Middle Grade Book Love: American as Paneer Pie

I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of Supriya Kelkar’s upcoming Middle Grade novel, AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE, this week.

You may remember Supriya and her Middle Grade debut AHIMSA.

Well, she’s back. This time with a contemporary novel set in the Midwest that’s sure to become a middle grade favorite.

Middle Grade Book Love | american-as-paneer-pie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAn Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.


American as Paneer PieAmerican as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely, heart-felt story that does a brilliant job of looking at everything from friendship to racism from the very believable perspective of an eleven year old.

Lekha is a great middle grade heroine. She’s smart, funny, and trying so hard to both be herself and to fit in – at home, at school, and at swim practice – that the reader is pulled right into her story and can’t help but cringe and cheer along side of her. Her pain is easy to connect with, her missteps are real and oh-s0-relatable, and her triumphs are just the right size to make any reader see that growth, change, and forgiveness is possible.

Great supporting characters – including present and realistic parents – round out this story and make it one of my current favorites.

A must read!

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A easy-to-relate-to kid with real life concerns.
  • Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
  • Puns!

For teachers

  • A smart, funny, and engaging handling of some big topics.
  • True-to-life examples of racism (macro and micro), including classroom-level aggressions from kids and adults.
  • A couple fun lesson ideas (an Op-Ed assignment and cooking assignment) that would work great in any classroom.

AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE releases May 12, 2020, but is available for
pre-order online.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com


February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files

February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com








I’m over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors today sharing some books that are coming out this month.

February New Releases

February is looking promising you all! This month’s New Releases list is filled with everything your Middle Grade reader is looking for – from mysteries, friendship stories, sports, and, yes, dogs!! I think we’re all going to be glad that this year is a Leap Year. Now, we have an extra day to read these beauties.

Check out the list at From the Mixed-Up Files.

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Author Spotlight: Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise

Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Mixed-Up Files member Jennifer Swanson and her middle grade book SPIES, LIES, AND DISGUISE: THE DARING TRICKS AND DEEDS THAT WON WWII.

Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Title:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won WWII

Genre: Middle-grade nonfiction history

 Age Range:  9- 11 years and up

 Launch Date: Out Now!


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

In the late 1930s, times were desperate. The world found itself at war again, less than twenty years after the first World War had ended. No one could quite believe it. And no one wanted it. The leaders of every country involved were left with no choice. They had to try to end the war as fast as possible, using whatever means they could.

That meant coming up with secret operations meant to deceive, deflect, and confuse their enemies. Poison the cattle that the Germans eat? Deliberately float a corpse dressed up as a spy across the water to have it wash up on Germany’s shore? Create a unit of top secret commandos with a license to kill? These were all real tactics attempted with the ultimate goal of defeating Hitler. In this off-center look at history, readers will be captivated by the classified and covert efforts made by each side as they tried to gain the upper hand and win the war. Restricted access is lifted to give the reader a peek into the top secret operations of the daring men and women who fought the war under a cloak of secrecy.

Spies, Lies, and Disguise  has been getting some great reviews:

“The highly readable and well-organized text is accompanied by occasional breakout panels and spreads and focuses mainly on missions conducted by the Allied powers. While each chapter is organized around a different type of spycraft or specific mission, the accounts are more or less chronologically arranged and touch on major events such as D-Day and the ­dropping of the atomic bombs, adding context that will help readers newer to the subject. The text is accompanied by a combination of period photographs and illustrations by O’Malley, whose expressive style adds to the book’s cheekiness. VERDICT A must-read for budding military historians and spies-in-training. Purchase wherever books by Alan Gratz and thrillers like Framed! by James Ponti are ­popular.”

