where she still teaches.)  I already knew quite well that she's a clever, hard-working, and warm-hearted person, so I wasn't too surprised to find those same qualities in Katerina, the loveable main character of her debut novel.

I was lucky enough to get a review copy over the summer... and I loved it! I'm in awe-- Jeannie is a master of historical fiction.  Here's the blurb I gave:

I adored this beautiful debut novel about a spunky Bohemian immigrant girl who dares to realize her family’s American dream through creativity and hard work.  The loveable characters, vivid setting, and magical folktales completely drew me into Katerina’s world, and I didn’t want to leave.

You can visit Jeannie's website here and see the starred reviews and honors this book has already received (and it's just coming out this week!)

I've read some other wonderful new middle grade books dealing with immigration this summer, like Natalie Dias Lorenzi's Flying the Dragon, which I plan to review here soon (stay tuned!)

Big congrats to Jeannie on her book release!  I'm planning on attending her launch party (open to everyone) at the Longmont Public Library from 3:00- 5:00 on Saturday, Sept 8.  Maybe we'll see you there...

And speaking of events, just a reminder to you Maryland folks-- I'll be on the Baltimore Bred panel of the Baltimore Book Festival  on Sat, Sept 29 at 5:30. Please come and chat if you're in the area! 

That's it for now!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oprah and California Pics!

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Hey, guys!

Just got back from a delightful week-long vacation to northern California. On my arrival home, I heard the happy news that The Queen of Water is an Oprah book pick for ages 12-14!  The book's in great company-- some of my all-time faves are also on the list, like Feed by MT Anderson. Very big honor!  The list was compiled by the ALA Children's Book Council and the Association for Library Service to Children (but I like to think that Oprah herself might feel inspired to read it, too.... :-)

Lil Dude

So, my vacation.  It was fun! We've had a hot and fiery and smoky summer here in Fort Collins, so a trip to the coast was just what my family needed.  The weather was deliciously foggy and cool-- I got to wear sweaters and scarves and jeans!  Bliss. I still managed to get sunburnt, though... on my bottom lip of all places! (Bright side: some people pay big bucks for this beestung look.)


Ian and Lil Dude and I met up with our dear old friend (from middle and high school) and her family, and explored beaches just south of San Francisco.  We spotted seals, sea otters, anemones, dolphins (or porpoises?), and all kinds of sea birds.  Oh, and this funny creature that kept popping up and disappearing, and reminded me of that game whack-a-mole (but no whacking occurred).

I love looking at and touching small things that make patterns, like these blue pebbles on a beach at Punto Lobos...

 And these succulents on the hills by the beach at Bean Hollow...


And these pretty, tiny treasures I gathered...

Ian enjoyed swinging giant ropes of kelp around, lasso-style...

Lil Dude spent hours playing catch with the waves.... he'd run back and forth with an exuberant smile, shouting "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!  Oh, dear!"  He can't pronounce his r's, which made it extra-amusing to witness.


Relaxing on the rock crags...

We swung by the Santa Cruz boardwalk so Lil Dude could go on some rides... brought back memories of my own childhood summer vacations in Ocean City, Maryland.  Rides, mini-golf, funnel cake, softserv vanilla cake cones with rainbow sprinkles, fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The drive along Route 1 is so breathtaking... we went a couple hours south of San Francisco-- down to Carmel-by-the-Sea, stopping lots along the way (including sweet Half Moon Bay, where I've done author visits). I'd love to drive farther south sometime, to Big Sur and beyond.

Lil Dude is such an enthusiastic traveler-- really bold and adventurous-- although his favorite parts of any trip are usually the hotel breakfast and pool. Here he is giving me a kiss on top of a  stone "castle" we found on the beach, where he declared me a queen and him a knight. He's precious... and believe it or not, he'll be starting kindergarten next week. Gulp.


I didn't bring my laptop on the trip, which was really nice... I just read and scribbled a bit in my notebook and thought and dreamt of my book-in-progress-- just what I needed.  Now I'm feeling like I have a better perspective on it, and more confidence that my brain can handle the intricacies of this story (I was starting to have doubts before...) I think the waves and wind and salt and sand did my brain some good.

Thanks for reading!  Oh, and if you're in the Maryland area, please come chat with me at the "Baltimore Bred" panel discussion (5:30, Saturday, Children's Stage) at the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September!!!