Giving Books & Talking Books

This year I tried something new for Halloween. Well, technically these somethings were old to me, but new to everyone who took them home: TRICK OR TREAT BOOKS!

I’m a huge candy fan, so yes, there was still candy to go with the books, but as I handed the candy out, I told the kids that if they saw a book they liked, they could take it!

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Some of my favorite reactions:

  • The 3yo Supergirl who promptly handed her candy basket to her dad, sat on my front steps, and started reading Elmo’s Christmas.
  • The girl with cat whiskers who squealed when she grabbed The Seventh Wish.
  • The boy who slyly nabbed a book with a bunny on the cover and stuffed it into his bucket after his friends left.
  • The teens who didn’t take books, but surprised me by telling me what they were reading: Rick Riordan, Harry Potter, and The Color Purple, among others.

On the subject of talking books, Counting Thyme is on a podcast! The Power of Story is a great new book podcast by Caitlin Lore. Be sure to check out all of her episodes!

What to Read Next?

Over the summer I had a conversation with some of my favorite educators on Twitter about contemporary middle grade stories that pair well with Counting Thyme. I’m a huge fan of many of the books they suggested, so I’m sharing them here today. If you or your students loved THYME, your next favorite read could be one of these great books!

Rules by Cynthia Lord

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The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

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Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper

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So B It by Sarah Weeks

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

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The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop

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The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

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A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

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The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

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Thanks to my wonderful Twitter peeps for helping me put this list together (shout-out to the #bookjourney crew)! I love read-alikes, which give us such a great opportunity to make connections across characters and stories. Feel free to share your faves and recommendations in the comments below. And if you’ve read THYME, don’t miss the reader participation campaign that launched this week!

Read on!

:)

Mel

Goodbye, Summer

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This summer offered up a surprise for me. I experienced the joy of seeing Counting Thyme on summer reading lists around the country–something I hadn’t really anticipated in the way that all authors fail to anticipate their books’ lives beyond the manuscript phase. It’s been a truly incredible thing, and I was fortunate to write about the experience on The Booklist Reader, which you can read here.

Thyme in the Wild!

Wow! The last couple of months have been a doozy. I’m not sure what I expected to happen after Counting Thyme left the nest, but I think this is one of those situations that you can’t really be prepared for no matter what you do in advance.

There are moments in life that stand out in that regard: living on your own for the first time (you mean I have to FEED myself???), getting your first pet (you mean other people go OUT after work???), and having your first child (still trying to figure out that parenting bit!!!).

The publication of a book shares the same free-falling, exhilarating and also frightening feeling of these other milestones in life, but with one key difference:

READERS.

Yes, people coo over your dog/cat/baby photos (as required), but there’s something unique about putting a story into the world, I think because you get to share it part and parcel with other people. The story becomes an experience for readers, and in that way it belongs to them. When we read stories, we discover each other. We find common ground. And hopefully, we grow, so that we can figure out some of this other stuff going on in our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch by email, snail mail, social media and in real life. I’m astounded by the wonderful images and notes you’ve shared with me, so today I’m sharing them, with my deepest thanks. :)

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Launch Week is a Wrap!

Wow, y’all! This past week (or two) has been an amazing experience. After meeting so many enthusiastic young readers and hearing from so many incredible educators, I am filled with a great love for the bookish people of the world. I had so many incredible first time experiences, from attending the LA Times Festival of Books to author visits with over 400 students, and I learned so much.

I learned that book festivals are AMAZING events full of passionate readers!

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I learned that Rebecca Stead and Leila Howland are both WONDERFUL humans.

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I learned that everything is better with friends and family (and wine)!

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I learned that cakes can look like books and taste AMAZING, too!

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I learned that there are Good Cookies everywhere!

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I learned that students are the most wonderful audience you will ever have.

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I learned that I can answer book questions ALL DAY.

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I learned that my local bookstore really IS the best place in the world.

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I learned that launch parties are as much of a whirlwind as a wedding reception.

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I learned that books come in cookie form, too!

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I learned that I *can* sign names without miss-spelling them, even while people talk!DSC_1985DSC_1931And even though this first stretch of parties and book events is over, I’ve learned that the journey for Counting Thyme is just beginning. I love all of the pictures, letters, and messages I’m receiving. Keep them coming! Soon, I’ll share an opportunity for young readers to celebrate the theme from Counting Thyme of valuing what every individual brings to the world.

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Thank you ALL for taking this ride with me! I can’t wait to see where we go next.

The Book Trailer is Live!

Yay! I’m so excited that the book trailer for Counting Thyme is live! Please visit Mr. Schu’s wonderful blog for the big reveal and enjoy!!!

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A picture from the set.

Momcology Reads Counting Thyme!

One of the most amazing parts of this author journey is connection. This week, I’ve been lucky to connect with fabulous students across the country via Skype for Word Read Aloud Day 2016, and I am also honored to share an early preview of Counting Thyme with Momcology! Momcology is a nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting parents for pediatric cancer caregiver support and information sharing. What a wonderful thing, made possible by the amazing folks at Penguin. My heart is full.2504_963962976990121_109992501854707369_n

Love is a New Book!

I’m thrilled to share that I’m participating in Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers Giveaway! If you’re not familiar with it, in short Lynda is awesome and has taken the lead on a massive book giveaway to show our appreciation to teachers and librarians and the essential work they do with young readers. Make sure you pop over to Lynda’s blog for your chance to win an INCREDIBLE list of signed middle grade books–including so many of my favorite authors!

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Thyme Makes the List!

nerdy_10list3I still can’t believe this happened! I’m such a fan of the Nerdy Book Club. It means so much to me to see Thyme’s story shared with their readers. YAY!

Focus on the Good Stuff in 2016!

I’m a worrier. If there is anything happening, I have imagined at least a dozen potential negative outcomes for that situation. It’s a curse and a blessing–after all, my overactive imagination is what inspires my stories and enriches my life, but the worries can take over at times.

The main character in my debut, Thyme, is also a worrier. She worries about her brother, and his painful cancer treatments that brought their family to NYC. She worries that their creepy neighbor in their new apartment building has it out for them. She worries that her best friend back home will forget her forever. But Thyme also takes action to feel better, namely by saving time in a jar–time earned for doing chores–time that might be able to solve all of her problems, if she can save enough.

For 2016, I’m taking inspiration from Thyme and starting my own jar. I’m not earning time, but rather acknowledging it. I’m starting an achievement jar, a place to capture all of those little moments of joy in 2016. When the worries set in, I’ll revisit those moments paper by paper and remind myself of what is possible. I’m including the doodle I wrote on the front of the jar below in both black and white and color, in case you’d like to print one out to make your own jar. :)

Here’s to staying focused on the good stuff in 2016!

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