Archive | February 2013

COVER REVEAL: SMOKE by Ellen Hopkins

Here it is folks


Ellen Hopkins is an author who seems to have nailed her brand from the get go. Her covers all lined up are like modern art.

I can’t wait to read this one!



This entry was posted on February 28, 2013. 1 Comment

VerseDay #8 : Marcie Atkins, Haiku and Teaching

This week VerseDay is happening on Marcie Atkins blog. Here’s what she’s getting up to:

Marcie Flinchum Atkins has a mentor text lesson plan featuring haiku anthology STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK (selected by Paul B. Janeczko and photos by Henri Silberman). It is a part of a series of mentor text lessons plans for elementary writing teachers. This particular lesson plan teaches students how to visualize images in poetry and how to write and revise haiku.

That sounds pretty cool. Go check it out!

February Verse Novel Reviews etc: Weeks 2 & 3

A big coup for verse novels this week when Lauren Baratz-Logsted took the New York Times to task on the subject:

“…in one corner of the literary landscape, verse-novels are still thriving: young adult fiction, where writers as diverse as David Levithan, Patricia McCormick and Lisa Schroeder have published books in that form, and Ellen Hopkins’s verse-novels regularly hit the Times best-seller list.”

In other News THE SUNLIT ZONE by Lisa Jacobson was long listed for the inaugural Stella Prize. The book is reviewed here.

Lisa Jacobson

Here’s an unusual and pretty cool assignment to adapt a novel into a verse novel. This assignment handout, along with  one for  writing an original verse novel were included in the course notes for the Colorado Council International  Association‘s recent conference Heroes for Literacy. The session was called Novels-in-Verse: Teaching with the New Narrative Poetry. Neat!

As for reviews, Pinkindle reviews IDENTICAL by Ellen Hopkins

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Guys Lit Wire reviews DOGFIGHT by Calvin Trillium

Born Bookish reviews OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse

The Independent  reviews THE MARLOWE PAPERS by Ros Barber

Kate Ormand reviews GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger


The Librarian in the Cupboard reviews The newbery winning THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate

And look at all these reviews for NIX MINUS ONE by Jill MacLean!

Happy Book Birthday – NIX MINUS ONE by Jill MacLean

Nix Minus One

Just read this fabulous new verse novel from Jill MacLean, NIX MINUS ONE and I’m so excited to help welcome it into the world.

From Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Nix Humbolt doesn’t talk much. He’s barely outgrown his “Fatty Humbolt” days, and although he is taller and leaner now, he has learned it is best to keep a low profile. He dreams about his only friend’s girl, but of course she is hopelessly out of his league. Lonely and introverted, he is happiest in his father’s woodworking shop, where he builds exquisite boxes and tables. The only battles Nix fights are on his Xbox – until the day he finds the guts to fight for Swiff Dunphy’s neglected dog. Then there is Roxy, Nix’s spirited older sister who always knows just how to get what she wants. But the guy she wants is seriously toxic, and even Nix can see that she is headed for disaster. All Nix can do is cover for her when she breaks curfew or comes home drunk. But this time Roxy is about to spiral out of control and change all their lives forever. And there is nothing he can do to stop it.

Beautiful verse, weirdly romantic, fantastic setting in Maritime Canada, violent, redemptive, sad, uplifting. I really loved this. I especially love the brilliantly simple cover and the woodworking motif that permeates the book. The cover is TEXTURED! Check it out!

(I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher, Pajama Press.)

This entry was posted on February 15, 2013. 1 Comment

VerseDay #7 : Guest Blogger Tim Sinclair on Valentine’s Day and Giveaway!

This VerseDay welcomes a guest blogger, Australian verse novelist and poet, Tim Sinclair. Also visit Marci Atkins’s blog for her VerseDay post, a printable annotated Haiku booklist. Sounds intriguing!

Take it away, Tim:

First, let me address the elephant in the room. That big fluffy pink elephant, with its chocolate heart and rose petal blood, holding a giant bunch of helium balloons declaring undying love to the cliché. Yep. Luv is all around.

I’m not a fan, you may have noticed. I find the whole thing weird. In Australia we don’t have it quite so bad, but I think we’re catching up to the USA in the schmaltz stakes.

Did I say weird? Sorry, I meant gross. Not just in the obvious and exploitative way that genuine sentiment is mined for its commercial potential, but in the disservice that the day does to actual love. Warts-and-all, fart-in-front-of-you, stand-beside-you-when-we’re-old-and-crumbly love. The real stuff.


