COVER REVEAL: DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS, by Christina Soontornvat

COVER_REVEAL

I’m thrilled to welcome Christina Soontornvat to the MG Book Village today to reveal the cover of the first book in her newest series, DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS! Christina is also the author of THE CHANGELINGS series, which has been widely celebrated and which Booklist praised for its emphasis on “the importance of family, whether it’s the one you’re born into, the one you find yourself in, or the one you create for yourself.” If you haven’t checked out The Changelings and its sequel, In a Dark Land, hurry up already! But first read the interview below and get excited about what Christina’s got coming next!

~ Jarrett

. . .

First of all, Christina, thanks so much for choosing the MG Book Village to host your cover reveal! We’re thrilled to have you here! But before we reveal the cover, could you tell us a bit about DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS?

Princess Lina is a Windtamer, which means she has the magical ability to control the wind and weather – at least she’s supposed to. Somehow Lina’s magic always ends up a snowy, icy mess. Her grandfather (The North Wind) wants her to practice with him, but Lina just wants to be normal. That means going to school on the ground.

Lina convinces her parents to let her go to Hilltop Science Academy on the condition that she keeps her magic a secret. That means no frozen water fountains. No snowball fights at recess. No icicles in the classroom. No problem! Lina just has to stay cool – ack! Not cool. Warm. That’s it. Warm. She just has to keep everything warm and under control…

Did you participate in the cover design process at all?

Yes, I did! The main character of the series, Lina, is mixed race Asian American and it was really important to all of us involved in the book to get her just right. My editor asked me to put together some character samples and notes, not just for Lina but for her entire family. That was really fun! It felt like I was involved in casting a movie. But the overall design, with the clouds and the palace in the background, all came from the design team. I had no idea what Lina was going to look like, or what style she would be rendered in until my editor sent the first image.

Okay, let’s take a look at the cover…

DiaryofanIcePrincess1.jpg

I love it! It’s getting me excited for winter and snow (but not the shoveling of the snow…). What was YOUR reaction to seeing the cover for the first time?

A gasp of delight at seeing Lina! I thought the artist, Barbara Szepesi Szucs, did an absolutely perfect job with capturing her personality. And it meant so much to me to see a character of Asian descent on the cover of a book – a magical princess book, no less! When I was growing up, I never found books with characters that looked like me on the covers unless it was a folktale. I do love folktales, and I do think books that address serious topics around Asian identity and history are important. But I also want the world to have books with Asian leads that are just pure, unabashed fun. That made this cover all the more meaningful for me.

So you loved the whole cover right away, without any reservations?

Ok, I do have to confess that one of my first reactions was…wow, that’s a lot of pink! I’m not a pink person! And here we’ve got pink font, pink spine, pink clouds. But then of course I realized that the pink thing was just my personal hang-up. The color and the aesthetic are perfect for this story. Lina and her best friend, Claudia, both have a love for science and math that plays into book’s plot. I am a big supporter of making STEM accessible for all children, including pink-adoring, tutu-wearing, princess-loving girls and boys. So I am a total pink convert now!

Plus, there’s a dog!

That would be Gusty! He was a late addition who has become one of my favorite characters. And wait until you see Book 2. He’s wearing a snow hat. The adorable factor is out of control.

I can’t wait to see it! And I can’t wait to read Snow Place Like Home! When can readers get their hands on the book?

June 25, 2019!

Soontornvat_24Sep15_Cathlin McCullough Photography.jpg

Christina Soontornvat grew up behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant reading stories. These days she loves to make up her own, especially if they involve magic. Christina also loves science and worked in a science museum for years before pursuing her dream of being an author. She still enjoys cooking up science experiments at home with her two daughters. She is the author of THE CHANGELINGS series, as well as several forthcoming picture books and novels for young readers. You can learn more about Christina and her books on her website at www.soontornvat.com.

 

 

 

An Open Letter-Orb from Peasprout Chen Denouncing Reveals of Book Covers and Song

COVER_REVEAL

Venerable and Sagacious Readers of Pearl Shining Sun News,

I am Chen Peasprout, second year student at Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, former Peony Level Brightstar, and future legend of skate and sword.

