Monday, February 18, 2019

Fairday's Riddle: Fruits of the Vine...

Hello, Riddlers! Can you guess our theme this week? They're delicious, especially in winter. ~ F

On the vine I shall grow— living light, lying low. When my flowers burst and bloom buzzing bees begin to loom. I'll take shape in seasons time, climbing up the fencing line. I'm likely roasted or stewed in soup, my gutty cousins get the scoop.

What am I? Stop by FRIDAY for the answer. 

I gave you a clue!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Author Interview with Tonja Drecker

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Tonja Drecker. Lizzy recently reviewed Music Boxes and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours. We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind her awesome stories. So, without further ado... take it away, Tonja!

Read our review of the book

What inspired you to write Music Boxes?

Honestly, I wish I knew. I was out in the garden pulling weeds…blackberries with nasty thorns…and the thought of a ballet teacher with rows of creepy music boxes danced through my mind and stuck with me. Since I drove the kids to three different schools at that time, I’d use the opportunity to tell them stories during the drive. That’s when the idea blossomed into an entire plot.

How long did it take you to write Music Boxes?

Once I sat down and typed it into my computer, the first draft was done in about four weeks. But I’d already worked the story out in my head by then thanks to those hours in the car. The first draft was by no means the story it is today. It went through dozens of edits and had a long, rocky road before it became the story it is now.  From idea to published book, it’s taken five to six years.

What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Write in a special place? Edit as you go or write and then edit?

My writing process is a bit like the rest of my life—go with the flow. When I wake up in the morning, I’m never sure what the day will bring. So, I snatch writing time where and how I can get it. I never listen to music—silence is golden and something I treasure. I do have a writing office but rarely see it and tend to write at the dining room table or…thanks to a Christmas gift…at a standing, portable desk in front of the fireplace during the winter. I tend to get chilly fast.

As to editing while writing, I have the world’s most vicious inner-editing monster. I do edit while writing the first draft and find it very hard to continue to a new scene. I also believe it’s better to fix problems immediately when I notice them and not wait until the story is done. It makes for a very long writing process, though.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was and is one of my favorites. I loved The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly. In the fifth grade, I decided I was too old for children’s books (a silly, odd rebellion thing bookworm style). My father took us to the library every Saturday, and I insisted it was time I graduated to the adult section (I remember how amazing it felt to step into that part of the library!) The first book I grabbed was Dune by Frank Herbert, and I fell in love with that story.

If you could live during any time period in history, when would it be? Why?

I wouldn’t want to live during any other time period but visiting one would be nice. During a camping trip to Italy, we discovered the Etruscan pathways near Pitigliano (Via Cava)—hundreds of miles of twisting paths hand-carved into the rock. Some are 50 feet deep and miles long. Creating them was a monumental task, and it’s a mystery as to why they were made. Today, a parade of torches marches through a section of them once a year. It’s mystical as well as spellbinding. I’d love to have the chance to learn why so much effort was put into these paths. It’s simply something I’ve always wondered about.

If you could befriend a character from your book, who would you befriend? Why?

Bridget, Lindsey’s little sister. She’s a violin prodigy. Lindsey is jealous of her and everyone thinks Bridget’s entrance into Julliard is the best thing that could ever happen to her, but if the reader pays attention, they’ll notice that Bridget isn’t always as excited as they are about her situation. She’s a sweet, little girl with a big heart and is up against more than she might be ready to handle. She’s a little afraid of it. The parents don’t see this. Nor does Lindsey. Still, Bridget sucks it in and goes at it with the best attitude she can. It’d be a treat to be her friend.

Is there anything you’ve learned along your path to publication that you would like to share with new writers?

Editing is where the real magic happens, and don’t give up. Writing is not an easy path, and there isn’t a secret formula to make dreams come true. Personally, I’m still searching for that magical jar of pixie dust.

Where can we purchase your book?

