Maybe Maybe Marisol Virtual Book Tour, Review and Giveaway

Friday, April 30, 2021

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey 
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly 
Ages 7-12 | 160 Pages 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 978-0062970428 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Introducing eight-year-old Marisol Rainey—an irresistible new character from Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling Erin Entrada Kelly! Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun. 

Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. 

Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe. Told in short chapters with illustrations by the author on nearly every page, Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is a must-have for early elementary grade readers. Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates the small but mighty Marisol, the joys of friendship, and the triumph of overcoming your fears in this stunning new novel for readers of Kevin Henkes, Meg Medina, Andrew Clements, Sara Pennypacker, and Kate DiCamillo. 

Available at Amazon here or bookshop here.    


New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. 

Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. The author’s mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines, and she now lives in Cebu.

I was excited to sign up to review this book because I thought it might be a book that my kids would enjoy reading. As soon as my daughter saw the book, her eyes got big and I could tell that she was interested in it. Both boys and girls would enjoy reading this book. It deals with common issues that most kids face like worrying about what others think of your fears, facing your fears and finding bravery inside of you. I liked that Marisol had to face her fears of climbing a tree. I think that's a common fear that most kids have, but it's not often talked about in kids literature. The author also does a good job at introducing fun facts, movie trivia, and words in other languages. The author created a creative and unique story that's different compared to everything else available. The diction in this book was a little advanced, however, I think kids will either figure it out through context, ask someone, or look up in a dictionary. I would like to see more of this character as a series. I would recommend getting this book for your kids to read and enjoy!

Enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey!

Ten (10) winners receive: 
  •  A hardcover copy of Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey 

The giveaway begins April 26, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends May 26, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and HarperCollins Publishers. I received a free copy of this book, however, I shared my honest opinion. 

An Uncommon Earl Tour, Review and Giveaway

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Alexander Allerton, the Earl of Bloxley’s, greatest desire is to alleviate the suffering of the poor and less fortunate of England. So when his hackney carriage is involved in an accident that results in the death of one of those he is determined to help, he is devastated. Alexander vows to keep the promise he makes to the injured woman as she takes her final breaths: he will not rest until he finds her young son. 

 After a crippling accident years ago, Jane Hadford is accustomed to being largely ignored at social events. But being overlooked has allowed her to hone her observational skills—and she quickly perceives that all is not well with the handsome Lord Bloxley. When an unexpected opportunity arises to talk to the earl, he surprises them both by sharing with her his fruitless search for the child. Touched by Lord Bloxley’s story and by his desire to make things right, Jane determines to help him fulfill his promise. What she cannot anticipate, however, is that the quest she has chosen to undertake will bring into her life a small boy who will steal her heart and a gentleman who might well do the same.

Review - An Uncommon Earl is the second in the series Georgian Gentleman. The story could be read as a stand alone, however, some of the characters are introduced in the previous book, The Noble Smuggler, and I find it easier to usually read the first book in the series first. This novel shares a romance intertwined with the welfare of a child. This story was easy to read, paced well, and entertaining. Bessey does an excellent job of describing the scenes, characters, and providing personality to both major and minor characters. The plot moves along well. I enjoyed learning about some of the historical background of life in England as well as seeing the characters strive to make a difference in the world. Stories that share the characters doing good or seeking out the welfare of others inspire the readers to go out and make a difference as well. Overall, I found this to be a fun and delightful read. To learn more about this book, click here.

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Please note that this post is in cooperation with Covenant Communications. I received this book for free, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

One Big Canvas Virtual Book Tour, Review and Giveaway

Monday, April 26, 2021

One Big Canvas: The Masterpiece 
Written by Jay Miletsky 
Illustrated by Luis Peres 
Ages 3-9 | 24 Pages 
Publisher: New Paige Press | ISBN-13: 978-0578496382 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Join a spunky collection of paintbrushes as they set out to create a grand masterpiece. When some of the brushes don’t cooperate, is it because they are misbehaving…or is there another reason entirely? In this story, young readers are introduced to some of the behavioral differences in their autistic peers. Without ever mentioning any particular challenge or disability by name, this story helps children recognize and understand what autism is, and impress upon them the importance of showing kindness to those who are different, wrapped into a fun story with lighthearted, engaging characters. They worked through the day, then stopped and admired, the wisdom their now-painted canvas inspired: their painting was perfect, It all meshed just fine, with its colorful circles, and angry green line. It was a true masterpiece, not one thing was wrong, including the hum of their single-note song. 

