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If you regularly find yourself lamenting kids’ devotion to electronic devices, texting and their inscrutable, abbreviated secret language, you’ll probably find this story heartening.

And so it begins

LitKid turned 13 recently and was having three friends over for a slumber party. Since this was a big birthday, and she was on board with having a smaller party (I lost my mind and allowed a past slumber party to swell to 11 girls a few years back), I thought it would be nice to get her friends a party favor that was nice/lasting (ie, not made of  plastic or sugar).

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I asked her what ideas she had, and she couldn’t think of anything right away. We were up against the clock, so I told her I had had an idea on the way to work -– how about giving her a friends a book she had enjoyed? I tossed out Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me as a first suggestion.

(I admit to bias on this one. It is one of my favorite books from recent years, based on its merits – it won the Newbery – and on the fact that I am a child of the 70s, so I felt right at home.)

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Cool mom or hopelessly bookish mom? 

My girl obviously loves to read, but I was fully prepared for her to tell me that a 13th birthday party favor needed to be something cool or trendy – or that not all of her friends would be into getting a book.

But to my surprise and delight (after all, 13-year-olds don’t tend to think 49-year-olds’ ideas are cool), her immediate, enthusiastic response was that this was a “perfect idea!” and When You Reach Me was a perfect book to give her friends.

Quail Ridge Books, our favorite store,  had three copies (which gave the idea a “meant to be” feel, as girls 4 and 5 had had to cancel at the last minute) and gift-wrapped them for us, as always.

Suspense

The night of the party, I was very curious (and yes, a little nervous) to see how the girls would react to their bookish gifts.

Again, the tween/teen reaction was heart-warming.

All three girls were genuinely thrilled – not an overstatement, I promise – when they opened their gifts … even the one who had already read When You Reach Me. 

“It was my little sister’s book from the library,” she said, “so I love having my own copy: I’m going to read it again … and hide it from my sister.”

Just another bit of unscientific evidence that print is not dead, and it’s always cool to be a reader, even at 13.

~AKid@Heart

 

 

This weekend, the Literary Festival came to me at the Hunt Library at NCSU.10150555_10202785590973871_549481845_n

There were so many cool activities and authors, and the library itself was a spectacle to look at.

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 There are also tons of really cool authors doing readings there such as John Claude Bemis, R.L. Stine, and Kelly Starlings-Lyon.

There are also cool workshops, like a comic-making workshop, and a book-making workshop.

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There were so many fun activities for kids of all ages, like making your own comic, or recreating a scene from your favorite book with Legos (I did Divergent!), and 1606956_10202785587493784_1897744004_n
finding out how literacy fits in with Math.

One of the coolest things I saw on the first day was the StoryUp! Aerialist group, who recreated some of our favorite fables and stories using aerial silks. Paperhand Puppet Intervention was there, too.

 

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There are so many fun things to do at the Literary Festival for everyone in your family. Sadly I didn’t get to do all of things mentioned above because I was out of town part of Saturday, but those were some of the things they offered.

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Move over DC (National Book Festival) — you’ve got competition! (and goooooo Wolfpack!)

Bonus: Our friends from our favorite bookstore, Quail Ridge Books & Music were there with a pop-up bookstore!

Oh, look at the time– I gotta get over to NC State for today’s activities!  ~LitKid

 

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Postscript from AKid@Heart: Who doesn’t love  building with Legos? While LitKid made her cool Divergent scene, I decided to try to create a setting from my kids’ novel manuscript … the rooftop of the main characters’ city apartment building, complete with Tiki shelter (and gliders below), a garden and night-time lights. (Kids have no idea how basic Legos used to be!)

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 12.32.21 AMWacko Academy: Book 1

by Faith Wilkins ~ Arundel Press 

We’re proud to be part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and I loved being picked to review this book!

Wacko Academy tells the first installment of the adventures of Lilly Mason and Dustin Wackerson.

Dustin mysteriously shows up at Lily’s middle school in the beginning of her 8th grade year, instantly becoming a girl magnet with his good looks and sense of humor. They become really close to each other and go to the school’s harvest dance, which quickly turns from dance to disaster. It turns out that Dustin really came to her school to recruit her to his dad’s extremely fancy, high-tech boarding school.

Once Lily gets settled in, it starts to seem better, she and Dustin repair their friendship and he becomes her personal trainer. She advances quickly and is sent of to the school’s on-campus boot camp, where she meets True & Cattie, the two friends she will make there.

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Afterwards they make the disturbing discovery. A mysterious tall building. Dustin says he has seen unconscious kids wheeled in there before, often never to return. If they do return, they usually have some sort of injury or just can’t remember what happened.

