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El Deafo by Cece Bell

UPDATE: 7/16/14 Publishers Weekly *starred* review added.



My review:
An amazingly touching self portrait of a child coping with friendship, family and school after suddenly becoming deaf due to meningitis at age four. CeCe Bell is a normal kid who faces an extraordinary challenge adapting to a new environment of quiet, learning how to understand and communicate with her friends and family after her illness. Honest, intimate, poignant and funny, El Deafo is ultimately a joyous triumph of one’s girl’s determination to navigate her way through the various pitfalls inherent in childhood friendships, first crushes, teachers, classmates, parents and siblings while managing her hearing issues. Her phonic ear, the audio device which enables her to hear more acutely in school, gives her superpower hearing: the ability to hear her teacher wherever she is in the school building, thereby giving her a distinct advantage with her school friends when she reveals its attributes. As a graphic novel memoir, El Deafo is seamlessly engaging and surprisingly helpful, illustrating aspects of the life of a little girl dependent upon visual cues for connections with illustrated diagrams. The illustrations are loving and playful and are the genius behind the book. Cece’s double talent of writing and illustrating bring her childhood experiences to life in ways that every reader can identify. I enjoyed seeing it as much as reading it and as a reader, I was cheering her on along the way. A note from the author explains deafness and the deaf culture in more detail. Kudos, Cece Bell!


Here is a look at the full color illustrations:





Publishers Weekly:
A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community (“IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?”) and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell’s earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe (“eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!”), and her invention of an alter ego—the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters (“How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?” she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)—all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece’s predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8–12. — Publishers Weekly starred review, 7/7/2014.

Read as an advance reader copy:



Visit Cece’s website here.

El Deafo
CeCe Bell
Amulet Books a division of ABRAMS Books
September 2014
9781419710209
Cloth
$21.95
9781419712173
Paper
$10.95
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Immortality! The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett

I often reflect upon the invisible nature of sales reps in the overarching universe that is trade book publishing. Early in my career I worked for a major New York publisher for nearly twelve years without stepping foot in the New York office or the New Jersey warehouse. My tether was the telephone, or sales conference meetings that took place in off-site locations.

My booksellers knew me in person, of course, as I traveled three times a year for seasonal presentations, writing orders, and taking inventories. It’s a different existence to be sure. It can be lonely. It can have a negative affect on one’s personal life. Friends and family would always assume I was traveling, thereby not calling as much or making plans to get together. There are all the long distance relationships with people that are business related, but over time, become personal due to shared experiences of joy and loss in our personal and business lives.

Much of the time earlier in my career, I was most separated from the very people for whom I was advocating: authors. Understandably. Sales reps are all about business, getting the job done; selling books. Sometimes authors would speak at sales conferences, travel on tours to stores in my territory, or appear at national or regional trade shows. Mostly, though, they were perhaps isolated, too, writing in their home offices, interacting with their editors, agents and other authors.

Fast forward a couple of decades or so and my, how times have changed. I work as a sales rep now in an independent rep group. We are our own company, and we represent a variety of publishers. I frequently appear in some of my publishers New York (or elsewhere) offices. I’m not lonely now, with a husband and son who tolerate my crazy work schedule as best as they can. Thanks to the internet, there is social media, which I have often claimed has done more to break down the barriers to various segments of publishing than eBooks (ahem). Publishing is much more transparent than it used to be, and with this transparency, I can enjoy many aspects of my work that were previously less available to me: AUTHORS! Authors are encouraged by publishers to put themselves out in the world of social media with websites, blogs, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to contribute to the overall marketing efforts being made for their books.

Which brings me to today’s topic: the awesome Tom Angleberger (or mastermind marketer, either one!). This man is a genius. He really works it, meaning, he puts himself out there in creative, authentic ways with indefatigable (seemingly) enthusiasm and good humor with readers, teachers, librarians, sales reps, publishers, and other authors. In my exploration of social media, I have had the pleasure of observing Tom’s efforts in action. With two more recent gestures, however, I have benefited from his kind generosity toward me.

