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Bone’s Gift
Author: Angie Smibert
Published March 20th, 2018 by Boyd’s Mill Press

Summary: Boyds Mills Press is pleased to announce the March publication of BONE’S GIFT, a supernatural historical mystery written by Angie Smibert about twelve-year-old Bone, who possesses a Gift that allows her to see the stories in everyday objects. When Bone receives a note that says her mother’s Gift killed her, Bone seeks to unravel the mysteries of her mother’s death, the schisms in her family, and the Gifts themselves.

In a southern Virginia coal-mining town in 1942, Bone Phillips has just reached the age when most members of her family discover their Gift. Bone has a Gift that disturbs her; she can sense stories when she touches an object that was important to someone. She sees both sad and happy—the death of a deer in an arrowhead, the pain of a beating in a baseball cap, and the sense of joy in a fiddle. There are also stories woven into her dead mama’s butter-yellow sweater—stories Bone yearns for and fears. When Bone receives a note that says her mama’s Gift is what killed her, Bone tries to uncover the truth. Could Bone’s Gift do the same?

This beautifully resonant coming-of-age tale about learning to trust the power of your own story is “charming” says School Library Connection, while Kirkus Reviews says, “Smibert surrounds Bone with a loving, complicated extended family….(with) language, which feels real and down-to-earth, like her characters. An intriguing blend of history and magic.”

About the Author: Angie is the author of several young adult books, including Memento NoraThe Forgetting Curve, and The Meme Plague, and numerous nonfiction books for children, as well as many short stories for both adults and teens. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

ReviewBone’s Gift was a special story looking at a well-known time period in a less-known setting. Normally stories in the 1940s focus primarily on the World War in Europe and the Pacific Islands, but this story focuses on a young girl who stays home when her father leaves to fight for his country. What happens to the children who have no mother and whose father leave for the war? Mostly a young girl whose family don’t all get along? And a young girl who is working very hard to figure out something important in her life while also learning truths about her mother’s life. This is that story. Bone is a character that the reader will love and will want to know what happened to her. Between Bone’s loss of her mother, her father going to WWII, Appalachian folklore & setting, and family dynamics, Bone’s Gift has so many different aspects weaving their way throughout the story, but it is all done beautifully in a way that all comes together in the resolution.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

(Resources from http://www.angiesmibert.com/blog/?mbdb_book=bones-gift)

Discussion Questions: 

  • What genre would you consider Bone’s Gift?
  • How did the author incorporate Appalachian Folklore in Bone’s story?
  • What theme would you say was the main theme of the story?
  • What incident in the book changed the trajectory of the plot?
  • How would a changed setting have changed the story?

Flagged Passages: “Bone Phillips floated in the cool, muddy water of the New River up to her eyeballs. The sky above was as blue as a robin’s egg, and the sun was the color of her mama’s butter-yellow sweater.

Her mother was still everywhere and nowhere Bone looked.

She let herself sink under the water and swam along the river bottom toward shore–toward Will.

In the shallows, her hand brushed against something hard and jagged on the silky river bottom. An image poured over her like cold bathwater. A young boy had hit his head on this rock. He struggled for air. The current grabbed at him–and her, pulling her along back in time. Bone snatched her hand away from the rock and came up for air with a gasp.” (p. 1)

Read This If You Love: Magical Realism, Folk lore, Historical Fiction, Mysteries

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Don’t miss the other stops on the blog tour!

Monday, April 9 YA Books Central

Tuesday, April 10 Ms. Yingling Reads

Wednesday, April 11 Unleashing Readers

Thursday, April 12 The Brain Lair AND Genrefluent

Friday, April 13 Always in the Middle

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The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island
Author: Barry Wolverton
Published September 1st, 2015 by Walden Pond Press

Goodreads Summary: Does the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

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 is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that 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. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.

My Review: Whoa! Quite a book! Part swashbuckling adventure, part historical fiction, part folklore, part fantasy, part ghost story, Barry Wolverton has given us quite an intense adventure. I couldn’t predict anything that happened in the book. There were twists and turns throughout, and I never knew who to trust (though I am happy to say my favorite sailor was trustworthy). There were some really gruesome parts (blood and guts and vomit) and there were some really beautiful fairy tales. Overall, quite an adventure! (Though I warn: by gruesome, I mean gruesome!)

Discussion Questions: How did the author use folklore throughout the story to move along the plot?; What parts of history that were shared within the book were true? Fictional?; Throughout the book, stop and try to predict what you think is going to happen next then check your predictions as you read more.; As you read, make a list of all of the seafaring vocabulary that is used within The Vanishing Islands then illustrate each of the vocabulary words as they are used in the book.; Wolverton used Marco Polo’s written works throughout the book–what allusions to Polo’s text can you find in The Vanishing Island?

