Where did April go?

Eeep! It’s been weeks since I posted. What happened?

Well, for one, I finished the first draft of my first-ever novel for middle grade readers. *happy dance* The process was overwhelming, amazing, scary and a true test of commitment for me. It still needs a lot of work, but I can finally say, “I wrote a novel, even if it’s a crappy one!”.

There were birthdays — Ellie turned 7 and Joanna turned 6, on the same day — and there was spring break and there were other moments of not-so-happiness that sucked the inspiration out of me. So April, the cruelest month, was a roller coaster for me — an apt metaphor, because, frankly, roller coasters scare the crap out of me and I avoid them at all costs.

I’ve also been blogging over at Be Sure To Test, a great new site for diabetics and their loved ones.

So, that was April. Today there’s a gusty, post-storm wind stirring up the newly budded trees, right outside, and things are growing.

And, yes, this blog will be one of them. I promise.

Two terrific books reviewed by M & C

Mitzi and Cooper recently read two books by Donna Gephart. Donna is a wonderful writer — her books are filled with humor and heart, and the characters she creates leave lasting impressions long after you’ve reached The End.

Some time ago, I reviewed How to Survive Middle School on this blog, and today I offer Cooper’s opinion:


You should read this book because…..

  1. You’ll know how to avoid swirlies
  2. You’ll learn that being famous doesn’t fix everything
  3. Hammy ROCKS!
  4. It’s beyond funny — it’s hilarious!
  5. You can’t survive middle school without friends
  6. It’s awesome!
(1/2 Tommy Murphy might beat you up if you don’t)
Here is the synopsis from the back of the book:
Eleven-year-old David Greenberg dreams of becoming a TV superstar like his idol, Jon Stewart. But in real life, David is just another kid terrified of starting his first year at Harman Middle School. With a wacky sense of humor and hilarious Top 6½ Lists, David spends his free time making TalkTime videos, which he posts on YouTube.

But when David and his best friend have a fight, David is lucky enough to make a pretty cool new friend, Sophie—who just (gulp) happens to be a girl. Sophie thinks David’s videos are hilarious, and she starts sending out the links to everyone she knows. Sophie’s friends tell their friends, and before David knows it, thousands of people are viewing his videos—including some of the last people he would have expected.
And now for Mitzi’s review!

I read OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN, a novel written by Donna Gephardt.

This book is about a girl named Olivia Bean who loves trivia, and her dream is to be on the kids’ week Jeopardy! show. Here is the synopsis from the back of the book:

Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.
One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her?

My favorite character is Olivia Bean, because she is funny, and also nice and smart. My favorite part was when Olivia’s mom’s boyfriend did something really special for her, but I won’t tell what it is because it basically took 20 chapters, aka, the whole book. But it was really nice. I’d recommend this book to people who like fiction and Jeopardy!. You should read this book because it’s really funny, and super awesome!

— Mitzi

Laura Manivong’s blog post on banned books — MUST READ!!

In my last post, I mentioned the idea that books can be used as springboards for discussions with our kids.   Well, one author did just that — with her own book, and her own child.  Laura Manivong’s debut novel, ESCAPING THE TIGER, is based in part on her husband’s childhood escape from Communist Laos and his time in a refugee camp.   The harsh realities of life in the camp are woven eloquently throughout this story that kids everywhere should read.  Themes of censorship are a huge part of this story.  In a recent post on the blog Page Turners, Laura discusses a teachable moment with her 8-year-old daughter, who, when her mother told her that the book was a little mature for her, snuck a copy and read it anyway.   You MUST read this incredible post by this amazing mom and talented author!

I’ve been meaning to do another post on book recommendations which actually was going to include Laura’s book.  Still planning to do so, but in the meantime, check it out!  Not so incidentally, this book has a real place in middle school curricula — take a look at her teacher resources too, and pass them on to your local middle school!