Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton; Waiting to Read Wednesday

By: Barry Wolverton
Published by: Walden Pond Press
To Be Released on: 9/1/15
Series: The Chronicles of the Black Tulip
Ages: 8-12
Pre-Order from: Harper Collins | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized new book from acclaimed author Barry Wolverton, perfect for fans of John Stephens's the Books of Beginning series.
It's 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map's port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere.
That's when Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive.
In an attempt to feature upcoming children's books / middle grade books, I've decided to feature an upcoming release each week here on Mundie Kids. This week's Waiting To Read book is Barry Wolverton's The Vanishing Island. 

I'm really looking forward to this book being released this coming fall. The cover is awesome, and the story sounds like a fantastic one. I'm looking forward to featuring this book on Mundie Kids closer to it's release date. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee; Signed Book Giveaway!

Author K.E. stopped by Mundie Moms this morning to talk about her new MG release, THE WATER AND THE WILD. This sounds like a fabulous MG read, and it's a book I'm looking forward to featuring shortly here on Mundie Kids. You can check out her guest post here. Along with her stop, I'm also hosting a signed giveaway with her book. Find out a little bit about her book below, and enter for your chance to win!


By K. E. Ormsbee
Released on: April 14th, 2015 - TODAY
Ages 8-12
Purchase the book from: Amazon | B&N 
Add it to  Goodreads

A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot's getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.

About K. E. Ormsbee

I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Then I went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where I pretended I was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. I also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX. Now I'm back in Lexington, KY, where there is a Proper Autumn.

In my wild, early years, I taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. My crowning achievement is that the back of my head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid me money for it.

Nowadays, I teach piano lessons, play in a band you've never heard of, and run races that I never win. I likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. I still satiate my bone-deep wanderlust whenever I can. 

Visit K.E. via her Website | Twitter | Facebook

Thank you to Chronicle Books, I've got a SIGNED copy of The Water and the Wild to giveaway! This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. To enter, please fill out the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Great Summer Reading List from Harper Collins Childrens

(Image found via Google)

Spring has only just begun, but it's never too early to start planning for summer reading. Check out some of Harper Collins's titles that would be perfect of your child's summer reading list (this list is from Harper Collins):


Masterminds by Gordon Korman
9780062299963 – $16.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 2/3/2015
A thrilling new high-concept middle grade series from bestselling author Gordon Korman, about a group of kids who discover they were cloned from the DNA of some of the greatest criminal masterminds in history for a sociological experiment.

Shivers!: The Pirate Who’s Afraid of Everything by Connor White and Annabeth Bondor-Stone          
9780062313874 – $12.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 2/24/2015
Meet Shivers, the scaredy-est pirate to ever sail the Seven Seas. Along with his best friend Margo and his loyal fishmate (yes, you read that correctly) Albee, Shivers battles a giant squid, discovers hidden treasures, and gets pooped on by a pigeon in order to save his parents from the clutches of evil.

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders
9780062275820 – $16.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 3/3/2015
A middle grade fantasy series about Horace F. Andrews, a quiet boy who discovers he possesses a power that can change worlds, and his friend Chloe, who can walk through walls with the help of a dragonfly pendant. The duo becomes entangled in a secret and ancient war that puts life as they know it at stake.

The Forget-Me-Not Summer by Leila Howland
9780062318695 – $16.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 5/5/2015
A winning middle grade story about three sisters who spend a quintessential summer on Cape Cod, filled with exciting adventures that change them all for the best.

Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
9780062071682 – $12.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 5/5/2015
The third installment in kid lit star, Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s heavily illustrated monotreme police procedural, PLATYPUS POLICE SQUAD.

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream by Tom Watson
9780062278074 – $12.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 5/19/2015
It’s never been so hot—and the doges have never been so hungry. The temperature is rising and Stick Dog and his pals are feeling the heat! I scream, you scream, Stick Dog screams for ice cream!

For more summer middle grade reads, check out—

·         Nancy Clancy, Star of Stage and Screen by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (On Sale 2/3/2015)
·         The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers by Paul Durham (On Sale 3/17/2015)
·         Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (On Sale 3/24/2015)
·         Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Picture Perfect #3: Best Frenemies by Cari Simmons and Claire Zulkey (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Fart Squad by Seamus Pilger, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia and Tamera Mowry (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Big Nate Fun Blaster by Lincoln Peirce (On Sale 5/5/2015)
·         Big Nate on a Roll by Lincoln Peirce (On Sale 5/5/2015)
·         Alien in My Pocket #5: Ohm vs. Amp by Nate Ball (On Sale 5/19/2015)


Aqualicious written and illustrated by Victoria Kann
9780062330161 – $17.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 3/3/2015
Pinkalicious is back with a new adventure—and a new color! A day at the beach becomes an AQUALICIOUS adventure when Pinkalicious meets a merminnie mermaid at the seashore.

