Category Archives: Middle Grade

Spy Mice Blog Hop & Giveaway with Heather Vogel Frederick

Books for boys…I’m not ashamed to admit as a children’s librarian it’s probably my Achilles heel…somehow very early in my career I became a certifiable princess expert within the library scene. I was always sought out when the need for girly books was crucial especially when the treasured few princess books were checked out or falling to pieces from so much child love. And while I never minded because I got to do Daddy Daughter Tea Parties and wear a ball gown skirt and tiara for programs….this became much more complicated when I was blessed with my beautiful BOY. That’s right…the Mom who knew it all for girls was blessed with the bouncing baby boy! What’s a librarian and a Mom to do? Call in the expert…a favorite children’s book author who just happens to have raised two boys. Did I mention she also happens to be fabulous at writing for girls as well? All right it must be said…she’s just plain fabulous.

Who is she you ask? Well…I always had my go-to books for boys that I trusted every time and the Spy Mice series by Heather Vogel Frederick was always one of those that I went to for reader’s advisory for boys. Spies…mice..adventure…intrigue…what’s not to like? So how wonderful is it that they are now all new in paperback with covers meant to make them irresistible to even the most persnickety of young readers both boy and girl. Lucky for me author Heather Vogel Frederick decided to drop by and answer questions about her favorite mice and their risky adventures. Not only that Stiletto Storytime and The Styling Librarian get to give three lucky readers entire newly released sets of the series. Now that’s something to celebrate! It’s a series I will no doubt be stocking for my boy for on down the reading road. So read on and learn more about this great series and remember to enter to win on the form below by simply sharing your favorite fictional spy.

SPY MICE Q&A

 Author Heather Vogel Frederick

 Q:  What’s the best part about the relaunch of your SPY MICE books?

 A:  Knowing that new readers will have a chance to discover them!  These books are dear to my heart, and I had a blast writing them.

 Q:  What do you think of the new look?

 A:  Fabulous!  I couldn’t be happier.

 Q:  Can you tell us how the books came about?

 A:  Sure.  Not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away, I had a bright idea. I’d write a story that would pay homage to my misspent youth, or at least the part of it misspent in the living room watching television. I grew up during the heyday of spy-fi TV, addicted to such shows as Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and The Avengers.  My 12-year-old self loved them all.  I loved the glamour, the gadgets, the whole cool factor of espionage, at least as Hollywood portrayed it.

 Grown-up me knew exactly where to set the story. The seed for that idea had been planted when I’d filed away a newspaper clipping about the building of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., along with a scribbled reminder.  (Note to self: Great setting for a story, à la E. L. Konigsburg’sFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”)

 I noodled around with the concept for a while, came up with a great main character (an aspiring fifth grade spy whose James Bond moves were seriously lacking), but something was missing.  And so I set the story aside and waited for that je ne sais quoi.  And waited.  I’ve learned to trust my muse—she often makes me wait, but she always comes through.  One day, the words “spy mice” drifted into thought, and I was off and running.

 Q:  Do you have a favorite character?

 A:  Mouse or human?

 Q:  Let’s start with mouse.

 A:  Well, the evil rat mastermind Roquefort Dupont is really fun to write, and I have a soft spot for Bunsen (Burner, a shy lab mouse).  I love it when he blushes—which he does often, because he has a crush on secret agent mouse Glory Goldenleaf.

 Q:  And the humans?

 A:  There’s a lot of me in fifth grader Oz Levinson, alas.  When I was his age, we both shared the same awkwardness, the same Walter Mitty-esque delusions of grandeur, complete with deflating reality checks. And we were both bullied.

 Q:  Really?

 A:  Yep.  I was plump, shy, and wore glasses, the trifecta of bully bait back then, at least in my particular corner of suburbia.  Nowadays, schools talk much more openly about bullying, and really make an effort to both prevent the problem, and give kids the tools to deal with it more effectively when it does crop up.  Back then, it was just something to be endured.

 Q:  Would fifth-grade you have appreciated a mouse ally?

 A:  Are you kidding me?  I would have been ecstatic.

 Q:  Who’s your favorite fictional spy?

 A:  Oz may dream of being James Bond, but when I was his age I dreamed of being Emma Peel from The Avengers.  No one wears a black leather catsuit like Emma does.