In the acknowledgments of Tom’s previous Origami Yoda installment, The Secret of the Fortune Wookie, I appeared alongside other Super Booksellers, Librarians, Teachers, Reading Specialists, and Principals.



Earlier this summer, I received notice from Tom’s editor at ABRAMS that I was mentioned in his newest book, The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett. Wow! She said it was a veiled reference, but definitely a shout out. I had to wait like every other reader on Earth to read The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, because the book had a strict release date of August 8. Absolutely no access to anything at all whatsoever! The anticipation was agonizing.

On the appointed date of August 8, my book didn’t arrive. WHAT? I usually get a shiny metallic bubble envelope (so it stands out from all the other shipments that arrive daily) with a single copy of the book. It was late. I had to wait longer. It did finally arrive and I set about reading, scouring the book for my hidden shout out.

I missed it. I was so embarrassed. I imagined all sorts of ways I might be in the book. A drawing in the margin? Tom makes fantastic drawings that augment the story content.



Would I be a student character named Teresa? A teacher? None of the characters rang true to me. I couldn’t tell anybody I’d missed it, because what would that say about my reading comprehension?! I could hear it now, “Please tell me where I’m mentioned in the book, because I’m too dense to notice?!” And what is up with all this fangirl excitement, anyway? I’m a seasoned, experienced, long-serving professional, for heaven’s sake. It not about me! When I saw Tom’s publicist’s name prominently displayed masquerading as Lucas County School District Dietician and Nutritionist, I thought it would be as easy as this to spot.



So this week, when Tom sent me this tweet:

I got my clue!!



What happened, of course, was my eyes faithfully followed the written circle and arrow on the page, never really looking RIGHT ABOVE THE CIRCLE, and seeing “Kravtin Heights MS”. I’m a Middle School!! Yay!

I am now twice immortalized in print. It’s great bragging rights. My 17 year old son is very impressed that his mom, who works in relative obscurity, now appears in millions of copies of two books. Millions, I say! Thank you, Tom. This is so much fun. You have made a hardened, and sometimes cynical professional sales rep smile. Other authors have passed along to me their appreciation of the efforts of sales reps through social media whether or not I actually sell their books. It is immensely gratifying. The transparency of social media allows us all to converse with each other in new and creative ways. I still haven’t met many of the authors I chat with online, but these efforts inform my overall enthusiasm for my work on their behalf. I’m such a fangirl for the authors I sell. This, however, takes it to a whole new level.



Here is my post when Tom and I actually met while flying on the same plane to New York this past May.




This weekend, Tom is appearing at the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia. On Sunday, September 1, he’s scheduled to lead the Children’s Parade at 11:45 am, followed by at appearance on the Children’s Stage from noon to 12:30 pm. If you’re in the area, or within traveling distance, don’t miss this chance to meet Tom. Click here for a map of all the DBF venues, and here for directions to get there.

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"When we love a book, we’re totally into it. Stevie Lynn Turner and I, peering into the future. Thanks Cat Winters!", FoxTale Book Shoppe bookseller and co-owner, Karen Schwettman (left), and Stevie Lynn Turner (right). "In The Shadow of Blackbirds is a page turning blast to the past.  The time is 1918 with the world reeling from war and a deadly flu.  Spiritualists claim they can put you in touch with your loved ones and take your picture with their ghosts.  Our reluctant heroine, with her goggles that allow her to peer into the future, finds herself entangled in a ghostly mystery she’s determined to solve. If she survives, that is.” — Karen Schwettman, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, GA"This was a total package … Not only did Cat Winter’s score with this amazing story, but her cover is beautiful. LOVED! — Reader, Stevie Lynn Turner, pictured above.

Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black lives up to her striking name—she’s a curious girl fascinated by science, living in 1918, “a year the devil designed,” as Mary puts it. With WWI raging on and Mary’s father on trial for treason, she goes to live with her Aunt Eva in San Diego, Calif., even as influenza sweeps across America, devastating the population and rendering those left behind paranoid and weary. Grieving for her childhood beau Stephen, who died while fighting overseas with the Army, Mary goes outside during a thunderstorm and is struck dead by lightning—for a few minutes. When Mary comes to, she discovers she can communicate with the dead, including Stephen. Winters’s masterful debut novel is an impressively researched marriage of the tragedies of wartime, the 1918 flu epidemic, the contemporaneous Spiritualism craze, and a chilling love story and mystery. Unsettling b&w period photographs appear throughout, à la Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, greatly adding to the novel’s deliciously creepy atmosphere. — Publishers WeeklyUS National Library of Medicine and The Marlin Company, Wallingford, Connecticut"Cat Winter’s debut novel … is creepy good. Winters … leaves readers haunted." — Chelsey Philpot, The Boston Globe, April 27, 2013A Booklist Top Ten Horror Book for Youth: 2013"Winters’ debut ropes in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, WWI shell shock, national prejudice, and spirit photography, and yet never loses focus from its primary thesis: desperation will make people believe—and do—almost anything. Mary Shelley Black, 16, has been sent to live with her aunt in San Diego, a city crawling with gauze mask–wearing citizens fearful of catching the deadly virus. Loss is everywhere, which means booming business for spirit photographer Julius, the older brother of Mary’s true love, Stephen, who is off fighting in the trenches. Stephen’s death coincides with Mary suffering electrocution, an event with strange aftereffects: Mary sends compass needles spinning, can taste emotions, and begins to see and hear Stephen’s ghost, in torment over the maniacal “birdmen” that tortured and killed him. Mary believes his spirit will rest when she uncovers the truth about his death—a truth more horrifying than most readers will expect. A scattering of period photos, including eerie examples of spirit photography, further the sense of time and place, but the main event here is Winters’ unconventional and unflinching look at one of the darkest patches of American history. More than anything, this is a story of the breaking point between sanity and madness, delivered in a straightforward and welcoming teen voice." — Daniel Kraus,  BooklistAmerican Museum of PhotographyNominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Visit Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds website, for complete  reviews, historical background links and interesting detail about the publication of the book.

For more information about Cat Winters, click here.In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
Amulet Books/ABRAMS
9781419705304
Cloth
$16.95

For more about FoxTale Book Shoppe, see this previous post from March 2013.
"When we love a book, we’re totally into it. Stevie Lynn Turner and I, peering into the future. Thanks Cat Winters!", FoxTale Book Shoppe bookseller and co-owner, Karen Schwettman (left), and Stevie Lynn Turner (right).



"In The Shadow of Blackbirds is a page turning blast to the past. The time is 1918 with the world reeling from war and a deadly flu. Spiritualists claim they can put you in touch with your loved ones and take your picture with their ghosts. Our reluctant heroine, with her goggles that allow her to peer into the future, finds herself entangled in a ghostly mystery she’s determined to solve. If she survives, that is.” — Karen Schwettman, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, GA

"This was a total package … Not only did Cat Winter’s score with this amazing story, but her cover is beautiful. LOVED! — Reader, Stevie Lynn Turner, pictured above.


Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black lives up to her striking name—she’s a curious girl fascinated by science, living in 1918, “a year the devil designed,” as Mary puts it. With WWI raging on and Mary’s father on trial for treason, she goes to live with her Aunt Eva in San Diego, Calif., even as influenza sweeps across America, devastating the population and rendering those left behind paranoid and weary. Grieving for her childhood beau Stephen, who died while fighting overseas with the Army, Mary goes outside during a thunderstorm and is struck dead by lightning—for a few minutes. When Mary comes to, she discovers she can communicate with the dead, including Stephen. Winters’s masterful debut novel is an impressively researched marriage of the tragedies of wartime, the 1918 flu epidemic, the contemporaneous Spiritualism craze, and a chilling love story and mystery. Unsettling b&w period photographs appear throughout, à la Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, greatly adding to the novel’s deliciously creepy atmosphere. — Publishers Weekly