Available here.
One Big Canvas: The Molding of Clay 
Written by Jay Miletsky
Illustrated by Luis Peres
Ages 3-9 | 24 Pages
Publisher: New Paige Press | ISBN-13: 978-0578496382 

Publisher’s Synopsis: The brushes are back! Join Reese, Estelle and the rest of the gang in the art studio in another adventure as they learn the value of kindness and understanding. When Clay comes to visit from the other side of the art studio, the brushes are excited to welcome their friend. But when a few of the brushes start acting differently, Clay needs to be reminded that it’s important to be accepting: “Some brushes are different, so we like to remind, it’s kind to be caring, so take care to be kind.” Will Clay leave the brushes in frustration, or will he learn to mold his thinking as he comes to understand and accept that brushes have different abilities and challenges? Without ever mentioning autism or any particular disability, The Molding of Clay helps introduce children to the behavioral differences of their autistic peers, creating an opportunity for discussion. It helps teachers and parents impress upon them the importance of understanding, acceptance and kindness, through a fun, lighthearted story with quirky and colorful characters. 

Available here

The REED Foundation for Autism is committed to providing individuals with autism the opportunity to learn, live, work and thrive at every stage of their lives. For more information, please visit

The Masterpiece and The Molding of Clay uses an analogy to represent friends that may have autism. It shares how to treat those with autism as friends. This book could be used to teach kids how to still incorporate everyone through play, friendships, in the classroom or even creating their own masterpieces. These books have great value and I could see it used in homes, classrooms, church groups and more. I am not sure if kids would understand the analogy right away, however, I think after reading the book and discussing the book with kids that they would understand the analogy and see how to apply it in their lives. I would highly recommend also having a discussion with kids after reading these books. These books would help kids realize that everyone has a part in this world and differences can be made into strengths. The illustrations are bright and colorful. The story moves along easily and kids would enjoy reading/listening to these stories.  The stories were well written and I liked the way that inclusion was presented as something fun and seeing that friendship includes everyone. These books have a definite value for all children to read and learn from. I would recommend checking out The Masterpiece and The Molding of Clay.

Enter for a chance to win a ‘One Big Canvas’ book series prize pack! 
One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A hardcover copy of One Big Canvas: The Masterpiece 
  •  A hardcover copy of One Big Canvas: The Molding of Clay 
  •  A $50 Amazon gift card 
Two (2) winners receive: 
  •  A hardcover copy of One Big Canvas: The Masterpiece 
  •  A hardcover copy of One Big Canvas: The Molding of Clay 

The giveaway begins April 23, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends May 23, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. :

This blog post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and the REED Foundation for Autism. Please note that I received free copies of these books to review, however, I shared my honest opinion. 

Itty Bitty Betty & The Cookies Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Written by Sandrian Nelson-Moon 
Illustrated by Bex Sutton 
Ages 3-8 | 34 Pages 
Publisher: Sandrian Nelson-Moon | ISBN-13: 978-1736512319 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Join Itty Bitty Betty in this thrilling story as she tries to sneak a tasty treat without Mommy knowing! Itty Bitty Betty was small as can be, About as tall as her mom’s knee. After a fun day out by the sea, Itty Bitty wanted cookies for tea! 

Available for purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.  

Sandrian Nelson-Moon is a survivor and a humble example of perseverance and faith. She believes a child’s imagination and education are their fuel to true development. Sandrian is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, Queens County Committee Member by day, Future Attorney, and Novelist by night. She has earned education distinctions and is an avid community volunteer. She earned a Cumae Laude Bachelors degree from Berkeley, a Summa Cumae Laude Masters degree in Business Administration, Masters Certificates in Nonprofit Management and Advanced Project Management from Walden University and holds a Six Sigma White belt certification. Sandrian is the President of 2 school PTA organizations, and as a Parent Political Advocate, she advocates strongly for children, victims of sexual and personal trauma, and has won numerous awards for community service. A Jamaican native, she is a lover of seafood, family time, travel, and beaches. Currently residing in a borough she loves, you’ll find her most likely multitasking. For more information, visit, Instagram, and Facebook


Life Is What It's Called - What will kids learn from this book? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I want kids to grasp Itty Bitty Betty’s determination and the bond she shared with her mother. I want them to see that they will make a mistake as children, but a parent’s love can overshadow any mishaps. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids would like most about this book?

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I believe they will love the fun illustrations and funny aspects of the story.

Life Is What It's Called - What inspires you to write? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I have many inspirations, the world and time we live in, the need for change in many facets, children, and my experiences are the biggest ones. 

