As promised, I have a giveaway to celebrate my return to blogging, and of course, to celebrate a new middle grade novel by Ena Jones, SIX FEET BELOW ZERO! The contest will run for two weeks and the winner will be announced August 23. This contest will run for two weeks and the winner will be announced August 23. Use the form below to register for a chance to win a new, hardback copy of SIX FEET BELOW ZERO by Ena Jones! Apologies, but this contest is only available to residents in the continental U.S.
As most of you know, I’ve been critiquing and beta-reading for many years. At the beginning of this year, I decided to take things up a notch. I enrolled in a copyediting course with Emerson College and completed their copyediting certificate. Following that, I took developmental editing, advanced developmental editing, and other editing courses with the Editorial Freelancers Association, then bolstered those courses with genre-specific editing courses through Club Ed. I’m currently using these skills as a volunteer reader for the B.R.A.G. Medallion Awards for independently published books. I can’t discuss the books I read for them, but it’s a pleasure to help well-written, well-edited, indie books find an audience.
Last week I mentioned that I’ve become a new volunteer reader for Librivox. My first recordings for them are two chapters in a book of fairy tales. The book is being read by several people and won’t be released until all the recordings are in and edited, but I’ll be sure to let you know when it is ready!
In recent years, Holiday House has published some wonderful middle grade books. The Clayton Stone thrillers by Ena Jones are a lot of fun. A more recent book, A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON by Kate Albus is a lovely old-fashioned tale that nevertheless feels fresh and modern. I hated for it to end. Last year they rereleased one of my childhood favorites, BIG RED by Jim Kjelgaard, in a new 75th Anniversary format. And now, Holiday House has published Ena Jones’s new laugh-out-loud contemporary adventure, SIX FEET BELOW ZERO.
When their great-grandmother suddenly drops dead, orphans Rosie and Baker are tasked with carrying out Great Grammy’s final wish—to stash her in the freezer and keep her death secret until their aunt—whose whereabouts are unknown—can come home and take over as their guardian. Through Great Grammy’s meticulous planning and with the help of a neighbor girl, Rosie and Baker just might make it—or not. Nosy visitors, neighbors, and teachers throw complications into their plan, but their worst nightmare is their evil grandmother Grim Hesper. She’s out to steal their inheritance, and what Grim wants, Grim gets.
Jones is a skilled writer and she keeps the pages turning. There are plenty of laughs in this scavenger hunt-style adventure, but there is also grief, love, courage, and friendship. The setting is rich with description and memories, and just like Rosie and Baker, readers will fall in love with Great Grammy and her wild—some would say unkempt—estate.
“A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great-Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she’s the dead body.”
…Opening her eyes again, she stretched her arms wide, the hose swinging. Can you imagine, Rosie? Our deer, rabbits, birds, even the groundhog…homeless, or worse.”
I picked up my rake and began attacking the dead grass and leaves. I wasn’t going to say so, but I could imagine it. I’d always wanted to live in a fancy new house—like Karleen’s—and it made me feel like a traitor.
Ours was more than 130 years old, and the modern homes around us made it look even older and more rickety. Great-Grammy didn’t see it that way, maybe because her great-great-great-great-somebody built it. “Stick by stick and brick by brick” was what she liked to say.
Great-Grammy pursed her lips, as if she’d read my mind. “One of these days, Rosie, you’ll treasure what we have the way I do.”
Jim Kjelgaard’s books were a staple of my childhood. As I mentioned above, BIG RED was an all-time favorite, I recently re-read it, and loved it all over again. It has a simple, loosely-structured plot: a poor boy dreams of owning a show dog that he loves but that is beyond his means. But through character and luck, he earns the right to care for the dog. The rest is the story of their time and adventures together.
Between my school library and my local public library where I grew up, I was able to read Big Red and the sequels, but the only other Jim Kjelgaard book they had was SWAMP CAT, which is available to read FREE (download or read online), or read listen to for FREE. Librivox has several others available as free audio books, and I am currently enjoying the beautifully read RESCUE DOG OF THE HIGH PASS. After that, I still have five more to anticipate.
Join me to discover fun books for kids and adults when new posts are added!