Middle Grade Book Love: Rules of the Ruff

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (heck, even if this is your first ever visit to my website)  you know I love dogs. I don’t own a dog (YET!), but I adore them, which is why I eagerly snapped up an ARC of Heidi Lang’s latest middle grade novel, RULES OF THE RUFF. It has everything I love in a middle grade book – family drama, friendships, a yearning for something just out of reach, and a bit of a mystery. Plus, it has dogs. Lots and lots of dogs!

MG Book Love | rules-of-the-ruff | www.patriciabaieyauthor.comTwelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.

Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.


Rules of the RuffRules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a fun book! Smart and funny in all the best ways – with a character who doesn’t always do the right thing, but is so easy to root for you can’t help but going along for the ride (or, in this case, the walk). Rules of the Ruff is a realistic look at how sometimes good intentions can lead you astray and how even the worst people may be better than you think.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A pitch-perfect age-appropriate sort-of romance. Kinda.
  • A easy-to-relate to main character who is far from perfect.
  • Dogs! Lots of dogs!

For teachers

  • Some subtle lessons on growing up taught through dog-walking rules.
  • Complicated family and friend relationships that will prove to be good conversation starters.
  • Good descriptions of what’s required to be a responsible pet owner from the eyes of a kid.

RULES OF THE RUFF  is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

You can learn more about Heidi’s other middle grade books by checking out an interview I did with her and her writing partner here.

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Author Spotlight: Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #2

Author Spotlight | Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Beth McMullen and her middle grade novel POWER PLAY:  MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS #2

Title: Power Play: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #2

Genre: mystery/action/adventure

Age Range: 9-14

Launch Date: July 3, 2018

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.

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

I went to boarding school as a kid and always thought it would make a great setting for a novel. I was writing for adults at the time so I tried it as an adult mystery but it was really bad. It wasn’t until I hit on a twelve year old as my main character that all the pieces fell into place.

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

My process is messy and inefficient!  I wish I could make a beautiful, detailed outline and stick to it but I’m definitely a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of author. I just jump in and start writing. It’s not uncommon for me to rewrite the first 50 pages ten times. Mostly I’m trying to find the voice of the character and somewhere in that write/rewrite process I get it and then I’m off to the races.

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?

When I was in high school, my history teacher read a story I’d written about brothers on opposing sides of the civil war aloud to the class. Naturally, I was mortified (teenagers!) but I distinctly remember how the students hung on every word. I was hooked!            

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 want students to understand that making mistakes is okay, this is how we learn, and that sometimes we have to quiet the internal voice of doubt that keeps us from taking action and just embrace the risk of something new or unknown. Abby is a girl who doesn’t claim to know what she’s doing but is willing to try anyway. My message is: get off the sidelines, get into the game and don’t worry if you mess up. Keep trying.

It’s a message I dearly wish someone had offered me when I was young.       

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

I just wrote a dog into an adult thriller screenplay I’m working on!  He’s a tiny little thing – probably some kind of toy poodle/scrappy mutt mix and his job is to give the main character something to cling to (in her case, literally) when things get way ugly in the third act. His names is Oscar and he’s loosely based on my brother’s dog.


Author Spotlight | Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eye-balling him like he’s dinner.


You can find Beth at her website or on social media at:
Twitter: @bvam
Instagram: @BethMcMullenBooks
FaceBook: @BethMcMullenBooks

POWER PLAY is available now online or at your local independent bookstore.

Thanks, Beth!

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Author Spotlight: Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski Talk About A Hint of Hydra

Today IAuthor Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com’m shining the Author Spotlight on Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski and their middle grade novel A HINT OF HYRA. A HINT OF HYDRA is the sequel to a book I loved last year, A DASH OF DRAGON.


Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 8-12


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Lailu Loganberry just wants to hunt and cook “monster cuisine” and serve lots of customers in the restaurant she owns with her (somewhat unreliable) mentor. Unfortunately, due to the events in book one of this series, a war is brewing between the vicious elven mafia and a group of up-and-coming steampunk scientists, and Lailu is caught in the middle.