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Filed under Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Heather Vogel Frederick, Middle Grade, New Books

Christmas Books Giveaway Hop with Author Heather Vogel Frederick

christmas books hopIt’s that time of year again folks! I’m not going to lie…I love Christmas. I always have and having a three year old now who is literally obsessed with Christmas has only made it more special. One of my favorite things about Christmas has also always been that extra reading time and if I am lucky bookstore gift cards coming my way or even that one special book under the tree on Christmas morning. So to celebrate I am participating in the Christmas Book Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer & Laurie Here. This great giveaway hop has over 120 blogs participating and giving away one or more Christmas themed tomes. Make sure to check out the participating blog list here.

This holiday season I decided to team up with the always lovely, talented and extremely generous Heather Vogel Frederick so we could provide some very lucky reader with copies of her fifth installment in the fabulous Mother- Daughter Book Club series:  Home for the Holidays. It’s the perfect read for Mom or Daughter…or even better Mom and Daughter together. It would also make a fantastic Christmas present and I know Heather would be more than happy to sign it to that special someone if you’d like. She’s just that kind of person. A true gem of an author indeed. I have honestly enjoyed every book in this series and each can be read alone or in order so don’t worry if you’re not all caught up!

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To enter to win just comment below and let us know your favorite book to read during this time of year…it doesn’t have to be Holiday related whatsoever. For instance I often re-read my favorite classics this time of year simply because I have the time. This year I am re-reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in preparation for the release of the movie musical. So…as you sip hot cocoa, sit by the fire and maybe just maybe…watch it snow ( who am I kidding…I live in Georgia)…what book will you have in hand?

Three lucky winners will be chosen here at Stiletto Storytime to win their own copy of Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick. This Giveaway Hop will end on December 9, 2012 at midnight EST. This giveaway is open to US/CAN addresses only. Winners will be chosen by random number generator and notified by e-mail.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Check out Heather Vogel Frederick’s Website & Share Something You Learned/Found Interesting

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway at Stiletto Storytime (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Book Blogs, Contests, Girly Books, Heather Vogel Frederick, Middle Grade, New Books, Reading Fun, Young Adult Books

Tween Tuesdays With Jordin

Today at Stiletto Storytime we debut a new feature and a new guest reviewer. In fact not only is she my first ever guest reviewer in almost six years of blogging here at Stiletto Storytime but she also just happens to be my little sister as well. You see in our family reading has always been a family affair so it only felt right to let my tween sister review some books written for her age in mind.

An adult can review books for all ages but one often likes to get the actual intended reader’s opinion. As a children’s librarian I am pretty good at knowing what’s good and will be well received and what won’t for a variety of ages. But why not get the point of view of a reader at the age for whom the book was written? So without further ado here is Jordin and her review of Famous for Thirty Seconds by P.G. Kain. This book is the first in the Commercial Breaks series for tweens which means it was written for kids roughly between the ages of 9-12. So please give a warm welcome for Jordin here at Stiletto Storytime.

“You know me. You don’t know how, but you’ve definitely know me.”

            This was true about a thirteen year old actress, Brittany Rush. She has been on the cover of just about everything since she was in diapers. All of that came to a sudden stop when she and her family moved to Hong Kong for a year. When Brittany returned to New York City, she expected to find her old life of call-backs, go-sees, and auditions. Instead she came to find that her spotlight had been given to Phoebe Marks. The girl who before Brittany left, rarely ever got call-backs.

I thought that this was a great book because it has stuff about fashion, romance, and a good rivalry. You should really read this book because not only was it fun but it was also exciting enough to make me want to read the next book in the series too! Book two in the series Picture Perfect is available now and Book three Dramatic Pause will be released on November 27, 2012.

    Need another summer read or how about an option intended more for the boys? Check out Scary School by Derek the Ghost and Scott Fischer. You can also check out the second book in the series Monsters on the March. Here’s a little about the book from it’s description:

“You think your school’s scary? Get a load of these teachers: Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire, Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess, Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it’s taught by someone who’s half zombie and Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex! Plus gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein’s monster on the loose The world’s most frighteningly delicious school lunch and the narrator’s an eleven-year-old ghost!

 Join Charles “New Kid” Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky!”

Sound like some good reads for either yourself or someone you know? Perhaps they may be perfect for your classroom or school library? Do you like having a tween’s point of view on newly released books here at Stiletto Storytime? Would you like to see more reviews by Jordin on Tween Tuesdays or do you have a book you’d like Jordin to review? Just let us know. We love feedback and comments are always not only accepted but truly appreciated as well.

Thanks to Jordin for taking the time to review for Stiletto Storytime and thanks to my readers for allowing her a chance to share some great new tween books with you, your kids or even your grandkids. And as always Happy Reading for All Ages!

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Filed under Books for Girls, Children's Literature, Girly Books, Middle Grade, Reading Fun

On World Autism Awareness Day: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Temple Grandin has always been different. From her infancy her parents knew she was a child unlike any other, her father believed her to be mentally deficient but her mother knew that somewhere under Temple’s erratic and odd behaviors, was a child filled with curiosity, talent and love.  Temple developed behind other children and did not speak until the age of five but once she did she showed a personality and wit that stood out among the crowd of typical children. Still she often found comfort in twirling for hours on end and her senses were often extremely sensitive to touch, sound and light. However Temple’s mother knew Temple was different but not less. The name eventually given to Temple’s condition was autism.

Autism caused Temple to struggle through elementary and middle school and she was at times subject to bullying but as she got older she learned to make her way in the world. While navigating through society Temple found that not only did she have amazing talents but she also could do things no one else was capable of. She found that at times autism was a gift that allowed her to think in ways others could not. You see Temple thought in pictures instead of words and this allowed her to visualize things in a very special way.

For instance Temple had the ability to think the way an animal could since she was so attuned to their senses and behavior. She especially loved and felt a kinship with cows. This ability led to her career in animal husbandry and her deep love of cattle turned into a talent unlike any other. Today Temple Grandin is one of the most prominent figures in the meat packing industry where she designs humane treatment systems for all types of livestock. At this time in history Temple has done more for creating humane conditions for “food animals” than any other living human being.

Today through her role as an ambassador for the humane treatment of livestock and her role as an advocate for those with autism, Temple provides a dual voice to those who might not otherwise have one. She is also renown for her ability to explain how autism feels and the differences in her brain and those of most other people.

Within this new biography children are given a very personal account of Temple and her life. Pictures, drawings and other media only bring readers further into Temple’s world.

Additionally the book chooses to address both children with and without autism making it inclusive and educational at the same time. While showing the challenges that Temple faced readers can actually see the aspects of autism that can have a negative affect on an individual on the autism spectrum. However at the same time the reader is also shown those special abilities that can make an autistic individual exceptional.

Sy Montgomery also does a spectacular job of writing for the middle grade age group. At one point even making a Harry Potter reference by which to explain an individual like Temple living with autism. While Harry’s abilities might have been a bit scary among muggles but once he was accepted into Hogwart’s and given a chance to be a part of things; he blossomed. As would children with autism if they were accepted and treated as equals by other children.

In the end the message is one of acceptance and inclusion for all using autism awareness and education as the vehicle by which to make it happen. Bravo!

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World will be released on April 3, 2012. You can also visit Temple at her website.

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Filed under Autism, Children's Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Parenthood Picks

Reading Challenge: My Life in Newbery

Children’s literature is really important to me not only as a children’s librarian but also as a reader and a parent. There is something about the books that we read as children that shape the readers we become later in life. They can often sometimes even depict or affect whether we will become readers at all. The John Newbery medal is an award given by the American Library Association to an author for their contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. It is named for John Newbery, an 18th century English publisher of juvenile books.

 I recently saw a friend and former library colleague at Learning to Play the Bassoon create a sort of reading challenge by looking up the Newbery winners at certain points in her life and I wanted to take it and make it my own by doing something similar. Below I have created a list of books that have won the Newbery Medal during my lifetime. I thought it would be fun to read each of these books this year. I really don’t read as much children’s literature as I should anymore now that I am at home with Little Man and this seems like a fun way to incorporate some into my current reading.

I would love for others to undertake this challenge with me or even just commit to reading one Newbery winner this year such as the book that won for the year you were born. You can easily look the winning and honor books for each year here. Just for the fun of it….I would love for everyone to share what book won the year you were born and whether or not you have read it?

