Posts Tagged ‘MG novel’




Guest Post by MG author Kai Strand with a YA Twist by Me

Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey everyone, I have my friend Kai Strand writing a guest post today. I expect you guys to be on your best behavior while I’m off doing really fun stuff like cleaning and laundry. If I catch you acting up I’ll make you help just like I do with my kids LOL!

Kai is going to tell us a little bit about writing middle grade. Now I know that my blog mainly focuses on YA Lit, BUT I am a firm believer in the cross pollination of ideas and experiences. So, sit back and enjoy. Take it away, Kai…

The main character of my newly released book, SAVE THE LEMMINGS, is much like my host, Kimberly Sabatini. Happy, positive, uplifting and inspiring.


*Wait…I haven’t started cleaning yet. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t really going to clean. Maybe I was actually going to fart around on the internet. Sue me. If I’d been being domestic I would have missed this lovely compliment. Okay…I’m going…sorry Kai.*


8th grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her? Will she be able to SAVE THE LEMMINGS?


There are two rules in writing middle grade. 1.) Make sure the reader can relate. 2.) Exaggerate the heck out of everything. One common issue to a kid in middle school is feeling like they don’t fit in. Natalie Edwards is an incurable priss. She walks around spouting things like, “Be pleasant to your neighbor and they’ll water your garden when you’re out of town,” and “A task performed is most rewarding when it is in service to others.” Luckily for our main character, she doesn’t let the groans and eye rolls from her fellow 8th graders bother her. So even though Natalie should feel like an outcast, she has the security of her three close friends and the love of her parents to shelter her from the meanness of others.


However, when her Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, nothing can protect her from the meanness of the headline hungry media. Being accused of things like stealing her invention from aliens and coming up with the invention in a drug induced stupor, Natalie finally knows what it feels like to be picked on – even though she has been her whole life.


How she overcomes the media bullying and takes control of her life again will inspire readers who might be struggling under similar circumstances. Though hopefully nothing involving aliens!


You can read and excerpt and order your copy of Save the Lemmings here:



About the author:  Kai Strand writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is set in the same storytelling village as The Weaver. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.


Yes, I’m back? So now that you’ve had a mini lesson in MG I’m wondering what you think the biggest similarity between MG and YA is? What’s the difference? Are there any books out there that you think should be YA instead of MG or visa versa? What’s your favorite MG book? Does anyone write both? Any thing about MG that really makes you crazy? Come on…lets talk.

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Class of 2k12 in the Spotlight-CHAINED by Lynne Kelly

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Book Reviews, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, YA Books

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I wanted to write about something I was thankful for.  I just finished reading CHAINED by fellow Class of 2k12 member, Lynne Kelly, and I am overflowing with thankfulness.

First, because Lynne is such an active and supportive member of the Class of 2k12.  (Spoiler Alert-everyone in the Class of 2k12 is a bucket full of awesome-I am so lucky) But Lynne also brings a sense of humor to the group.  She has stopped more than one weeping debut author in their tracks, making them to laugh uncontrollably, causing an ill-timed beverage to shoot out of their nose.

Second, CHAINED is magnificent.  Absolutely amazing.

CHAINED (Available for Pre-order on Amazon)

The touching story of a boy and an elephant who have a friendship stronger than any lock, shackle, or chain.
Ten-year-old Hastin’s sister has fallen ill, and his family must borrow money to pay for her care in the hospital. To work off the debt, Hastin leaves his village in northern India to work in a faraway jungle as an elephant keeper. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and punished until she learns her tricks perfectly. With the help of Ne Min, a wise old man who seems to know all about elephants, Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can. Still he wonders–will they both survive long enough to escape?
“…a story that unwraps the heart and asks it to be brave, loyal, and above all, kind.”
~ Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Underneath and Keeper.
Coming May 8, 2012 from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Margaret Ferguson Books.

Kimberly Sabatini’s Review of CHAINED by Lynne Kelly

If you love Linda Sue Park, then you should grab CHAINED with both hands, as soon as it hits the shelves. First and foremost, I loved 10-year-old Hastin. As a mom, I can only hope to raise boys who embody all that this young man stands for. He is compassionate, never looses his ability to love and finds strength beyond his years when he needs it the most. I can’t wait to own a copy of CHAINED to share with my own boys.

Hastin isn’t the only character that moved me. This is a story of a beautiful friendship between a boy and an elephant. Nandita stole my heart with her playful, sensitive personality. This elephant and young boy have an amazing connection and their relationship will have a lasting impact on me. It doesn’t matter if Kelly is writing about about gentle giants, adults who have made mistakes, people left without choices or boys who rise to their own occasion, she has a talent for making the characters feel real and for making readers feel.

And just to warn you, after you read this book, you are going to want to go out and hug an elephant. Get in line.

Lynne Kelly was born in Galesburg, Illinois, grew up in Houston, lived in some much colder places, then found her way back to the Houston area, where she works as a sign language interpreter. For a few years she also taught special education, a good career for someone with excellent organizational and planning skills. Lacking those skills, she quit teaching in 2006 and thankfully has more time for writing. But it was during those teaching years that she worked with some great kids and became interested in writing, so that all worked out.

You can find out more about Lynne Kelly and CHAINED here…

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Class of 2k12 in the Spotlight-THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST by Sarvenaz Tash

Filed under: Apocalypsies, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, YA Books

I don’t know if I explained this last time I wrote about a 2k12 book, as each member of the Class of 2k12 gets an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of their book, we’ve been circulating the books throughout the twenty class members.  It’s called an ARC Tour and as long as the author wants us to, we make notes inside the book as were reading and after the book has made the rounds, it will go back to the author as a kind of souvenir of our time together.  *heart squish*  I’m so looking forward to letting these wonderful new friends read TOUCHING THE SURFACE.

I just finished my second ARC Tour book, THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST by Sarvenaz Tash.  This was also a middle grade novel and while very different than MAY B. by Caroline Starr Rose, it was just as wonderful.  Let me tell you a little bit about the book.  All the information I’m providing about Mapmaker and Sarvenaz, comes directly from her website.

Ages: 8-12
Grades: 3-7
Pages: 256 pp 
ISBN-13: 9780802723406
ISBN-10: 0802723403
Publisher: Bloomsbury/Walker
On sale: April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Price: $16.99

Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest.

Kimberly Sabatini’s Review of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST

I can’t wait to get my own copy of The Mapmaker and the Ghost. This is one that I’m dying to re-read with my boys. They’re going to love this story. Mapmaker has all the components of a great middle grade book, starting with the fact that it’s funny. The cool part, is that that the humor is written with multiple layers. It’s “gross” and slap-stick, to amuse the MG reader and equally as intelligent and quirky for the adult reading out loud. The characters and the plot are grounded in truth, making them believable and relatable, but the magical realism makes everything unique and very interesting. To top it all off, the reader gets to learn a little bit about maps and history along the way. I know the minute my kids finish reading this book, they’ll be out in the woods, having adventures and making maps of their own. I can’t ask for more than that.

First I’ll give you a crash course in how to pronounce Sarvenaz’s name.  This way you can rock her world when you catch her at a book signing.

– My name is pronounced Sar (like the first part of Sara) – ve (rhymes with meh) – naz (rhymes with ‘cuz).

Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where all the streets are laid out in a delightfully simple grid system. THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Sarvenaz Tash and THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST here…

The Class of 2k12

The Apocalypsies

Sarvenaz Tash’s Web Site





The Mapmaker and the Ghost is now available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble and Amazon

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