Charlie Plays Ball written by Ree Drummond, illustrated by Diane deGroat
9780062297525 – $17.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 3/24/2015
There’s nothing that makes Charlie’s soul rejoice more than naps and bacon, but when he’s not sleeping or eating, he’s there to save the day-*yawn*-after he takes another nap. Charlie is back in the fifth book in the series! Back-matter includes a delicious new recipe from the Pioneer Woman herself.

Chu’s Day at the Beach written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
9780062223999 – $17.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 4/7/2015
In the third picture book about everyone’s favorite sneezing panda Chu, the adorable little panda with the great big sneeze spends the day at the beach with his family.

Florabelle written by Sasha Quinton, illustrated by Brigette Barrager
9780062291820 – $15.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 4/21/2015
Meet Florabelle, a little girl with a BIG imagination! Florabelle just can’t seem to pay attention, and although her family can be a bit serious at times, she knows that life is always more fun when you use your imagination.

Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream written and illustrated by Rob Scotton
9780062294197 – $16.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 4/21/2015
Beginning readers will learn the “-eam” word family while Splat, one of this age group’s best-loved characters, gets the sweet treat of his dreams!

In the Waves written by Lennon and Maisy Stella, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
9780062359391 – $17.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 4/28/2015
Join Lennon and Maisy Stella, stars of the hit show Nashville, in their first-ever picture book adventure based on their first-ever original song! It’s the perfect day for fun in the sun. With boogie boards in tow and homemade lemonade in hand, they are ready to splash the day away. It’s a story to spark the imagination, and with a sweet surprise ending, this book is sure to bring sunshine into every home!

Touch the Brightest Star written and illustrated by Christie Matheson
9780062274472 – $15.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 5/26/2015
A companion to the popular TAP THE MAGIC TREE. Christie Matheson again shows us the true interactivity of turning a page—and this time, the magic is in the gorgeous nighttime sky, complete with sunsets, fireflies, stars, comets, and more!

For more summer picture book reads, check out—

·         My Bike written and illustrated by Byron Barton (On Sale 4/14/2015)
·         Amelia Bedelia Is for the Birds by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Gwendolyn Grace by Katherine Hannigan  (On Sale 4/21/2015)
·         Biscuit Goes Camping by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories (On Sale 4/28/2015)
·         Pinkalicious and the Pink Parakeet by Victoria Kann (On Sale 5/12/2015)
·         What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan (On Sale 5/12/2015)

Visit to find out more about these titles. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

(Get this free download here)

Happy Easter!
We hope you all have a lovely Easter Sunday. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Disney Jr Easter Books For Kids; Doc McStuffins: Bunny in a Basket / Minnie's Easter Bonnet Parade

Are you looking for a couple last minute things for Easter baskets? Books make the perfect Easter Basket fillers. Disney Jr has two brand new books out that Disney Jr fans will love seeing in their Easter baskets.

By: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Published: Disney Press
Released on: January 6th, 2015
Series: Doc McStuffins
Ages: 3-5
Source: book from the publisher to review
Rating: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Disney Books | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

Happy Easter, Doc! Join Doc and the gang, as they celebrate Easter with an exciting egg hunt, egg decorating, and other Spring-tastic activities with their friend, Pickles the bunny, in this egg-shaped board book complete with foil eggs and over 25 flaps!

It's the day of the big Easter egg hunt. Doc and all her friends are ready to find Easter eggs. Before the hunt starts, Doc realizes her friend Alma is sad. She learns that Alma's toy bunny Pickles is missing. As Doc sets out to to find Pickles the Easter egg hunt begins. Young readers will enjoy lifting the flaps on each page to see if they find Pickles or Easter eggs.

This is a cute, lift the flap board book. Doc McStuffins fans will enjoy following Doc on her search to find her friend's toy during the big Easter egg hunt.

Published: Disney Press
Released on: January 6th, 2015
Series: Doc McStuffins
Ages: 6-8
Source: book from the publisher to review
Rating: 3 Owlets - It's A Good Read
Purchase it from: Disney Books | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

In this adorable tale, Minnie and the rest of the Bow-Tique gang orchestrate an Easter parade that shows off some of Minnie's most outrageous and spectacular bows yet! Hats off to Easter! Once you've finished reading, download the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint & Play app!