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

KATI: For the first book, I was actually inspired by a “throwaway” episode of my favorite anime, SLAYERS. The characters go on this whole quest to eat dragon cuisine, and I thought it would be really fun to write a story about a girl whose goal is to become a master chef of dragon cuisine.

HEIDI: I loved Kati’s idea so much that I pestered her until she let me write this story with her, and it kind of evolved from there. We set our chef up in a magic versus science world, where the elves used to have a stranglehold on all the people and their businesses, but now they’re being replaced by steam-powered science.

KATI: We knew the first book would be about setting up the restaurant and starting those tensions, and then this sequel would be where those tensions really build. The whole book takes place during the Week of Masks, which is basically like a giant, week-long Halloween party.

HEIDI: Halloween is Kati’s favorite holiday, so the idea of a week-long celebration of it really appealed to her.

KATI: You’d love it, too. 😉

HEIDI: Yeah…I would. Especially the whole masked ball thing. Always wanted to go to one of those.

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

HEIDI: Our process is a little different because there are two of us. This is the second book we’ve written together, and surprisingly our co-writing system has stayed the same. Basically we brainstorm about our overall story and then Kati writes these really detailed outlines, which I then ignore.

KATI: It’s extremely frustrating.

HEIDI: She loves it. Secretly. 😉

KATI: Anyway…we take turns writing sections. So I’ll write a scene and then I’ll send it to Heidi. She makes any changes she wants to my scene and then writes the next scene and sends it back. I make my changes to hers, write my next scene, and…you see where we’re going with this.

HEIDI: When we’re finished with a draft, we both go through it together and come up with a plan for revisions. Our goal is to make sure our entire story is a good mix of both of us so the voice will feel like one voice.

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?

KATI: Honestly I really struggled with writing when I was younger, until in my junior year of high school I started writing a story for fun about a girl samurai. I think that made me realize I could write things I enjoyed instead of just trying to write what I thought the teacher was looking for. I tested that out my senior year, and Mr. Degman, my English teacher that year, actually really liked my writing and gave me good grades on my papers. I think that was when I started to believe more in my writing.

HEIDI: Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer (aside from a brief period in second grade when I wanted to be a person who rehabilitated injured owls), and I was constantly writing these little stories until somehow, in high school, I did the reverse of Kati and lost my confidence in my writing. It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class in college that I rediscovered that confidence, and I owe a lot of that to Professor Berman. He could be brutally honest when critiquing our work, which was sometimes hard to take, but also meant when he told me he thought I had something good in my writing, I believed him. And when I told him I wanted to be an author, and he was very encouraging about it, I believed that, too.\

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?

KATI: We both loved Tamora Pierce’s “Alanna” series when we were kids, so we also wanted to write a story about a girl who has a very specific goal that she is willing to devote her whole life to. We’d read more than a few books about girls who had goals that they were willing to give up when they fell in love, because that love was the most important thing, and we were like, no.

HEIDI: So in our book, Lailu has a few potential love interests, and we won’t give away any spoilers here, but let’s just say her first love, her true love, will always be her cooking. We both think it’s important for kids to find something they are passionate about and willing to work toward. And to not feel constrained, either. Be creative, invent your own job if you can. In our world, there are no restaurants until Lailu invents the idea, and even though many people stand in her way, she works hard and makes it happen. Obviously there are different roadblocks for people living in this world than there are in our fictional one, but we wanted to show someone who doesn’t follow the conventional “chef” footsteps of getting a job in an aristocratic household, but instead wants to share her cooking with everyone.

KATI: Our sequel also deals with things like loneliness, or that feeling when your friends start growing apart from you, which we think is so relatable at that middle grade age. We wanted to show how friendships can change as you grow older, but that doesn’t mean they have to end. And also, we love creating characters who are morally gray. Someone can be a great chef, for instance, but a terrible mentor. Or someone can be loving, but unreliable. We’d love to see teachers highlighting those points.

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

HEIDI: Well, my favorite dogs have to be my own. Gordy is a twelve-year-old heeler/border collie mix (we think), and he’s the best boy ever. We’ve taken him on so many adventures – he goes camping, backpacking, rafting, hiking, he’s been up mountains and swimming in rivers and pretty much anywhere in between. Super smart, very loyal. And then there’s Gomu…

KATI: Go on, tell us about Gomu. 😉

HEIDI: Well…he’s super cute, a corgi/Australian shepherd mix. And he can also be super sweet.