US National Library of Medicine and The Marlin Company, Wallingford, Connecticut



"Cat Winter’s debut novel … is creepy good. Winters … leaves readers haunted." — Chelsey Philpot, The Boston Globe, April 27, 2013


A Booklist Top Ten Horror Book for Youth: 2013

"Winters’ debut ropes in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, WWI shell shock, national prejudice, and spirit photography, and yet never loses focus from its primary thesis: desperation will make people believe—and do—almost anything. Mary Shelley Black, 16, has been sent to live with her aunt in San Diego, a city crawling with gauze mask–wearing citizens fearful of catching the deadly virus. Loss is everywhere, which means booming business for spirit photographer Julius, the older brother of Mary’s true love, Stephen, who is off fighting in the trenches. Stephen’s death coincides with Mary suffering electrocution, an event with strange aftereffects: Mary sends compass needles spinning, can taste emotions, and begins to see and hear Stephen’s ghost, in torment over the maniacal “birdmen” that tortured and killed him. Mary believes his spirit will rest when she uncovers the truth about his death—a truth more horrifying than most readers will expect. A scattering of period photos, including eerie examples of spirit photography, further the sense of time and place, but the main event here is Winters’ unconventional and unflinching look at one of the darkest patches of American history. More than anything, this is a story of the breaking point between sanity and madness, delivered in a straightforward and welcoming teen voice." — Daniel Kraus,  Booklist


American Museum of Photography



Nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults


Visit Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds website, for complete reviews, historical background links and interesting detail about the publication of the book.

For more information about Cat Winters, click here.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
Amulet Books/ABRAMS
9781419705304
Cloth
$16.95

For more about FoxTale Book Shoppe, see this previous post from March 2013.
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The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett Teaser

"Dark times have fallen on McQuarrie Middle School. Dwight’s back—and not a moment too soon, as the gang faces the FunTime Menace: a new educational program designed to raise students’ standardized test scores. Instead, it’s driving everyone crazy with its obnoxious videos of Professor FunTime and his insidious singing calculator! When Principal Rabbski cancels the students’ field trip—along with art, music, and LEGO classes—to make time for FunTime, the students turn to Origami Yoda for help. But some crises are too big for Origami Yoda to handle alone: Form a Rebel Alliance the students must. United, can they defeat the FunTime Menace and cope with a surprise attack from Jabba the Puppett?" — ABRAMS Books website

On sale August 6, 2013.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett
Tom Angleberger
Amulet Books
9781419708589
$12.95 
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School Library Journal LIVE Webcast with Jeff Kinney: 11/12/12 1 pm

Click the image to register.

Follow on Twitter: @SLJEvent #sljwimpykid

In The Third Wheel, love is in the air-but what does that mean for Greg Heffley?

A Valentine’s Day dance at Greg’s middle school has turned his world upside down. As Greg scrambles to find a date, he’s worried he’ll be left out in the cold on the big night. His best friend, Rowley, doesn’t have any prospects either, but that’s a small consolation.

An unexpected twist gives Greg a partner for the dance and leaves Rowley the odd man out. But a lot can happen in one night, and in the end, you never know who’s going to be lucky in love.

Jeff Kinney tells all about Greg’s pursuit of dance happiness in this one hour live-streaming event, and will answer your questions live! Kinney will also talk about the origins of Wimpy Kid and where it might go from here.



Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel Event Kit.

“Writers Speak to Kids” on NBC Learn with author Jeff Kinney.
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Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers



What is it that makes a novel primarily for teenagers, as opposed to anyone else? You might be surprised at the debate this question spawns. I’ve had many thoughtful discussions on the subject, sometimes with critics who raise the question about my own work, but I’ve also seen YA novelists denounce – and I use the word advisedly – books as brilliant as Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram as great in themselves but definitely Not For Teenagers.

