Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Books and Tours and Trips, Oh My!


Okay, I'll get to all the stuff in the title in a second. But first, a recap of 2015...

2015 was a weird, strange, amazing year. Thanks in much part to The Great Greene Heist, I was all over the place—Minneapolis, Phoenix, Chicago, North Texas, Houston, Los Angeles, etc. I participated in a number of national conferences and visited some great schools. A personal highlight was giving a keynote at the National SCBWI conference this summer.

I was in the big room, y’all. The big room.

A whole bunch of people and little old me at the 44th SCBWI Summer Conference (Photo by Paul O. Zelinsky)

I also sold a book--a stand-alone middle grade. It's supposed to come out in 2017...if I finish it in time.

 

2016 looks to be even more awesome.

As stated in the title of this post, there will be more books, trips and travel this year. I'll be kicking off the year with a book launch on Jan 23rd for To Catch A Cheat, the second Jackson Greene book. The book has already received a starred review from Kirkus. (You can still pre-order a signed copy from BookPeople.)



I'll be going on tour to support the book in February. Dates and locations are still being confirmed, but the tour schedule includes:

Tuesday, February 2 @ 6:00 PM
Books Build Conversations (w/ Stephanie Seales and Sara Hines)
Falmouth Public Library (w/ Eight Cousins Books)
Falmouth, MA
 

Wednesday, February 3
School visits w/ Eight Cousins (Falmouth, MA)
 

Thursday, February 4 
School visits w/ Odyssey Books (South Hadley, MA)
 


Thursday, February 4 @ 6:00 PM
Author Event at Odyssey Books (South Hadley, MA)


Friday, February 5 
Visits w/ Anderson's Bookshop (Chicago, IL)
 
Saturday, February 6 @ 2:00 PM
Event at Anderson's Bookshop - La Grange

La Grange, IL

Monday, February 8

School visit with RJ Julia (Madison, CT)
 

Tuesday, February 9
School visit with Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN)

Wednesday, February 10
School visits with Children’s Book Wold (Haverford, PA)
 

Thursday, February 11
Scholastic Summer Challenge school visit at Lake Nona Middle School (Orlando, FL)


Friday, February 12
Visits with Watchung Books (Montclair, NJ)



This will be my first official book tour. I'm super excited, but it'll be hard to be away from the girls for so long. (Especially considering that I'll be participating in a week of visits in Hong Kong later this spring--my first international book trip!)

In addition, I've got another book coming out on April 26th. Here's the cover for my Spirit Animals book, The Return:

Don't Meilin and Jhi look fierce?

And that's just through April. So all in all, there's a lot going on in 2016. Hope to see you on the road!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A Slightly Different Take on A FINE DESSERT

There's been a lot of talk about A Fine Dessert, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. I won't rehash everything--you can check out posts at American Indians in Children's Literature and Reading While White to learn more.

A lot of people are upset about the book.

I am not.

Some background--in many ways, I see myself as the ideal purchaser of this book. I am African-American, with two picture-book age daughters. I grew up in South Carolina, about 120 miles from Charleston. I am descended from slaves from South Carolina (at least as far back as we can tell; history is not kind in that regard.) Most importantly, I love blackberries. (I even featured them in a YA novel, which is sadly out of print....)

So I was extremely excited when I first heard about this picture book. I was especially happy that the author and illustrator showcased a diverse set of people in the book. And then, very quickly, I learned of the book's troubling content. What reviewers were saying made sense, but I wanted to read the book for myself before passing judgement.

I finally purchased A Fine Dessert. I read it. And read it again. And again. And studied each illustration.

And you know--it works. For me. What especially makes it work is the Author and Illustrator's notes at the end. This book was made for discussion; more so, the creators seem to be urging for that discussion to take place. (I wonder--should the creator notes be considered part of the "book"? A discussion for another day.)

I see why many people view the book as insensitive. The illustrations of the slave girl certainly made me pause. But I also see the illustrations of the slave family as a gateway for meaningful conversations with my daughters--about slavery, artistic choice, and finding joy in the midst of great sorrow. That being said, I don't know if the book works for young readers without an adult there to facilitate discussion--which perhaps is a fatal flaw.

I understand why many people are upset about the book. And I don't want (or have the right) to invalidate another reader's feelings about the book.

But for me, A Fine Dessert works.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cover Reveal: To Catch A Cheat

I'm thrilled to post the cover for the next Jackson Greene book, TO CATCH A CHEAT! Coming January 2016 from Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic....


