Monday, June 13, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Second Fiddle


First, a reminder that you still have UNTIL TUESDAY NIGHT to enter my Sharks & Boys arc giveaway.  Be a follower and leave a comment on this post to enter.

Elsewhere on the blogosphere...

Angela at The Bookshelf Muse is having a HUGE contest to celebrate 2000 followers!  Go see what it's all about!

... and you can enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Grace Lin's Where The Mountain Meets the Moon over at Katia Raina's blog, Magic Mirror.

I met Katia near the end of the NJ SCBWI conference a week ago.  She was fascinating to talk to.  She told me the story of her full name, and I told her the middle-grade novel I've recently finished writing is about a Russian girl named Katerina!  Life is full of coincidences.  And Katia did a great job of recapping the conference here, for anyone interested.  The conference was exhilarating, packed with helpful workshops.  I crammed as much info as I could into this old brain.  Met a lot of wonderful writers and illustrators.  Ate too many bad carbs.  Came up with some new story ideas and ways to fix the old stories.

For me, the best part of attending writing conferences like this one is the inspiration.  I came home and did nothing but write (well, besides working at the bookstore, eating, sleeping, and spending time with my family!  And not necessarily in that order!).  So now I'm fired up to start submitting again.   That's why I go to these things when I can.

Now onto today's MMGM (finally, gasp):

Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry (Random House, March 2011, for ages 9 to 12).

Source:  I won the hardcover from Natalie Aguirre over at Literary Rambles!

Synopsis (from the publisher): The author of Heart of a Shepherd offers another sensitive portrayal of military families, this time stationed abroad, in the city of Berlin at that historic time just after the Wall came down.

When 13-year-old Jody and her friends save a badly beaten Russian soldier from drowning, they put into motion a chain of events that will take them from Berlin to Paris and straight into danger. Jody must quickly learn to trust herself, because in the time directly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the border between friend and enemy is not as clear as it once was.

Award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd Rosanne Parry offers a fast-paced, coming-of-age story filled with adventure, music, friendship, and intrigue.

Why I liked it: I wanted to read this very badly after seeing it on Natalie's blog (you can read Natalie's interview with Rosanne Parry here), because I have family in the military and I actually spent some time in Berlin, although it was before the Wall came down.  I've also been lucky enough to visit Paris.  And I love classical music (although I played the oboe in school, not the violin).

After reading Second Fiddle, though, I quickly realized it's the story and the likeable main character that linger with me, not just the incredibly accurate details about Berlin.  So it has broad appeal to anyone, even if you've never been to Berlin or Paris (and most 10- or 11-year-olds haven't!). It's about friendship and music, and it will also appeal to mystery/thriller fans, as the excitement ratchets up when the girls try to smuggle their new friend to Paris to save his life.

This is a true middle-grade novel.  Jody is on the cusp of adolescence (she often mentions being jealous of her more sophisticated friends, Vivien and Giselle, who seem to know so much more about fashion and make-up and boys).  Music is her life.  But she's worried about moving to the States (her dad is retiring from the army) and losing her best friends.

Finally, it's refreshing to read a book in which both parents are still alive. Seems like a rarity in MG lit these days.

What middle grade marvel have you read this week?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger.

Other regulars:
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Ally Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Jessica Lei at her blog 
UPDATE: adding Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty

(If I've missed anyone, Shannon Messenger has all the links!)


  1. Great review. I'm glad you wanted to read this after my interview.

    I didn't know Rosanne at all until I interviewed her. She has a fascinating life that she's able to use in her writing. Wish my life was so interesting.

    And glad the conference was so inspiring. Hope your writing is productive.

  2. I've never heard of Sharks and Boys. Hmmm. Some are pretty much the same thing. ;)

    Second Fiddle sounds like a great story. Thanks for telling us about it.

  3. I wanted to read this after the review of Natalie's too! Since then, I did read HEART OF A SHEPHERD. Parry's style is enchanting. Can't wait to read this one!

  4. Thumbs up and yay on this one from me, too. I saw Roseanne speak at the Western Washington, so good she was!

  5. Sounds like a great book. I hadn't even thought about the fact that MG has so many single parent families. Interesting. Thanks for the review!!

  6. I am so glad I came upon this review! Second Fiddle sounds like a perfect fit for a list of recent historical fiction books I have been compiling on my blog. I'll be sure to come back again for more great reviews. Oh, and it was so nice to meet you at the conference. It was a great one, wasn't it? Bad carbs, yes, but boy did I enjoy some of those :) I hope we talk again!!

  7. I am so glad I came upon this review! Second Fiddle sounds like a perfect fit for a list of recent historical fiction books I have been compiling on my blog. I'll be sure to come back again for more great reviews. Oh, and it was so nice to meet you at the conference. It was a great one, wasn't it? Bad carbs, yes, but boy did I enjoy some of those :) I hope we talk again!!

  8. Well, I tried to get on and answer some of these comments this morning, but blogger failed me :(

    Hi Natalie! Yes, it was your interview/review that made me want to read this and I'm so happy that I won the copy! Thanks again. Everyone has a unique story to tell. I'm sure your life is interesting!

    Oh haha, Stina. Good point. And you should enter the giveaway. It's open internationally.

    Barbara, I still need to read HEART OF A SHEPHERD. Glad to hear you liked it.

    Deb, you're so lucky you got to hear Rosanne at a conference.

    Hi Pam and welcome. I just became your newest follower. I'm also in my fifties, so I hear ya!

    Thanks for stopping by, Katia. I enjoyed meeting you too. Those bad carbs tasted yummy, for sure. Luckily, there was far more to the conference than food.

  9. Excellent review, Joanne. This is not one I would pick up on my own, but you've convinced me I need to read it. :-)

  10. I have to admit I have a vested interest: I am a friend and also a critique partner of Rosanne's. So it goes without saying that I adore both Second Fiddle and Heart of a Shepherd. They are both amazing books by a vfery talented writer.

  11. Thanks, Shannon! :)

    Wow, Michael! I had no idea. How lucky for you.

  12. ooooh, my daughter is really into music right now, I'm sure she'd love this. She needs a thriller to keep her reading. Thanks.

  13. Thanks for the post, Joanne! I'm arriving at Middle Grade Monday rather late-my son graduated this evening, and I still have work to send to my wonderful critique group tonight--yes, including Michael, I'm the lucky one to get his thoughtful feedback!

    I'm so glad you mentioned that both parents are alive in this book. There are a lot of dysfunctional families in books, so like to make a game of seeing if I can get enough conflict to make a story work in the context of a loving intact family. It's a little tricky because you have to search out a plausible conflict external to the family. But I think it's worth the extra effort because lots of readers come from strong families and why shouldn't they find that experience honored in the pages of a book? It is a kind of diversity after all.

    Thanks again Joanne, and Natalie, too, for the interview that sparked the post!

  14. Hi Brooke! I'll bet your daughter would love this.

    Rosanne! You stopped by my blog!! Woot!!! (can you tell I love it when the author of the book I've reviewed pops in?) Congrats to your son, and thanks for taking the time to comment here. You said it about dysfunctional families -- all too often that's the norm in children's lit now. I was so happy you showed an intact and loving family -- and you certainly found plenty of conflict in this story!


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