Life Is What It's Called - How can you see this book used in the classroom? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I see this book being used as a helpful tool to foster multicultural lead character stories into a classroom. A teacher can use it to help kids recognize inclinations and stereotypes when they experience them. 

Life Is What It's Called - How can you see this book used at home? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I believe this can become a bedtime favorite because of its fun undertones and can be used to softly teach a lesson many children need to remember: My mistakes do not define me.

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background and experience inspired you to write this story? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - My background is an interesting one. I grew up in a 3rdworld country where yes, we had books, but many of us only had access to books the school provided. Even then, many of these books I remember like it was yesterday—Disney characters or others that had very little if any black main character in the story. I wanted to help change that. Growing up there and experiencing what I did inspired me to write stories that represented not just a fun story but specific people. Writing for me means helping to bridge that gap so that a child who maybe feels different or unusual will instead be showcased as part of the same world these other characters come from. In other words, we all can partake in this fascinating literary world and broadcast other untold stories. It tells me and other kids we matter just as much. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing projects? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - Presently the Itty-Bitty Betty’s storybook has two coloring and activity book versions that I will be releasing with the book. I am also working on book two of the series and a book for children on the possibilities of being friends with bullies. I am also creating a book I’ve been pondering on for years. This one is more intense and adult as it is the story of my trauma and how I was delivered from it. I aim to help other trauma victims find tools from this book to help them find peace as I have. 

Life Is What It's Called - What sets your book apart? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - This story, in my opinion, showcases an amazing way to grab a child’s attention not only with excellent illustrations, but the rhyming in the story is spot on. It will help children distinguish that you are special even if you are different size like Itty Bitty. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope parents will like about this book? 

Sandrian Nelson-Moon - I hope parents laugh along with their kids as they read and see the unique way the lesson was taught in this book, hopefully helping them reiterate the lesson to their children in a fun way. 

Enter for a chance to win an Itty Bitty Betty & the Cookies prize pack! 

One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A hardcover copy of Itty Bitty Betty & the Cookies, autographed by Sandrian Nelson-Moon 
  •  A copy of Itty Bitty Betty & The Cookies: Activity And Coloring Book 
  •  A $25 Amazon gift card 
  •  A set of Limited Edition Itty Bitty Betty & the Cookies bookmarks, a keychain, and stickers 
Two (2) winners receive: 
  •  A paperback copy of Itty Bitty Betty & the Cookies, autographed by Sandrian Nelson-Moon
  • A set of Limited Edition Itty Bitty Betty & the Cookies bookmarks, a keychain, and stickers 
The giveaway begins April 12, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends May 12, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

This blog post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Sandrian Nelson-Moon.

Crown of Rosemund Blog Tour, Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Anduron, 1498 The king and queen are dead, murdered by one who will stop at nothing to rule. But the young princess—Rosemund—has survived, spirited deep into the forest by her parents’ most trusted advisor. There, she finds refuge in a small cottage and a new life, one in which she must play a role that will ensure her survival. Soldiers are combing the countryside, searching for the lost princess, and they will not rest until she is found—and executed. 

 Rosemund’s strength grows as she trains for battle and endures the hardships and dangers of peasant life. When chance brings Maxwell, a young man from the nearby village, into her life, Rose finds in him an ally and a friend. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, the time has come for Rose to reclaim her birthright, and in a court controlled by a vengeful new ruler, she must play a deadly game of politics in order to seize the throne that is rightfully hers. 

I found The Crown of Rosemund to be an enjoyable read. The story was clean and wholesome. I think it's a book that teens to adults would enjoy reading. The romance and action in the story was light and very appropriate for YA. The author does a good job at pacing the story and writing moral lessons into the story like giving to others, looking beyond differences, and standing up for what's right. The author also does a good job at describing action and the setting. As a reader, it was easy to visualize the story as it played out. The characters were engaging, interesting and likable. Rosemund learns to find her inner and outer strength in this book, which makes the story an inspiring read and motivating to strength yourself even if it's hard or difficult. To learn more about The Crown of Rosemund, click here.

Author Interview

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write The Crown of Rosemund?

Michele Ashman Bell - I love reading and writing stories about strong women. I love the story of Esther in the Bible and the story of Joan of Arc, real women who did remarkable things and changed history, because they were brave enough to stand and be the person they needed to be at that moment. I believe that women of all ages have these moments throughout our lives, moments when we have to dig deep, and find the strength and courage to do whatever it takes to face a challenge head on. That's why I wrote this story. I want women, of all ages, to read this story and be inspired by Rosemund. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope readers will get from this story? 

