Friday, October 30, 2015

Breaking News!!!

My debut novel, Desperate Straits received a lovely write-up at Story Circle Book Reviews. 

The novel was also featured today by Wayne Turmel in an article titled Janet Squires and the Old West (Arizona Edition).

Arizona Territory 1887 -- 

An immigrant Irish girl and a veteran lawman battle for their lives when they stand between one man's obsession and the Lost Adams gold.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jama's Alphabet Soup.

For Poetry Friday: "Farmer's dog goes to the forest: rhymes for two voices" by David L. Harrison with illustrations by Arden Johnson-Petrov.

Harrison creates an entertaining and educational experience for young readers as the dog explores the forest and converses with a collection woodland creatures and plants. The short simple verses follow a question and answer format which makes them suitable read-aloud experiences for paired readers. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Poem Farm.

For Poetry Friday: "Brothers & sisters: family poems" by Eloise Greenfield with illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Greenfield celebrates family connections in the form of siblings in this collection of 25 poems about brothers and sisters that reaches across generations to include "Grandma And Her Sisters" and Grandpa and Great-Uncle Paul. The verses vary in style from tight rhymes to free verse. Individual works clearly express  emotions such as love, anger, frustration, jealousy,  admiration, and respect with a sense of balance and an emphasis on the positive.

One of my favorites is --


We used to have fun, but now we don't.

He used to like me, but now he won't

say three words in a whole long day.

Moody. Mom says, "It's okay.

He'll grow right past it in a little while."

When I'm a teen, I'll bet that I'll

still love to talk and play and smile

and laugh as much as I always did.

But what do I know? I'm just a kid.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writers Wednesday

Join me as I serve as today's host for the Freedom's Price Blog Tour with author Michaela MacColl

Thanks for having me here at All About Books. My newest book, Freedom’s Price (Calkins Creek 2015) is coming out this month and I’m so happy to have a chance to talk about it! 

Freedom’s Price is about Dred Scott’s children.  The Dred Scott Decision of 1857 is something that sounds familiar to most of us from American History – even if we can’t quite place the reference. In the decades before the Civil War one of the burning issues of the day was if slavery would extend to the Western territories as the country expanded. The Missouri Compromise tried to settle the question by saying that north of Missouri slavery was prohibited but to the south slavery was permitted.  Of course this compromise didn’t really solve the problem. What would happen if a slave owner took a slave into the northern territories? This is exactly what happened to Dred Scott, a slave whose owner took him to Illinois and Wisconsin. There he married another slave, Harriet, and then they moved with Dred’s owner to St. Louis, Mo.  Dred and Harriet had two daughters who were legally the owner’s property and could be taken from them at any time.  The Scotts sued for their freedom.  The case took 10 years and ended up at the Supreme Court. In a shameful decision, the Court ruled that Dred and Harriet, as persons of African ancestry, could never be citizens and therefore had no rights at all. Needless to say, this inflamed Northern abolitionists and set the country on the path to war.
            The Dred Scott Decision was so important – but what people forget is that there were human beings involved.  Dred and Harriet were like any parents who wanted to protect their kids. It was dangerous to sue their owners and in fact they had to live in a jail for many years. Harriet and Eliza did laundry by the shore of the Mississippi to earn their keep. Although the Scotts were illiterate, they sent their oldest daughter Eliza – even though it was illegal to teach black children.  She went to school on a ship anchored in the middle of the Mississippi River (which was federal territory). I was fascinated with the idea that Eliza would be told that she was free, but she lived in a prison. She could read but had to hide her knowledge.  Her patron was a slave owner but also extraordinarily kind.  And when cholera and a massive fire strike St. Louis, Eliza has to choose between freedom for herself or continued captivity with her family.


 Freedom’s Price was a challenge to write because the Scotts left no written record behind. They couldn’t write!  Eliza survives her childhood but never records her experiences. We have one picture of Eliza but it’s when she’s an adult. It’s from the single interview that we have with the Scott family. After they were freed they started a laundry business in St. Louis.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Writing the World for Kids.

For Poetry Friday: "I Didn't Do It" by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Katy Schneider.

Puppies rule in MacLachlan's collection of fourteen free-verse poems that share a puppy state of mind. A poem titled Rules begins: "No lick! / No bite! / No jump. / No bark. / No fun".  Verses touch on an assortment of puppy-related topics: names, playing in the rain, capturing wriggling critters to present to owners, and that puppy favorite - sleep... I'm tired. / Being born / is / very / hard / work.

My favorite..."What Did I Do??". I'll let you explore the book and discover the answer.

Illustrator Schneider's assortment of puppies are captured in a variety of entertaining poses.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by My Juicy Little Universe.

For Poetry Friday: "Hallowilloween: nefarious silliness" -- written and illustrated by Calef Brown.

Now that October has arrived, Halloween-themed books are a major request from young readers. I thought I'd get a head start with this entertaining collection.  Brown is clearly enjoying the opportunity to play with sound in these fanciful nonsense verses inspired by the season's spooky holiday.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer