Good Deeds, Good Friends

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If only we could all look at the world the way Kate DiCamillo does–she finds beauty and wonder in even the minutest and mundane of details, and her books resonate with readers for this very reason. I’m so, so glad that Raymie Nightingale, her latest middle grade novel, is out in the world for others to hold and read and love.


My Review

Friendship, like bravery, can make its appearance at the most unexpected times. Kate DiCamillo’s new yarn is one to treasure–light and jocular on the surface, RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE belies a deeper, truer, more aching heart than at first it might seem, beating its broken rhythm with absent parents, poverty, and loss. Raymie, our spunky heroine, finds friendship among two girls who are battling the familiar childhood foes of loneliness and powerlessness. These “Three Rancheros” together light the way through their individual struggles, their solidarity aglow like Florence Nightingale’s lamp or Mrs. Sylvester’s sunlit jar of candy corn, rescuing each other from the darkness. DiCamillo has a magic way of noticing all the little nuances who make us what we are, creating characters that are equal parts weird and relatable, and her skillful intertwinement of humorous and heavy weaves pure poetry out of the ordinary. This book is one huge good deed destined to become a classic.

Out now!

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More Raving about Raymie

Check out Matthew Winner’s wonderful conversation with Kate DiCamillo on his All The Wonders Podcast! It’s 38 minutes that I guarantee will improve your day.

I like that NPR spotlights children’s literature so often–and they interviewed Kate DiCamillo a couple of days ago on All Things Considered. “It takes a lot of bravery to be kind,” indeed.

Marvelous March Middle Grade

Recently, I have been hooked on wonderfully dark, twisty tales of unexpected magic and intrigue featuring heroines who are strong, uniquely bright, and wholly inspiring. These are perfect, empowering reads for Women’s History Month (or ANY month).

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The Keepers #2: The Harp and the Ravenvine

A fantastic follow-up to a near-perfect book–so good, in fact, that I loved it more than the first–how is that even possible? In The Harp and the Ravenvine we follow more (dangerous) adventures of Keepers Horace and Chloe, and we meet a new Keeper, April, whose Tan’ji holds a most spectacular power, even as it draws danger closer to the Warren and the rest of the Keepers. Sanders uses brilliant pacing and some of the strongest character building (and most delightfully terrible villains) I’ve met in a novel to masterfully construct a world where bright children form bonds with singular objects that are sought after (and fought for) by an ancient, merciless people.
This series is perfect for readers who love the depth and detail of Harry Potter and the off-kilter, dark fantasy of Neil Gaiman.

Ages 10 & up.

Out now!

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♀ Meet the Heroines: Chloe and April

I loved Chloe from the first moment she entered the first Keepers novel, The Box and the Dragonfly. She’s smart, witty, sarcastic, and braver than most superheroes. She’s fiercely loyal to her friends and family, and though she can be rough around the edges, she genuinely cares for those she brings into her inner circle. And her Tan’ji (the word for objects the Keepers are bonded to)? A dragonfly charm, which allows her to become incorporeal. Pretty cool, right?

New to the Keepers, April is what the Wardens call an empath, or “a Keeper whose Tan’ji can read the minds of nonhuman animals.” This means she can see (or hear, feel, taste) the world like a dog, a raven, or even the tiniest of insects. What a beautiful, subtly powerful ability–to understand the world the way another being does. Her Tan’ji is the Ravenvine, a beautiful but damaged instrument. She follows the call of the missing piece to join forces with Horace, Chloe, and the rest of the Wardens to fight the terrible Riven and their allies.


 

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The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle is a wonderfully spooky historical fantasy that will appeal to readers who love their stories cloaked in misty mystery and full of hidden passages and ghostly secrets. Fox’s skillfully builds tension as the chapters switch between the distant past and WWII-era present, twist and turn together, intertwining in a dance, revealing flashes of hints and clues to the puzzle that clever readers will relish putting together. Add in a protagonist who will warm your heart with her steadfast commitment to protect her family and friends, and an antagonist who will chill your core and haunt your dreams, and you have a fantastically eerie tale worthy of a place on the shelf next to Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Auxier’s The Night Gardener.

Ages 10 & up.

Out March 15th!

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♀ Meet the Heroine: Kat

Keep calm and carry on.” Not just the ubiquitous motivational poster (actually little-used during WWII), this phrase is a type of mantra for young Kat, who escapes the Blitz in London with her siblings to board in a Scottish castle that holds more secrets than doors to hide them behind. Not unlike Horace, the star of The Keepers series, Kat thinks scientifically and outright refuses to believe in magic–at first. A strong-minded, logical skeptic like Kat, however, does not let her disbelief blind her to the reality that something is very, very wrong at Rookskill Castle, and that something has quite a lot to do with Lady Eleanor, who rules over the castle with an iron fist. She knows that above all, she must keep her family together and make her father (a spy for MI6 overseas) proud.