Michele Ashman Bell - I hope they first and foremost, are transported to another place and time and that they are enthralled with Rosemund's story. I hope they are inspired and encouraged to find their inner warrior and that they understand they are royal by birth and can do great things. 

Life Is What It's Called - If you could meet in person one person in the story, who would it be and why?

Michele Ashman Bell -  Eek! This is so hard. I love how Rosemund grows and becomes strong and brave. I love when she embraces her female side and presents herself to Maxwell for the first time dressed as a woman. I love Maxwell too. He is a constant in Rosemund's life. He supports and encourages her but he is also honest and will tell her when something isn't right. But I think the character who would be the most fun to meet is Riker. He is unpredictable, clever, and a little bit of a rascal. I think it would be fun to hang out with him but also probably dangerous because he's very spontaneous and a little crazy.

Life Is What It's Called - What writing projects are you working on now? 

Michele Ashman Bell - I have a Victorian Christmas story I'm hoping will get accepted for publication. I absolutely love the story. I just finished the first book in a contemporary trilogy about three sisters. I am getting very attached to these characters and it starts getting a little weird when I miss them after I finish writing the book. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some of your favorite authors to read? 

Michele Ashman Bell - I have so many friend/authors who have captivated me with their stories and it would be impossible to name them all but I love Sian Bessey, Traci Abramson, Karen Tuft, Sara Larson, Allison Hong Merrill, Julie Coulter Bellon, to name a few. Anything by Heather Moore, Sarah Eden, Stephanie Black, Nancy Campbell Allen. This is just the tip of the iceberg. So many great authors. Jane Austen, I simply love her use of words. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why is writing important to you? 

Michele Ashman Bell - I had a moment in third grade when my teacher read the book, "Elmer and the Dragon" to our class and I felt as though I was in the story, visually seeing it and experiencing it. It was such a magical feeling for me and from that point on I couldn't read enough. I loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and, same thing, felt like I was on the prairie with Laura and Mary inside the wagon. In fourth grade my teacher said I had a tendency to daydream and predicted I would do well at creative writing. Creating stories that touch people's lives is such a privilege. And I still feel magic when I write a story, which is basically me seeing the story in my imagination and just writing what I'm watching, like a movie and then, having a reader read the story and have their own movie play in their head. All because of our imaginations and innate ability to create. Creating magic. That's why writing is important to me. 

Please note that this post is in cooperation with Covenant Communications. I received this book for free, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Mesopo Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Monday, April 12, 2021

Written by Eva Dietrich 
Illustrated by Ingrid Kallick 
Ages 9+ | 338 pages 
Publisher: Independently 
published | ISBN-13: 978-1731518217 

Twelve-year-old Ankido is on a quest to save his missing father through the magical realm of Mesopo. Mesopo is the land where all fantasy originates, a land whose words and language are in peril. Can Ankido save his father and restore all these words in time? It was a red velvet box, the size of a school book. Ankido lifted the lid, revealing an old-fashioned quill made out of a reed. It smelled remote and otherworldly. Ancient. And for a reason he couldn’t explain, everything felt all right for a moment. He thought he caught a sound flowing out of the quill, a word maybe. He wasn’t sure and he shook his head. This was ridiculous. No, he surely must have been mistaken. But there! There was the sound again. This time Ankido was sure of it. “Mesopo” … whispered in a way that slipped around the room like the warm breeze of the desert. 

 Available for purchase on Amazon or Bookshop

About the Author
Eva Dietrich is the author of The Great Rainbow Hug (Le gros c├ólin arc-en-ciel, from Samir Editeur, 2011), recognized by La Revue Des Livres Pour Enfants in 2011 as their annual selection. Eva holds Masters’ Degrees in Children’s Literature from the University of Surrey, London, and Creative Writing from the Metropolitan University of Manchester, UK, and is the founder and director of Aladdin Books. She is equal parts Spanish and German, and currently resides in Madrid with her three kids, three dogs, two cats, three rabbits, and lots of hens. For more information, visit

I found Mesopo to be an adventurous, creative story that I think both boys and girls would enjoy. The characters are interesting, likable, and dynamic. The plot moves along quickly with a lot of action, suspense and intrigue that will keep readers interested and engaged. The author does a good job at adding twists and turns. It wasn't a book where I could guess where the author was going with the story. The world of Mesopo had many imaginative and descriptive elements that draws readers into an intriguing and unique world. The story was very original and different. The world creation in this book was very masterfully done. I could easily visualize the setting and the scenes that played out. As a reader, I wanted to explore more of the world and get to know all of the character's backstories. I could tell from reading the book that the author is very creative, imaginative and an experienced writer. I could easily see this book turned into a series of adventures for readers. There were some scary elements to the story, so, I would recommend sticking to the suggested age range of the book (9+). I recommend sharing this book with your kids and letting them explore the world of Mespopo.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Mesopo and a feather dip quill pen writing set!

