Announcing Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!

I’m getting a lot of MARTY MCGUIRE mail these days, since it’s the Grades 1-3 selection for this year’s Global Read Aloud, and I thought it would be fun to share a little news about Marty’s upcoming adventure!

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After visiting a sanctuary for retired lab chimpanzees, Marty wants to follow in the footsteps of her idol Jane Goodall and help with their care. But “adopting a chimp” is expensive, so Marty and her third-grade pals hatch a plan to raise money by holding a talent show at school and opening a pet-sitting business in Marty’s basement. It turns out that each pet has a personality of its own, and wrangling them is much harder than Marty expected. How will Marty keep her latest great idea from going to the dogs?

Kids with an eye for detail will be able to gather some more clues from the cover, especially when it comes to guessing which animals Marty will have as house guests. I only have personal experience pet sitting one of the cover critters…

This is Hermione, the hedgehog my friend Marjorie used to have as a pet. Hermione was indeed a guest at our house while her own family was on vacation a few years ago. She was adorable but prickly in both body and personality, though I think the latter was just a result of missing her usual people.

MARTY MCGUIRE HAS TOO MANY PETS comes out from Scholastic in February. If you know it’s on your books-to-buy list, I’d love it if you’d pre-order through your local independent bookstore.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s “The Book Report” Interviews Online

On a stormy Friday last February, I flew to Ohio for a school visit and the amazing Dublin Literacy Conference. The school visit…well…was one of the quieter ones I’ve had (school was closed for a snow day, so we had to connect via Skype later on) but the conference itself was a whirlwind of bookish enthusiasm. One of the other speakers was Jarrett J. Krosoczka of LUNCH LADY fame, and during one of our breaks, he interviewed me about CAPTURE THE FLAG for his Sirius XM Live Show “The Book Report.”


That show is available online now, along with Jarrett’s interviews with Tomie dePaola, Norton Juster, Grace Lin, Amy Ignatow, and Dav Pilkey. (Fun fact for Dav’s fans… My Scholastic editor for the MARTY MCGUIRE series also edits CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. So they’re like…literary second cousins or something.)

Anyway, you’ll want to check out Jarrett’s Book Report archives, especially if you’re a teacher or librarian. The interviews average around ten minutes each and are great for author studies or just to share along with a read-aloud.

For Teachers & Librarians: A special invitation to WAKE UP MISSING…

For teachers and librarians whose students enjoyed my books EYE OF THE STORM, CAPTURE THE FLAG, and HIDE AND SEEK, and for those with readers who just love mystery, adventure, action, science, and survival stories…

Bloomsbury/Walker appreciates all that you do to put books in kids’ hands, and so do I, so we’re inviting you to be a WAKE UP MISSING Launch School. The first THIRTY teachers & librarians to sign up will receive:

  • A full-color WAKE UP MISSING poster, mailed to your classroom or library (U.S. addresses only)
  • The opportunity for students to order personalized, signed copies of WAKE UP MISSING via Kate’s launch at The Bookstore Plus (you’ll get an order form to print & send home to families)
  • First priority to schedule one of Kate’s free 15-minute Skype Q and A sessions for January or February to talk about WAKE UP MISSING after your students have read the book

Wondering if WAKE UP MISSING is a good fit for your readers? You can learn more about it here and read the first four chapters online.


Edited on 9/12:  All posters are now spoken for. Thanks for your interest, and I hope you’ll check out the first four chapters of WAKE UP MISSING HERE.

To sign up for your free poster, book order form, and Skype priority list, send an email to with WAKE UP MISSING LAUNCH SCHOOL in the subject line and the following information in the body:

  1. Your full name and complete school/library mailing address

  2. How many readers you work with and what grade(s)

 As soon as you sign up, I’ll email you an order form that you can share with your students if they’d like to order personalized, signed copies of WAKE UP MISSING (other books available, too).  The terrific folks at Bloomsbury/Walker will put your poster in the mail. In early January, you’ll get an email letting you know that my winter Skype schedule is open, and you’ll have first dibs on scheduling a WAKE UP MISSING Skype Q and A session for your classroom or library after your students have had a chance to read. Offer is limited to the first THIRTY teachers & librarians to respond. I’ll update this blog post with a note when all thirty spots on the list are taken.

Thanks again for all that you do to connect readers and books!


Kate’s Fall 2013 Skype Visits (and a new book out today!)

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time doing Skype author visits with readers at schools and libraries around the world. I schedule these season by season, after I have my real-life schedule for deadlines, travel, and family commitments. My Fall 2013 Skype visit schedule opens September 10th (that’s today!) which is also release day for my new book, WAKE UP MISSING.

WAKE UP MISSING is one of those books that kind of defies genre. It’s probably best for readers age 10 and older, , and if I had to define it, I’d call it a “concussion-swamp-survival-DNA-science-thriller.” If you’re intrigued, you can learn more about the book and read the first four chapters for free here. If you know you’re going to buy this book for your classroom or library or just for your family, it would be GREAT if you did so this week (first-week sales actually help authors a lot). I support independent bookstores and hope you will consider buying your books at your local bookstore, too.

Now…about those Skype visits. Here’s all the information you’ll need to set one up for your readers. I offer two kinds of Skype visits:
SKYPE AUTHOR PRESENTATIONS – 45 minute presentations that include visuals, short readings, discussions of writing, research, and revision, an optional mini writing workshop with kids, and time for Q and A. Students may read one of my books ahead of time; this is optional but does make the experience more meaningful.

Cost: $200

Availability: I offer paid Skype presentations on a flexible basis as my schedule allows  – please email me (kmessner at kate messner dot com) with a few dates/times that would work for you and we’ll figure something out.
– 15-minute Q and A sessions with groups that have read one or more of my books and prepared questions in advance. Please note that these free sessions are often scheduled back-to-back, so they must be via Skype only and can’t be scheduled with other videoconferencing platforms that would take time to launch & set up.
Cost: free – (one per school, per year – additional sessions may be scheduled as paid visits)

Availability: 11:00-2:30 EST on the following days only:

September 25
October 3
October 11
October 24
November 5
November 14
Note: If you would like to book a Q and A session for a different date/time or using a videoconferencing tool other than Skype, it may be scheduled as a paid visit (see above).

With both kinds of Skype visits, I’ll be offering the opportunity for students & teachers to order signed, personalized books through The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, with books for fall visits to be delivered in late November. If this is something that your group chooses to do, I’ll send an order form for you to distribute. I’ve worked with The Bookstore Plus for Skype author visits in the past. They do a great job taking orders and offer free shipping anywhere in the U.S. for orders over $50.

Here’s how to schedule your Skype visit:
(Sorry to be picky, but I’ve found that having a strict format for these emails saves loads of time, which leaves me more hours to write books and chat with your students, too!)

Please email me (kmessner at kate messner dot com) answering ALL of the following questions in a numbered list:

1.     What’s your name, and where do you teach/work? Please include your city, state, AND time zone.
2.     Which type of visit (free 15-minute Q and A or longer paid presentation) would you like to book?  (If you need more than one Q and A session, the first is free, and the second may be scheduled as a paid visit.)
3.     What are a few dates/times that would work well for a Skype chat?  Please list your TOP THREE choices for days/times, based on the available dates listed above.  If your first choice is available when you email, it’s all yours. I’ll get back to you within a few days to confirm.  Note: My life runs on Eastern Standard Time – if you’re in a different time zone, please remember to account for that.
4.     About how many students will be in the group, and what grade(s) will be included?

5.     What book(s) will the students have read prior to our Skype chat? (required for free chats, optional but recommended for paid visits)

6.     What is your username on Skype? (If you don’t have one yet, let me know. You can do this part later.)

7.     Please provide a classroom/library or cell phone number where I can reach you on the day of the visit in case there are any technical/weather issues. This needs to be a phone that is with you and turned on, on the day of our visit. It is the number I will call at the time of our chat if there’s any trouble connecting via Skype.

8.     Do you plan to distribute a book order form to offer students the opportunity to order signed books through The Bookstore Plus after our Skype visit?  This isn’t required, but it’s appreciated and helps add to student excitement.