My Life in Newbery

The year I was born: 1981

Newbery Medal Winner: Jacob Have I Loved  by Katherine Paterson

The year I started kindergarten: 1986

Newbery Medal Winner: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The year I turned 10: 1991

Newbery Medal Winner: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The year I started high school: 1996

Newbery Medal Winner: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The year I graduated from high school: 2000

Newbery Medal Winner: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The year I graduated from college: 2005

Newbery Medal Winner: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

The year I received my Master’s Degree: 2006

Newbery Medal Winner: Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins

The year Little Man was born: 2009

Newbery Medal Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This year’s Winner for 2012

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

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Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Classic Literature, Middle Grade, Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: “A Wrinkle in Time” 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Blogs

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time Stiletto Storytime is pleased to be a part of the 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Blogs Celebration. As part of the second week of celebrating we are blogging about “sharing” this great book.

Personally the first time I read A Wrinkle in Time I didn’t get it. I was in middle school and I quickly went through the book and simply didn’t “get it”. Then the second time I read it, once again in middle school…I kind of got it. I got that it was special. As Meg says ” I got it. For just a moment I got it! I can’t possibly explain it now, but there for a second I saw it!” And so began my cycle of re-reading this destined classic. A cycle that has continued from young adulthood into graduate school and beyond into my library career.

How could this book not be destined to be a classic although in many ways it was lucky in finding it’s way to print at all. The classic good vs. evil, dark vs. light, right vs. wrong…but for children. That was the key. For the first time someone was entrusting children with saving the world, with joining the ranks of Jesus, Gandhi and so many of the other fighters. Someone was given children worth not only in constructing a story of this magnitude where they were the heroes but in also creating a story that might be hard to “get” but believing that those children out there devouring each page would persevere even if it did take a few times.

That to me is what makes A Wrinkle in Time and Madeleine L’Engle special and the reason why it must continue to be shared. And what better way to share than with this dazzling new 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition which can rival it’s contemporary companions in shelf presence while providing a little something new for everyone to learn about their treasured favorite or new discovery, whichever may be the case. If you have not read this book I do hope you will let me share it with you now. Enjoy & Happy Reading!

About the 50th Anniversary edition:

The 50th Anniversary Commemorative edition features:

•       Frontispiece photo*†

•       Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†

•       Manuscript pages*†

•       Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†

•       New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  †

•       New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †

•       Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †

•       Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech

( * Unique to this edition    )         (   † Never previously published)

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Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Contests, Events, Middle Grade

Blog Tour: Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

“Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.”

As Michaela MacColl showcases her second novel she proves to all that her calling in historical fiction extends far beyond what we saw in her debut novel Prisoner’s in the Palace (Stiletto Storytime Review) which brought itself immediately to so many readers’ attention in such a positive way. In particular the author has a great talent for combining historical fact and well-created fiction into a seamless tale that is in the end as a whole so much greater than it’s individual parts.

Completely different and yet utterly special in it’s own right Promise the Night is based on the true life story of Beryl Markham’s unique childhood in the wilds of British East Africa and more specifically her interaction with the Nandi tribe. Told in flashback from the present day (1936) feat of her famous flight from England to North America, the tale can be somewhat slow at times but proves to still keep young readers in it’s clutches with it’s adventurous nature and wildly audacious young Beryl leading the action. Also interesting is the use of mixed media in the telling combining traditional prose with journal entries and even newspaper articles.

With it’s call to high adventure and remarkable leading lady the book will be a hit with audiences of both genders in both the middle grade and young adult markets. It also shines as a historical fiction work about a lesser known historical figure of the female gender which always lends itself well to school projects and reports from an educational stand point. Well-researched and as always with Ms. MacColl appealingly written, the book will shine for many readers and many purposes.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to the generousity of the always fabulous Chronicle Books one lucky reader at Stiletto Storytime will receive a copy of not only Promise the Night but MacColl’s debut novel Prisoners in the Palace as well.  Giveaway ends midnight EST January 30, 2012. This giveaway is open US/Canada only. Winners will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address and/or Twitter. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Since adventure is key in MacColl’s latest tale:

To enter simply comment below and share your favorite adventure tale as a child or young adult.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Be/Become a Follower of Author Michaela MacColl on Twitter (Please leave name in comments.)

Be?Become a Follower of Chronicle Books on Twitter (Please leave name in comments.)

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments.)

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contests, historical fiction, Middle Grade, New Books, Young Adult Books