Fans of Minnie and Daisy's short cartoon on Disney Jr will enjoy this book.

The Easter Bonnet Parade is tomorrow. Minnie and Daisy create a beautiful hat for their friend Clarabelle. The next morning, before the parade starts, they've discovered that someone taken the hat. Now itt's up to Minnie and Daisy to what they can to create a new one for Clarabelle, before she arrives.

This book also comes with a free download for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play app for your iPhone & iPad.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare; Read A Snippet

Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black's Magisterium Series were treated to a snippet from the second book in the series, The Copper Gauntlet. Cassandra Clare shared the teaser yesterday on her Tumblr page. If you're not familiar with their middle grade series, the first book The Iron Trial released last year. The Copper Gauntlet will be released later this summer.
Hey miz Clare!!!! I love your books! Seriously, they mean a lot to me. So…I was wondering Since you put out quite a few dark artifices snippets maybe you could put out some copper gauntlet ones??? Maybe. You know if you had some lying around and Miz black doesn’t mind. Just a thought Have a lovely afternoon! Your books are my moon and stars — venus-backpack
Miz Black doesn’t mind! From The Copper Gauntlet:
Call’s head hurt.
"I don’t want anything bad to happen to Aaron," Call said. That was the one thing he was sure about. "I never did."
Aaron looked miserable. “Well, we’re not going to get anywhere tonight,” he said. “It’s late and we’re all tired. Maybe if we sleep for a couple of hours, we can figure something out in the morning.”
They looked at the two beds. Each was about big enough for one adult or two kids.
"I call that one," said Jasper. He pointed at Tamara and Call. "And I call Aaron, because you’re creepy and you’re a girl."
"I can sleep on the floor," Aaron offered, looking at the expression on Tamara’s face.
"That doesn’t help anyone but Jasper," said Tamara crossly, and got onto the leftmost bed. "It’s fine, Call; we’ll just sleep on top of the covers. Don’t worry about it."
Call thought that maybe he should offer to sleep on the floor like Aaron had, but he didn’t want to. His leg already hurt and, besides, he knew for a fact that there were sometimes rats hiding in the barn.
"Okay," he said, climbing in gingerly beside her.
It was weird.
In the other bed, Jasper and Aaron were trying to share a single pillow. There was a muffled cry as someone was punched. Call pushed the pillow on his bed over to Tamara, and laid his head down on his crooked arm.
He closed his eyes, but sleep didn’t come. It was uncomfortable trying to keep to one side of the bed, making sure that even his toes didn’t stray over to Tamara’s side. It didn’t help that he kept seeing the words in the letters Master Joseph had written, painted on the backs of his eyelids.
He opened his eyes. Tamara was looking at him from a few inches away, her eyes big and dark.  ”Why are you so important?” she whispered. 
He felt the warm gust of her breath on his cheek.
"Important?" he echoed. Jasper had started to snore.
"All those letters," she said. "From Master Joseph. I thought they’d be about Aaron. He’s the Makar. But they were all about you. Call is the most important thing.”
"I mean …I guess because he’s my dad," Call said, floundering. "So I’d be important to him."
"It didn’t sound like that kind of important," Tamara said softly. "Call, you know, you can tell us anything, right?"
Call wasn’t sure how to answer her. He was still trying to decide when Havoc began to howl.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fractured Fairy Tale Books For Kids with a Southern Twist; Armadilly Chili / The Three Little Tamales; Book Reviews

One of the things I love about substitute teaching is reading time with the kids. This past week I had the chance to sub in a first grade class who was learning about Fairy Tales. Two of the books I had the opportunity to read to the class during their class reading time were Fractured Fairy Tales, Amaradilly Chili and The Three Little Tamales.

These two books were great! Not only did the kids love them, I loved them as well. These stories were great read aloud books, and made for great classroom discussions. Sadly I hadn't heard of these books until I had read them. Hopefully by sharing my reviews of these books, more readers will be able to pick these up and read them, if they haven't already.

If you liked The Little Red Hen, you'll enjoy the size spin on the story in Aramdily Chili. If you like The Three Little Pigs, you'll enjoy the twist in The Three Little Tamales.