I am infuriated to death by this newspaper’s reveal of the covers of the books written about me by some author named Lien Henry. I have not read these books entitled PEASPROUT CHEN, FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD and the new sequel PEASPROUT CHEN: BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS. However, I do not need to read them to know that they are worthless and less than trash, as well as being dull and completely without qualities.

This Lien Henry claims to recount the true story of my first two years at Pearl Famous, as if some old man with a head as bald as Turtleback Mountain could appreciate the bitter sacrifices that I went through in my first year mastering the beautiful but deadly art of martial skating. It is impossible to imagine him adequately portraying the wrenching choices I have to make in my second year as I form a battleband to protect my new home of Pearl from invasion by my original homeland of Shin. I have challenged this Lien Henry to single combat but he hid behind his army of litigation masters like a flea diving into tiger fur. My rage explodes like ten thousand volcanos when I think of a single person ever seeing the covers of his miserable books ever again.

[Editors’ Note — The covers of the books are reproduced again below for our readers, compliments of Pearl Shining Sun News.]

I have submitted to the editors of Pearl Shining Sun News my list of complaints about the covers, which they promised to include here in its entirety.

[Editors’ Note — The list has been omitted in its entirety.]

I beg you to direct your attention to some of these most outrageous of injustices in the list.

Complaint Number 82 — I believe that the first cover depicts me finishing a third-gate, East-directional slashing crane leap but I’m portrayed as completing the move with two feet rather than one. As if someone who was Wu Liu Champion for all of Shui Shan Province five times before the age of ten would ever need two feet to land. I am not a duck. Ten thousand years of stomach gas!

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 5.21.57 PM.png
Art by Afu Chan

Complaint Number 527 — The second cover depicts me completing a fifth-gate phoenix prancing across the Eight Jade Seas triple jump, which is a move I have done flawlessly since before I even learned to crawl, but where is the apple in my cheeks? I am portrayed as having wholly apple-less cheeks. Make me drink sand to death!

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 5.23.00 PM.png
Art by Afu Chan

I also denounce Pearl Shining Sun News’ dissemination of the letter-orb containing the recording of “The Pearlian Battlesong” by my battleband. That recording was never meant to be made public. It refers to the name of my battleband as “Nobody and the Fire-Chickens”. That name is just the temporary result of an administrative misunderstanding, about which I have protested to the senseis of Pearl Famous and over which my ultimate victory is more certain than anything under Heaven. I thank the editors of Pearl Shining Sun News for promising not to further disseminate the song.

[Editors’ Note — A letter-orb containing the recording of the song is attached again hereto for our readers, compliments of Pearl Shining Sun News, this time with the lyrics.]

THE PEARLIAN BATTLESONG

Sisters of the skate,
Brothers of the blade,
Come and lend your hands and stand up for your motherland.
Answer the command,
Come and join our band!”

Chorus
Come and join, come and join our band!
Come and join, come and join our band!
Come and join, come and join our band!
Come and join our band!”

Come to summon some
Of what you would become.
Come to understand the grandeur of the greater plan.
Answer the command,
Come and join our band!”

Chorus

Give a cheer to Hisashi for a pipa well-played.
Over there, we’ve got Yinmei riding on the drumblade.
Doi is playing erhu like the Empress of Heaven.
With Peasprout dominating the magnetic shamisen.
As for me, you may call me Crick
And we are Nobody and the Fire-Chickens!”

No one can deny
Someday we will die!
How we live and what we give will be determinative!
How we live and what we give will be determinative!
How we live and what we give will be determinative!
Answer the command,
Come and join our band!

Pearl Shining Sun News and I have not always been the best of friends. However, my heart is filled with a thousand strains of peace knowing that the editors will at last allow my whole story to be told and stop smearing my face with disgusting and vomit-scented lies.

I thank the benevolent readers for buying this issue of Pearl Shining Sun News to finally get the whole story. 

