Tag Archives: middle grade

Welcome to the Spotlight Kara LaReau and The Bland Sisters!

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Ahoy there! Join me in shining the spotlight on children’s author Kara LaReau and her marvelous new middle grade series The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, starting with book 1, The Jolly Regina! She most recently won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for her chapter book The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers and published by Candlewick Press. Stay tuned below to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Jolly Regina!

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill (Abrams/2017)

Jaundice and Kale Bland are sisters who live in Dullsville darning socks, watching the grass grow, and eating cheese sandwiches. They enjoy these things quite a bit, despite not knowing where their parents had disappeared off to for years. But one day, they are kidnapped by a band of female pirates and forced on an adventure that leads them to search for their missing parents. Full of great wit and humor, this story will enchant readers. And they will fall in love with Jaundice and Kale. I can’t wait for the next book!

Spotlight on Kara:

A swashbuckling witty tale about two sisters who enjoy NOT having adventures, end up on a pirate ship. I love that the pirates are all women. What inspired this all-female cast of characters?

When I wrote the scene where Jaundice and Kale hear a knock at the door, I had to ask myself who the mystery visitor might be. I thought, “What would be the most surprising thing for these boring girls to encounter?” Of course, the answer was pirates. But there have been SO MANY stories about pirates already, and I didn’t want them to be run-of-the-mill. That desire to provide a fresh take on something conventional, combined with my indomitable feminist spirit, led me to the crew of The Jolly Regina.

The names of all the characters and places are such fun! What was your process for finding the right (and funny) names? Do you have a favorite?

I am a bit obsessed with names. I’ve been told my own name is hard to pronounce and hard to spell, so I’ve spent most of my life correcting people! It’s led me to focus on remembering how to pronounce and spell other people’s names, which has led me to focus on names in general. I love words that almost sound like names, and I am always noticing and tabulating interesting ones. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re a big fan of names, you’re REALLY going to like the next Bland Sisters adventure!

The Bland Sisters do not like change or adventure. The pirates, obviously, do! Are you more like Jaundice and Kale, or like the pirates? And what would your favorite activity be if you lived in Dullsville or on a pirate ship?

I am a little bit of both. I love traveling and socializing and being out in the world, but I also love the comforts of home, so sometimes it takes effort to change out of my pajamas. I channel that homebody side of me when I write the Bland Sisters.

If I lived in Dullsville, I’d probably want to work at the grocery store; I’d love to know what other kinds of “sundries” they have in stock, and making deliveries might be interesting.

If I lived on a pirate ship, I’d like to sit in the crow’s nest. It would give me some alone-time, the view would be breathtaking, and I’d always be on the lookout for adventure!

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

For more about Kara and her books, check out her web site, follow her on Twitter, and follow her on Instagram.

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To win a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, February 11 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Monday, February 13 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Maria G. for winning a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of The Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina!

Yo ho ho! Happy reading!

 

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2016 Reading List

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Another year of reading fabulous books! I’m happy to share the list of books I read and enjoyed, but because I’m pressed for time this year, I won’t be providing my two-sentence summaries this year. I’ll provide links so you can see what each book is about and make purchases, though! And as always, I’m happy to hear your favorites from the past year.

By the Numbers:

77: total books

27: YA

21: chapter books/MG

12: picture books

17: adult

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UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT by Mike Jung MG fiction

HOUSE ARREST by K.A. Holt MG fiction

SEE HOW THEY RUN by Ally Carter YA fiction

WEBSTER: TALE OF AN OUTLAW by Ellen Emerson White MG fiction

RHYME SCHEMER by K.A. Holt MG fiction

HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED by Mylisa Larsen (illust. by Babette Cole) picture book fiction

ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan MG fiction

KEEP ME POSTED by Liza Beazley adult fiction

THICKER THAN WATER by Kelly Fiore YA fiction

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (Firebird Book 1) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE INCIDENT ON THE BRIDGE by Laura McNeal YA fiction

FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY by Susan Vaught MG fiction

THE MYSTERIOUS MOONSTONE (The Key Hunters Book 1) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU (Firebird Book 2) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE SPY’S SECRET (The Key Hunters Book 2) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE by Pat Zietlow Miller (illus by Frank Morrison) picture book

23 MINUTES by Vivian Vande Velde YA fiction

THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson adult fiction

SURF’S UP by Kwame Alexander (illus by Daniel Miyares) picture book

THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco X. Stork YA fiction

FOREST OF WONDERS (Wing & Claw Book 1) by Linda Sue Park MG fantasy

CALVIN by Martine Leavitt YA fiction

THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE by Christina Baker Kline adult fiction

WHY NOT ME? by Mindy Kaling adult autobiography/humor

THE LOONEY EXPERIMENT by Luke Reynolds MG fiction

THE SUMMERTIME GIRLS by Laura Hankin adult fiction

NOBODY’S SECRET by Michaela MacColl YA fiction

COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari (illus by Bagram Ibatoulline) picture book nonfiction

THE WINNER’S KISS (The Winner’s Trilogy Book 3) by Marie Rutkoski YA fantasy

ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

FINDING PERFECT by Elly Swartz MG fiction

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD by Siobhan Vivian YA fiction

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo MG fiction

SWING SIDEWAYS by Nanci Turner Steveson MG fiction

OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee YA fiction

EVERY EXQUISITE THING by Matthew Quick YA fiction

SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal adult fantasy

FLAMECASTER (Shattered Realms Book 1) by Cinda Williams Chima YA fantasy

TWO SUMMERS by Aimee Friedman YA fiction

THE STORY I’LL TELL by Nancy Tupper Ling, illust by Jessica Lanan picture book

LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch YA fiction

THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood adult fiction

THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner MG fiction

BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina YA fiction

TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Lianne Moriarty adult fiction

THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS (The Remnant Chronicles Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson YA fantasy

TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaiportra and Dhonielle Clayton YA fiction

FALLING by Jane Green adult fiction

FLYING by Carrie Jones YA fantasy

A CRACK IN THE SEA by H.M. Bouwman (ARC – due out Jan 2017) MG fantasy

WISH by Barbara O’Connor MG fiction

MOO by Sharon Creech MG fiction

INK AND ASHES by Valynne E. Maetani YA fiction

LEAVE ME by Gayle Foreman adult fiction

BELGRAVIA by Julian Fellowes adult historical fiction

THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB by Alexander McCall Smith adult mystery

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan adult fiction

CLOUD AND WALLFISH by Anne Nesbett MG fiction

GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley MG fiction

SOME WRITER!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet nonfiction autobiography

MONSTER TRUCKS by Anika Denise (illus by Nate Wragg) picture book fiction

LUCY’S LOVEY by Betsy Devany (illus by Christopher Denise) picture book fiction

COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett adult fiction

THE NIAN MONSTER by Andrea Wang (illus by Alina Chau) picture book fiction

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes adult fiction

LIKE MAGIC by Elaine Vickers MG fiction

SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha Trilogy Book 1) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIEGE AND STORM (Grisha Trilogy Book 2) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

RUIN AND RISING (Grisha Trilogy Book 3) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

CROOKED KINGDOM (Six of Crows sequel) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S by Anika Denise (illus by Christopher Denise)  picture book

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING by Arthur Levine (illus by Katie Kath) picture book

THE YOUNGEST MARCHER by Cynthia Levinson (illus by Vanessa Brantley Newton) (ARC due out January 2017 picture book

LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY by Jill Diamond MG fiction

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon YA fiction

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I’d also like to thank each and every one of you for faithfully reading this blog. I know your time is valuable and I appreciate your time. I promise more give-aways in 2017! Happy reading!