By: Helen Ketteman
Illustrated by: Will Terry
Published by: Albert Whitman & Company
Released on: 1/4/04
Reading Comprehension: 1st Grade
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

Miss Billie Armadilly is hankering to make a pot of chili. Only she'll fix it all by herself because everyone else is too busy to lend a hand. Ketteman's Texas-style spin on The Little Red Hen is joined by the Southwestern warmth of Terry's paintings. Full color.

Litte Little Red Hen, meet Miss Billie Armadillo. The Texan Armadillo who can make a mean pot of chili. Full of southern charm, given a slight southern twang for it's dialogue, and it's brightly colored illustrations, give this book the perfect southern twist on a beloved fable.

Much like the Little Red Hen, Miss Billie invites her friends to help her make her delicious pot of chili. Just like Little Red Hen's friends, Miss Billie's friends all of other things going on, and are too busy to help. When the cold winds start blowing, and Miss Billie's chili is done cooking, her friends come for dinner. Having no help in cooking it, Miss Billie reminds her friends that if they don't help her cook the meal, they don't get to eat her chili. Luckily Miss Billie's friends realize their mistake, as does Miss Billie. They realize that dinner is best served with friends.

I'm huge a fan of fractured fairy tales, and this one was great!

By: Eric A Kimmel
Illustrated by: Valeria Docampo
Published by: Two Lions
Released on: 3/1/09
Reading Comprehension: 1st Grade
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

While the three little tamales cool off on a windowsill, a tortilla rolls by. "You’ll be eaten. You’d better run!" he tells them. And so the tamales jump out the window. The first runs to the prairie and builds a house of sagebrush. The second runs to a cornfield and builds a house of cornstalks. The third runs to the desrt and builds a house of cactus. Then who should come along but Señor Lobo, the Big Bad Wolf, who plans to blow their houses down! 

The Three Little Pigs with a  Southern twist. 

When three little Tamales are cooling off new a window, they see a tortilla roll by who tells them to run, or else they'll be eaten. Not wanting to be eaten, the three little Tamales run off. Each tamale finds the perfect place to build their home, or so they think. When a big bad wolf named, Señor Lobo, comes, and destroys their homes, the Tamales each head for the home of their sibling. Señor Lobo has no problems destroying the first Tamales's home of made of sagebrush. This Tamale runs from her prairie home to the cornstalks of her brother's home. Señor Lobo has no problems destroying the second Tamales's home made from cornstalks. 

Things get tricky when Señor Lobo chases the two Tamales to the last Tamales's house in the desert. The third Tamales house is made of cactus. This Tamales's house isn't as easy to destroy. While Señor Lobo tries everything he can to destroy it, the Tamale comes up with a plan herself to not only save her siblings from getting eaten, it will hopefully chase the wolf away. 

Three Little Tamales is a fantastic spin on a great children's story. The story is engaging, and the illustrations are great. The desert setting was perfect for this story. I also liked how Eric mixed in some Spanish dialogue into the story. If you like fractured fairy tales with a twist, I'd recommend picking up this book. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT by Deborah Underwood; Book Review

By: Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by: Claudia Rueda
Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers
Released on: 1/28/14
Ages: 3 & up
Source: Purchased book
Rating: 5 Owlets - I Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

When Cat tries to replace the Easter Bunny, he soon learns that the job is much harder than he expected-and does not allow time for naps.

A cat with flair to spare, an Easter Bunny with a job to do, and a hilarious break from sticky-sweet Easter fare for fans of Patrick McDonnell and the Pigeon books by Mo Willems.

Why should the Easter Bunny get all the love? That's what Cat would like to know. So he decides to take over: He dons his sparkly suit, jumps on his Harley, and roars off into the night. But it turns out delivering Easter eggs is hard work. And it doesn't leave much time for naps (of which Cat has taken five--no, seven). So when a pooped-out Easter Bunny shows up, and with a treat for Cat, what will Cat do? His surprise solution will be stylish, smart, and even--yes--kind.

If you loved Here Comes Santa Cat, wait till you read Here Comes The Easter Cat! 

Who doesn't love the Easter Bunny? Cat doesn't. He's not too happy about there being an Easter Bunny. What about an Easter Cat? I mean, Cat does have a good point. Why not an Easter Cat? It's not that I don't love the Easter Bunny, because I do. But, Easter Cat has a ring to it. Sort of. Okay, maybe Easter Cat doesn't sound nearly as cute as saying the Easter Bunny. Not that Cat isn't cute, because Cat is.

