BOOK RECOMMENDATION: SUPERFAIL

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I’m officially in love with this book!

SUPERFAIL:

Laser vision isn’t so hot when you’re cross-eyed, and supersonic flight’s a real downer when motion sickness keeps you grounded.

Twelve-year-old Marshall Preston is a Defective–a person with superhuman abilities that are restricted by some very human setbacks. While other kids are recruited to superhero teams, Marshall’s stuck in seventh grade with a kid who can run at super speed but can’t turn a corner, another with a radioactive peanut allergy that turns him into a swollen Hulk, and a telepath who reads everyone’s thoughts out loud.

Defectives like Marshall aren’t exactly superhero material, but when he uncovers a plot to destroy one of the greatest superhero teams of all time, Marshall and his less-than-super friends set out to prove that just because you’re defective doesn’t mean you can’t save the day.
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Illustrated by a Disney animator, SUPERFAIL has such great visual appeal. It’ll immediately suck in any comic book reader. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of one of my favorite spreads (love his Vans):

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Also, I love the fact that SUPERFAIL isn’t purely a graphic novel; rather than relying only on conversation bubbles, the book includes paragraphs of text, making it perfect for the reader you’d like to edge closer to non-illustrated books:

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This pic’s a little dark, because I might still read under the covers. 😉

And it comes with an uplifting, feel-good story to boot! Highly recommended for those looking for gift books for young readers. Grab your own copy of SUPERFAIL.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: THE GREAT CAT NAP

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Humor and intrigue aside, A.M. Bostwick’s penchant for literary description is spectacular.

My favorite passage opens chapter one:

“Outside the double pane window, leaves grew crispy and dry in the cold autumn wind. Their pigment was fading, transforming to crimson, copper, and gold. The wind shook the leaves loose and they fell below the barren branches. It was a beautiful way to die.”

What a tale! What a detective! What a cat! (Yes, cat. I’m a total sucker for animal narrators.)

Grab a copy of Bostwick’s THE GREAT CAT NAP.

NEW RELEASE: NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID

I am a lifelong music nut. SERIOUS nut. Most of the time, I think I’d rather have music than food.

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In fact, this picture offers a bit of proof—that’s me, in about 1992, with a member of Tesla (who’s in the midst of signing his autograph). Because in addition to seeing as many concerts as I possibly could, I also used to do my fair share of autograph hunting—anything to get just a little bit closer to my favorite musicians. As many of you already know, I even taught piano and guitar lessons as I was drafting my earliest manuscripts—and my students actually inspired me to write for younger readers.

As an old literature major, I’m also a poetry nut. I’ve hung out at as many poetry readings as I have concert doors—but for some reason, it never crossed my mind to get a shot taken with, say, Miller Williams (Clinton’s second inaugural poet) when I heard him read his work.

My latest release, a picture book for more advanced readers entitled NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID, combines my lifelong loves of music and poetry:

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ROCK STARS ARE COOL. SO IS POETRY.

Saturday night just isn’t Saturday night without Katy Did and The Antennas. At least, until a rotten review leaves Katy’s bandmates thinking maybe they could do better with another singer.

What’s a Katy Did to do when she’s been dumped for a Songbird?
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Featuring a main character who is both literally a katydid insect and the singer in her own band, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID offers a story of perseverance and finding beauty in unexpected places as well as a fun, attention-grabbing way to introduce young readers to formal poetry. The book itself is a villanelle, a type of poetry that features refrains that repeat throughout—much like the chorus in a rock song. Great for classroom use and for readers in the fourth to sixth grade. Sheets in the back of the book walk budding poets through writing their own first villanelle.

Why a villanelle?

It’s not as frequently studied as some other poetic forms, especially in the elementary levels. I find it’s a form not usually discussed much until high school, actually, when students read Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night,” arguably the most famous or most recognizable villanelle ever written.

Don’t worry—it’s not too sophisticated.

Kids in this age group (about 9-12) are straddling the line between childhood and slightly more grown-up interests. That’s why this book (which is, from front to back, a single villanelle) is also a picture book, featuring both photographic and illustrative elements—and a katydid lead singer with bright red hair, no less!

The Importance of Poetry

I was so delighted to see Tracy K. Smith (our current poet laureate) on CBS This Morning, discussing the accessibility of poetry. I also believe that poetry is what our youngest readers naturally gravitate toward. And yet, somewhere along the way, readers become intimidated by it. It’s my hope that NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID helps to continue to make formal poetry both accessible and fun for your young readers.

Snag a Copy

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback. For those who incorporate the book into their own classroom or library activities, I can always be reached at hollyschindlerbooks@gmail.com for Skype visits.

Sneak Peek:

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FORTHCOMING: NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID

katycover4As a lifelong music nut, this forthcoming book has truly been a passion project. NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is actually a “rock poem.” Not unlike the verse novels that have swelled in popularity over the past few years, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID employs poetry rather than prose, telling a story of preservation and recognizing beauty in somewhat unexpected places using the form of the villanelle—a type of formal poetry.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is perfect for classroom use. The message is uplifting, the music theme attention-grabbing. (The book is also populated by an anthropomorphic rock band. At the 4th-6th grade level, I find kids are really straddling the line between not quite wanting to let go of their youthful interests—cartoons, comics, etc.—even as they’re adding a few older interests, like music, into the mix.) NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID also introduces young readers to a type of formal poetry not frequently addressed in elementary classrooms. The end of the book provides example worksheets for students to craft their own villanelle.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID will be releasing soon—be sure to sign up for my picture book and / or MG newsletters to get the official date. (I’ll be making the announcement through both, as this book is both short and illustrated.)

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WHEN YOU SEE YOUR BOOK ON TV

Or, at least, Youtube…

I think all writers have been there: you’ve got this fantastic idea for a novel, when suddenly, you glance up from your laptop in time to watch a trailer from a movie that’s describing your current WIP to a T. Or, you take a break from your project to hit the library, only to pull an already-published work from the shelf that tackles the same subject you were hoping to explore (proving, perhaps, there are no original ideas).

I recently saw one of my own ideas on TV…only this time, it was a little different…

My MG ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE features, in part, a made-up sport: Sockball. It’s a bit of a twist on dodgeball, and the most important rule indicates that no one’s allowed to wear shoes of any kind. Alexander, the MC, is in charge of getting his school’s team together. Prevent them from falling, as they always seem to, into an unorganized heap on the gym floor. (Try as they might, they just can’t seem to figure out how to stay upright in their socks!)

Enter Lexie Vaught, a local basketball player who lost her shoe during a game last month. The clip of what happened post-shoe went viral, as even the clip below says, for it’s “bloopery” qualities, but I could hardly believe it…What I’d envisioned when my fictional team played a fictional sport was actually happening in real-life!

Maybe that’s stranger than fiction…