– School Library Journal

“This book will capture your attention from the very beginning!” ―School Library Connection

“Black and white photos, O’Malley’s cartoon-style recruitment posters and illustrations, and a narrative tone free of textbook stuffiness combine to create broad appeal.” ―BCCB

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

 I wrote a book for an educational publisher a few years back that was very short, but I did a massive amount of research for it. Way more than I used in the book. I was SO fascinated with the military ops and secret missions that were executed in WWII (most likely my interest also came from the fact that I attended the U.S. Naval Academy and took classes in military strategy). When I found the format for the book, wham- it all came together very quickly. This structure just seemed the best way to convey excitement and intrigue to my readers.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

My writing process is different for every book. For this one, I spent hours devouring books on WW2, researching the Imperial War Museum’s archive files, and doing tons of photo research. I typically research as a I write, because that is most efficient for me. The writing part of this book came very easily, which was awesome. I really had tons of fun writing this book!

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

One of the big reasons why I love STEM/STEAM so much is because of my 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Roth. She just made Science FUN! I woke up every morning excited to go to her class to learn. At the time (in the early 80s) is wasn’t that common to have a female science teacher – especially not in a very small town. She showed me that women could do science and do it WELL! I have carried that love of science my whole life.     

What makes your book  a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

I think this book is a great resource for teachers in the classroom because it talks about the military strategy that was used during World War II. The book gives young readers a glimpse into the innovative and secretive actions that each side took in an attempt to win the war. It highlights many true heroes of the war, and brings attention to some of the lesser-known missions that truly worked! The narrative is reader-friendly for the age group and invites the reader to read more about these amazing accomplishments.           

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

We have two dogs that I adore. They are Lily and Sasha. Sasha is a Great Pyrenees, which means basically, she is a giant polar bear of a dog. She is white, fluffy, and weighs 120lbs.  Lily is a beautiful, lovable golden retriever. She is “small” weighing in at only 70lbs.  We are big dog people in this house and love our fur-babies dearly.

Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com


Author Spotlight | Jennifer Swanson Talks About Spies, Lies, and Disguise | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comScience Rocks! And so, do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 35 nonfiction books for children. Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books, but especially her Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact, which received a Florida Book Award, a Eureka California Reading Association Gold Award and an NSTA BEST STEM book award. Her newest book, Save the Crash-test Dummies, received a starred review with Booklist and a Eureka Silver Award. Jennifer has presented at multiple SCBWI conferences, National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the World Science Festival and the Atlanta Science Festival. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com or on Twitter or Instagram @JenSwanBooks

You can pick up a copy of SPIES, LIES, AND DISGUISE: THE DARING TRICKS AND DEEDS THAT WON WWII at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

Thanks, Jennifer!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com




March New Releases

krokus - March New Releases - www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been an interesting 2019 so far – and a fast-moving one. I cannot believe it’s already time to usher in March! Did I mention March is one of my favorite months of the year? It carries with it the promise of Spring, bushels of tulips, and the birthdays of some of my very favorite people (plus my own).

And it’s bringing in a whirlwind of new Middle Grade books.

This week, I’m over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors with a list of March New Releases designed to fill all of your reading needs on the blustery and the sunshiney days March is sure to be full of. Check the post out, then head back over here and let me know what you think of this year’s March New Releases.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Presidents Day

presidents-day | american-flag | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s Presidents Day, and I’m over at the From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog talking with my writing friends about middle grade characters who would make great presidents. One of them even suggested Kit for president!

I was too shy to put it on the list over there, but I’ll share it with you all here.


Kit Donovan (From The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey). Kit is fearless! She stands up to bullies, she fights for justice, and she doesn’t quit. Kit would be an amazing president!


Read the rest of my post – Charlotte For President!! – over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and nominate your favorite Middle Grade Character!

And, Happy Presidents Day!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue


Middle Grade Book Love: Stef Soto, Taco Queen

I read Jennifer Torres’s Stef Soto, Taco Queen as an ARC at the end of 2016 and loved it. I was making a list of some of my favorite middle grade characters the other day, and Stef Soto (and her family’s taco truck Tia Perla) came to mind almost immediately. There’s so much to love in this heart-warming debut novel. It’s a must read for middle grade kids and for their taco-loving parents and teachers.

Middle Grade Book Love | stef-soto-taco-queen | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSeventh grader Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It’s no fun being known as the “Taco Queen” at school.