KATI: When he wants to be.

HEIDI: Exactly. His loyalty is sometimes questionable. ;D But when he is being affectionate, he’ll pull his ears back and wag his whole body, and it totally wins us over every time. Plus he’s got so much personality, he keeps us entertained always.

KATI: I don’t have any dogs of my own, but I love my dog nephews, too.

Author Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com


Author Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra Kati And Heidi | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comHeidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski are a writing team of two sisters with twenty years of experience in Judo. Heidi likes to fling food across her stove while attempting to cook new dishes, and Kati enjoys trying new cuisine at fancy restaurants. Between the two of them, they love creating characters that kick butt both inside and outside the kitchen. They are the co-authors of A DASH OF DRAGON and A HINT OF HYDRA. Find them on their website, www.HeidiandKatiwrite.com, or follow them on twitter @hidlang and @ktbartkowski.


You can pick up A HINT OF HYDRA at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

While you’re at it, you might want to read A DASH OF DRAGON first. (It’s so fun!)

A Dash of Dragon (Lailu Loganberry #1)A Dash of Dragon by Heidi Lang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! Heidi Lang places her super tough, super fun heroine into a great fantasy world – and adds cooking! The adventure is fun. The stakes are high. And there’s plenty of humor to keep you laughing along the way. Middle grade fantasy fans are going to love this one!

View all my reviews


Thanks Kati and Heidi!

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Author Spotlight: Darcy Miller Talks About Margot and Mateo Save the World

Margot and Mateo | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Darcy Miller and her middle grade novel MARGOT AND MATEO SAVE THE WORLD.

Title:  Margot and Mateo Save the World

Genre:  Middle Grade Science Fiction

Age Range:  8-12

Launch Date:  July 3, 2018

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

In Margot and Mateo two, unlikely middle school friends race to save the world from an alien slug invasion! It contains, among other things: a mysterious beached whale, a bumbling scientist, an ill-fated middle school production of “Romeo and Juliet”, alien goo, and salt. Lots of salt.

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

My husband, Ben, and I were on a lunch date at a sushi restaurant early last year, and happened to sit next to a mother and her daughter. The daughter, who was probably about nine years old, had blue-streaked hair, gold flash tattoos, and was ordering eel for lunch. She had more self-confidence in her little finger than I did in my entire body, and I was blown away by her. Right away, I knew I wanted to write a book with a heroine like her: a girl who was strong, and smart, and capable of doing anything she wanted to do, including saving the world.

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

I have two small children at home, so every minute of writing time is precious! I wrote my first book almost entirely in the middle of the night, typing one-handed while breastfeeding. (I can still type over 70 WPM with one hand!) Our youngest son just started 4K last year, so for the first time, I had two and a half hours to write uninterrupted every day. I still try to steal every minute I can, though; I’ve been known to hide behind our kitchen counter with a notebook . . .

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?

The setting for my first novel, ROLL, is actually a thinly-veiled version of my hometown, in southern Minnesota. When I went back to do a library presentation about ROLL for the first time, SEVEN of my elementary/high school teachers came out to support me. Almost every single one of them mentioned how I always had a book with me at school, and how they knew I would go on to be a writer. So while it wasn’t one teacher or librarian in particular, I was incredibly lucky to grow up with people who believed in me, and made me believe in myself.

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?

One of my biggest pet peeves about middle grade fiction is when stories get labeled as “boy” or “girl” books! There’s a misconception that action books are just for boys. With that in mind, I had a single goal for MARGOT AND MATEO: to write the most off-the-wall, hilarious, action story that I could, featuring a fearless girl heroine in the lead. My hope is that MARGOT AND MATEO will appeal to everyone, especially reluctant readers!

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

Paws down, my favorite dog in the world has to be our puppy, Snake! (Our four-year-old named her after a dream he had.) She’s pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen to us, and has already tripled in size since we got her! Now if we can just get her to stop chewing the siding off our garage . . .