Your humble and grateful servant,

Chen Peasprout

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 5.28.27 PM.pngHenry Lien is a 2012 graduate of Clarion West. His short fiction has appeared in publications like Asimov’s, earning multiple Nebula Award nominations. He is the author of the Peasprout Chen series, on which he was mentored by George R.R. Martin, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kelly Link. Born in Taiwan, Henry currently lives in Hollywood. Henry has worked as an attorney, fine art dealer, and college instructor. Hobbies include pets, vegan cooking, writing and performing campy science fiction/fantasy anthems, and losing Nebula awards.

www.henrylien.com/peasproutchen

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250165695

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250165756

www.facebook.com/HenryLienAuthor

www.twitter.com.com/HenryLienAuthor

www.instagram.com/HenryLienAuthor

For more about artist Afu Chan, visit: www.afuchan.com

Cover Reveal: PINK HAIR AND OTHER TERRIBLE IDEAS, by Andrea Pyros

COVER_REVEAL

I am thrilled to welcome Andrea Pyros to the MG Book Village for the cover reveal of her latest novel…. PINK HAIR AND OTHER TERRIBLE IDEAS!  A big thank you to Andrea for letting us host the reveal and for taking the time to answer a few questions about PINK HAIR AND OTHER TERRIBLE IDEAS.

~ Corrina

Hi Andrea – we’re so excited to welcome you to the MGBookVillage today! Before we reveal your cover, can you tell us a bit about Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas?

Thanks for inviting me to chat with you at MGBookVillage!
Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas (Capstone, pub. date 2/1/19) is a middle-grade book about a seventh grade girl named Josephine who is dealing with friend stuff and boy stuff and divorced parents stuff and twin brother stuff. In other words, normal life stuff! Then her mother tells her that she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, and suddenly nothing about Jo’s life feels normal anymore. At all. 

Your novel is set in middle school – what was that time like for you?

Those years are HARD! I still remember being self-conscious about my changing body and feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin. And in sixth grade, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was scared and also embarrassed — I hated thinking people would pity me. It took me a long time to tell even my closest friends about my mom, and in fact, the only reason it came out was because my mom was friends with one of my friend’s parents.

Who is the artist that designed your cover?  And what did you think when you saw the final version?

The Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas cover was designed in-house at Capstone by the talented Kay Fraser, using design elements from Shutterstock. I absolutely fell in love with the final art when I first saw it. They’d been playing around with type-only, which looked cute (and is what’s on the ARC), but when Kay pulled together this final illustrated look, it grabbed me. It’s so fresh and modern and fun, and I’m delighted (and very grateful).

Pink_Hair_FINAL-COVER

Andrea –  I LOVE IT!! Thank you for letting us get a peek at the cover of Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas!  When can readers get it, and where is a good place to preorder?

Thanks so much for letting me talk to your readers today, Corrina! Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas  comes out Feb. 1, 2019, with pre orders available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 IguZEe6QAndrea Pyros was born and raised in New York City, and she’s still sad that she’s never spent the night in any of the city’s museums. Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children and works as a freelance writer for a variety of publications. She is also the author of MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK, a middle-grade novel about friends, crushes, and a 7th-grade rock band named The EpiPens. You can find her online at http://www.andreapyros.com and on Twitter @AndreaPyros.

Cover Reveal: SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY, by Joshua Levy

COVER_REVEAL

I’ve been excited for Josh Levy’s debut novel ever since I first read the title in his Twitter bio. SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY? I mean, come on — you just know this book is going to be a blast. I’ve learned a bit more about the book in the months since first meeting Josh, and my excitement for the book has only grown. I was, therefore, beyond thrilled when Josh asked the MG Book Village to host his cover reveal.

Learn more about both SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY and Josh in the interview below, and then feast your eyes on his awesome cover!

~ Jarrett

. . .

Before we get to the cover, can you tell us a bit about the book?

Absolutely! In a few words, SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY is a middle grade adventure/sci-fi story about kids in the future who go to school in space, get mysteriously attacked, lost, and captured by aliens (!), and have to find their way home. (Okay, maybe that was more than a few words.)

More specifically, the book is about the PSS 118—a “public school spaceship” orbiting Ganymede (one of Jupiter’s moons) hundreds of years from now. The story opens on a pretty familiar future: Social studies tests; spelling bees; end-of-the-year assemblies. Kids (that aren’t from Earth or Mars) go to school in these old, outfitted spaceships. (To get to the teacher’s lounge on the PSS 118, just head past the library, science lab, and infirmary; go down to the lower level using the stairs by the gym; and it’s just beyond the gravity field generator. Can’t miss it. If you hit the secondary fusion reactor or are winding your way starboard, you’ve gone too far.)

But there aren’t any aliens. And there’s no light-speed travel.

