Writer's News

Tall Tales of PurplelandA hearty congratulations to CWG member Robert Peyser, whose book Tall Tales of Purpleland is now available on Amazon.


By RJ Palacio

Review By: Carmella Battoglia

Palacio’s Wonder is a gem of a novel.  Its protagonist, August Pullman (Auggie) is a ten year old boy born with craniofacial abnormalities. It is his story of transitioning from home to school in the fifth grade.  But, it is so much more than that! It is a story that accurately portrays the lives of kids who have ever felt different.  It is the story of the pressures of fitting in at school; the difficulties of parents being able to let go; the mixed emotions of being a sibling of a boy who requires so much attention.  And above all else, it is the story of triumph and kindness. Wonder will make you laugh, cry and cheer out loud!

The beauty of the novel is that it is it is narrated by six different characters. You not only get inside Auggie’s head, but those that matter to him most. And don’t be fooled by the young protagonist. This is a book for everyone – children and adults alike. Auggie’s narration will have young readers rooting for him from the start. He’s smart, funny and in many ways an average 10 year old boy. School aged children, will recognize the dilemma’s Auggie faces. Mainly, the social pressures of having friends based on the way you look.  Jack, Auggie’s friend, admits he didn’t want to be friends with Auggie because he is “deformed”.  But, when given a chance, Jack sees beyond Auggie’s face into his big kind heart.

Kindness is the underlying them through this novel. Each month Auggie’s English teacher writes a precept by someone famous on the board at the beginning of each month. Although these precepts are meant to have the characters identify with and learn from them, the readers do as well.  The first one is by Dr. Wayne D Dyer, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind”.  “Choosing kind” runs throughout the novel. It is not the easiest choice to make, but the characters that really matter in this novel, pull through and choose it.

Of course, not everyone is kind in the novel. We go through Auggie’s entire school year with him. We feel each heartache with him. We overcome each hardship with him. We are inspired by him. Auggie wants to quit school after Halloween because he overhears his closest friend making fun of him. But, he doesn’t. He trudges on.  When the whole school starts a “war” against him, he doesn’t tattle or give up. He trudges on. When he has to face parents at public speaking events, he wants to hide, but he doesn’t. He trudges on.  We see Auggie struggle with being different in each case. Auggie shows readers that kids get it. He understands the strange stares, fake smiles and even sarcastic remarks from adults and his peers. But, he tries to see passed them and just fit in. Auggie’s resilience will make you want to jump into the book and be his friend.

Reading Wonder will forever change the way you view anything and anyone different. RJ Palacio tackles a heavy subject with tremendous heart and humor. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a little inspiration in their lives

Contributed and written by Melisa Kraehenbuehl

Fading Stripes is truly a whimsical tale of how one little girl can illuminate an issue and make others see it through different eyes. The author does a wonderful job of being a storyteller of a mythical tale that turns out to be nothing short of reality. Through Fading Stripes children can see what a series of events can lead to and how to change the course of history. By standing up for animals and the world we live in some of the wonderment can be preserved and protected for generations to come.

David Ezra Stein

On a gorgeous autumn afternoon at the end of September, I was privileged to attend a phenomenal, free, open-air event organized by the Princeton Public Library.

The 8th Annual Children’s Book Festival was a glorious whirlwind of author presentations, book signings, and live music. The list of children’s authors and illustrators was lengthy and impressive. In addition to the picture of David Ezra Stein above, candid shots of the many other authors, illustrators and event attendees we met are available on our Facebook page.

Not only were festival goers able to meet and greet A-list children’s authors and illustrators, but they were also treated to short presentations. One presentation featured a live art demo of a 3-eared Cyclops moose, another included a surprise visit by Amelia Bedelia, and a third involved hilarious audience participation in the form of giggling children sporting animal skulls as talking “hats”! Every presentation was unique and engaging. Presentations cycled in 10-15 minute increments throughout the day-long event.

The riveting presentations were topped only by the opportunity to personally meet and chat with authors and illustrators at their individual tables. Without exception, these award-winning professionals were gracious, engaging, and kind.

My first stop in the tent area was to meet one of my personal middle grade writing heroines, the talented and prolific Ann M. Martin, award winning author and creator of the original Baby-sitters Club series. Despite a wrist injury, she signed books all day, one of which I now own (couldn’t resist!).

Trying (and probably failing) not to appear too overtly star-struck, I moved on to Lenore Look’s table, and got to chat with the creator of the Alvin Ho series.  Though her publisher didn’t get a batch of her new books to her in time for the event, there were many of her other gems from which to choose. She was personable and kind, and even shared a link with us to her website, which offers advice for up-and-coming children’s authors.

The remainder of the afternoon was filled to the brim with more of the same awesome experiences. We met several authors from right here in central NJ, including Jen Bryant and John (Bemelmans) Marciano.

It was an incredible day that I will never forget. I strongly encourage those interested in children’s writing and illustration to consider attending next year’s event. It is definitely time well-spent!

If you want to write fiction that inspires and encourages, join Paula Morrow and Kristi Holl for “Sharing our Hope: Writing for Religious and Inspirational Markets.” This Highlights Foundation workshop will be held at The Barn, outside of Honesdale, PA, May 30 through June 2.

Paula has been involved with children’s literature all her life. She was a long-time editor of children’s books and magazines at Cricket Magazine Group and Cricket Books. She currently has an independent editing service and is an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Kristi is a children’s choice award-winning author, and has written 42 books for children, and much more. She taught writing for children and teens for the Institute of Children’s Literature for twenty-five years.

To secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail jo.lloyd@highlightsfoundation.org, or request an application online.

To view more 2012 Founders Workshops, which take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, please visit www.highlightsfoundation.org.

Just a friendly reminder to our NJCWG members that voting for the BookRemarks contest ends January 31, 2013 at midnight EST.  Please take a moment to vote for your favorite story and enable some lucky member to attend BookExpo or a writer’s workshop.

Your vote should be sent to both Danielle and Sheila.

Thank you for your support!


Award News from Candlewick

House Held Up By Trees is a

2012 New York Times Book Review

Best Illustrated Children’s Book!  

House Held Up cover
House Held Up By Trees
by Ted Kooser
illustrated by Jon Klassen


Every year since 1952, the New York Times Book Review has asked a panel of judges to select the ten best books from among the several thousand children’s picture books published that year. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Best Illustrated Awards. The 2012 list will be featured in the November 11 special children’s issue of the Book Review.
Our mailing address is:
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Our website:

Stories for beginning readers in 500 words or fewer. We welcome stories of any genre (mystery, historical fiction, sports, humor, holiday, friendship, etc.) as long as the stories are intended for kids ages 6–8.
Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit http://www.highlightsfoundation.org.)
All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2013.
According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot report for the first half of 2012, sales revenue in the children’s and young adult category skyrocketed by nearly 41 percent compared to the same period last year–rising to $845 million.
Those gains were driven by a 251.5 percent increase in children’s and young adult digital books.  At the same time, adult fiction and nonfiction sales increased 8.3 percent.
(contributed by Danielle Ray)

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“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson