Wednesday, June 23, 2010
When Pooch (who got his nickname from one of his mother's ex-boyfriends, because he is allergic to everything and is always scratching) sees Verbena dressed in her tattered nightgown standing alone on the shore of Bonners Lake, he is certain she is the ghost of a girl who used to live in his house.
Looking for an escape from her frustrating life and the changes that happen on the cusp of starting middle school, Verbena plays along with Pooch and pretends she is the ghost of Tracey Allen, a girl who died many years ago while swimming in Bonners Lake. So begins an unlikely friendship between allergy ridden Pooch and the not-quite-really-a-ghost Verbena.
Verbena suffers from FAS Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and is small and pale and young for her age. Verbena is trying to process some new information, that her parents aren't really her parents, and that her real mother tried to pickle her before she was born. AND that her father is in prison for killing a man. Verbena is certain that like her father she is deep-down bad.
Readers will relate to Verbena's struggle. Ideal for 4th-7th grades.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Rejection is a real ass-kicker.
I received back to back rejections on a partial and a full last week.
Talk about devastation.
When a partial or a full is floating around out there in the hands of someone who can possibly make your career, you are full of all the hope and possibility in the world. The sky looks brighter the trees are greener, food tastes better, your kids are sweeter...
When the polite "no thank you" arrives all is not well in the universe. The clouds roll in, the sun disappears and your kids...
It took me about 5 days to get over it. In the end I went back and studied my rejectors and convinced myself that they weren't the right agents for me after all. That this all happened for a reason and the perfect agent-- the one that will help me navigate a successful career is still out there.
"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise"
It's a survival mechanism really.
When I lost my position last year because of budget cuts, I was devastated, truly devastated. But then I convinced myself that I didn't need that job and that I was better off.
It gets us out of bed everyday.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
New York City
* That would be me.
Jaded Manhattan eighth grader Penny is bemused when she is whisked away from her dad to spend the summer in her mom's tiny hometown. Things go from bad to worse when Mom decides to stay in Hog's Hollow, open a cupcake bakery and enroll Penny at the local high school.
Penny's sardonic first-person narration is sophisticated, but at heart she is still just a 13-year-old casualty of her parents' unraveling marriage and their inability to communicate with each other or with her. When she finds herself targeted for elaborate pranks by the local queen bee, she must dig deep to survive her freshman year.
Much is familiar here: The characters are drawn with broad strokes-mysterious love interest, quirky best friend, evil nemesis-and the plot device by which the popular crowd is tricked into gaining weight will ring bells with readers who have seen Mean Girls.
But Hepler's novel is greater than the sum of its parts, held together by Penny's genuine voice and emotions. Readers will root for Penny, a talented artist, as she develops her gifts and adapts to small-town life. (Fiction. 11-14) Kirkus Reviews
The Cupcake Queen is a sweet story (yeah I said that) that most 6th-8th graders will enjoy. Ultimately this is a story about accepting oneself, adapting to life's hurdles and finding happiness with yourself. (And Penny's love interest, Marcus, will have hearts a flutter too.) The best friends, Tally and Blake are just as interesting and entertaining as Penny.