Years ago when our kids still loved to play Boggle with us (okay, make that eons ago), my husband tried to convince us that debag was a word. You know, he said, when you come home from the store, you debag the groceries.
I haven’t unpacked this blog, but I’ve been a blog delinquent for sure.
My new middle grade novel is due on my editor’s desk this week, that’s why. Today, I made it all the way to THE END (although one of my characters promptly insisted there is no such thing!) I’ll need three or four more days to re-read it, and work through a few more things before I take a deep breath, wish on a star, and hit SEND.
But for today, I’m breathing easy. To celebrate, I want to share a few of the books I’ve especially enjoyed lately.
Margi was a new author to me when I picked this up, but I am now a fan for life. “I’ve stolen the gold and hacked off the fingers and…swiped the wedding food. I’ve lied to my own little sister…” Astri is a wonderful character–brave, selfish, loving, willing to do anything (see the above) to save herself and her little sister. The writing is gorgeous, and Margi manages the trick of imparting history without us even knowing. I am recommending this to anyone who asks and many who don’t.
I’m always a bit wary of novels in verse. I really need to feel there’s a reason for the form. Here is a book I can’t imagine being written any other way. It’s the story of a Guatemalan boy whose life is brutally changed the day soldiers arrive in his village. Escaping alone into the forest, Carlos bands with a group of guerillas. “Caminar” means “to walk”, and Carlos does, each step taking him further from being “solo un nino” (just a boy). Each poem perfectly reflects and enhances the actions and emotions it describes–slowing things down, making our hearts race, evoking the tender and the terrifying.
Oh wait–that’s me! Hanging with the smart, the sassy, the sweet-as-pink- cupcakes Jennifer Holm (she’s a lot like Babymouse, except without the whiskers). I got to introduce her as the keynote speaker at a Cuyahoga County Library event, and to compare notes (as we hung around the fridge) on how excruciating writing our last novels was. Jenny’s has definitely turned out to be worth her dark nights of the soul.
It’s on today’s NY Times bestseller list! I just finished it, and it’s a deceptively simple, mostly happy read that I can’t stop thinking about. One of the themes is the power of science, and how like all things powerful, it needs to be employed with care. Yet the final lines are a wonderful, witty tribute to human possibility and discovery. Her economy of style is something I plan to study…