Monday, November 17, 2014

SPAGHETTI SMILES by Margo Sorenson

SPAGHETTI SMILES by Margo Sorenson; illustrated by David Harrington (Pelican Publishing Company, 2014)

Hi folks! We're not doing a marvelous middle grade Monday today because, quite frankly, we're feeling swamped at Mafioso HQ what with selecting and packaging books as holiday presents for the Don's friends and acquaintances. But I did take a break--with the Don's blessing, after he caught sight of the title--to enjoy this picture book by Margo Sorenson, who is a great friend of this blog.

This is a fun, fun book. It tells the story of Jake, who likes to visit his Uncle Rocco's restaurant to read his favorite books to the chef. But trouble is brewing, as Uncle Rocco may lose his lease if a good neighbor can't be found to share the building.
Jake sets off on a mission, visiting the bank, the post office, and the gas station, to see if they would be interested in relocating. No such luck because, although everyone loves Uncle Rocco's food, they don't want to find "rows of pizzas baking in the bank vault," or "lasagna airmailed all over the world," or--horrors!--"gas pumps pumping tomato sauce instead of gas."

Downcast, Jake wanders into a bookstore, where he convinces the store owner. After all, "everyone would buy your books and then eat next door... Or they could eat at Rocco's first, and then buy a book from you for dessert." Now, everyone's happy. Even the pizzas are smiling!

I loved Margo Sorenson's wacky sense of humor, and the illustrations by David Harrington are delightfully energetic and eye-catching. I can see myself reading this to the Don's grandkids until the cover falls apart!

Margo Sorenson is a writer with an incredible range and mastery of a variety of subject matter. Here's a link to an interview I did with her for her middle grade novel Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue. And here's more information about her:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Author of twenty-eight books, Margo Sorenson was born in Washington, DC, and spent the first seven years of her life in Spain and Italy. After teaching high school and middle school and raising a family of two daughters, Margo is now a full-time writer. A National Milken Educator Award recipient, Margo always has a good time meeting with her readers in school and library settings from Minnesota to California and Hawaii.

Margo and her husband now live full-time in California. When she isn't writing, she enjoys visiting her grandchildren, playing golf, reading, watching sports, traveling, and hearing from her readers. You can visit her website here, or follow her on Twitter @ipapaverison. 

Thanks for reading, everyone, and have a Positively Perfect Picture Book Monday! Ciao!!

Monday, November 3, 2014


How we got Shelby Bach on Middle Grade Mafioso:
Guys and Dolls, it's been a grim year here at HQ. Yes, even someone as mighty as the Don has had to do some belt-tightening and I'm afraid the blogging business has fallen down the food chain. (Blast that Luca Brasi Jr., with his crazy ideas for yet another golf course on Long Island.) As a result, we are being severely nickle and dimed at the communications center--I mean I even have to ask permission to buy gum from the vending machine.

The Don's been in major "no" mode. Could we go to conferences? No. How about flying to Edinburgh to interview J.K. Rowling? That resulted in a string of Mamma mias, as well as some Sicilian slang that would make your ears burn.

So, it was with trepidation that I put forward my proposal to be part of Shelby Bach's blog tour. And wadda ya know... it seems the Don's grandkids are all over Shelby's The Ever Afters series. "Little Bella, she wants to be that Rory girl. Hey, you get Ms. Bach on your top-grade blog, and I increase your allowance."

The rest is history. Take that, Luca B.!

The exciting thing is that Shelby Bach has sent us some never-before-seen extras to share with you Ever Afters fans. How about viewing the orientation letters that two of the main characters received? Here are the letters for Lena and Chase! (Plus oodles of links to some incredible fairy tales!)

Lena's Orientation Letter: 

Dear Ms. Jacqueline Lamarelle,
Welcome to Ever After School. We are so pleased that you have joined our fine establishment, and we hope that your time here with us will be both memorable and non-fatal.

Looking through our records, we can report finding the following Tales in the last five generations of your family.