One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A paperback copy of Mesopo 
  •  A digital copy of Mesopo 
  •  A Feather Dip Quill Pen Writing Ink Set 
 Two (2) winners receive: A choice of: 
  •  A paperback copy of Mesopo 
  •  A digital copy of Mesopo 
 The giveaway begins April 1, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends April 30, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

To learn more about the book tours for Mesopo, click here.

This blog post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Eva Dietrich in both your blog post and all social shares. Please note that I received a free ebook of Mesopo to review, however, I provided my honest opinion.

Greystone Secrets 3: The Messengers Blog Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Friday, April 9, 2021

 Greystone Secrets 3: The Messengers 
 Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
 Ages 8-12 | 416 Pages 
 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | ISBN-13 : 978-0062838438 

Publisher’s Synopsis: As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past. 

 Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US...

The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too. After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control. 

Available for purchase here or here.     

Author Bio
Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm in Ohio. As a kid, she knew two girls who had the exact same first, middle, and last names and shared the same birthday—only one year apart—and she always thought that was bizarre. As an adult, Haddix worked as a newspaper reporter and copy editor in Indiana before her first book, Running Out of Time, was published. She has since written more than forty books for kids and teens, including the Greystone Secrets series, the Shadow Children series, the Missing series, the Children of Exile series, and lots of stand-alones. Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, where they raised their two kids. 

Learn more here.

Author Interview 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want kids to take away from the Greystones Secrets series? 

Margaret Peterson Haddix -  I would love for kids to come away from the Greystone Secrets series with a love of books and reading—this has been my goal for readers with every book and/or series I’ve ever written. I just want kids to enjoy being immersed in the story. Beyond that, there are lots of messages/themes I would be delighted to have kids find as takeaways. It would be great if it made them think more deeply about the value of sibling relationships, families, friends, empathy, and truth. 

Life Is What It's Called - What has been the best part about writing the Greystone Secret series? 

Margaret Peterson Haddix - Getting to hang out with the Greystone kids and Natalie. I also loved coming up with the secret codes they had to solve. 

Life Is What It's Called - Is there a character from the series that you’ve enjoyed writing about the most? 

Margaret Peterson Haddix - Yes—Finn. He just has such an upbeat attitude about everything. It always put me in a good mood to write his sections! 

Life Is What It's Called - What would you do if you had to go into an alternative universe like the one in the series?

Margaret Peterson Haddix - I… don’t think I would handle it as well as the Greystone kids and Natalie do. So maybe my answer would be: Panic? Freak out? Be terrified? Ideally, I think I would want to hide and observe the situation for a while before doing anything. But I would be so curious about everything. I would want to watch and interact with the that-world version of everyone I knew in my own world, to see all the ways they are alike and different! 

Life Is What It's Called - How has your personal history helped you in writing this series? 

Margaret Peterson Haddix - It’s tempting to say, “Everything that’s ever happened to me helped!” Because what I’m thinking about and dealing with in my real life always bleeds over into what I write—sometimes in ways that I’m not even aware of until later. But there are some specific influences I can pick out. Before my first book was published, I worked as a newspaper reporter, and it is very difficult to do that job without thinking about some of the big questions that the Greystones grapple with in this series: How can you find out what’s really true when it seems like people are lying to you? How can people who feel powerless find a way to tell their side of the story? Whose version of reality can you trust? On a more basic level, I tend to write a lot about sibling relationships because I grew up in a tight-knit family with two brothers and a sister. I think it’s common for kids in large families to go through life defining themselves as similar to or different from their siblings: “Oh, yes, we all love to read…” or, “No, I don’t have any musical talent; my brother and sister were the ones who got that skill…” It was fun to show how Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone are very distinct, different personalities. But they were very much united and able to use their differing skills to work together for their common goal of getting their mother back—and then, later, of helping the people in the other world. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing projects in the works? 