Peet’s book sits in that hinterland where teenagers themselves reside: one foot in youth and one in the great wide world beyond. Aidan Chambers’s Dying to Know You, longlisted for this year’s Guardian Children’s Fiction prize, is likely to fuel the debate. Its unnamed narrator is a 75-year-old author of books for teenagers who is mourning the recent loss of his wife, who has to consider his sciatica before sitting for any length of time, and is constantly taking emergency urinary breaks in roadside hedges..

He befriends 18-year-old Karl. Taciturn but likeable, Karl has already left school and is working as a plumber. He approaches the narrator because his girlfriend, 16-year-old Fiorella – a fan of the author – has tired of his reticence and demanded he answer a series of questions about himself in “full-dress English”. What she doesn’t know is that Karl is severely dyslexic, unable to translate his thoughts into written words. For reasons of his own – namely that he hasn’t been able to write at all since the death of his wife – the author agrees to help Karl..

Their friendship is as unexpected to the characters as it is to us; at one point Karl has a violent run-in with thugs at the pub who put the worst spin on it. But Chambers is so skilled, so calmly truthful in his writing, that Karl’s simple, decent humanity and the narrator’s careful concern come across as entirely believable. Not all teenagers are the defiant balls of attitude they are too frequently portrayed as in the media. In fact, most aren’t, and none of them are that way all of the time. Most of them are like Karl: cautious, principled, finding their way..

Dying to Know You doesn’t stay long in its expected Cyrano de Bergerac groove. Fiorella responds quite badly when she finds out Karl’s words aren’t his own, and a camping trip she takes with Karl to get closer to him doesn’t go the way either of them planned. The story darkens, but never gratuitously, and Chambers is unafraid of frank discussions of sex, depression, the death of a parent, and even serious thoughts of suicide. Chambers himself is 78, a few years older than his novel’s narrator, and what emerges is not just a moving, unexpected story of the complexity of teenagers, but also a story of later life, of ageing and loss, and what experience really means..

So is this a book for teenagers? Why on earth not? It features two fully realised, complicated teenagers at its centre, viewed with a clear-eyed compassion by an observer who could have tipped towards the alien but remains fully human. It is perfect for that cloudy expanse between older teenager and younger adult, a novel that doesn’t pretend to advise, but merely sees its characters for who they really are. No one appreciates that more than a teenager does.

—Patrick Ness, The Guardian UK, 6/15/12
Dying to Know You
9781419701658
Amulet Books
Cloth
$16.95

From the ABRAMSBooks website:

About the author: Aidan Chambers has received international acclaim and won every major young adult prize, including the Michael L. Printz Award and the Carnegie Medal. He lives in Gloucester, England, with his wife, Nancy. To learn more, visit him online at www.aidanchambers.co.uk.

Photograph: Garry Weaser/The Guardian

“Deliberate in pace and carefully insightful in its investigation of character, Chamber’s latest is a work of art that repays multiple readings.” —Booklist, starred review

“Chambers delivers yet another intellectually satisfying novel with equal parts philosophy and repartee, and this one may have broader teen appeal than his most recent efforts.”—The Horn Book, starred review

“Packed to the brim with challenging ideas, the latest from Chambers—winner of the Printz Award, Carnegie Medal, and Hans Christian Andersen Award, among others—is simultaneously an acutely observed (and surprising) love story; the chronicle of a young man coming into his own as an artist; and a slippery, twisting examination of the art of storytelling.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This quietly understated performance captures the wistfulness of music in a minor key and is ultimately successful in its life-affirming message.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Readers are hooked with snappy dialogue and keen insights; Karl is a multifaceted and likable character who will keep them engaged and rooting for him to find his way in love and in life.” —School Library Journal

From the A Rep Reading archive:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay wins the 2012 Carnegie and Greenaway medals.

Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram
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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews



What happened when I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl epitomizes what I love about my job. Erica, the sales manager at the book’s publisher, Abrams Books, told me that this was her personal favorite on the spring list for 2012. I was eager to check it out. As I read, and began laughing hysterically, I started to get excited about the book’s potential. I was enjoying the book immensely. I also began brainstorming about unsual ways to create buzz for this book. At one point, a reader for the book came immediately to mind. I knew an author in Atlanta who would be the perfect reader. It wouldn’t be the first time this author came to mind, and each time she and I have connected because of a book, wonderful things have happened.

I called Erica and asked her to send a copy to the author right away. Sharing books with the perfect reader is a barometer for the potential audience for the book. I also made sure my teacher reader in Indiana had access to it. He teaches 11th grade AP language arts and has a wicked sense of humor and I knew he would love the book.

Fast forward. One day on Twitter the three of us found ourselves in a hilarious conversation on Twitter with the author, Jesse Andrews. It is so much fun to experience excitement about a new author, a fantastic reading experience, with other readers and the author, too!

Here is some of that Twitter banter, including some general tweets shared about the book.

Laurel Snyder:
@LaurelSnyder I’m reading a YA right now where the [main character] has these “imagined” scenes that read as screenplays #mglitchat

@LaurelSnyder Deeply satisfied, I retire to the HILARIOUS BOOK I’m reading. Nighty night!

@muellerspace Eavesdropping on you and the book you’re reading. Unless you seriously can’t tell us.

@LaurelSnyder Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Naughty eff-bomb laden YA about a geeky boy and a girl with cancer.

@LaurelSnyder Too soon to tell if it’s going to “go deeper” but I can say it’s brilliantly funny and kids will LOVE.

@LaurelSnyder Oh, & also— this awesome YA book is about a JEWISH kid. That’s right! First Mirka, then Inquisitor’s Apprentice and OJ, now this.

@LaurelSnyder And there are these screenplay thoughts/excerpts in the book. Oh, it’s GOOD. I predict big things.

@LaurelSnyder This book is a riot AND it’s about a girl with cancer. How does one do that?

@LaurelSnyder “It’s somehow worse to draw attention to the fact that there are two boobs. ‘You have nice boobs.’ Bad. ‘You have two nice boobs.’ Worse.”

@LaurelSnyder Oh, hell. This book is awesome. An awesome funny BOY-MC YA book. I cannot stop laughing. It’s Adrian Mole on speed, with lots of cussing.

@LaurelSnyder Okay… I’m officially starting a @swerdnaessej [Jesse Andrews’ Twitter name] fan club. Just finished his book & I cried from laughing, & then, umm… the other way too.

Me:
@trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I’m joining the fan club. Maybe we can get @PaulWHankins, too.

Paul W. Hankins:
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I missed the thread, but if you’re talking about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I am in…

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Abrams, & Amulet continue to provide readers with super titles in the humor genre.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Okay. I just spewed Vernor’s all over my laptop. Earl’s first lines in the whole book? Too rich.

@trkravtin @PaulWHankins Are you laughing? @laurelsnyder @swerdnaessej

Jesse Andrews:
@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder I am a little worried you guys are all fake aliases my mom created to improve my self-esteem.

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej @trkravtin I like it. Let’s play with him a little while. Let me look at his profile picture again.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Yep. As I suspected. Looks like Seinfield and De Niro had a love child. This makes for funny (wink).

@LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Hilarious romp about cancer, immobilizing self-awareness, family, class and donkey d*cks.


@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The most telling, most brutally honest look at the microcosm called high school.

@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @paulwhankins @laurelsnyder Oh man, you guys. I am legitimately verklempt right now.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Earl is all the great sidekicks. If we do Hero’s Journey with this, we have to include his question.

