A Single Shard is a historical piece set in Korea and introduces an orphan boy who would do anything to become an apprentice to the best potter in the village. Working with the area’s gray-green clay is harder work than he realized. Wings is about a lanky misfit of a boy who sprouts wings. A riff on fallen angels with a side of talking animals. And I finally decided to check out The Land of Stories. The Wishing Spell introduces twins who fall through a book into the world that inspired all our fairy tales. Solid storytelling here. Good first impression!
Ewan is the eldest of the Johns brothers: responsible, protective, and a little bit shy.
The Tea Dragon Society is a graphic novel set in a fantastical world where a small group of friends tend to dragons inspired by different blends of tea. Skellig won my heart and will be one of my top books for the year. A boy finds a strange winged man/thing in his shed and tries to help. And The Samurai and the Long-Nosed Devils is the first in the Zenta & Matsuzo mysteries, set in 16th century Japan. Lots of cultural details for this historical setting, with two wandering samurai (ronin) solving the case.
For your Bookshelf. Nothing encourages kids to read and reread a series like having copies on your home bookshelves. The award-winning Byways Books are available as both paperbacks and hardcover library editions. (Contact CJ via email if you’re interested in ordering author-signed copies.)
I’ve discovered a fondness for novels in prose, and Rhyme Schemer is a fun one. A boy who bullies and posts rebel poems finds the tables turned. But he also finds support from his English teacher (who is awesome). Hour of the Bees brings a blended and estranged family together to sell the family ranch and move Grandpa Serge into assisted care. He’s getting senile, except Carol is beginning to think there’s some truth to his strange stories. And in Hoot, new-to-town Roy allies himself to a feral boy in order to save a colony of burrowing owls from an incoming pancake house.
Every one of the Byways Books includes beautiful full-color art by my illustrator, Hannah Christenson. Here’s a sampling from Book #2, Aboard the Train: A Ewan Johns Adventure.
Flight of the Phoenix kicks off a smart lower middle grade series about a boy from a family with a long history of adventuring. My Side of the Mountain is a classic story about a boy who decides to try fending for himself, living off the land in the Catskill mountains. And Forest of Wonders is about a boy, too. Raffa’s a pother (apothecary) with an unusual knack for herbs. In saving the life of an injured bat, he inadvertently changes him … and is desperate to keep that fact a secret.
■ Galena is expecting a baby. If she and her husband can stay ahead of the Chasers until their child is born, they’ll become free citizens of Liberty.
■ She was brought as a child from Arundel, an empire far to the south. Memories of her former home sometimes make her sad.
■ Her personal seal is an oyster with a pearl, hinting at the precious life she’s carrying.
■ Galena’s marriage to Hurlock was arranged by their owner.