But just when new city regulations are proposed, and her family’s livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck’s unlikely champion.



Stef Soto, Taco QueenStef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful debut that’s sure to be a hit among middle graders. Stef Soto is a perfect middle-grade heroine – determined to get out from under her overly-protective immigrant parents’ thumbs, endlessly embarrassed by the family business (delightful Tia Perla, the taco truck), struggling to fit in at school – and full of love and support for her family and friends. This book is full of great friends, a fun goal, and an authentic portrayal of middle grade life. And tacos! A beautiful book that teachers and students are sure to love.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A kid you can totally relate to.
  • Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
  • Tacos!

For teachers

  • A bilingual protagonist
  • A true-to-life financial problem that will make for a good discussion topic.
  • Author-created Activities and Resources.

STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Emily Whitman Talks About The Turning

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talks About The Turning| www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Emily Whitman and her middle grade novel THE TURNING.

Title:  The Turning

Genre: Middle-grade novel

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: July 24, 2018


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Aran is a selkie and lives on the open sea with his clan. All he’s ever wished for is a pelt, which will turn him into a sleek, powerful seal like the other selkies. Then Aran discovers that his clan has been keeping a secret from him. And the secret means Aran may never get his pelt. That he’s a danger to the entire clan. That maybe he doesn’t even belong to the sea at all. Aran’s desperate quest for a pelt lands him in the bewildering and dangerous world of humans. He has to learn their strange ways to pass as one of them. Land holds wonders: trees and birds’ nests and cookies and, most surprising of all, friends. Yet the land is dangerous, too. When the unimaginable happens, Aran will be forced to choose: Will he fight for his place on land, or listen to the call of the sea?

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I’ve always loved mythology and folklore. They’re truth and magic tangled up together! I was on a boat to Ireland’s Skellig Islands when an image of selkies flashed into my mind. In Celtic lore, selkies can slip off their seal pelts to take human form. I started to wonder what would happen to a selkie boy living at sea who’d never had a seal pelt. It grew into a story about belonging, bravery, and self-discovery. I’m also fascinated by cusps, those thin edges where one thing is about to turn into another and you can step in either direction. A selkie tale is the cusp of our human nature and our animal nature, of ocean and land, magic and reality. Pretty cool!

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I start with a spark that’s pure imagination. Something on the page surprises me and I decide to follow up. The story takes surprising turns. I’ll do bits of outlining as I go, but mostly I uncover flashes of character and story as I write, and then I do what my friend Amy brilliantly calls “Frankenstein-ing it together.” As I write, I’m always researching, and the research keeps feeding me new insights. I love adventure research: going out in search of sense perceptions and experiences that feed the story. For The Turning, I visited a seal colony, and spent time on the shore and in aquariums. When I found out that orcas will work together to splash a seal off a rock, I knew that had to become a scene in the book!

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

This is such a good question! I’m grateful for the wonderful guides along my way. I can start all the way back in first grade, when Mrs. Johnson had us write nonstop. Every Monday we’d write what we did over the weekend. We listened to Peter and the Wolf and wrote our own versions—maybe that was the start of my lifelong love of retellings and making a classic tale my own! And then there was the Whittier school librarian Mrs. Wolzien. I was a library helper from 4th-6th grades. When I graduated I got to choose any book I wanted. Here’s a picture of the one I chose, The Animal Family.

What makes your book  a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

 Take a great adventure story, set it in a magical, atmospheric ocean world, and give kids someone they connect with as they struggle with what it means to belong, and with finding the courage to face new situations. Then give teachers tools that make it easy to use the book in the classroom—discussion questions, activities, lesson plans, and links to great sites where kids can explore marine mammals, ocean life, and folktales. The Teaching Guide and links on my website will give you lots of ideas!

I love interdisciplinary approaches where kids’ interest in one area pulls them into others. I’m really excited how The Turning can enrich units on myth and folklore, ocean science, and writing with all your senses.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about  your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

Jake! Wonderful Jake! When I was in high school we got a German Shepherd puppy with floppy ears and gigantic paws. He grew into a gigantic, loving, playful, and very poorly trained dog. He’d jump up and put his paws on my tiny grandmother’s shoulders. I can still hear her saying “Down Jakie!” He could catch a line-drive tennis ball like you wouldn’t believe. After all these years I still miss him.