When they relay the story, everybody is purely horrified and definitely on board with their plan to get those kids out of harm’s way. To do this, they will need some fancy technology and a cover.

You will have to read the book to find out all of the juicy details!

I liked this book because of the adventure and excitement was always there at every turn of the page and never failed to leave me in suspense. The plot is beautifully put into place. The personality of each character brings wit and humor to the book.

The pump of adrenaline is apparent page by page, and the writing could not be more humorous, adventurous, and overall really good quality. I liked the conflict the best because it added the most suspense and excitement. If I ever wrote a book, I’d want it to have an air of suspense, excitement, and adventure like this book.

Faith Wilkins (who is only 16 years old!)

Faith Wilkins, who is only 16 years old!
(photo ~ Arundel Press)

People like Faith make a big impact by encouraging more kids to share their ideas with the world; Faith is a role model to other kids who think they shouldn’t share their ideas with the world. This wonderful piece of literature gives those people hope. You should always share what you believe in, like your manuscripts, or short stories, or poems. You can be like the wonderful Faith Wilkins and make your impact.

  ~LitKid (12-year-old co-blogger at Lost in a Book)

Read more about Faith.

Read more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Dear author/illustrator friends of “Lost in a Book”~

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In 2012, one of LitKid’s fellow book-loving friends was rushed to the hospital with a scary medical emergency (seizures and more, following a bite from a mosquito carrying an encephalitis virus at summer camp).

We reached out via the blog and Twitter, asking authors/illustrators we’ve connected with if they would be willing to send “ReaderGirl” messages of encouragement. We got amazing response, and on her third day in the hospital, we were able to take a stack of good wishes to ReaderGirl (who is back to perfect health today).

On this eve of Christmas Eve, we’re asking you for a similar favor. A student at LitKid’s wonderful former elementary school was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia last year. Now a first-grader, she just got a tremendous holiday gift of bone marrow from a faraway donor, and the transplant took place a couple of weeks ago.

(We use pen names here on the blog, so from here on out in our story, we’ll call her “SuperGirl,” in honor of her superhero-level bravery.)

While this bone marrow was a wonderful gift, it means that SuperGirl is spending the holidays (and weeks after) at Duke Children’s Hospital — and of course, that is a BUMMER.

So if you have a minute to send a little holiday cheer and a lot of encouragement to SuperGirl, we would be very grateful.

It doesn’t have to be long or fancy; getting good wishes from a real, live children’s book writer-illustrator-creative-person-extraordinaire would be pretty amazing, no matter what form it takes.

(We’ve heard through the grapevine that SuperGirl was requesting art from her friends to make her room cheerful, and we bet your greetings would be a nice addition to her gallery.)

For purposes of full disclosure, we are acquaintances of this brave girl and her family, tied by a once-shared elementary school as well as mutual friends locally and one state away. SuperGirl’s story also hits home for us because LitKid spent a scary week in the hospital when she was just a year and a half old, with many scary terms flying around, including aplastic anemia and leukemia; in the end, LitKid’s diagnosis was far less serious than those early guesses and  much more manageable.

So while we are not close friends of SuperGirl and her family, we greatly admire their courage, especially that of her sister, a third-grader at LitKid’s elementary school. Siblings have to be incredibly brave and patient (feel free to send a note for SuperGirl’s sister, too; I think SuperSister is a fitting pen name for her!).

Maybe you could do something as simple as scrawling a short,
colorful message (or doodle?) in magic marker, then snapping a smartphone photo of it and emailing it to our Lost in a Book email address? Typing a quick note in an email is great, too; whatever works for you.

Our email address is 2girlslostinabook@gmail.com. (And if you would like to use SuperGirl’s real first name — or her sister’s — in your note to personalize it, just email us, and we’d be happy to share that with you privately.)

If you know of other writer/illustrator friends who might be willing to send a message, please feel free to send them this post.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and gift of time!

~AKid@Heart

LitKid and I love reading the holiday picture books we’ve collected every bit as much now as we did when she was a little thing; taking them out of their off-season spot high in her closet is one of the first things we do to kick off the holidays.

We try to read one every night, and tonight she picked this one:

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All of the books in the “If You…” series are fun; we love the holiday twist of this one, not to mention the movie theme, as watching schmaltzy movies is also one of our holiday traditions.

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(Until we opened the book tonight, I had forgotten that Laura Numeroff signed the book back when LitKid was just 4 years old.)

Here is a favorite spread from the book (complete with kitten photobomb) … Happy holiday reading!

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~AKid@Heart

This summer, we had to say goodbye to our beautiful, funny 16-year-old calico, who came to be called simply ‘Miss Kitty’ over the years (she started out as Audie, short for Audubon, due to her love of birdwatching).