Music Boxes is available as of March 5th, 2019 on the usual internet sites: Amazon, B&N & more. Visit the author's blog to learn more.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday (#MMGM) Book Review: Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker

Lindsay McKay and her family moved to Manhattan from a very small town in Nebraska. She dreams of being a prima ballerina, while her younger sister, Bridget, has been accepted into Juilliard, at the age of eight, to play the violin. Lindsay is happy for her sister, but not thrilled about living in a new place. Luckily, she brought her prized possession, a special music box given to her by her grandmother. At least it givers her some comfort. Lindsay’s first ballet lesson at the local community center does not go well, and she can’t hide her disappointment that no one in the class takes dance seriously. When she stumbles into Madame Destinee’s Dance Studio, it’s like a dream come true. The dancers are amazing! Madame offers for her to dance with the others and Lindsay feels herself move like never before. All she has to do to pay for her lessons is show up at a nightly performance. This sounds like a dream! She knows that here she can be a star and dance like she’s never danced before. But when Lindsay starts to notice that things aren’t quite as they seem and that Madame Destinee may be doing something to enchant the dancers, she becomes nervous about what will happen to her and her family. Is it possible to break the enchantment? Are the music boxes in Madame Destinee’s office important in some way and why do they match the one she brought from Nebraska? Can she help the other dancers? Read this enchanting story to find out.

Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker is a read that grabbed me from the start and pulled me in. It’s a story for people who like a good spooky mystery! I could easily relate to the main character, Lindsay. She is passionate about ballet and wants to be the best. I admire that type of dedication. When she noticed what Madame Destinee was doing to the dancers I felt both nervous and excited. The music boxes had quite a story behind them—I was definitely spooked, but in a good way. There's suspense and interesting relationships that keep the reader guessing. I think this book would be great for anybody in fourth grade and up who likes a story that gives them the chills.

Has anyone else read Music Boxes? Or have you read another book by Tonja Drecker? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Happy Reading!

Find more links to #MMGM book reviews here.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Answer to Fairday's Riddle: Right On Pointe!

Excellent guessing, Riddlers! This week we're dancing out of the box. Tune in on Monday for Lizzy's book review and find out how the answer ties into the story. See you all around the book block. ~ F

Fouetté sauté center stage—pirouette, plié, promenade. Structure in movement, pas with grace. Léotard lines entrelacé. Tchaikovsky feathered sweet Odette. Balanchine spun Apollo's set. Piqué grande! Feast your eyes when dancing spirits do arise. 

What am I referring to? Answer: Ballet!

Make time to riddle and rhyme!
62 original riddles and illustrations

Monday, February 4, 2019

Fairday's Riddle: Flic-Flac, Fondu...

Hello, Riddlers! Can you guess our theme this week? I don't have these skills, but it's beautiful to watch. ~ F

Fouetté sauté center stage—pirouette, plié, promenade. Structure in movement, pas with grace. Léotard lines entrelacé. Tchaikovsky feathered sweet Odette. Balanchine spun Apollo's set. Piqugrande! Feast your eyes when dancing spirits do arise. 

What am I referring to? Stop by Friday for the answer. 

I gave you a clue!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Margo's Musings: Who's Tacky?

Winter has settled in and a snow/ice mixture has been covering the ground for a week. Our local library has a fun display of winter books, which is perfect with the weather outside. My little sister, Margo, was drawn to a series of books about a penguin named Tacky. She loves penguins, and I knew we'd be reading the books again and again. I have to say we had a blast reading by the fire and all of our laughter warmed us up too.
Tacky is not like other penguins. He doesn’t like to march in a straight line, dive gracefully, or sing in a pretty voice. Instead, Tacky is a bit loud, sings off key, and makes a big splash wherever he goes. The other penguins don’t quite know what to make of his different ways and seem to find him a bit annoying. But when hunters come to get some penguins what will happen to Tacky and friends? Is there any way to stop them?  Will the penguins be brave enough to stand up to the danger? You won’t want to miss this hilarious story!

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is a fun picture book with a good message. Margo loved Tacky’s crazy antics, especially his singing and cannon balls. The illustrations are bright and appealing. I was happy that in the end the penguins learned that being different is better and that we should always be true to who we are- though you’ll have to read the book to find out more. We’ve already read one other Tacky book- Happy Birdday,Tacky (Margo absolutely loves the dance Tacky makes up in this one and has been doing it all over our house) and we have three more to read. Looks like I’ll be getting to know Tacky and pals even better over the next week! 
Has anyone else read Tacky the Penguin? Or have you read another book by Helen Lester? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Happy reading!
~ F

Starting in 2019, we'll be posting two weeks out of the month. Tune in Monday (2/4) to catch Fairday's next riddle. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Answer to Fairday's Riddle: Cold Feathers...

Excellent guessing, Riddlers! This week, we're chilling with penguins. Tune in Friday for Margo's children's picture book choice and find out how the answer ties into the story. See you all around the book block. ~ F

I don't fly, but when I do, I slip down snowy slopes barefoot in a tuxedo. 

What am I? Answer: Penguin!

Make time to riddle and rhyme!
62 original riddles and illustrations