And coupled with the devotion to plastic love is the devotion to godawful ‘poetry’. I love that poetry is still held in high enough regard that people turn to it at times of high occasion. Births, deaths, marriages. Inaugurations even. People have no problem picking the good stuff for these events. It was wonderful to watch Richard Blanco last month, reading his poem “One Today” to an audience of millions.

Love is not simple, easy, or greeting-card-able. Love is the 50 years after the credits roll on the romcom. It’s messy, dirty, sad, joyous, fulfilling, draining, simple and convoluted all at once. And when you try to squash it onto a greeting card, when you run it through the Valentine Filtration Device, what gets left out is the noise and dirt.  Anything and everything that’s real. What you’re left with is the sweet sickly syrup of sentimentality.But love – which is surely up there on the High Occasions list of human experience – is what seems to let people down when picking the poetry. Roses, violets, rhyming couplets, baby baby baby. It’s a crime.

Nick Cave – who surely has the credentials to speak with authority about the messiness of love – says in his 1999 lecture “The Love Song” that any song that purports to be a love song and yet doesn’t mention fear or hate or pain, is, in fact, a ‘hate song’, for omitting all the nuance and the depth.

“ [The love song is] the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity.”

We’re human. We have limitations. But through finding love, through developing that love from first passion to something extraordinary and enduring and powerful, we can transcend. And that is what makes love poetry, the real stuff, so extraordinary. Poetry has the capacity to transcend everyday language, to express all of love. So this Valentine’s Day (and for that matter, every day), just say no to greeting-card poetry, and wallow in the real stuff.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from another of master-of-messiness, Raymond Carver, from his poem “This word love”.

             “But this word love

this word grows dark, grows

heavy and shakes itself, begins

to eat, to shudder and convulse

its way through this paper

until we too have dimmed in

its transparent throat and still

are riven, are glistening, hip and thigh, your

loosened hair which knows

no hesitation.”

Tim’s doing a VerseDay Giveaway! The first 5 people to follow Tim on Twitter, and tweet him the word ‘dictionary’ will receive a DRM free E-copy of Tim’s latest collection, ‘Re:reading the dictionary‘.  Tim also has a new book coming out later this year – a verse novel called RUN. If someone is a Goodreads librarian can they add it please!?

This entry was posted on February 14, 2013. 3 Comments

February Verse Novel Reviews etc- Week 1

Born Bookish reviews SISTERS OF GLASS by Stephanie Hemphill

The Leaping Reader reviews BEANBALL by Gene Fehler

Beanball cover

Alison’s Book Blog reviews STREET LOVE by Walter Dean Myers

My R and R Space reviews LOVE & LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay

For the Love of Books reviews TRUE BELIEVER by Virginia Euwer Wolff

True Believer

In other verse novel news:

The Highlights Foundation is offering a course in writing verse novels.

Strong Verse invites comments on the idea of a graphic novel in verse. I’m for it!

This entry was posted on February 8, 2013. 1 Comment

VerseDay #6 – Verse at ALA Midwinter

I posted a few days ago about the incredible results for verse at the ALA Youth Media Awards. The accolades are evidence of what a great year verse had in 2012. But ALA is also about seeing what’s to come. I had a blast talking to publishers about verse, giving them buttons and hearing about what they had in the works. I came home with a few ARCs I had been looking for: THE LANGUAGE INSIDE by Holly Thompson,  GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger and THE WEIGHT OF WATER by Sarah Crossan. I also discovered two upcoming verse novels that I wasn’t aware of: SALT by Helen Frost and ODETTE’S SECRETS by Maryann MacDonald. Finally a savvy promoter at Sourcebooks suggested THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET by Nancy Cavanaugh which although in journal format contains a lot of poetry.

I also scored a couple of poetry books. A lovely picture book by Tiffany Stone called RAINBOW SHOES and really great looking collection also from Sourcebooks called POETRY SPEAKS: WHO I AM. I can’t wait to dive into this one, actually, because it includes a CD of poets reading their poems. This is not a new book; it was published in 2010 but Sourcebooks was kind enough to give me a copy.

I asked most exhibitors about verse. Many were eager to show me what they had. Others confessed that had very little or nothing. The small presses who publish the bulk of new poetry can’t afford to exhibit at ALA. The agents I spoke to said “verse novels were very hard to sell”. The school/teen  librarians I spoke to said “my patrons LOVE verse novels”. Where is the disconnect? I hope to be at ALA annual in Chicago, flying the verse flag, promoting my own verse novel, and generally doing what I can to keep verse alive.

What else can we do?

This entry was posted on February 7, 2013. 3 Comments