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Last night, we welcomed new felines into the family: Harry and Hermione, who have been putting on a show ever since — including, much to our amusement, showing a fascination with not one, but TWO brooms.

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I’m remembering excellent words that I’m rarely sparked to think about: madcap, mayhem, scamper, hijinks, frenetic … much chasing, scrambling, tumbling, racing, pouncing and rolling going on around these parts, along with the occasional mewing, squeaking and kitten-growling. (Add to that the squealing of the very excited LitKid, and it’s been a rollicking first night and day.)

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Hermione stayed close as LitKid did her homework last night, which made her very happy. I closed out my night reading a book by booklight as usual, but this time with Harry curled up as close to me as possible, resting his head on my book.

When it was time to turn a page, I had to tuck each one under his cheek.

I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

~ AKid@Heart

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[this note was typed by Hermione; she clearly needs a little more practice before posting her first review]

Some of the Literary HIGHLIGHTS!

Veronica Roth, DivergentIMG_1738

Veronica Roth was a very interesting lady to listen to and was very friendly. She seemed confident and accomplished in her trade. Veronica talked about Allegiant (without giving anything away), so I’m really excited about the release. Her autograph lines were triple that of many other authors, and people were practically sitting on top of each other under a tent in the pouring rain to see her. She even had security guards!

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KATHERINE APPLEGATE. THE ONE AND ONLY IVANphoto-3

The One and Only Ivan is a really cool, and true, story about a gorilla, which snagged the Newbery Award this year. Ivan’s not just any gorilla –he expresses his need for freedom and a home at the zoo through art. It was really cool to meet Katherine Applegate in person, because I had the privilege of doing a Skype interview with her when I was a Scholastic Kid Reporter.

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Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Skyphoto-2

I finally had the privilege of meeting Ms. Larson, who was one of the first authors to patronize our blog. She has a new book out – interesting historical fiction – and I can’t wait to read Hattie Big Sky, which I hope to get a copy of ASAP, though The Friendship Doll will forever have a place in my heart. It was one of the first ARCs (Advance Reader’s Copy) I ever got in my book reviewing career, and my review of The Friendship Doll was one of my very first. My mom and I were so honored to meet her and couldn’t believe she knew exactly what we were talking about when we told her we were from the Lost in a Book blog. Thanks for following our blog, Ms. Larson!

 
I’ll write more about our trip soon (if I ever get free time from all my homework!).  You should go to the Festival and see for yourself  next year!
~LitKid
 

Hello Bloggers and Blog Readers of the universe….

I am heading out – well, after getting coffee for my mom first – to the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC, to check it out and meet all of this amazing talent!

Yesterday I got to see all the tents being set up, and it looked really cool.photo-2

Today I hope to meet and score autographs from the lovely Misses Roth, Applegate, and Naylor. I can’t believe I’m actually here!

National Book Festival, here we come!

~LitKid

PS: here’s more info on the festival on the Library of Congress website.

My co-blogger is enjoying her stint as a Scholastic Kids’ Press reporter this year. She was excited when her editor gave her the go-ahead when she “pitched” the idea of interviewing this year’s Newbery Award winner, Katherine Applegate, who was honored for her novel The One and Only Ivan.

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Through the wonders of technology, LitKid was able to interview the author at her home on the West Coast from our home on the East Coast on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (At one point, a certain canine friend of Ms. Applegate’s joined the interview, too – sorry, but that cameo didn’t make the final edit!)

We hope you’ll enjoy the interview; Ms. Applegate is the perfect person for a young reporter to do her inaugural “on-camera” interview with – she is kind, warm and funny.

You can take a look at the story and listen to the interview on the Scholastic Kids Press Corps website.

~AKid@Heart

photo-2We thought it might be nice to give our kind followers a look at what’s currently filling LitKid’s two, tall, skinny “library” bookshelves.

More books are scattered across our house, but these photos give you a good sampling of the books she’s read over the years or will be reading in years to come – a mix of picture books, fiction and nonfiction … new and classic.

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(Guess who read the Harry Potter series first and then donated the books to LitKid’s library??)

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Up top: Many picture books, including some vintage ones that once belonged to AKid@Heart, including The Hat
Bottom: LitKid had a chance to interview Pamela and Jon Voelkel, authors of the Jaguar Stones books, which include Middle World … She even got to read an advance copy of River of No Return.

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LitKid reviewed the acclaimed book Wonder in 2012 and read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech in her 5th grade book club along with her reading partner – her 83-year-old Grandma!

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More picture books and some of LitKid’s favorite contemporary reads

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Can you pick out the books that are bordering on being ANTIQUES??

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Many great contemporary reads, plus some classics (Charlotte’s Web)

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