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Your Chance to Meet An Author We Love – Laurel Snyder

November 24, 2010

This is our last post before we take off for the Thanksgiving weekend, but be sure to check back with us next Tuesday for the first in a series of Holiday Gift Guide posts where we’ll be recommending our favorite gift books for babies and toddlers, middle grade readers and young adults.

I can’t think of a better way to start the holiday weekend than to rave about one of my very favorite authors, a writer of many wonderful books for children.  Laurel Snyder was one of the first authors I had the pleasure to meet when I was brand new to my job and completely thrilled to be working in children’s publishing (I still am, for the record, thrilled to be working in children’s publishing).  As I recall, Laurel was attending a regional trade show with her husband and two young sons in tow before heading off on a long road trip to promote her new middle grade novel Any Which Wall, a book I had just read and loved.  I was delighted to have the chance to meet her in person and happy to find that she was just as enchanting as the book!

It’s been two years since our meeting and Laurel is now the author of three middle grade novels and two picture books, with more to come in 2011 including a board book about Baby Yiddish titled Nosh, Schlep, Schluff, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (available in January) and a coming of age story for middle grade readers called Bigger Than a Bread Box (the manuscript is in my to-read pile so more on this later). She is also a master of modern social networking — she blogs, tweets, Facebooks and Skypes — and she recently announced an awesome contest on her blog that she’s calling The Penny Dreadful Book Club!!!. I highly recommend that you check this out… and then pass it along to everyone you know who likes to read (and meet authors). Here’s the deal:

For any group of (at least) THREE kids (she’ll take adults too, yippee!) who wants to get together and read THREE books from a list she provides, she will offer a FREE SKYPE VISIT to chat with said group about the books you’ve read. She’ll also happily chat about other things, but focusing on the books.   You can choose from a long list of fabulous books including some of my all time favorites like A Wrinkle in Time, Because of Winn Dixie, and Little Women

Sweet.  A chance to “meet” Laurel Snyder and all you have to do is read three terrific books. Make sure you check out the link above to read the rest of the guidelines. And please post a comment below if you and your book club decide to take the Penny Dreadful Book Club challenge!

In the meantime, below are a slew of rave reviews and praise for Laurel Synder’s books for children that I’ve collected from lots of difference sources.  Enjoy!

 Penny Dreadful, illustrated by Abigail Halpin, is Laurel Snyder’s latest novel for children and I devoured it during the course of an airplane ride (and one delayed layover in Atlanta, where Laurel lives, but I digress…).  Penelope Grey is bored.  In an attempt to become unbored, she makes an innocent wish and suddenly her life is turned upside-down: her father quits his job, her family has to sell their mansion in the city, and suddenly they’re moving to the home of a great-great aunt, a place they’ve inherited called Whippoorwillows in the small town of Thrush Junction.  As “Penny” (she quickly decides upon arrive in Thrush Junction that she needs a new name) and her parents begins to settle (and unsettle) into their new life, they learn that although it may not be exactly as they imagined it, it’s just perfect. I love this book because like her others, it contains elements of magic, a fascinating and quirky cast of characters, and whimsical illustrations that make me want to curl up, climb inside the book and… oh wait, I think I just stole Rebecca Stead’s line.  Here is what Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me had to say about Penny Dreadful:

I want to climb inside this book and pull it over my head — Rebecca Stead

Well I agree.  And more exciting news for this this charming book: Penny Dreadful was just selected as a Winter 2010/2011 Kids’ Indie Next List recommended read for children ages 9-12.  Here is a lovely quote from Rich Rennicks at Malaprop’s Bookstore / Cafe in Asheville, NC (one of my indie bookstore accounts!):

“Snyder delights in showing us bright, curious kids making sense of the often-senseless world. Young Penny Grey is living a boring, controlled, and stifling life in the city when she makes a wish that something interesting would happen, ‘just like in a book.’ Her wish comes true when her impractical father quits his job to write a novel, plunging the family into poverty. This is a deeply human story about the importance of community and friendship, and it reminds us that a large and steady income is not essential for a strong and happy family life. Simply wonderful!” — Rich Rennicks, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC


One of the great things about this author is that while all of her books convey warm messages of identity and community in a fun and engaging way, each one is a very unique.  So shifting gears a bit, Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher with illustrations by David Goldin is the story of one pig’s hilarious quest to become kosher so that he can fulfill his dreams of taking part in Shabbat dinner.  When I read this I was instantly reminded of the time I joined my friend Joanna’s family as a guest for Shabbat dinner when I was a kid… although I’m not a pig (my husband may beg to differ sometimes) I could have used this book!

“Snyder and Goldin go together like matzo balls and chicken soup: the bright, daffy prose and ebulliently goofy cartoon and photo collages will persuade readers that they don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Baxter’s spiritual journey—which ends, happily enough, at the Shabbat table of a kindly rabbi. Yes, of course he’s a guest. What did you think?” — Publisher’s Weekly, 2010 Starred Review


Any Which Wall is an enchanting story about four ordinary kids who discover an extraordinary wall in the middle of an Iowa corn field and find themselves swept through time and space on one wild adventure after another.  Along the way the kids learn a little something about themselves, each other and about growing up into the people they want to be.  Laurel’s delightful second novel is illustrated throughout by Leuyen Pham and like her others, it’s perfect as a family read aloud or for an independent reader.  It’s received wonderful reviews since it was published in 2009, a few of which are highlighted below: 

A delightfully entertaining story. — The Wall Street Journal 

The fast-paced plot and glib narrator… will keep readers turning pages and looking for magic in their own corners of the world. — Kirkus Reviews 

Any Which Wall feels like a new Edward Eager novel (with a dash of E. Nesbit, and a hint of C.S. Lewis) dropped from the sky. — Jen Robinson’s Book Page (blog)


Up and Down the Scratchy Mountain, Illustrated by Greg Call.  Join best friends Lucy (a milkmaid) and Wynston (a prince) as they brave the Scratchy Mountains to solve the mystery of Lucy’s missing mother and encounter many strange and marvelous things along the way, like a gigantic man stuck inside an equally gigantic soup pot and an alphabetized town where the weather runs on schedule (wouldn’t that be nice!). 

Lucy is a strong, smart protagonist with a temper and a strong sense of what should be right and wrong – and it doesn’t always mean following the rules. Wynston is all about the rules until he discovers that not all rules are right. This is a delightful story full of action, humor, and even a few well-disguised lessons. It’s a hoot to read and will lend itself well to individual reading, or read-aloud time. A definite must for the younger crowd (ages 7-11). — Vicky Burkholder from Aaron’s Books, Lancaster County PA

Inside the Slidy Diner, illustrated by Jaime Zollars 

Publisher’s Weekly said:

The Slidy Diner is one big health code violation: the proprietress wears a fly-covered sweater and “smells like rotten grill grease,” the toilet is a cesspool, “someone is usually running with scissors” and the sticky buns are scraped up off the floor. Even the people are ghoulish, with their flattened, oversize heads, blank eyes and doll-like bodies. Snyder, a debut picture book author and PW reviewer, and Zollars (Not in Room 204) serve up a wealth of Grand Guignol detail, beginning with the creepy premise: Edie, the narrator, claims she is held captive at the diner for stealing a lemon drop, and she gives a young patron the insider’s tour of the joint. Most of the best jokes are visual: the poison label stuck onto a countertop; pet food tins stashed amid the staples; a slice of pie garnished as if with eyeballs. The gross-out crowd will eat this up. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)–Publishers Weekly –Publishers Weekly, October, 2008


5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 1:16 pm

    How cool Laurel is offering readers a Skype visit! Thanks for the heads up!

  2. November 24, 2010 10:36 pm

    Thanks so much, Sarah! I’m honored to be part of the blog, and a HUGE fan of the magical RH sales reps.


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