Note: Right now, I’m booking free visits through November 14th and paid visits through December. I’ll begin booking winter/spring visits in early January. Let me know via email if you’d like to be on the list to be notified when those dates open up.

Good news – and a Sneak Preview of WAKE UP MISSING

MissingMy new science thriller for kids, WAKE UP MISSING, comes out on Tuesday.Here’s what it’s about…

Meet Quentin, a middle school football star from Chicago…
Sarah, an Upstate New York girls’ hockey team stand-out…
Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest…
And Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California.

The four have nothing in common except for the head injuries that land them in an elite brain-science center in the Florida Everglades. It’s known as the best in the world, but as days pass, the kids begin to suspect that they are subjects in an experiment that goes far beyond treating concussions….and threatens their very identities. They’ll have to overcome their injuries – and their differences – to escape, or risk losing themselves forever.

WAKE UP MISSING is a Junior Library Guild selection and has been showing up on blogs and in industry reviews lately.

Publishers Weekly called it “an exciting middle-grade thriller inspired by cutting-edge science and historical events.

Kirkus offered this mathematical analysis: “Six middle schoolers + mad scientists + Everglades = adventure.”

My favorite reviews so far, though, have been from teachers. This book grew out of my fascination with cutting edge science (how far is too far?) and my love of the Florida Everglades, a place I find both stunningly beautiful and terrifying, and it’s my biggest hope that the book will find readers who love adventure and science the way I do. Teachers, librarians, and independent booksellers are most often the people who put those “just right” books into readers’ hands, so I was thrilled to see these reviews:

Maria Selke featured WAKE UP MISSING on her Science Friday post with some great ideas for how teachers might use the book in the classroom, making nonfiction connections with the author’s note.

And Jennifer Vincent talks about the book on her blog, Teach Mentor Texts. One of the things I love about this blog is that it packs so many classroom-friendly ideas into a single post – especially specific examples for how each book might be used as a mentor text to teach kids about their own writing.

Sneak Preview of WAKE UP MISSING

Ready to start reading right now? You can download the first four chapters of WAKE UP MISSING as a free pdf file right now. Just click here. If you want to read more, I hope you’ll pre-order WAKE UP MISSING from your favorite bookseller today. I support independent bookstores and would love it if you asked for it at your local indie.

If you’d like to order a personalized, signed copy, I’ll be signing at one of my local indies, The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, on Saturday, September 21st. To order signed copies of WAKE UP MISSING or any of my other books for kids, just give them a call at 518-523-2950 and let them know how you’d like it signed. They’ll ship it out the following week (free shipping on orders over $50, too!)

Back to School & Back to Work

Confession: Even though I’ve been writing full time for a couple years, it still feels a little strange not going back to school on the first day. Instead of smelling new pencils and seeing nervous middle school faces now, the start of school means a return to longer writing days for me. That’s most welcome after a summer that was full of busy days and wonder. Here’s a sampling of the July & August memories I’m bringing back to my quiet writing room…

Magical glass

 We spent a day in Montreal and checked out this amazing Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

If you live near Montreal or visiting any time soon, don’t miss it – it’s there through October 20th.

Secret stone houses

Camping on Lake Champlain’s Valcour Island was on my daughter’s summer wish list, and we’re so glad we found the perfect weekend for it. This island saw a pivotal Revolutionary War naval battle in 1776  and was the site of a short-lived utopian community in the late 1880s. These days, its bays are full of Canadian sailboats, but the island itself is riddle with hiking trails that still hold some surprises, including this abandoned stone house that we came upon in a clearing.

Ambitious snakes

Just as we were gathering our camping supplies on the rocky beach, getting ready to return to the mainland, we spotted this garter snake, struggling to eat a toad that was many times the size of its head.

Nature is pretty amazing sometimes.

Ancient Rome

This was the view from my home-office-away-from-home for a week in  August…

That’s the Roman Colosseum you see in the distance, the Flavian Amphitheater as it was known at the time, and it’s an important site in one of my upcoming books. It’s too early to say much more about the new project, other than that I have many pages of notes and many, many photos for inspiration now that I’m home writing again. More to come soon…

So happy back to school, everyone! If you’re a teacher or school library media specialist or student, I hope you’re having a great start to your new school year!