Author Archives: Lisa Lewis Tyre

MG Review – The Graham Cracker Plot by @shelleytougas

GrahamCracker plot

 

I’m going to be honest. I was afraid to read this book. Shelley Tougas and I share an agent, the wonderful Susan Hawk, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel if I hated it. The good news is that not only did I not hate it, I LOVED it. Seriously, she had me on the opening page:

DEAR JUDGE HENRY,

I will tell you three things right now.

Number one: I’m almost twelve years old. I do not want to go to prison, even if it’s a prison for kids.

Number two: Nobody calls me Aurora Dawn Bauer, not even my grandma, and she’s the most legal person I know. Everyone calls me Daisy.

Number three: Your face looks like squirrels flopped their tails where your eyebrows should be. I can’t tell if your eyes ever laugh, but you were all business when you told me to write this, and—

UGH. Mom just peeked over my shoulder and said, “Erase that stuff about his weird eyebrows or we’ll have more trouble. I mean it!” I went to my room and slammed the door. She’s a snoop.

Talk about a great opener! The rest of the book is just as charming. The Graham Cracker Plot does a terrific job of mixing the farcical with reality, humor with poignancy, as you follow the adventures of Daisy and her frenemy Graham in their attempt to break Daisy’s father out of prison. It’s not as outlandish as you might think, it’s a minimum security prison after all. Along the way you’ll meet interesting characters, see Daisy and Graham get themselves into all sorts of trouble, and watch as Daisy learns the truth about her dad and what taking responsibility for your actions really means.

This book has a lot of heart and plenty of fun. Do yourself a favor and read it.

 

 

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Writing Contests (and tips!)

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Writing contests are a great way to get some attention for your novel and there’s a fun one going on now. The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition is looking for:

Original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love! To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years.

This competition has a great first prize –  a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000, plus representation from a top children’s literary agent. Sweet!

(Our friends over at KidLit411 have a monthly roundup of contests, so be sure and check them out for more.)

Contests are particularly interesting to me this week as I just finished participating in round one of Pitch Wars, where I looked at approximately 40 queries/first chapters and chose one to mentor. It was very educational and I wanted to share a few tips I learned through the process.

1. Follow the rules! If the contest asks for a query and first chapter, send the query and first chapter, ONLY. This is your first impression and you don’t want to frustrate the judges immediately.

2. Make your query standout. The judges are going to be reading query after query after query. Take it from me, their eyes will start to cross and your story about a talking newt that finds a magical unicorn that turns him into a vampire unless he can SAVE THE WORLD is going to look like every other story about talking newts, so refine it until it’s awesome.

3. There’s nothing new under the sun, or is there? I saw a whole lot of stories with the same basic premise, so just go ahead and assume you’re not the first person to think of a book about talking clocks told in alternating POV’s and show how your story is different than all of those others.

4.  Do your best and forget the rest. Contests are subjective and what one person likes, another person won’t. Take the feeback that you get, learn from it, and move on. The bookstores are FULL of books written by authors that didn’t win a contest. No matter what happens, just keep writing.

I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it. Luck is great, but good writing will always win in the end.

 

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MG Book Review – The Night Gardner by @JonathanAuxier

Reviewed by L. Tyre

I recently finished the new Jonathan Auxier novel, THE NIGHT GARDENER, and it was wonderfully creepy. But before I get into the novel, can we just take a moment to gaze on the incredible cover?

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The second I saw that, I was determined to buy the book. Sorry, no e-edition for me. I settled in and right away, I knew I was going to love this story. Listen to this:

“The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. The crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip.

And they were riding to their deaths.”

I just got shivers all over again!

Molly and Kip are on their way to work as servants for a family living in a creepy, rundown old manor. The family is unaware that they are slowly succumbing to an evil that has worked its way into their home. Can Kip and Molly survive their encounter with the evil inhabitant and save the family, or will they meet their end as so many others before them?

This is a super-smart ghost tale with a lot of hidden depth. I highly recommend.

(Not for the faint of heart. I’d say a brave 4th grader and up.)

Don’t just take my word from it. Here’s praise from people that actually matter!

STARRED REVIEWS

“Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message, Auxier’s atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget.”   —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale.” —School Library Journal, starred review

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