Wicked Wednesday – Favorite Children’s Book

Wicked Wednesday again, and we’re continuing our “What else do we read besides mystery fiction” series. Today we’re talking children’s books – maybe we don’t read them all the time, but we all must have a couple that stand out that we’d gift to the young people in our lives. So Wickeds, which book would you pick?

Liz: I’ve gotta go back to Dr. Seuss for this one – Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It’s so simple but inspirational and you can go back at any age for a pep talk! My favorite quote: “You have brains in your head you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Jessie: I love books by Roald Dahl. The Twits is one that I love, as is Esio Trot.  I also adore books by Lloyd Alexander. His Prydain Chronicles books  are amongst my favorites. I also adored his West Mark trilogy. For budding mystery lovers of the right age, it’s hard to beat The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Edith: I am going to chime in with a couple of middle-grade books by Elizabeth Atkinson.Island-high-res She had a tough time as a tween, and writes books to help other kids in that situation get through a difficult age. I, Emma Freake is a wonderful, engaging story about a girl who feels like a misfit – until she goes alone to meet her father’s quirky family for the first time, and they’re all tall redheads like her. Atkinson’s latest, The Island of Beyond, is her first story featuring a boy. I highly recommend all Elizabeth’s books – and she lives down the road from Stephen King in Maine (he jogs by her house in the mornings), so you know she’s absorbing super-creative energies in addition to her own.

Sherry: I’ve probably said this a million times here, but I love the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. They are based on Maud’s life growing up in Mankato, Minnesota. They start when Betsy is five and first meets Tacy who moves in across the street. They continue through the last book Betsy’s Wedding. As Betsy grows up the reading level increases. They are wonderful, warm books. I still read them.

smile for auntieBarb: One of the wonderful things about being a grandparent is that you get to revisit your children’s favorite books, and sometimes even your own favorite books from childhood. Some of those are classics like The Cat in the Hat, and some are eccentric books that just tickled your family for whatever reason. One of my kids’ favorites, and now Viola’s, was Smile for Auntie, in which a babushka-wearing aunt tortures a baby with tickles and silly faces, trying to get him to smile, and he does–the moment she goes away. (This book was given to my son Robert when he was an infant, by his aunt, who thought it was hilarious.)

Julie: Too many to name! I love Robert McCloskey books–Make Way For Duckings was a favorite. I also loved Harriet the Spy, and (natch) Nancy Drew.

Readers: What are your favorite children’s books (and remember, twelve-year-olds are still children)?




Launching History

Edith here, still north of Boston. Not launching history, exactly. But Delivering the Truth, my first historical mystery, comes out on April 8 and we have a fun launch planned! I’m giving away my last ARC of the book to one commenter today, too.

Note: Sarah H, you are the winner of Leslie Karst’s book! Please write to Edith at edithmaxwellauthor at gmail dot com, or send a facebook message. Congratulations.

In case you haven’t heard, the book features a Quaker midwife solving crimes in an 1888 Massachusetts mill town – the one I live in. I was trying to think of a good way to tie all that Island of Beyondtogether when a local author pal, Elizabeth Atkinson, asked if I wanted to do a joint launch party at Jabberwocky Bookshop, the independent bookstore in the next town. Her two children and my two all went through the Pentucket Regional schools, and she wanted to pay back by having the launch benefit the Pentucket Arts Foundation.

Elizabeth writes award-winning middle grade fiction, and I love her books, including her new one, The Island of Beyond. Saying “yes” was easy. A Pentucket High student is going to interview us during the launch and then write up the story for the school paper, which both my sons also wrote for. We’ll have a raffle and other activities. It’ll be fun. Join us at 7 PM on April 8 if you can.

Picture used with permission from Edward Gerrish Mair.

Picture used with permission from Edward Gerrish Mair.

