Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Hippo at the End of the Hall

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Hippo at the End of the Hall (Candlewick Press, 2017) by Helen Cooper was a fun read full of magic. There’s often a different flavor in books written in the UK–and I’m not sure what it is exactly–but this one has it. Maybe it’s just the use of words that are not the same as American usage. Or maybe it’s something else that’s special.

Ben, who doesn’t normally like mail, received an invitation to the Gee Museum. Mom thinks it has probably been shut down, and doesn’t want him to go even if it is. It’s too close to the river, etc. But a handwritten note on the ticket says, “Come now or come never,” has him intrigued. When Ben goes without permission, he has no idea that his visit will end up changing his and his mother’s life.

A bonus in this book are all the illustrations.

Helen Cooper is an author and illustrator. She’s won the Library Association Kate Greenaway Medal – twice. Read more about her here. And you can see all of her books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Storm Keeper’s Island

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I loved The Storm Keeper’s Island (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018) by Catherine Doyle!

Although Fionn Boyle comes from a long line of seafarers, he fears the ocean will gulp him down. When he and his sister, Tara, go to Arranmore Island to visit their grandfather for the summer, it’s like the island itself welcomes him. Fionn hates Malachy Boyle’s house on sight and just wants to be back in their Dublin apartment with his mother. But surprisingly he likes his grandfather. Then he finds out about the magic of the Island. It will be choosing a new Storm Keeper to replace his aging grandfather. Could it be Fionn?

This is the author’s debut novel. Wow! There’s a sequel coming in July–The Lost Tide Warriors. Woo hoo!

Catherine’s own grandparents grew up on Arranmoore Island. Read more about the author here. And interestingly enough, just this week I came across this article about the Island.

Alphabetical List of Blog Posts

4 Ways to Make Your Characters “Talk Different” (guest post)
5 Tips for Writing Great Young Adult Stories (guest post)
13 Dialogue Tips
175 Proof


After the Critique
Agents Telling What They Want
Altitude and Attitude
Answers to Questions about Writing for Children’s Magazines
Are Listserves a Service or a Waste of Time?
Article Writing for Kids’ Magazines
Attribution or Action
Author Talks versus Workshops
Authors in the Classroom


Backing Up Emails
Before You Sign: Contract Resources
Bloggers Supporting Other Bloggers
Book It! – Recording What You Read
The Breaks of Paragraphing


Can children and teens get their work published?
Children’s Book Categories
Chronology in Fiction
Confessions of a Writer Easily Distracted
Considering Self-Publishing?
Continuous Verbs
Creating during Anxious Times
Critique Groups: Go For It!
Critique Methods (Face-to-Face, Online, One-on-Ones)
Cut in the Critique
Cutting Back on the Feed


Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers
Diane Bailey, Work-for-hire Champion
Distancing Your Reader
Diverse Books
Do as I Say
Do It Myself!
Do You Have Style?
Do You Remember?
Do You Struggle with Grammar?
Don’t Throw in the Towel
Double Identity (pen names)
Down with Discouragement!
Dragged to the Podium


An Editor’s Day
Electronic Submissions
Emotions and Feelings


Feeling Isolated from Other Writers?
Finding Agents Zoom Meeting
Finding Comp Titles
Follow the Yellow Brick Road, er, Writers’ Guidelines
A Fresh Look at Our Writing


Give up or press on?
Glossary of Publishing Terms
Going Back to School (school visits)


He Thought to Himself and Other Excesses
Heartbroken? (guest post)
Hooking Your Reader
How Excel Can Help Creatives
How Do I Scare My Readers? (guest post)
How Do You Choose?
How to Evaluate a Good Blog Gig and Earn What You Deserve
How to Stand Out
How to Start Querying an Agent (guest post)
How to Submit a Picture Book
How’d You Get That Gig?


Idea Generation – Word Lists and First Lines
I, I, I – Writing in First Person
Illustrator Resources
I’m a Work-in-Progress
Inspiration from Kate DiCamillo
Inspired by Pictures
Is That Right? (magazine rights)
It’s That Time of Year Again (setting up record-keeping for the new year)


Keeping Track
Keeping Up with Picture Books
Kids Reading Books and Saying What They Think
Kidz Only! Adults Keep Out!


Let’s Get Help (technical help)
LinkedIn Is Not “Social” Social Media
Listen to the Teen Voices
Looking Everywhere


Magazine Story or Picture Book?
Make It Work for You
Making Friends: Character Development
Market Research Resources – Agents
Meeting Editors and Agents – In Person
Meeting Editors and Agents – Online
Mind Your C’s and Q’s (Cover Letters, Queries, Contracts) part one, part two, part three
More on Writing Expenses plus Income
MS Wish List
My Favorite Online Resources


Naming Characters (guest post)
Naming Your Character
Nancy I. Sanders on Writing Nonfiction
Nonfiction Writing
Novel-sized Problem


On the Hunt for Ideas
One Danger of Electronic Records
One Day Virtual Write-In
One Size Does NOT Fit All
Online Resources for Children’s Writers and Illustrators
Organizations and Groups
Overwriting – Take Two


Patience Required
Perfecting Dialogue Punctuation
Picture Book Fails
Picture Book Month
Picture Book Problems
Picture Book Resources
Picture Perfect Picture Books
Plodding or Plotting
Poor Man’s Copyright, a Myth
The Power of a Good First Line
Preparation and Practice for Public Speaking
Professional Problem Maker
Public Speaking Phobia


Quitter or Go Getter?


Raise the stakes, honey! (guest post)
Read, Read, Read
Ready, Set, Goal
Reducing Word Count
Resizing Photos for Use on Websites
Resources for Writing for Children’s Magazines
Revising a Novel
The Right Number of Characters
Rhyming Picture Books
The Rudolph Effect
Run Away Words


The Sandwich of Critique
Save Me!
Say What?
School Visits, the Extended Version
Self-Editing Tips
Selling Photos to Magazines
Sensory Details
Serving Up Tempting Titles
Shadowing a Submission
Short Story Revision
Show/Hide, Etc.
Show Your Character’s Character
Showing Versus Telling
Slow Down, You Move too Fast
So, You Want to Write a Book…
Standard Manuscript Format
The Story Ladder or Novel Timeline
Storystorm 2021
Stuck on Repeat
Successful Cover Letters
Swift Fiction – the Short Story in Focus
The Synopsis Shrink


Taglines and Beats
Technicalities – More Thoughts on Public Speaking
Theme and Premise
Theme List Tactics (magazine writing)
Truth in Fiction
Truths, Principles, and Wisdom
Turning Ideas into Stories (workshop)
Twitter Tips


Unique Character Names


Viewpoint in Children’s Fiction


Website Q & A
Welcome Diane Bailey, Work-for-hire Champion (guest post)
What Do You Do When You’re Stuck?
What Should I Describe?
What Stops Me Reading!
What Would Sue Do?
When Educational Publishers Ask for Your Résumé (guest post)
Where Did I Read That?
Why Are YOU Doing This?
Why Twitter?
Why Write?
Work-for-Hire also known as WFH
Work-for-Hire Resources
Work-for-Hire Wisdom
Work to be Done
Write Well When the Muse Is Sleeping
Writing a Novel? Where Does It Fit?
Writing and Life Balance
Writing Business Expenses
Writing for Children’s Religious Magazines
Writing Process Blog Tour


You’ve Written a Children’s Book–Now What?

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