And the winner is…

Happy Valentine’s Book Giveaway Day!  In the spirit of sharing the book love, I held a contest on my blog to give away a signed ARC of Linda Sue Park’s incredible MG novel Keeping Score

And in the spirit of entertaining my children, we devised a fun, Valentine-loving way to pick a winner.

First, I wrote the names of everyone who entered on little foam heart stickers.  If you entered, you’re on one of these.  I promise.

Then we stuck all the hearts to the dartboard in the basement. 

Then the kids closed their eyes and took turns shooting darts at you. 

You can be assured that it was done fair and square, even at great risk to our personal property.  E almost threw a dart through the door window you see next to the dartboard.  When I suggested that she open her eyes and just try to hit the board, she vehemently refused.  She would NOT compromise the integrity of the random selection process.

This took longer than I thought it would.  Bedtime was late. There were many near misses.  Many darts that just grazed the edges of some of your names.  But we were looking for a true piercing of the heart, Cupid style.  Finally, J was successful.

Can you read this?

How about now?


!  Please email me your address, and I’ll mail out your signed ARC of Keeping Score.  Happy  Valentine’s Day, everyone, and thanks for entering!

Edited to add a special LJ “Sharing the Love” note… 

has requested that her prize be sent along to

to help her recover from a knee injury (and I know it will help!).  So, whiskersink, please send me your address, and newport2newport….thanks.  Your kindness this morning made me smile a huge smile. I love this community. 


And don’t forget… Valentine’s Day also means the announcement of the Cybils winners!  Congratulations to the winners and all of the nominees for this year.

Contest for Impatient Readers

Sometimes it can be hard to wait.  I’m feeling a little impatient about the books of 2008 for a few reasons.

As a writer, I’m feeling impatient because my second MG historical novel, Champlain & the Silent One,  is still seven months away from the shelves.  It’s off being edited and illustrated now, so all my work is done, except the waiting.  I can’t wait to see the illustrations and the cover, and I really can’t wait to start talking with kids at schools & libraries about Samuel de Champlain and the tribes who guided him on his voyage from Quebec to Lake Champlain 400 years ago.

As a reader and teacher, I’m excited for a whole roundup of 2008 titles from favorite authors & friends & other writers whose work I’ve heard about and can’t wait to read.  I’ve been lucky enough to get sneak peaks of some of them, like Linda Sue Park’s Keeping Score, which I reviewed here. This one is so unbelievably good that I’ve decided it’s a crime not to pass it along so someone else can read it and love it and hopefully talk about it, too.

So here’s the contest.  I’m giving a way my pre-read and somewhat well-traveled ARC of Keeping Score.  I won it in a drawing on

‘s blog a few weeks ago and asked Cindy if she’d be okay with me giving it away again.  The ARC traveled with me to the Kindling Words retreat in Vermont last week, where Linda Sue Park (

) graciously signed it for the giveaway.  It’s not a shiny, perfect, unread-by-human-eyes ARC, but it is signed and got to hang out with the likes of Linda Sue and Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr and Katie Davis and Jane Yolen and other wonderful people.  It’s an ARC with lots of good karma.

If you’d like to be entered the drawing, just leave a comment below with the title of one 2008 release that you can’t wait to read.  The contest ends at 6pm EST on February 13th.  I’ll figure out some bizarre and random way to choose a winner and announce it here on my blog on Valentine’s Day.

A Home Run!

Linda Sue Park just hit another one out of the ballpark.

Watch for this book.  It’s due out from Clarion in March, and I predict It’s going to win awards.

Keeping Score is the very best kind of historical novel – one that first introduces kids to funny, dynamic characters they’ll love and then brings in historical elements that are so much more meaningful as they affect the lives of those characters.

Ten-year-old Maggie Fortini loves the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Loves them with a big, fat capital L.  When Jim, a pal at her dad’s firehouse, teaches her how to keep score, she finds a way to be an even better fan and believes she’s helping the team when she keeps track of every play.  But as Maggie cheers the Dodgers in the early 1950s, the Korean conflict rages overseas. The war that isn’t called a war comes crashing into Maggie’s life when her friend Jim is drafted and suddenly stops communicating with her.

Knowing Park’s work, knowing that she’s a Newbery Medalist, I expected this book to be fantastic. Still, there were some passages that took my breath away, some that made me cry, and some that made me feel like I’m missing out on something spiritual because I’m not much of a baseball fan.  Readers will feel like they’ve moved right into 1950s Brooklyn, especially when Park describes Maggie’s walk through her neighborhood on game day:

She would walk past the row of houses that looked just like hers, all built of dull brownish-yellow brick, one window downstairs, two windows up – to Pinky the butcher, or Mr. And Mrs. Floyd at the bakery, or the drugstore, and she wouldn’t miss a single pitch.  Everyone would have their radios on, the sound of the game trailing in and out of each doorway like a long thread that tied the whole neighborhood together.
Keeping Score does for the Korean War what Gary Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars does for Vietnam – contextualizes it through a funny, poignant story of life on the home front, told from a young person’s point of view.

This is a perfect book for baseball fans, so Clarion’s plans to roll it out in time for the first pitch make perfect sense.  But you don’t have to be a baseball fan to love this one.  Like so many great kids’ books, baseball may be the hook, but there’s so much more here.  

Keeping Score
is full of colorful characters, like George at the firehouse, who shares his roast beef sandwiches with Maggie, her dad, who worries about crowd control, and her mom, who prays for the Dodgers while she knits.  It’s about baseball, but it’s also about family and friends and war.  Most, though, Keeping Score is about holding on to hope – something that old-time Dodgers fans knew all about.

PS – Thanks,

!  I loved this book almost as much as Maggie loves the Dodgers!