Margaret Peterson Haddix - The next book I have coming out is a stand-alone called The School for Whatnots, which is the tale of two kids who become friends in the midst of lots and lots of secrets about their school—and about each other. It is almost completely done except for some final proofreading, and will be out in early 2022. Later in 2022, I have a new series starting. I’m not completely sure of the title yet, but it’s about a boy and a girl who find letters a different boy and a girl wrote to each other about fifty years ago. It’s clear from the letters that the long-ago kids had a fight and stopped speaking to each other, but the boy and girl now are intensely curious about what happened next, and why it seems like both kids from the past just vanished after that. Can the kids today solve a fifty-year-old mystery? That book is written, but not yet completely revised. And beyond that, I’m about sixty pages into the first draft of another book that I’m mostly just referring to as “the secret project” right now.

Life Is What It's Called - How could a teacher use this series in the classroom?

Margaret Peterson Haddix - I have already seen examples of teachers using the Greystone Secrets series in brilliant ways! Many have told me they’ve used the first book as a read-aloud, and let students predict what will happen next at various chapter-ending cliffhangers. (Hearing this always makes me wish I’d had those students advising me when I was figuring out the plot in the first place!) The series can also serve as a natural jumping-off point for research and/or discussions about coincidence, probability, secret codes, and the concept of alternate universes. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the publisher put together a really great discussion guide for the series that could help kids think more deeply about the situations in the books. That guide is available both on the HarperCollins website, and on my own author website (

Enter for a chance to win a set of the Greystone Secrets series, including Greystone Secrets 3: The Messengers. 

 One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A paperback copy of Greystone Secrets 1: The Strangers
  •  A paperback copy of Greystone Secrets 2: The Deceivers 
  •  A hardcover copy of Greystone Secrets 3: The Messengers 
 The giveaway begins April 6, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends April 22, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

 This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and HarperCollins Publishers.

Mission Stories Spotlight Tour and Giveaway

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Excel Entertainment announced today the creation of a new media franchise, MISSION STORIES, focused entirely on telling stories of missionaries for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. The franchise launches with the theatrical release of MISSION STORIES, a moving retelling of three true stories of missionary work. 

The theatrical trailer for the film debuts on Wednesday, April 7 at and the feature film opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, May 7 distributed jointly with Purdie Distriution. Assembled as an anthology of three stories told over four chapters, the project was created by the filmmaking team of Bryce Clark (writer, producer, director), Jason Allred (producer), Crystal Myler (writer) and Arthur Van Wagenen (executive producer) after meeting with a full room of former mission presidents and their companions. 

“We heard so many incredible stories -- story after story of events that cannot be simply coincidences,” explained Bryce Clark. “Every story shows that God has his hand in the work and people’s lives are being transformed and saved through this work.” “

People assume they know what a “mission story” depicted on the big screen will be like,” said Arthur Van Wagenen. 

“Our goal in this film and the entire MISSION STORIES franchise is to tell stories from not just the perspective of missionaries, but from the perspective of people who make the radical choice to become disciples of Jesus Christ.” 

The film tells three true stories, including “Hermanos” that focuses on a father overcoming a crisis of faith so that he can baptize his family. 

“Chuck” tells the story of a man questioning whether God truly loves him and learning to see himself as God does. Finally, 

“Full Circle” is told in the opening and closing chapters of the film, and shows that the power of faith applied over years or even decades can ultimately bear fruit in overcoming spiritual issues as serious as depression and addiction. “’Full Circle’ is an especially personal story for me because a character is based on me and the culmination of this story played out as we were developing this project,” explained Clark. 

“When people watch the film they’ll see when people struggle the Lord never gives up on them, and how the faith of others can help rescue them. I hope sharing this story may inspire others who are facing similar challenges.” 

 “The MISSION STORIES film is only the first step in creating a full Mission Stories brand and media franchise,” said Van Wagenen. “We are creating an avenue where people can submit their own mission stories which can be shared with the world to help increase people’s faith and sense of worth.” Going forward, Mission Stories will become an incubator for up-and-coming writers and directors who will continue to tell these important stories for years to come.”

"When I initially approached Mission Stories I thought I may not be the best choice to direct because I did not serve a mission. However, as I developed these stories I recognized how much missionary work has touched my life. In fact, in one of these stories a character is based on me. Through this experience I’ve learned just how powerful love, faith, and forgiveness are and that redemption is available to all of us no matter the circumstances of our lives. Everyone has a story to tell and I believe in the power of sharing stories. I hope that audiences will be touched by the themes of mercy and redemption in these stories." - Bryce Clark

Learn more here or check out the movie on Facebook and/or Instagram.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021


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