 Cat doesn't realize that there is a lot of work that goes into being the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny is extremely busy. There's a lot that goes into what he does. For example, Cat likes to take naps. A lot of naps. As he finds out, the Easter Bunny is very busy delivering eggs and goodies to kids that he doesn't have time for naps. That doesn't really work out for Cat, since he takes 7 naps a day. The Easter Bunny is really fast. Faster than Cat. Though Cat may not be the Easter Bunny, he does proves that he can be just as clever as the Easter Bunny, and helps him out. Maybe Cat could be the Easter Cat after all....

I loved it. With adorable illustrations, simplistic wording, and humor readers of all ages can get, this is one book I highly recommend picking up. I thought Here Comes Santa Cat was cute, but this book might be just as cute, if not cuter. I know, that's hard to believe. After all, the story is about one adorable Cat. How can you say no to that? Trust me, he's worth picking up this must read. You don't need to be a cat person to fall in love with this Cat. Trust me, he'll win you over with this antics. 

I think Here Comes the Easter Cat makes the perfect gift for the Easter Bunny to include in a child's Easter Basket. After all, books are better than chocolate bunnies. I think Cat would agree with me. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Interview with TWERP and FINDING THE WORM author Mark Goldblatt

Hello and welcome today's Mundie Kids spotlight. Today I'm thrilled to have FINDING THE
WORM author Mark Goldblatt on the blog to talk about his newest release. Before I share my interview with Mark, here is a little bit about the book. 

By: Mark Goldblatt
Published by: Random House Kids
Released on: 2/10/15
Ages: 9-12 years old
Grade Level: 4th - 7th
Series: Sequel to Twerp
Add it to Goodreads

The New York Post praised Twerp as “reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Finding the Worm is a sequel that stands on its own--an unforgettable coming-of-age story about life, loss, and friendship. Perfect for fans of The Sandlot and readers who love books by Jennifer L. Holm, Andrew Clements, and Rebecca Stead.

It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .

Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.

Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.
  • TWERP was a Summer Top Ten Kids' Indie Next List Pick and a Junior Library Guild Selection. 
  • "Mark Goldblatt is an amazingly wonderful writer." --Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
  • "A vivid, absorbing story about one boy's misadventure, heartache, and hope for himself." --Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me

Finding the Worm Interview

 Finding the Worm is a follow up to your highly acclaimed middle grade novel Twerp. How much have the characters grown from book to book?
 Six months have passed. The characters have graduated from sixth grade into seventh—from elementary school into junior high school (as the two were divided in the late sixties).
 One of the main themes of Twerp was bullying. What is one of the driving themes behind Finding the Worm? How did you pick it, and why?
 Despite how it’s been taught in schools, I’ve never thought of Twerp as a novel about bullying. Don’t get me wrong. If it provokes discussions of bullying, that’s all to the good. But that wasn’t my intention when I was writing it. I’ve always seen it as a novel about the moment when a boy’s conscience awakens—when he goes from thinking he did something wrong because he got punished to knowing he did something wrong because he feels the wrongness of what he did. It just so happens that the thing he did was to hurt another boy. Twerp is his journey from confusion and regret to empathy and conscience.
 Finding the Worm is a novel first and foremost about justice, about why bad things happen to good people. (Which, of course, is the great challenge to conscience once it awakens.) It’s also a novel about letting go of childish things—including, most obviously, the belief that the world will always be a fair place. Julian, the narrator of both books, is now on the cusp of his bar mitzvah, the moment in a Jewish boy’s life where he passes symbolically from childhood to adulthood. His outlook is changing, his perspective is broadening, and his feelings about his friends are evolving—as are his feelings about girls. Julian has his first taste of love in Finding the Worm.
Both Twerp and Finding the Worm are inspired by your childhood in 1960s Queens. Why do you think kids today can relate to these stories, despite the generational differences?
 I’ve always believed in an underlying commonality of human experience. That’s the reason art and literature survive from generation to generation. As a practical matter, I’m too far removed from the particulars of growing up in the 21st century to write a credible novel about it. Helicopter parents. Cell phones. Social media. It really is a sea change. (As a thought experiment, imagine magically dropping a Beyonce video into 1969…think of the effect on the collective puberty of an entire generation!) However, certain experiences of youth remain universal—not only love and loss, but loyalty, insecurity, restlessness, adventure, disillusionment, etc. If you recreate the life of an adolescent accurately, regardless of the era in which he lives, anyone who is, or has ever been, an adolescent should be able to connect with it. That’s the theory anyway.
 You have several adult characters that have key roles in this story, including Miss Medina and Principal Salvatore. Can you tell us a little more about these characters, and how they fit into Julian’s world? How do their actions contribute to the overall themes in the book?
 When I write books for young readers, they really are books about kids. The crucial relationships are between the kids. You certainly want the adult characters to feel authentic; you don’t want them to sound like the trumpet-voices in a Charlie Brown cartoon. But the adults’ lives, at least in my books, are fixed reference points, like islands in the stream. The kids’ lives are the stream. They flow over, under and around the adults’ lives.
 The three main adult characters in Finding the Worm are a guidance counselor, a school principal and a rabbi. I guess, if you want to put a literary—and slightly pretentious—spin on it, they represent sympathy, authority and wisdom. Julian is struggling with all three in the course of the book.
 One of the characters in the book, Quentin, is diagnosed with cancer, and Julian and his friend have to struggle with their friend’s illness. Why did you decide to include this aspect? What challenges did you face when writing about it?
 One of the guys from the block was diagnosed with cancer around that same age. I think I’ll just leave it at that. 
Do you agree with Julian when he says bad things make for good stories? If so, why do you think that is?
 Characters certainly have to be challenged, or else there is no story—good or bad.
  There is a love triangle in Finding the Worm between Julian and two of his closest friends. Do you think that romantic relationships are an important part of growing up? How do romantic feelings in adolescence effect friendships, and why do you think those effects are significant?
 It’s an interesting question. I’ve always thought of the moment a boy experiences his first love as the moment his life moves from checkers to chess. Checkers is straightforward; there are only a few rules, and the pieces all work the same way. Chess is far more complicated and thus far more unpredictable. That metaphor may tell you more about my life in particular than about boys’ lives in general, but there it is.
 Your bio says that you are a lot like the book’s protagonist Julian. In what ways are you different, and why did you decide to make those changes to his character?
 If I’m not mistaken, the bio says I’m a lot like Julian only not as interesting. I think that needs to be highlighted. If you polled the kids I grew up with—leaving aside the guys from the block—I’m sure most of them would barely remember me. If they did, they’d probably say something like, “Oh yeah, wasn’t he that kid who ran really fast?” That would be about it. I tried to flesh out Julian a bit more. I wanted him to have that third dimension that I lack in real life.