Until there is.

When the school is attacked, Jack, Becka, and Ari—three seventh graders—make their way to the engine room, following cryptic messages that Jack is getting from his dad (the school’s recently-fired-for-tinkering-with-the-ship science teacher). Jack discovers that his dad built humanity’s first light-speed engine into the PSS 118—and has given Jack control over it. To save the ship, Jack catapults it hundreds of light years away…and into the clutches of the first aliens humans have ever seen.

It’s a zany story: Cranky cafeteria robots. Alien videogame arcades. Friendly (and not-so-friendly) sea dragons. But I wanted the world to be both familiar and different. And fun. I wanted it to be a lot of fun.

What led you to write a story about kids in space?

You know—I’ve always loved space stories. (Still do.) I was fairly obsessed with Star Wars as a kid. (Still am.) There’s just something so…transporting about them, whether they’re of the fantasy or the science fiction variety. And SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY has got a ton of the usual trappings of space stories, combined with, well, all sorts of nonsense.

Long story short: A number of years back, I was teaching middle school and thought, “Okay. What would I have wanted to read if I were sitting in those chairs?” And this book is the result.

Who did the artwork for your cover? What did you think when you first saw it?

The incredible cover illustration was done was Petur Antonsson (@peturantonsson), who’s done other wonderful middle grade covers as well. The colors! The framing! It’s got this movie poster quality to it, bursting with little easter egg-type details everywhere. I was so happy with the cover (and earlier concept drawings).

Were you at all involved in the process?

Yes—and I’d say that my involvement with the process more than met my expectations about what my involvement was going to be. My editor first sent along various concept drawings, each of which took the cover in different directions. And I was looped into the conversation about which of the concepts the stakeholders thought was the best fit for the book. I’ll confess that I was at first partial to a drawing that didn’t ultimately manifest as the cover—but I’m so glad the result is what it is.

Once the illustration direction was solidified, I was afforded the opportunity to give input/suggest details that I can absolutely see given form on the cover. And I’m super grateful that I was able to have a voice in the process.

Alright! Let’s check it out!

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 11.19.37 AM.png

Can you tell us a little bit about at least one of those “little easter eggs” you mentioned?

Definitely. Becka’s over there on the right, spinning a dodge ball on her forefinger—not just because she’s the best seventh grade dodge ball player (which she is)—but because she’s the best zero-g dodge ball player in the class. Basically, if you like P.E., you’ll love it in zero gravity.

Awesome. When does the book come out and where can readers pre-order?

SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY will be out on March 5, 2019, from Lerner/Carolrhoda. You can find pre-order links on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and the other usual haunts. And it’s floating around on Goodreads over here. Thank you!

 Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 11.16.56 AM.pngJoshua S. Levy was born and raised in Florida. After teaching middle school (yes, including seventh grade) for a little while, he went to law school. He lives with his wife and daughter in New Jersey, where he practices as a lawyer. Unfortunately, outer space doesn’t come up in court nearly as often as he’d like. Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy is his first novel. You can find him online at http://www.joshuasimonlevy.com/ and on Twitter @JoshuaSLevy.

Cover Reveal: UP FOR AIR, by Laurie Morrison

COVER_REVEAL

I am so excited to welcome Laurie Morrison to the MG Book Village for the cover reveal of her latest novel, UP FOR AIR. I’ve been a huge fan of Laurie’s work since her debut novel Every Shiny Thing, and I can’t wait to read this story!  A big thank you to Laurie for letting us host the reveal and for taking the time to answer a few questions about UP FOR AIR.

~ Corrina

. . .

Hi Laurie! Before we reveal the cover, can you tell us a bit about Up for Air?

Hi, Corrina! Thanks so much for having me on MG Book Village! Up for Air is a contemporary middle grade novel about self-esteem, swimming, summer, social pressures, shifting friendships, academic challenges, and an intense crush. Here’s the description from my publisher:

Thirteen-year-old Annabelle struggles in school, no matter how hard she tries. But as soon as she dives into the pool, she’s unstoppable. She’s the fastest girl on the middle school swim team, and when she’s asked to join the high school team for the summer, everything changes. Suddenly, she’s got new friends, and a high school boy starts treating her like she’s somebody special—and Annabelle thinks she’ll finally stand out in a good way. She’ll do anything to fit in and help the team make it to the Labor Day Invitational, even if it means blowing off her old friends. But after a prank goes wrong, Annabelle is abandoned by the older boy and can’t swim. Who is she without the one thing she’s good at? Heartwarming and relatable, Up for Air is a story about where we find our self-worth.

