And I'm not ready! Wanted to do a blog post of book recommendations for the holidays. Of course, I've already mentioned a few here and here. But for a much more thorough list, go check out Janine and Sara's wonderful post over at the FNC, and note that they also recommend Magician's Elephant, as I did way back in August, so we must be on to something there. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
The great news is that my son, Eric, is an official winner of NaNoWriMo, with 50,171 words. First time he even participated. Way to go, Eric! Halfway through chemo and he has a novel under his belt.
I, alas, didn't even begin to finish the novel I was supposed to be trying to finish during November (unofficially, of course). However, I did write three new picture books, including Elephants Are Dancing (thanks, Kim, for the nudge) . I'll see what my writing group thinks of my rhyming elephant story this weekend.
Well, for those of you who don't think writing picture books is much of an achievement, here's another accomplishment. Every year, I try to read at least 100 novels, along with working and writing and doing household chores and all that boring stuff. I keep a notebook with titles, authors, and dates I finished reading the books. As of today, I finished Number 99. In the past few weeks, in addition to Solace of the Road, I've read:
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (due March 2010, Ages 14 and up). Keep this one in mind. You won't be able to stop reading it. Guaranteed. "Groundhog Day" meets "Mean Girls" with a dash of 13 Reasons Why. Samantha has to relive the last day of her life over and over until she gets it right. Oddly, this isn't a story about dying. It's a story about living. And Sam's character development is amazing as she relives that Valentine's Day and grows and matures and realizes, finally, what's important.
Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen, ages 12 and up. Just a really sweet story from a wonderful writer.
Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen (due Feb 2010, ages 12 and up). The Revolutionary War as you've never seen it before. Nice and short and should appeal to reluctant readers. But there's a lot of pretty horrifying violence, which is, of course, Paulsen's point. War is never justified.
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (Feb 2010, ages 12 and up)
By turns funny and heartbreaking, this is a great read, largely due to Sonnenblick's pitch-perfect teen guy voice. Jeffrey, the little kid with cancer in Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, is back and all grown up. Or at least he's now in 8th grade. Aftereffects of chemo have made school a struggle for him. If it weren't for new girl Lindsey and best friend Tad, another cancer survivor, Jeffrey would be lost. His older brother Steven, the rock he's always depended on, has run off to Africa to study drums.
Numbers by Rachel Ward (Feb 2010, ages 14 and up).
A stunningly original story. Jem sees numbers when she looks in people's eyes. The numbers are the date of their death. When she and her friend Spider ditch school for a day in London, they plan to ride the London Eye -- until Jem looks into the faces of the others in line and realizes they all have the same numbers. And their numbers are up today. Seen running away just before an explosion, and wanted for questioning by the police, Jem and Spider go into hiding. Two city kids holing up in the countryside, they don't have a clue what to do. And Spider's numbers are ticking closer...
So, what should I read next? I'm considering Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees or Liar by Justine Larbalestier. I want Number 100 to be something special.