@trkravtin @PaulWHankins I thought Earl was great, too. @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder

@LaurelSnyder I thought Earl was VERY carefully balanced. Tricky stuff, that. But so smart, and so purposeful. @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @swerdnaessej

@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @trkravtin @swerdnaessej I love how Earl is able to float among characters, infiltrate Greg Gaines.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @laurelsnyder@swerdnaessej “I know you’re Jewish but I just want to say something from the Bible.” Too funny.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej “She wanted us all to be ‘surprise Jews.” Meaning, with sneaky Anglo-Saxon names.” Classic.

@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The main characters response to the news about Rachel. So authentic. This book’s a winner in 2012.

@LaurelSnyder Yes, this. So actual. So honest. And the growth is the same way, incremental, believable. @PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej

@swerdnaessej @LaurelSnyder @PaulWHankins @trkravtin Hurrah for you guys! And again, it’s fine if you’re all my mom/grandma, just please cop to it

@PaulWHankins 5 of 5 stars to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews bit.ly/t7RHjp

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 9781419701764 ABRAMS Books/Amulet Jesse Andrews $16.95 Cloth.

Laurel Synder is the author of many books for children. Her most recent novel is Bigger than a Bread Box, and her most recent picture book, Good night, laila tov, is brand spanking new and perfect for Earth Day!

Paul W. Hankins teaches 11th Grade English and AP English Language and Composition in southern Indiana. He is the creator/moderator of RAW INK Online, a digital learning community that connects his students with the Young Adult authors they are reading. Hankins created the hashtag campaign, #SpeakLoudly and co-hosts the new SpeakLoudly.org site with David Macinnis Gill. Hankins lives in southern Indiana with his wife, son, and daughter. A writer, Hankins’ work can be found in an anthology, Where Handstands Surprise Us and Motif 2: Chance.

Read my Goodreads review here.

Read Jesse’s post on the Abrams Blog here.

UPDATE: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a top six pick for the 2012 Spring New Voices for Teens by the American Booksellers for Children Association.

Kirkus *STARRED REVIEW*: “Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable…”

A frequently hysterical confessional from a teen narrator who won’t be able to convince readers he’s as unlikable as he wants them to believe.

“I have no idea how to write this stupid book,” narrator Greg begins. Without answering the obvious question—just why is he writing “this stupid book”?—Greg lets readers in on plenty else. His filmmaking ambitions. His unlikely friendship with the unfortunately short, chain-smoking, foulmouthed, African-American Earl of the title. And his unlikelier friendship with Rachel, the titular “dying girl.” Punctuating his aggressively self-hating account with film scripts and digressions, he chronicles his senior year, in which his mother guilt-trips him into hanging out with Rachel, who has acute myelogenous leukemia. Almost professionally socially awkward, Greg navigates his unwanted relationship with Rachel by showing her the films he’s made with Earl, an oeuvre begun in fifth grade with their remake of Aguirre, Wrath of God. Greg’s uber-snarky narration is self-conscious in the extreme, resulting in lines like, “This entire paragraph is a moron.” Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being.

Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.
Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*: “One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.”
Greg Gaines, 17, would be the first to tell you that his constant “dickhead behavior” makes him the least likely person to befriend a classmate dying of leukemia. But he’s pushed into it by his mother and, well, the result is this “horrifyingly inane,” “unstoppable barf-fest” of a book. Greg prefers to keep a low-profile at school, instead collaborating with his almost-gangsta pal Earl on terrible remakes of classic films: Apocalypse Later with Super Soakers, The Manchurian Cat-idate with cats. But his knack for cracking jokes keeps the dying girl, Rachel, smiling, and pretty soon the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero. He’s even pushed into making a final opus: Rachel the Film, a.k.a “the worst film ever made.” One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book, highlighted by screenplay excerpts and Earl’s pissy wisdom. What’s crazy is how moving it becomes in spite of itself. The characters are neither smart or precocious. Greg is not suitably moved by Rachel’s struggle. His film sucks. He thinks “bereavement” means “being attacked by beavers.” But it’s this honest lack of profundity, and the struggle to overcome it, that makes Andrews’ debut actually kinda profound.
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