Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Babe To Teens, Past
A Youth Column
By Beverly Rowe


We all love series books....just can't wait to find out what our favorite character's latest adventure is. Most series books definitely leave the ending open to the next adventure, and it doesn't matter what your age or favorite genre is...there is a series for that. Thirteen Treasures, below, is a follow up to 13 Curses and 13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison. There is a brand new Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer. The Lost Soul (Fallen Soul Series, Book 1) By Jessica Sorensen. And how about some that are NOT fantasy? There is a new Wimpy Kid story, number 7 in there series: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney. Number 48 in the Magic Treehouse series: Magic Tree House #48: A Perfect Time for Pandas by Mary Pope Osborne, and Sal Murdocca.

Here are some that looked exciting:

13 Treasures
by Michelle Harrison
Fantasy, Science Fiction
Grade 3 up

Tanya is no ordinary girl. She can see fairies. But not the fairies we imagine. Evil fairies who cast spells on her, rousing her from her sleep and propelling her out of bed. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods, a girl Tanya's grandmother will not speak of. As Tanya learns more about this girl, she finds herself dangerously close to vanishing into the fairy realm forever.

Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
by Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench
Ages 12 & UP

In this exciting graphic novel, villainous Bane breaks the Bat in one of the most popular and well-known Batman tales! The inmates of Arkham Asylum have broken free and Batman must push himself to the limits to re-apprehend the Joker, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Killer Croc and more. Pushed to the limits, he comes face-to-face against the monstrosity known as Bane, (and isn't he an interesting looking character on the cover!) who delivers a crippling blow destined to change the Caped Crusader forever! Christian Bale is the movie Batman again.

by Rachel Hartmann
Young Adult

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a complex, and original world, with the intrigue of a Royal Court, and changeling dragons.

There is a great deal of mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the four year old treaty's anniversary draws near, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. Her tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

A Bad Day for Voodoo
by Jeff Strand

When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, "Trust me. This is gonna be awesome." Of course, you probably wouldn't believe a voodoo doll could work either. And when there's suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there—a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, well, you know that's just gonna be a really bad day ..."Jeff Strand is hilariously funny and truly deranged."


If you have a strong connection to kids in second, third and fourth grades, you might be able to write chapter books. You need to develop characters that the 8, 9, and 10 year olds can relate to,with authentic sounding dialogue, and conflict that touches their everyday lives.

The scenes should be a little longer, and the story a little meatier than an easy reader book.Though story possibilities range from mysteries to humor to fantasy, plots that revolve around family, friends and school work best.

Books range from 64-96 pages; manuscripts average 6000-15,000 words (transitional books being on the shorter end).

Do find a critique group and pay attention to your critique buddies.

I would love to interview you on your new chapter book!!

Interview with Katie Clark
(Review of Grandma Drove the Lobsterboat, included at the bottom)

I loved Katie Clark's Grandma books. I asked her about her writing career, and here is what she had to say....


Bev: What or who has been your greatest inspiration as a writer?

Katie: When I was young I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wanted to live in the Little House in the Big Woods and grow up to write children's books. Then as a young teacher starting my career in Maine, I discovered Barbara Cooney. Now I hope to be like Miss Rumphius and do something to make the world more beautiful. Perhaps my books, in some small way, do that.


Bev: How long have you been writing and how did you come to the decision to write children's books?

Katie: I wrote my first book in fourth grade. I had a fabulous teacher named Mr. Herr who had my whole class write, illustrate and bind books. We stitched the pages together, made a hard back cover with stiff cardboard covered with fabric, and everything. My book was about a naughty black kitten named Sooty. My first published book was Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck which I began in 2003 and was published in 2006. In between fourth grade and 2006, I dipped in and out of dabbling with writing, ideas for stories just popping into my head as life rolled along.


Bev: Tell us about your journey to publication.

Katie: My journey to publication began in earnest when I first attended the New England Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators annual conference in New Hampshire in 2003. There, I met two women who happened to also live in Brunswick, Maine and who coincidently were looking for another person to join their critique group. We met monthly at Bookland, a local bookstore and cafe, ate muffins, and helped each other improve our manuscripts. I was working on Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck. I knew it would be tough-love when they kindly but firmly made me edit out the entire first section of my story. Oh, how I loved my introduction to Grandma and her town. But my critique group insisted my story began with the RING! of the telephone. So I dutifully made changes until one magic evening they said, "you're ready to submit!" And so I sent my manuscript to Down East Books. Many months later, just as I was losing hope, I got that much-anticipated call. They wanted to publish my book! (Actually, the editor admitted sheepishly that he had meant to call earlier but had "lost" my manuscript on his desk.) Since then I have published three more books with Down East, Grandma Drove the Lobsterboat being the most recent.


Bev: I'm an active grandma who has actually driven a snow plow, so I could really relate to this Grandma featured in Grandma Drove the Snowplow. How did she evolve from idea to story?

Katie: Grandma is inspired by a real-live person, Bea Hudon, who is a friend of my mother, and who, a long time ago actually ran a family rubbish removal business in Wells, Maine. She and her husband and their seven children worked in the business, many of the boys driving the trucks. The family actually continued to own and run the business until only very recently. Bea always signed the checks. Bea is a very tiny woman and when I met her and heard about the family business I had visions of this diminutive, white-haired, spunky woman behind the wheel of a giant garbage truck. After the first book was a success, we just knew Grandma had to get behind the wheel of another vehicle. That is how she ended up driving the snowplow.


Bev: I just finished reading Grandma Drove the Lobsterboat. What a delightful story. Have you ever been on a lobsterboat? What is your seafaring experience?

Katie: Truth be told, I am a landlubber. Mostly, I get nervous on boats. I like to eat my share of delicious Maine lobster but have never been on a lobster boat. Interestingly, Amy Huntington, the illustrator, who is from Vermont, came to the coast of Maine for a special working vacation so she could accurately draw a lobster boat.


Bev: I love the accompanying illustrations. Do you work with Amy Huntington in planning the illustrations, or is that an individual occupation done entirely separately?

Katie: The standard procedure in publishing children's books is for the writer to submit the manuscript to the publisher and for the publisher, once the manuscript is accepted and edited, to select the illustrator. Then the illustrator is given the manuscript and she decides where the page breaks will go and what the illustrations will represent and look like. In the publishing world the advice given to writers is to understand at the onset that the book although started by the writer is really only one third the writer's. It is said that a picture book is one third the author's, one third the illustrator's, and one third the editor's. An example in Grandma Drove the Lobsterboat is the spelling of "lobsterboat". I first spelled it as two separate words, which is also how spell-check likes it. But the editor changed it to one word, explaining that it is Down East policy to use colloquial spellings of certain words and phrases that are significant to the area. And so, "lobsterboat" is spelled as one word in my book, but every time I type it that way on my computer, spell-check underlines it in red.


Bev: Tell us about your writing you plot the story before you start? Do you have a set routine for your day?

Katie: Writing is only a part-time occupation for me. I also have a fiber crafts business and have just recently started a job as a program director of a family literacy program. so I tend to write in fits and starts. When I am in a writing mode and mood, I often get some of my greatest inspirations just as I am about to go to sleep and just as I wake up. I need to have a pad of paper and several pens on my bedside table. And thankfully my husband can go to sleep with the light on. I do write most of my first drafts by hand using a legal pad and a favorite pen. I like college-ruled paper the best. I then transcribe my work on the computer, do some editing on the computer, but then inevitably print off a draft and make extensive edits with my trusty pen. I read everything out loud to myself, over and over, often pacing around the house.


Bev: Do you have other adventures planned for Grandma? How do you see your writing future?

Katie: At this point, Grandma may remain as a trilogy (doesn't that sound grand?!) Of course, I have had many suggestions from family, friends and readers about other things Grandma might drive, from a combine to a "honey-truck" in honor of one of the kindest men I know, the guy who pumps out our septic tank. But I do have other stories in the works and feel myself getting inspired to send some off to publishers this summer.


Bev: Can you give some writing tips to your fans who are budding writers?

Katie: Read a lot of good books and figure out what makes them good. Read bad books and notice why they are bad. Read what you write out loud. And share your writing with other people. It can be very hard to hear that some one doesn't like your work as much as you do, or has suggestions for how to make it better, but the truth is, we become better writers with the help of others.


Bev: Do you have any other thoughts to share with us?

Katie: For adults and older teens who are serious about turning a story into a published book, get yourself to a SCBWI conference. (Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators)


Bev: Thanks so much for sharing with us and taking the time to answer my questions. By the way, do you have a website? Would you welcome fan email?

My website is
It is rather puny and needs to be updated to include my latest. Thanks for the reminder!

And here I am. I hope this image works. If not, let me know. I also included a photo of me with Bea next to one of their garbage trucks. Just so you get the sizing perspective right, I am a whopping 5' 1" tall!

Grandma Drove the Lobster Boat
Katie Clark
Illustrated by Amy Huntington

Down East Books
June 16, 2012 / ISBN 978-1608930043
Children/Fiction/ Ages 4 - 8

Reviewed by Beverly J. Rowe

Remember Grandma from Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck, and Grandma Drove the Snow Plow? This time Grandma is taking a bit of a vacation. The town's Labor Day celebration includes a Lobster Bake, and so Grandma decides to take a ride on the lobster boat with her son and her grandson, Billy.

Everything is great, until the fog rolls in, and the waves get choppy. Grandma's son is having problems, and someone else needs to take over the helm of the lobster boat. It looks like all the boats are having problems. Grandma is up to the task though, and with Billy's help they will get the boat back in to shore, and deliver the lobsters to the festival in time for the celebration.

Clark shows us what small town life is like in her charming stories. The colorful illustrations by Amy Huntington really show the spirit of the story with intricate details and a lovable Grandma. In each book, Katie Clark shows us a different job that Grandma is capable of doing, providing wonderful discussion topics for family time. This is an outstanding bedtime story and simple enough for that independent reader.

2012 Past Columns