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning| Jake | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Elsie, my cat and writing partner, asked to be mentioned, too. I told her you were interested specifically in dogs, but as a proudly independent creature she thought you’d like to see her picture anyway! (I’ll allow it – even though it will make my cats terribly jealous 🙂 ~ trish)

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning| Elsie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com


Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIn Emily Whitman’s novels, myth and magic are part of everyday life. The Turning is her first novel for kids. Her YA novels are Radiant Darkness, #1 on the IndieBound Kid’s Next List, and Wildwing, winner of the Oregon Book Award and a Bankstreet College Best Children’s Book. Emily teaches writing workshops and lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Come say hi at www.emilywhitman.com, facebook.com/emilywhitman, and instagram.com/emilywhitmanbooks.


You can pick up a copy of THE TURNING at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

Thanks, Emily!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Julie Leung Talks About Merlin’s Last Quest

Merlin's Last Quest | Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Julie Leung and her middle grade novel MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE:  MERLIN’S LAST QUEST

Title: Mice of The Round Table: Merlin’s Last Quest

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: 10/2/2018


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Merlin’s Last Quest concludes my trilogy, Mice of the Round Table. After pulling the Sword from the Stone and saving Camelot from a mysterious plague, Galahad and Calib infiltrate Morgan le Fay’s lair to secure the Holy Grail from their enemies.

The stars are align for a final battle that determines Camelot’s fate. Calib and his friends must harness the magic of Merlin as well as the strength, bravery, and wisdom within themselves to become the mythical heroes they were destined to be.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I loved the Redwall series by Brian Jacques with a fierce, probably obsessive passion. To this day, the mere description of potato leek soup and anything with the word trifle in it sends nostalgic shivers down my spine. And like any budding fantasy fiction fanatic, Arthurian legends were a gateway drug. These kinds of books made me who I am today. Mice of the Round Table is the perfect marriage of those two early loves.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

Even though I find myself always changing my outlines, it has helped me immensely to set a destination in mind when writing—or even multiple destinations, like a road trip. I package my writing goals in small sprints, scene-to-scene, chapter-to-chapter. It keeps my fingers moving on the keyboard and makes drafting feel less daunting.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a   librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

I think often about my experiences growing up in the public education system—its many pitfalls, classroom distractions, and budget constraints. And yet, the English teachers who taught me gave it their all. In the 10th grade, one of my literature teachers read an essay of mine out loud to the class. It was a simple 5-paragraph glorified book report on the Elie Wiesel book, Night. However, it was the first time I’d ever heard my words being read out loud by someone else. It was the first time I thought I could make a career out of writing.

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

In the practical sense, I like to think of my series as a gateway to the Redwall series, as well as to the larger body of Arthurian legends. In a more poetical sense, I wrote Calib’s story as an examination on navigating familial, societal, and self-imposed expectations. How does one carve out one’s own legend against a backdrop of outside influences? How does one find the courage to become their own person?

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about  your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

My husband and I have a dream of getting a Boston Terrier one day and naming him, Admiral Ackbark. He exists only in our hearts and imagination currently.


Author Spotlight | Julie Leung Talks About Merlin's Last Quest |www.patriciabaileyauthor.comJULIE LEUNG was raised in the sleepy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, though it may be more accurate to say she grew up in Oz and came of age in Middle-earth. She works in book publishing as a digital marketer. In her free time, she enjoys furtively sniffing books at used bookstores and winning at obscure board games. Her favorite mode of transportation is the library. You can follow he on these Internet tendencies: TwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.


You can learn more about Julie and the other books in the MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE series by clicking on this interview I did with her about Book 1:  A TAIL OF CAMELOT and this Guest Post Julie did about Book 2:  VOYAGE TO AVALON.

You can buy Julie’s books at your favorite independent bookstore.

Thanks, Julie!

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