The blurb from Goodreads: Jackson Greene is riding high. He is officially retired from conning, so Principal Kelsey is (mostly) off his back. His friends have great new projects of their own. And as he's been hanging out a lot with Gaby de la Cruz, he thinks maybe, just maybe, they'll soon have their first kiss.

Then Jackson receives a link to a faked security video that seems to show him and the rest of Gang Greene flooding the school gym. The thugs behind the video threaten to pass it to the principal--unless Jackson steals an advance copy of the school's toughest exam. So Jackson devises a three-part plan to foil the blackmailers, clear his friends' names for good, and trap the true bad guys along the way. As Gang Greene executes another multistep caper full of twists and turns, they learn that sometimes it takes a thief to catch a cheat.




And while I'm posting, here's the cover for the trade paperback of THE GREAT GREENE HEIST (which was released a few months ago)!



Both were designed by Nini Goffi, with art by Kali Ciesemier. Beautiful, right?

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

End of the Summer Update

Congratulations to all the bookstores participating in the Great Greene Challenge! I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t think I can say it enough —thank you so, so, so much for supporting me, The Great Greene Heist, and diverse books. I am beyond humbled. I’ll be shipping out prizes to the winners (Watermark Books – the Grand Prize Winner with the most book sold!), Odyssey Bookshop (winner of the challenge against Eight Cousins) and Flyleaf Books (winner of the random drawing) at the end of the month.

I’ll be on the road a lot this fall—check the calendar for dates. I’m kicking things off in New York on Tuesday speaking at the Scholastic Teacher Week and on a panel at Books of Wonder — I would love to see you there or at any of my other events. (Also, I have limited availability for school visits for 2014-2015, but please email me if you’re interested.)

Finally, I’m happy to report that The Great Greene Heist is both in its second printing (Woot!) and is also a featured pick for the Fall 2014 Scholastic Book Fair. They even made a spiffy video. (I always thought there was a bit more bass in my voice....)

P.S.: The main reason that I've been MIA from the blog this summer:















 Introducing Sydney Leanne. (Pic taken 2 months ago....)




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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Middle Grade Mayhem Book Launch!

Please join me, Jennifer Ziegler, and Greg Leitich Smith at Bookpeople on June 14 at 2:00 as we launch our new middle grade titles! There will be shenanigans, mayhem, treats and books!





Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's on the shelves (and I'm talking about it)!

THE GREAT GREENE HEIST is now available! You can pick up signed / personalized copies at BookPeople and The Book Spot. The book is also available from your local independent bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million, and anywhere else books are sold.

If you're interested in hearing me talk more about the book, check out the following interviews and blog posts:

- At Kirkus Reviews, I talk about the importance of diversity and dropping the reader right into the story.

- At Nerdy Book Club, I talk about my own "code of conduct" in writing the novel.

- At Project Middle Grade Mayhem, I talk about the inspiration behind the book and how my time at VCFA shaped the story.

- And, on Sunday, June 1st at 1:00 CST, I'll be talking with Hopeton Hay on KAZI 88.7. If you're interested in checking it out, you can stream the station live.

Love that button!

As a reminder, I will donate $1.50 for every copy of THE GREAT GREENE HEIST sold before and during the first week of release to Girlstart, a nonprofit that encourages girls' interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Specifically, I'll be supporting their Summer Camp Scholarship fund called Send a Girl To Camp, which helps to sponsor girls for week-long camps focused on STEM programs.

Save for a few events such as my joint launch with Jennifer Ziegler and Greg Leitich Smith (details coming soon), the #SharpSchuBookClub, and LeakyCon (!!!), I'm taking the summer off, but I'll be back on the road in the fall.

Thanks so much for the support!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Girlstart, STEM, and a Surprise

I have been honored and humbled with all the attention and goodwill that the #GreatGreeneChallenge has garnered. So many authors, booksellers, librarians, educators, and friends have stepped up to support the book. I want to do my part as well.

Therefore, I will donate $1.50 for every copy of The Great Greene Heist sold before and during the first week of release to Girlstart, a nonprofit that encourages girls' interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Specifically, I'll be supporting their Summer Camp Scholarship fund called Send a Girl To Camp, which helps to sponsor girls for week-long camps focused on STEM programs

As an engineer, the spouse of a former engineer, and the father of two girls, Girlstart's mission is very personal to me. Perhaps my girls will become engineers or writers. (Or both!) Maybe they'll become teachers or lawyers or librarians. Whatever they decide, I just want them to have as many opportunities as possible. Girlstart helps to open up those possibilities.

Please consider buying a book (including personalized books) to help support this program, or make a donation yourself. (Or both!)

(And yes, I said two girls! Baby #2 will make her appearance in early June!)


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