You’ve mentioned that this novel was inspired by your students. I’d love to hear more about that!

Yes! The short answer is that one student told me to write Annabelle’s story after reading a (now shelved) manuscript in which Annabelle was a secondary character. Then my conversations with several other students about the kinds of books they wished they could find convinced me to go for it.

The long version is this: I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English Language Arts for ten years, and it was a challenge to find contemporary realistic novels that felt geared toward my 11-14 year-old students. A lot of middle grade novels felt too young to them, so many of them (especially the 7th and 8th graders) read young adult books instead.

There was nothing wrong with that at all! Except that I wanted them to know that their current experiences were important and worth reading about, too. And I saw how much it meant to them when I could hand them a book that was about a 12, 13, or 14 year-old character they related to—one who was confronting some of the same pressures and changes they were dealing with.

But I couldn’t find many books that explored things like the attention some middle school girls started to get as their bodies developed—attention that was thrilling in some ways but scary and isolating in others. And I struggled to find books that delved into the way some of my students were ready for certain kinds of experiences, friendships, and flirtations, and others just weren’t yet…or some of them were ready for these things in one moment and then eager to retreat to something innocent, silly, and kid-like in the next.

I wanted to write an upper middle grade novel that would address topics like these and appeal to 10-14 year-old readers, but I’d been warned against writing something that would fall into the unmarketable gray area between middle grade and young adult fiction. So I wrote a YA novel called Rebound, which featured a fairly innocent teen protagonist I thought older middle schoolers would relate to…and that teen protagonist had a younger stepsister named Annabelle.

One of my 7th grade students read Rebound in 2014 and said, “I want Annabelle’s story next.” I loved that idea! I loved Annabelle and knew her story could explore many of the adolescent pressures and changes I saw my students confronting. But I was apprehensive about pouring my heart, time, and energy into something unmarketable, so I held onto the seed of her story but didn’t do much with it….until I shared Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger with a group of 7th graders the next year.

Goodbye Stranger prompted incredibly rich, passionate conversations. Students were so eager to talk about the storyline that features a 7th grade girl getting attention for her developing body. And then I led a book club group of 5th-8th graders who read Natasha Friend’s Where You’ll Find Me. That book was a hit with all of the participants regardless of their age, but the older readers in the group especially talked about how good it felt to read a novel about an 8th grade protagonist who “really felt like an 8th grader.” They wanted more books like Goodbye Stranger and Where You’ll Find Me. They wanted a story like Annabelle’s, and I wanted to write it.

And so, finally, I did. I’m so happy that my critique partners, agent, and editor believe in Annabelle’s story as much as I do, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world! I’m especially excited to give an advance copy to the student who asked me to write about Annabelle back when she was in 7th grade. She’s now about to start her senior year in high school, but better late than never, I figure!

Who is the artist that designed your cover?  And what did you think when you saw the final version?

The cover artist is Nishant Choksi, and the designer is Hana Nakamura. And I was so thrilled to see the final version! I love the bright colors, the way the title looks in those bubbles, and the way Annabelle looks simultaneously grown up and kid-like. I think it’s really eye-catching and vibrant, and it captures the story so well.

Laurie – thank you for letting us take a peek at the cover of Up for Air!  When can readers get it, and where is a good place to preorder?

It’s my absolute pleasure! Up for Air will be out on May 7, 2019 from Abrams/Amulet Books. Readers can preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound.

Thank you! And now let’s take a look!

up for air correct cover.jpg

Laurie Morrison Headshot 1Laurie Morrison taught middle school English for ten years and is the author of two middle grade novels: Every Shiny Thing (Abrams, 2018, co-authored with Cordelia Jensen) and Up for Air (Abrams, 2019). She collaborates with other authors to run Middle Grade at Heart, an online book club and newsletter. Laurie holds a BA from Haverford College, an MA from The University of Arizona, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She lives with her family in Philadelphia, and she loves iced coffee, freshly baked pastries, the ocean, and (of course) books.