We Flagged: “The summer began with the grim warning that the wolves were running again. In Britannia, this was code. It meant that Her Majesty’s navy was in need of fresh bodies to replace all of the seamen lost during the year to disease, desertion, or battle. Crimping, they called it. Men and older boys kidnapped and forced to enlist, of the good of God, queen, and country. Britannia, after all, was just one of many nations fighting for nothing less than to control the world.

One boy who didn’t have to worry about being crimped was Bren Owens of Map, the dirtiest, noisiest, smelliest city in all of Britannia. (He had heard rotten things about London, too, but he’d never been there.) Bren was what they called spindly–tall for his age, but unsteady, like a chair you might be afraid to sit on. He had been born in Map because he’d had no choice in the matter.

But that didn’t mean he had to stay here. And now, too skinny for the wolves, he had been forced to take matters into his own hands.” (p. 9-10)

Author Guest Post: 

“Be Careful What You Read, or Why Books Are Dangerous” by Barry Wolverton

Beginning in 1978, when Metrocenter mall opened near my home in Jackson, Miss., my family would go to the mall every Friday night. We would have dinner at one of the fine mall establishments, and then my mother would go clothes shopping, my brother would go nerd out at Radio Shack or Spencer’s, my father would go sit somewhere and smoke (you could do that then), and I would plop myself down in an aisle at Waldenbooks. I remember exactly how it felt to have that to look forward to, which is why Black’s Antique Books and Collectibles is Bren’s home away from home in The Vanishing Island. (Although the way I describe Black’s is more like I remembered Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, the ur-bookstore.)

But for a curious, receptive mind, books can do mischievous things. As I describe it in the book, “the bookstore was a blessing and a curse for [Bren]. Every few weeks seemed to bring in new adventure books, travelogues, and epic poems of war and conquest that were so popular these days. Tales from other lands and other times. For Bren, they offered proof that all things exotic and exciting lay anywhere but here.”

Books give Bren ideas. Ideas about places he’d rather be, things he’d rather be doing, possibilities that his current life doesn’t offer. Books also give him information. For instance, information about ships and the routines of their crew, so that an enterprising young man might figure out the best time to sneak aboard a ship and the best places to hide.

And it was undoubtedly in Black’s that Bren first found a copy of Travels by Marco Polo, the book that National Geographic described as “the founding adventure book of the modern world. Polo gave to the age of exploration that followed the marvels of the East, the strange customs, the fabulous riches, the tribes with gold teeth. It was a Book of Dreams, an incentive, a goad. Out of it came Columbus (whose own copy of the book was heavily annotated), Magellan, Vasco da Gama, and the rest of modern history.”

Wow, some book. Especially considering how much of it is considered dubious. Polo dictated his stories to a fiction writer named Rustichello while both were in prison during the Venice-Genoa war, and between Polo’s possible exaggerations and Rustichello’s flare for embellishment, we can be pretty sure Marco Polo didn’t really see a unicorn. (He may have seen a Sumatran rhino, though, which is still magical.)

Given all that, I hope you’ll appreciate why the Polo legend figures prominently in The Vanishing Island, without making light of the terrible cost of exploration and colonialism.

About the Author: Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years’ experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic, Scholastic.com, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit him online at www.barrywolverton.com.

Barry Wolverton Author Photo

Read This If You Loved: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

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Make sure to visit other stops on The Vanishing Island blog tour!
Tour information: http://www.walden.com/8039-2/

6/15/2015 Blue Stocking Thinking                  bluestockingthinking.blogspot.com
6/16/2015 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia    hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
6/17/2015 Small Review                               smallreview.blogspot.com
6/18/2015 Maria’s Melange                         www.mariaselke.com/
6/19/2015 Unleashing Readers                    unleashingreaders.com
6/19/2015 The Hiding Spot                             ​thehidingspot.blogspot.com
6/22/2015 This Kid Reviews Books              thiskidreviewsbooks.com
6/23/2015 Mundie Kids                                mundiekids.blogspot.com/
6/24/2015 Paige in Training                        pageintraining.wordpress.com
6/25/2015 Novel Novice                              novelnovice.com

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for having us be part of the blog tour
and for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

Links for Barry Wolverton: 

Website: http://www.barrywolverton.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolvertonhill
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bwolverton
Instagram: https://instagram.com/wolvertonhill/

Links for Walden Pond Press:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WaldenPondPress
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaldenPondPress
Website/Blog: http://www.walden.com/books/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/waldenpondpress/

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monster goose

Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes
Authors: Henry, Josh, and Harrison Herz
Illustrator: Abigail Larson
Published February 7th, 2015 by Pelican Publishing Company

Goodreads Summary: Enter an enchanted land of mythical creatures where manticores reign and ogres roar-a land of mystery and fright. A unique twist on traditional rhymes of everyone’s youth, “Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes” presents a more sinister approach to these childhood classics, and yet the sing-song nature of the poems renders them playful and jovial at the same time. Little Witch Muffet is not frightened by a silly, little spider; she simply adds him to her stew!