But – that didn’t address the historical side of my book. When I walk the streets of my town, I’m always imagining my characters doing the same. When I sit in silence in the Friends Meetinghouse on Sunday morning, I picture midwife Rose Carroll at my side, and John Greenleaf Whittier across the room. When I walk up Carriage hill, I imagine the clatter of carriages on paving stones.

I decided to engage the services of a publicist to help me with this launch. And Skye Wentworth came up with a very cool idea. I’m going to conduct a short walking tour of Amesbury on Sunday afternoon, April 10, with comments about various places that occur in the book, and what happens at each. We start in front of Market Square Bakehouse at 1:30 PM. We’ll visit the Meetinghouse and the John Greenleaf Whittier Home Museum, too, and have a few short readings.

Edith's Book Tour

A local historical seamstress is making a Quaker dress for me. I hope it works out, since I no longer have the waist of a corseted woman (well, okay, I never did…) If it does, I’ll wear that on the walking tour. I made a Quaker bonnet that turned out okay, BonnetFlattoo!

Finally, we’re going to finish the day with a book party from 3-5 at Crave Restaurant, a fabulous local place housed in the historic train depot building. It’s owned by the son of an awesome local real estate agent, Cathy Toomey, who had the winning charity bid to name a character in the series. Look for Catherine Toomey in Delivering – and she has an even bigger part in book two, Called to Justice! At the


Cathy Toomey

party we’re going to have snacks and you can buy a glass of your favorite beverage and talk history – oh, and get a book signed by the author, too.

I hope you’ll join us. But if you can’t, you’ll be able to find the map and virtual walking tour on my web site by April 10. And don’t forget, an advance copy of the book to one lucky commenter today!

Readers: What’s your favorite historical place to walk around in? Who from the past do you imagine walking around with you?

Wicked Wednesday: Gifts for the Readers in Your Life

Well, Wickeds, the season is upon us. So do tell, aside from books by the Wickeds and accomplices, what are you planning to give the readers in your life? Any hot recommendations for our readers?TheSugarMountainSnowBallCover

Edith: I’m giving my nine-year-old bestie The Sugar Mountain Snow Ball by Elizabeth Atkinson, her latest middle-grade novel. It’s such a good read for any age. I just finished reading William Kent Kruger’s Ordinary Grace and plan to figure out who to give a copy to. Lyrical writing and deep storytelling about tragedy and mystery in small-town Minnesota in the summer of 1961 – as told by a 13 year old boy. Another recommendation is Chance Harbor by Holly Robinson – an intriguing novel of family with some mystery on the side and a stunning Prince Edward Island setting.

Liz: I have copies of Maddie Day’s Flipped for Murder and Cheryl Hollon’s Pane and Suffering for one of the readers in my life – loved both of them! I also would recommend Tana French’s latest, The Secret Placean amazing murder mystery that really digs into the power of high school friendships.

Barb: I just finished Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences, and I LOVED it. One of her best. I highly recommend it for the mystery lover in your life.

Jessie: My suggestion is a recipe book instead of a mystery but I had to share it: Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle. It is such fun and is beautifully illustrated too!

Sherry: Since some of the readers in my life read our blog everyday I’ll mention a couple of books I enjoyed reading recently. Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little is one heck of a book and has a protagonist that isn’t very likable. Another is Invisible City by Julia Dahl. And last but not least Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton. None of them are cozy but all are well written.

MWA CookbookJulie: Barb, so glad to hear this review–the book is on the docket for Christmas week. Jessie, I’ve heard about that book–will add it to my gift list. Love all of these suggestions. Books are always such a great gift! I’m also going to point out some other fun gifts for readers, like booklights, bookmarks, book plates, and book bags. Also, a library card is a great gift for a young reader. I also found a couple of adult coloring books based on books–Secret Garden (OK, not based on the book, but still fun and a great combo gift), Harry Potter, and Tolkien’s novels. Also, a great book for the reader in your life–the MWA Cookbook! Barb and Edith are both in it–as are many other mystery authors and friends of this blog.