Darcy Miller and Snake | Author Spotlight | www.patrciabaileyauthor.com


Darcy Miller | Author Spotlight | www.patrciabaileyauthor.comDarcy Miller is the author of Margot and Mateo Save the World and Roll. She lives in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, with her two children and librarian husband. You can visit Darcy online at www.darcyamiller.com. She is @DarcyAMiller on Twitter, and @darcyannemiller on Instagram.

You can pick up a copy of MARGOT AND MATEO SAVE THE WORLD at your favorite indie bookstore or online on July 3, 2018.

You might want to check out Darcy’s other book, ROLL, too. (Trust me, you do). You can read my rave review below:

RollRoll by Darcy Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s so much to love about Darcy Miller’s MG debut. Ren is likeable and funny – and his worries and doubts are so easy to relate to. Sutton is smart and self-aware, and has the coolest hobby ever – training roller pigeons. Together, they face a summer of change in heartfelt and interesting ways.
Funny, engaging, and ultimately full of hope – Roll tackles the very real issues of growing up (and maybe growing apart) in an authentic way. A wonderful read.

View all my reviews

Thanks, Darcy!

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Middle Grade Book Love: The Frame-Up

One very cool thing about having writer friends is that you get to read their new books before they are released into the world – which is how I got a sneak peek at Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s latest middle grade mystery, THE FRAME-UP.

I was lucky enough to befriend Wendy last year, as we navigated the debut author world together. I interviewed her then about her novel, IT’S A MYSTERY PIG-FACE, and got to interview her again last month over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog about her latest novel, THE FRAME-UP, a book that quickly became one of my favorite middle grade reads.

Middle Grade Book Love | The Frame-Up | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comWhen Sargent Singer discovers that the paintings in his father’s gallery are alive, he is pulled into a captivating world behind the frame that he never knew existed.

Filled with shady characters, devious plots, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.

There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule. Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret.

And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to find the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.  

With an imaginative setting, lots of intrigue, and a thoroughly engaging cast of characters, The Frame-Up will captivate readers of Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere.


The Frame-UpThe Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite reads this year. Wendy McLeod MacKnight blends humor, mystery, heart, and art in this fun and intriguing middle grade novel. Great characters abound – both inside and outside of the paintings. And MacKnight keeps the mystery tight and the plot moving while mixing in just the right amount of relationship/family problems. Clever. Innovative. Great writing. And a fun read. This one is timeless.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • Humor. It’s funny! Smart characters and great, imaginative situations.
  • Pictures that come to life – and have a life.
  • A great mystery.

For teachers

  • Art. Lots of it. Real life masterpieces, art theory, and art history come to life in this book.
  • A fun boy/girl friendship.
  • A good depiction of the difficulties of staying with your non-custodial parent.

THE FRAME-UP is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

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Middle Grade Book Love: The Last Great Adventure of the PB and J Society

I’m celebrating my birthday week by highlighting a great friend and a great book! (Bonus, this friend also shares a birthday month with me. Yay fellow Aries!) I read THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB AND J SOCIETY shortly after meeting Janet, and I knew immediately we were destined to by friends. She’s smart, funny, and thoughtful in all the best ways – and so is her book!

Middle Grade Book Love | the-last-great-adventure-of-the-pb-and-j-society | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comWhen her best friend’s house is threatened with foreclosure, young Annie Jenkins is full of ideas to save the home: selling her appendix on eBay, winning the lottery, facing down the bankers . . . anything to keep Jason from moving. But Jason’s out-of-work dad blows up at the smallest things, and he’s not very happy with Annie’s interventions, which always seem to get them into more trouble. But when Annie tracks a lost treasure to Jason’s backyard, she’s sure the booty will be enough to save Jason’s family. Pirate treasure in the Midwest seems far-fetched, even to Annie, but it could be the answer to all their problems. Now all she has to do is convince Jason. As the two hunt for answers and the pressure gets to Jason and his family, Annie discovers that the best-laid plans aren’t always enough and there are worse things than moving away.

For readers

  • Humor. It’s funny with lots of laugh out loud moments.
  • A great friendship.
  • A main character who makes mistakes you can relate to.

For teachers

  • A smart, funny, and realistic handling of tough topics.
  • A fierce boy/girl friendship.
  • A detailed Discussion Guide.

THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB AND J SOCIETY is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

I’m an Oregon Book Awards Finalist!

I’m beyond thrilled to see my book on the list of finalists for this year’s Oregon Book Awards!

Five years ago, when I was trying hard to do the things I thought real writers did, I submitted 25 pages of a manuscript I was working on to the Oregon Literary Arts fellowship program on a whim. Miraculously, I was awarded the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature. I used the monetary gift they so generously presented me to attend a retreat that helped me shape that manuscript into THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN. And now, that book is up for an Oregon Book Award! Talk about full circle.

It’s a real honor to be listed among the finalists for the ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE. The books are all incredible, and I wanted to give a shout out to each of them.

SHAKE A LEG, EGG by Kurt Cyrus

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | shake-a-leg-egg | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

From celebrated author-illustrator Kurt Cyrus comes a playful and whimsical picture book that celebrates the excitement and anticipation of a soon-to-be-born baby.

It’s springtime, and the pond is bursting with new life. There are beaver pups, heron hatchlings, and lots and lots of ducklings. Everyone is out and about, swimming, flapping, chirping, and quacking—except for one family of geese. When, oh when, will their last little one break on out and join the waiting world?


Oregon Book Awards 2018 | bridge-of-the-gods | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTwelve-year-old Chloe Ashton is an only child living in the remote wilderness of Oregon. She spends her days happily exploring the forests around her home, and is astonished to find the animals seem to know her, to follow her, and even try to speak to her. When a family tragedy results in Chloe’s abduction and sale to the vagabonds, she is taken deeper into the woods, and finds out just how much the animals know.

Set at a time when technology is first touching the west, there is an evil rising in the land. The country is under attack, and all creatures, man and beast, must hide. The old legends speak of an ancient, natural magic deep within the mountains and rivers, and as Chloe struggles to survive, she finds that it still exists deep within the forests. Friendship can be found even in the darkest of places, and it doesn’t always come in human form.

Bridge of the Gods is a novel for all ages about the magical power of nature, and of finding friendship in the darkest of places.

THE  MUSIC OF LIFE by Elizabeth Rusch

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | the-music-of-life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAward-winning biographer Elizabeth Rusch and two-time Caldecott Honor–recipient Marjorie Priceman team up to tell the inspiring story of the invention of the world’s most popular instrument: the piano.

Bartolomeo Cristofori coaxes just the right sounds from the musical instruments he makes. Some of his keyboards can play piano, light and soft; others make forte notes ring out, strong and loud, but Cristofori longs to create an instrument that can be played both soft and loud.

His talent has caught the attention of Prince Ferdinando de Medici, who wants his court to become the musical center of Italy. The prince brings Cristofori to the noisy city of Florence, where the goldsmiths’ tiny hammers whisper tink, tink and the blacksmiths’ big sledgehammers shout BANG, BANG! Could hammers be the key to the new instrument?

At last Cristofori gets his creation just right. It is called the pianoforte, for what it can do. All around the world, people young and old can play the most intricate music of their lives, thanks to Bartolomeo Cristofori’s marvelous creation: the piano.

LIFE by Cynthia Rylant

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comCynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.

Life begins small, then grows…

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.

And (because I’m so excited I can’t resist):


The Tragically True Adventure of Kit Dononvan | Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comLife in a 1905 Nevada mining town is not easy for any thirteen-year-old. For Kit Donovan, it seems downright impossible. When her mother dies of a fever, Kit is certain she is to blame. Guilt-ridden, she is determined to honor her promises to her mother—namely to be a “proper lady.” Only being a lady is tougher than it looks. When Kit discovers that Papa’s boss at the gold mine (the menacing and self-serving Mr. Granger) is profiting from unsafe working conditions in the mine, she convinces her dad to speak out. But sometimes doing the right thing leads to trouble. Now Kit must find a way to expose Granger’s misdeeds before it’s too late. Aided by an eccentric woman, a Shoshone boy, and a drunken newspaperman, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit defies threats of violence and discovers that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on April 30. I can’t wait to meet everyone and fan girl my heart out.

In the meantime, be sure to cast your vote in the Readers’ Choice Award survey!

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