Rotten zombies, giants, dwarves, and goblins mingle with werewolves, centaurs, and fauns. Follow along the skeleton stepping stones, scale up a palisade, claw at the window of a tasty child and bake him into a pumpkin shell. Monsters cook up delicious elvish pie, too! Every kid who has an eensy weensy bit of sense wants a pet with feathers white as snow, who flies like an eagle and bleats like a goat-a hippogriff, of course!

Six forest sprites with four times as many pixies escape from a loaf of bread atop the elaborate table of the fey queen; her feast has flown away! If you enjoy mischief and have a penchant for the morbidly hilarious, the Herzs’ rhymes will satisfy your mythological curiosities.

Larson’s illustrations give new life to these ancient figures, and her artistic style employs the bold lines and colorful movement of an action-packed comic book. The author also includes a “bestiary” with information about the book’s legendary creatures, which hail from Scotland, Germany, Italy, Persia, Haiti, and Scandinavia.

Kellee’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Really like the creativity of mashing monster/mythology and nursery rhymes. A great intro to all things traditional lit and fantasy in a rhyming, fun way. I especially liked that the creatures hail from a variety of places and that the author included an appendix that includes information about each of them. I think this book would be a great way to introduce mythology as well as give students an opportunity to make their own parody of a nursery rhyme using a creature.

One thing that makes this book special is that Henry Herz wrote this book with his two sons. I am happy to share with you a post about their collaboration:

Josh, Harrison, and Dad’s Excellent Adventure

Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz

The astute observer will notice that there are three author credits for Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. That’s because my young sons were involved in its creation. This is the tale of how two boys became traditionally published authors.

A few years ago (in a galaxy far away), I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my young sons.  They were too little for watching most of the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good fantasy books available for that age range.  Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.

What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story.  They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names and made plot line suggestions.  And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids?  So, the goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.

Originally, I only shared the story of Nimpentoad with family, for their own enjoyment.  I had no thoughts of having the book published.  But one day, my sister-in-law suggested that I consider publication because she felt the story was much better than many of the books she was seeing for her similarly-aged kids.  I thought about it for a while, and decided to give it a try.

The first step was to find the right artist. Once again, my sons were involved, this time in providing art direction.  We would explain in words what each illustration should contain.  Collaborating remotely via email and DropBox, our artist would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color palette.  Nimpentoad came to life, while my boys added another dimension to their experience.

Given the amount of time that had passed, as well as the anticipated challenges with finding an agent or publisher willing to take a chance on an unproven writer, we decided to indie-publish.  The response to Nimpentoad was encouraging, and we subsequently indie-published Twignibble (an easy reader about a mechanically-inclined sloth, who travels the world helping his endangered animal friends), and How the Rhino Got His Skin (an updated picture book version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic).

We’ve done book readings and signings at schools, libraries, museums, farmer’s markets, book fairs, and bookstores. My boys are now experienced sales professionals! They know how to handle themselves with new people, and easily sell more books than I do.

Like any good author, I am committed to honing my craft. I belong to critique groups, participate in Tara Lazar’s annual Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) event, and took a picture book writing class at UCSD. Part of the class curriculum was to draft some picture book manuscripts. Kids love monsters and I love monsters (being a big kid myself), and so the idea for Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes was born.

As with our other collaborations, I drafted the book, and then had my sons review it. Then it went through my critique group and more revisions. I subsequently attended the Orange County Editor’s Day event hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes won best picture book. After that, it was time to query agents and editors. Happily, several editors expressed interest. We chose Pelican Publishing, and the rest is history.

Writing rhyming picture books is very challenging (see why at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-K0). I jokingly encourage newbie writers to visit www.DontDoRhyme.com (not a real website). The irony is not lost on me that my debut traditionally published picture book is in rhyme. My only excuse is that I didn’t have to invent the meter, I just had to twist the words to fit the existing meter.

If you want to interest your kids in mythological creatures, or fantasy literature in general, give Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes a look. Just take care – Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes is a gateway book to The Lightning Thief and, eventually, to The Lord of the Rings.

Learn more about Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes at http://www.birchtreepub.com/mgnr.htm.

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**Thank you to Henry L. Herz for providing a copy for review and for the guest post!**

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