“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Search for Wondla • Middle-grade fiction

The Search for Wondla
written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Available nowSimon and Schuster Ages 10 and up 
The New York Times bestseller from the fantastical imagination that brought you The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Story: When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, "WondLa." Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's wish for a place to belong.

Breathtaking two-color illustrations throughout reveal another dimension of Tony DiTerlizzi's vision, and, for those readers with a webcam, the book also features Augmented Reality in several places, revealing additional information about Eva Nine's world.

Story behind the story: Tony diTerlizzi writes about the power of place, character, and adventure:  "As a kid who loved classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Wendy, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I wondered why it was that I returned to these timeless tales again and again throughout my life. The answer is easy: There lies magic between those pages, places I loved visiting when I was ten years-old that I still love returning to today.

What if I could conjure up a story in the same spirit? A story that the ten-year-old Tony would have loved and that the forty-year-old Tony has the ability to create?

First, I’d make the hero a heroine—a strong and clever spirit drawn from some of my favorite protagonists like Dorothy Gale, Wendy Darling, and Alice. And, like those characters, I’d have her cope with problems children can relate to: Some are timeless, such as dealing with parents and finding one’s place in the world; others more timely such as society’s growing reliance on technology to help us.

Next, I’d create a wonderworld for my heroine to have her adventures in. A setting both familiar and strange that I’d hope readers would enjoy exploring. I’d populate it with characters whose personalities may seem familiar but who are housed in a more science-fiction cast, such as robots, aliens, and an array of bizarre otherworldly life-forms. This was how I began to imagine the world of Eva Nine and her journey in The Search for WondLa.

Though Eva utilizes futuristic technology as she interacts with all manner of aliens, her story is still a fairy tale at its heart. A fairy tale of compassion and family. A fairy tale of danger and adventure. A fairy tale for the twenty-first century."

Take a peek at Chapter 1

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Change of Heart • YA fiction

Change of Heart
Available now WestSide Books  Ages 13 and up
Sometimes you take some basic things for granted, like the love of your parents, or hanging with your friends, or the beating of your heart.
Story:  Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, popular varsity soccer star Emmi gets the worst possible news -- she's had myocarditis that's destroyed her heart, putting her into congestive heart failure.  Now she can barely walk across a room without stopping to rest.  Without a heart transplant, she'll die in a matter of months.  It's only her growing friendship with Abe, the funny, smart teen she meets in the cardiac clinic, that cheers her up.  
But difficult questions race through her mind while she waits:  Will she get a heart in time?  Will she even survive the surgery?  What is her body rejects the heart?  When tragedy strikes close to home, Emmi must rely even more on her inner strength in order to carry on.

Story behind the story: First a books-bring-people-together story:  Author Shari Maurer contacted me to talk about her book and, after we talked shop a bit and she took a peek at my website, asked if I was the Deborah Sloan with a sister named Pam.  Turns out, Shari and I grew up in a small suburb of NYC, in a town called New City, NY (don't you love that name? Shari's now living there with her family).  Small world!

So back to the book story:  I asked Shari where this story came from and she responded:  "A few years ago I was watching a television program on heart transplants. My husband, a cardiologist, and one of his patients were featured on the show. But I also noticed a young girl who was waiting for a heart. She was wheeled into the operating room, her face a mixture of fear, excitement and worry—not knowing if this was a new beginning or if she would die.

This girl haunted me. I started to wonder what it would be like if she was a teen. And an athlete. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and thus, Emmi and Change of Heart were born. Emmi’s great life is interrupted when she gets sick and finds she needs a new heart. How do you live waiting for the phone call that will save your life and still try to keep up with your friendships, schoolwork and life in high school?  And how do you hope for someone to die, so you can live?

Readers have come away from Change of Heart feeling a renewed sense of gratitude—for their health, their friends and their lives. I didn’t intend that when I wrote it, but I love that this is what people are taking from it."

 “Tenderly told, this story is aptly written for teens. It’s poignant, informative and bathed in all kinds of emotions. The author succinctly describes the transplant process with detailed medical accuracy and compassion, while clinging to the tyranny of just being sixteen. Captivating, touching tale!”
Sacramento Book Review
“Shari Maurer does a brilliant job of taking the reader through this emotional journey with Emmi, her friends, and family.  I found myself laughing one minute and on the brink of tears the next.  The story felt well researched and I could imagine the pain and frustration the characters dealt with daily.  I also thought the story sent a message to readers about life.  My interpretation left me with a reminder of how precious each day of our lives is and not to take anything, especially your health for granted.”
- Ellz Readz blog

"Shari Maurer handles very tricky subject matter with sensitivity and grace."
- Amy Goldman Koss, author of Side Effects, an ALA BEst Books for Young Adults and a Kirkus Best Books of the Year

"An emotional roller coaster, exploring all the different ways a heart can be broken -- and all the different ways it can be repaired.  In Change of Heart, Shari Maurer takes the reader through all the ups and downs of a star athlete coming to terms with love, loss, and the starting realization that event at sixteen, no one's truly immortal."
- Barbara Caridad Ferrer, author of It's Not About the Accent, a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults

Did you know that one organ donor can save up to eight lives?  One eye and tissue donor can save or improve up to 50 lives?  It doesn't matter how old you are, what you do, or the color of your skin.  To find out more about giving the gift of life, see DonateLife.net or DonateLifeNY.org.
FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Swing Cafe • Picture Book with CD

Swing Cafe
by Carl Norac • illustrations by Rebecca Dautremer  • narration by Bebel Gilberto and David Francis
Available now  The Secret Mountain  • Ages 5 - 7
With classic recordings from the swing era by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and other jazz legends at its centerpieces, this storybook-music CD set combines music from 1930s jazz songs with a classic, heartwarming story.
Story: A little Brazilian cricket named Zaz dreams of singing in New York. After hopping a ride on a woman’s fruit hat that takes her from her homeland to Manhattan, she meets a savvy fly named Buster who brings her to the Swing Café on East 54th Street. Everyone there speaks a common language, called Swing, and Zaz is inspired to take to the stage, sing from the heart, and deliver the performance of a lifetime. Inspired by Broadway star Carmen Miranda, who was affectionately nicknamed in Brazil "La Pequena Notavel" (The Remarkable Little Girl).
Story behind the story: Instead of sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this storybook/CD, I give you, instead a narrated excerpt.  Give a listen.  It's worth it and will have you reaching for the book -- and looking up music from Ellington, The Mills Brothers, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen Miranda, Lionel Hampton and more.

★"Dautremer's visual imagination taps the subconscious brilliantly . . . Norac's writing is equally arresting....Intelligent, poetic, and provocative entertainment"  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The package is unusual and fresh."  —Kirkus Reviews

"Combining books and music has been a growing trend, with a number of notable new additions . . . Secret Mountain also is continuing its wonderfully innovative storybook-music CD series with two new titles. Swing Café (written by Carl Norac and illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer) follows the adventures of a cricket named Zaz to the soundtrack of vintage jazz tunes (Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, etc)."  —L. A. Parent

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...