Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

Critique giveaway open through October 31! Scroll down one post.

Neither sixth-grader Tommy nor his friends are very high on the popularity scale, so when his friend Dwight does a typical weirdo-Dwight thing, like come to school with an origami-folded Yoda on his finger, no one is really surprised. What is surprising is that Yoda gives advice--actual Yoda advice on all sorts of sixth-grade subjects that really works, not weirdo-Dwight advice. So that means Dwight can't be doing the talking for Yoda, right? If Dwight were that savvy, he could fix his own life. Wanting an answer of his own about asking pretty Sara to dance at PTA Fun Night, Tommy decides to make a case study of kids' experiences with Yoda: Is he Yoda, or is he Dwight?

Each chapter is written by a different kid, in a different typeface, ending with commentary by Tommy (the objective researcher) and his friend Harvey (the doubter who calls the figure "Paperwad Yoda"). The sixth-grade voices are real and funny, and the margins are decorated with funny sketches in the style of the Wimpy Kid books.

The show-don't-tell in this book is wonderful. Even Tommy thinks he's making his case study to find out if he should risk "making a fool" of himself for Sara, when really the book is about social pecking order and how it's determined. Tommy sees his specific dilemma but not the bigger picture, which is there to be picked up but never forced. Dwight, of course, is anything but dumb; who he really is (clever enough to give the Yoda advice) is there to be seen for those who will see it, yet any who do see it will think it's their own idea that Dwight's okay socially, which will bring Dwight better regard and more self-respect than trying to mimic or run after the cool clique would.

The humor in this book is funny rather than derogatory, and the cultural aspects of the story hit the bull's-eye: the Yoda figure is just the type of thing that can capture all sorts of attention among sixth-graders for a couple of weeks or so. Origami Yoda folding instructions included. A fun book with a subtle, realistic message.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Critique Giveaway

It's critique time. This is the final critique opportunity for 2010, so enter now to win! Critique giveaways will resume in January. Here are the rules and caveats:
  • I will critique TWO manuscripts each month. By "manuscript" I mean the first 1000 words of a children's magazine story, chapter book, mid-grade novel, or YA novel. Please, fiction only. No picture books or easy readers. No poetry.
  • Enter the drawing by commenting on this post AND stating that you wish to enter. This frees you up to comment, ask a question, or just say hey WITHOUT throwing your name in the hat.
  • For an additional entry, become a follower, and tell me so (or that you already are one).
  • For additional entries, post links to this contest and give the URLs.
  • You may enter one ms. per month. No one person can win both critiques in a single month.
  • New: Include your email in the comment. Some of you are already doing this. If you'd rather not, that's fine -- but then be sure to check back to see if you've won!
  • Enter now through Sunday October 31.
  • Any story that you plan to enter in an ICL contest is ineligible. Since I am an ICL instructor, I cannot edit stories that you intend to enter in an Institute contest.
  • My critique is only one opinion. This business is SO subjective. Any suggestions I make that resonate with you are yours for the taking. Compare mine with those from other beta readers, critique partners, writing teachers, etc. Even if specific suggestions vary, when two or more critiquers pinpoint a certain passage or aspect, there's probably a need for revision there. Yet don't feel you must take advice you don't agree with. In the end, it's your story.
  • Winners will be announced Monday, November 1.
So if the above sounds good to you, let the entering begin!

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Book Giveaway Winner! says the winner of It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder is: MaDonna Maurer!

You have 30 days to claim your prize, MaDonna. No later than November 18, email me at marcia at marciahoehne dot com, giving me your postal address, and I'll acknowledge receipt and get that right out to you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cool Writing Quotes

Enter to win It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder through October 17! Scroll down one post.

There are lots of cool quotes, but writing quotes are ultra-cool because they're written by, well, writers! Here are some I like:
  • How many normal people do you know who would work 80 to 100 hours a week, 7 days a week, with no benefits, for 2 paychecks a year, and not know the amount of the checks until the publisher decides to send a statement?----Joe Moore
  • Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.----Apostle John
  • I hated childhood, and spent it sitting behind a book waiting for adulthood to arrive.----Anne Tyler
  • When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow....Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.----Annie Dillard
  • My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.----Sons of Korah
  • One sign of the born writer is his gift for finding or (sometimes) inventing authentically interesting language....He's interested in discovering the secrets words carry--for instance, how "discover" means "to take the cover off of."----John Gardner
  • There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.----Flannery O'Connor
  • Of making many books there is no end.----King Solomon
  • Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.----Jane Austen
  • A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.----Thomas Mann
  • If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.----Goethe
  • Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.----Thomas Berger
I'm not a collector, but I could almost become a quote collector. What are your favorites?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October Book Giveaway

Everybody today travels -- even kids, right? Well, twelve-year-old Isabel, star of It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder, feels like a misfit in this department. She's never left the state of Oregon, and she spends a lot of time in the library, reading and dreaming about eating at restaurants in Athens or visiting the Swiss Alps. So what do her parents do? Buy an old laundromat, move the family into the upstairs apartment, and begin renovating the downstairs into Mom's new bakeshop venture, It's Raining Cupcakes. How can anyone expect to go on a real vacation when they're tied to a cupcake shop?

However, Isabel does like baking; it's the only thing she and her mom enjoy together. Mom has anxiety and pessimism issues -- a possible underlying reason why in this day and age Isabel has never been anywhere. When a baking contest comes up that will send the winner to New York City, Isabel is ecstatic to enter. The trouble is, her best friend Sophie is entering too, and lovable though Sophie is, she's a natural winner at everything. Plus, Mom expects Isabel to enter a cupcake recipe to promote the shop, and she'd rather bake chocolate jam tarts.

The writing flows effortlessly, the cover is hugely attractive to girls, the story capitalizes on the current popularity of cupcakes, and there are recipes in the back. A fun book! 

To be entered in the drawing:
  • Comment on this post anytime from now through Sunday, October 17.
  • For an additional entry, become a follower of this blog and mention that in the comment. Ditto if you already are a follower.
  • For additional entries, post links to this contest and give the URLs.
Winner will be announced Monday, October 18.

So, come one, come all--and meanwhile have a great day in the world of books.