Along with announcing the winner of the giveaway for Ena Jones fun-filled and heart-warming new book, I’ve got two more middle grade books to discuss this week: a new one called Sophie Murphy Does Not Exist, and an old one, Understood Betsy. After reading about these delightful MGs, take a look at the updates on Indie Publishing Conferences and Retreats & Writing Workshops.
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WINNER! We have a lucky winner of a new hardback copy of SIX FEET BELOW ZERO by Ena Jones.
Congratulations to Robin Pharris!
Robin, an email is heading your way to get your mailing address.
Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing!
With all the social media pressure on young people these days, the new middle grade novel SOPHIE MURPHY DOES NOT EXIST, by T. Blanchard, is a timely dose of acceptance and family love. When Sophie’s father dies, she is dismayed to find he did not merit an entry in Netopedia, the online version of everybody who’s anybody. This shocking discovery leads the grieving Sophie to wonder if she is—or could be—anybody who might someday be considered a somebody.
Blanchard’s middle grade voice is spot on, handling grief and humor with equal skill. Her debut MG is also the debut book for a new independent publisher, Chicken Scratch Books. I was so pleased to discover that not only is this book well written, it is also beautifully free of errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting.
Chicken Scratch Books specializes in new, traditional books for the middle grade audience. These books embrace the values found in classic children’s literature but are written in a style that appeals to today’s kids. Their books are available in paperback, ePub, and MOBI, and can be found only on at Chicken Scratch Books.
Each book they publish will also have a novel study course available, featuring the authors. If you are a parent or teacher who would love to share classic children’s literature with kids but find them reluctant to embrace the older, more formal writing style, I encourage you to keep an eye on Chicken Scratch Books. As a boutique publisher, they will only be producing a few books a year, but the quality is worth the wait.
UNDERSTOOD BETSY, by Dorothy Canfield
This week I read a charming story that was written in 1917, UNDERSTOOD BETSY. It’s a charming, old-fashioned tale of a kind-hearted but spoiled city girl who must go live with her “horrid” country cousins. Betsy—Elizabeth Ann to her city family—experiences many trials, like having to learn to dress herself, do chores, and walk to school alone. She also makes many surprising discoveries about herself and slowly comes to realize she’s not the fragile, anxious child she’d always been told she was, and maybe, just maybe, she’s resourceful, strong, and even brave. This delightful story had me smiling all the way through. I’m surprised I’d never read it before; it would have been right up my alley and would have nestled nicely on my bookshelf along with The Secret Garden, Eight Cousins, and Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.
The tale of Betsy’s transition from her big school in the city to the one-room schoolhouse called to mind the current interest in moving away from one-size-fits-all public schools in favor of homeschools and micro-schools. In her city school, Betsy felt like a dunce in certain subjects and dreaded exams (though the latter was mostly the fault of Dear Aunt Frances). But she thrived in her new country school, where a few children of all ages learned at their own pace. It was a happy transition.
UNDERSTOOD BETSY is in the public domain. You can find it for FREE to download or read online at Project Gutenberg. Or, you can listen to it FREE from LibriVox. If you’d like a nice hardcover copy with a ribbon bookmark for only $9.99, you can order one from The Good and the Beautiful, a publisher of high quality literature (mostly from the 1890s to the 1960s) for children. While you’re there, peruse their many other fine books and their complete homeschool curriculums.