Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Journey Beyond the Burrow

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Journey Beyond the Burrow (Harper, 2021) by Rina Heisel is a fun adventure story and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Tobin (a mouse) knows the rules by heart, but he must break rule #8 “Never purse a predator. Never.” when his baby brother is stolen by a huge arachnid. Tobin, his sister Talia, and best friend Wiley meet all kinds of creatures on their journey, plus Tobin ends up breaking other rules so that everyone survives.

I love the weather scout procedures, the sensory details from the mouse viewpoint, and the Official Rules of Rodentia. #13: “Heed the whispered warnings of weather; ignoring it’s clues will spell your doom.”

Learn about the author here and more about her debut novel here.

The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’
Helen Simpson

The nearest I have

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Two Books – Same Theme

As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.

Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)

The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)

Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.

Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!

The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa here.

Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, Writing Life

Comparison, the Enemy of Creation?

Comparison can be great when looking to purchase a product, but how does it affect the creative life?

“Comparison can kill your spirit. The success of others does not equal your failure. When you’re making art that makes you happy, only you can declare your success or failure.” It’s the conclusion Michael Terracciano, an independent comic creator, has reached, and oh, do I love that middle sentence.

Why is it so easy to compare? I wish I knew. We do it all the time in so many areas of our life—especially those where we’re unhappy or not completely satisfied.

But how does comparison help us? There’s always someone “better” or “worse,” so we may feel either depressed or good about ourselves. Neither position changes our work or our worth. Wait. Depression can change our work because we might give up.  Christy O’Shoney said, “Comparison is a terrible measuring stick.”

Fanny Flagg said, “Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” Or the progress you’ve made, I’d like to add.

Comparison of our previous work with our current work may be encouraging. I know I’ve looked back at older writing and thought, wow, I’ve learned a lot since then. Or, that needs editing, when before I thought it was “perfect.” As long as we don’t harp on “failures” of our past, but use them as touchstones to see how we are progressing, self-comparison can be helpful. David Schlosser agreed, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”

William Blake said, “I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.” Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” I see this so much in my writing life—the more I write, the more I want to write. And the more I compare, the less I want to write, so yes, I’d say comparison is the enemy of creation.

What do you think?