MARK GOLDBLATT is a lot like Julian Twerski, only not as interesting. He’s a widely published columnist, a novelist, and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twerp is his first book for younger readers. He lives in New York City. Visit him online at


It's not like I meant for him to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ten Books I'd Like To Revisit From My Pre-Teen Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly future I post on Mundie Moms. Each Tuesday you can find a book related post that goes along with that week's book related topic to write about. Today's topic is one I wanted to share here, as it's 10 Books I'd Like to Revisit From Childhood

I grew up with a love of reading, and felt like I could never have enough books to satisfy my wanting to read. Back in those days, I didn't grow up having a kidlit section, or a middle grade or young adult section. My middle school library had The Babysitter's Club, Little House on the Prairie, Choose Your Own Adventure Book, American Girl Doll (which was just coming out), Sweet Valley High, Goosebumps, and Stephen King books all lumped together. Of course we had more books than just those, but those are the ones that stand out the most to me. 

Today's list feature books from my pre-teen years that I loved reading. These are the first books that popped into my head, and are in no order. I read there's any where from 3rd-6th grade. 

  1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - This was one of my all time favorite children's books. 
  2. The Babysitters Club (series) by Ann Martin -  This series was HUGE when I was in elementary school. I still have a couple of my books.
  3. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis - I read this book in third grade, and I have loved it ever since. 
  4. Sweet Valley High (series) by Francine Pascals - This was another huge series that everyone read.
  5. The Little House on The Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder - This is another series everyone loved reading.
  6. The BFG by Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl books were a huge part of growing up years.
  7. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary - This was another very popular book when I was growing up.
  8. The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene - I swear this is a timeless classic.
  9. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - He was one of the first authors I got to meet when I was in middle school. I still have my signed Hatchet book.
  10. The Indian In the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks  - This was mandatory reading book, and one I hated because it was mandatory, but I secretly enjoyed reading it. lol 
  11. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - I can't make a list and not included this book. I don't think I need to say anything about this book. We read it in class, and then watched the movie *sigh* 
These were the books that stood out the most to me from my pre-teen reading days. I could easily add more books to this list. I have always enjoyed reading. Despite not having as big of a selection of books growing that read readily available now days, the books I enjoyed reading the helped fuel my love of reading. What are some of your favorite childhood-pre-teen reading reads?

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~