On your father’s side:
The Water Sprite/Nixie (your father and your father’s sister)
The Giant with Three Golden Hairs (your paternal grandmother)
Jack the Giant Killer (father of your paternal grandmother)
The Daughter of Buk Ettemsuch (mother of your paternal grandmother’s
On your mother’s side:
Old Mother Frost (your mother)
The Nunda, Eater of People (father of your maternal grandfather)
The Feather Bird (mother of your maternal grandmother)
The Valiant Taylor (great-uncle of your maternal grandmother – note:
Failed Tale)
The Nix in the Pond (great-aunt of your maternal grandmother – note:
Failed Tale, survived as turtle until enchantment could be broken)
The Fisherman and His Wife (father of your maternal grandmother’s
The One-Handed Girl (mother of your maternal grandmother’s father)

If you have not already done so, please take a little time this week to read these Tales in Anderson, Grimm, and/or Lang, as there is an increased likelihood that you and your siblings will have similar Tales.

Your paternal grandmother, who is also your namesake, has called to inform me that her family is descended from Madame Benne. Though she never had a Tale of her own, Madame Benne formed a Triumvirate with Maerwynne and Rikard, two renowned Characters who lived at the dawn of the last millennium. Together, they founded the Canon, the organization of Tale representatives that has governed and guided all Characters since that time. As your grandmother has told you, Madame
Benne herself is celebrated as the greatest inventor of magical items in written history. The golden apple that grants me and my fellow Canon members unaging immortality is only one of her unduplicated creations. If you are interested in learning more about your famous ancestress, please feel free to visit our Reference Room, which houses several books on the subject.

Best Wishes, and Best of Luck,
The Director

Chase's Orientation Letter:

Dear Mr. Chase Turnleaf,
This letter, as you well know, is unnecessary. You have memorized all the Tales occurring within the last dozen generations of your family. You memorized them within a week of moving here with your father. Unlike many young Characters who arrive at Ever After School without this knowledge, you do not require this information from me, and writing this is a waste of my time and yours.

However, you insist, and Rumpelstiltskin has informed me that you have begun trying to break into the library in order to doublecheck your father’s memory and locate your ancestors’ Tales. That behavior must cease.

Thus, looking through our records, we can confirm the following Tales in the last five generations of your family:
Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Killer (your father)
The Emperor’s New Clothes (your paternal grandfather)
Dapplegrim (youngest brother of your paternal grandfather)
The Glass Coffin (younger brother of your paternal grandmother)
The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was (father of your
paternal grandfather)
Aladdin (great-uncle of your paternal grandfather)

We have discussed, at great length, the reasons why the Tales on your father’s side may have no bearing on your own destiny as a Character. I will not waste further time by listing them again here.

The Director
P.S. If this does not satisfy your curiosity, let it be known that since your father is out of town,
attending to his duties as Champion of the Canon, the duty of disciplining you falls to me. For
three years, I have resisted sending a child to the dungeons, but you are tempting me to reinstate
that punishment.

The dungeons?! Eeek!! Maybe we'll all feel better if we read the enclosed discussion guide for Of Giants and Ice.

There are a bunch of other worthy blogs sharing some extras for the Ever Afters in the coming week. Stop by and say hi!

Blog Tour –
November 3 – Middle Grade Mafioso
November 4 – From the Mixed-Up Files
November 5 – Log Cabin Literary
November 6 – Amanda K. Thompson Blog
November 7 – Novels, News, and Notes
November 8 – Green Bean Teen Queen

And here's some info on Shelby, and where to find her on the web. Thanks for stopping by and hanging with Shelby, the Ever Afters, and the Mafioso today. Grazie!

Shelby’s Bio
Shelby Bach was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, but while writing THE EVER AFTERS, she moved almost as many times as her main character. She came up with the idea for the series right before she left New York City, and she finished the first book, OF GIANTS AND ICE, in Montana—the second, OF WITCHES AND WIND, back in Charlotte. Driving up the West Coast to research the settings for the third book, OF SORCERY AND SNOW, Shelby fell in love with Portland, Oregon and settled there.

She would love to set up a Door Trek system in her apartment to visit her family and friends around the country, but she makes do with much slower and less fictional transportation. These days, while
finishing up the fourth and final book, she also works part time for a real-life afterschool program. It is strangely similar to the one where her stories are set—except the students study math instead of fairy tales.

Shelby’s Social Media