Pygmy Marmosets–Really, so Adorable. Truly.

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Lita Judge, the oh-so-talented illustrator of Quick, Little Monkey! made Little Monkey so doggone adorable. (Plush toy, publishers? Come on, you know you want to make a plush toy.) Just so you can see that she did not exaggerate the cuteness of pygmy marmosets, the world’s smallest monkeys, I offer you this video.

Thanks to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation for the video and for raising Ninita after her mother could not care for her. Just to note, she is not a pet (the pet trade is very, very damaging to species like pygmy marmosets).

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Deadly Flowers and the Critics

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Ninjas, Press, Reviews | 0 comments

Deadly Flowers

Deadly Flowers

I’ve been so excited and happy about the reviews for Deadly Flowers. This review from the (*cough*notoriously picky*cough*) Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has my favorite adjective string of all time: “clever, vivacious, dangerous.” I’m going to get it put on a t-shirt.

Ninja-loving readers will rejoice at this clever, dangerous, vivacious book about a group rarely mentioned: girl ninja. Kata was orphaned as a young age, so all she knows as home is her place with Madame Chiyome (a real historical figure who trained young girls to be ninjas in the mid 1500s). She works willingly, eager to be offered her first mission so that all of her torturous, exhausting, dangerous training can be put to test. She’s stunned to realize, though, that her first job is an assassination, of a young boy no less; when she encounters the boy and his protective sister, she can’t go through with the deed, and she ultimately helps the kids escape and search for their uncle. The siblings are also protecting a pearl that has supernatural powers, while trying to evade other assassins, demons, ghostly beings, and vengeful family members. It’s a lot, but just as the descriptions and social settings start feeling a bit too dense, there’s a great fight scene or a creepy-cool mention of a double-mouthed woman or trickster spirit to change the tone and add excitement. An author’s note offers brief details about female ninjas and what is actually known about their history, as well as some additional details on Japanese ghosts and demons.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

I’m also quite fond of The Horn Book for saying that the book first goes “from bad to worse” and then “from worse to much worse.”

First-person narrator Kata–in training since childhood to be a “deadly flower,” a female ninja, in Feudal Japan–sneers at rich new girl Saiko. When Saiko is assigned to assist in Kata’s very first assassination, Kata is dismayed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when the target is revealed to be Saiko’s younger brother, and Kata instead finds herself caught up in a rescue mission. Then things go from worse to much worse; someone is hunting the siblings to steal the wish-granting pearl Ichiro has recently inherited. This action-packed adventure blends historical fiction with intriguing supernatural elements drawn from Japanese folklore. While Kata herself–determined, stoic, honor-bound–has a somewhat limited emotional range, Saiko turns out to have unexpected depth and even more surprising motivations. An author’s note adds historical and mythological context.
The Horn Book

Other reviewers have also chimed in:

“Nonstop action, interesting characters, and a journey into another time and culture.”

“This mission turns into a coming-of-age lesson for Kata that forces her to challenge herself while she learns about deception, trust and friendship. The story unfolds with many twists and turns that keep readers intrigued, including many frightening encounters with demons and ghosts pulled from Japanese folklore that range from spooky to outright terrifying. Kata struggles to survive and keep others around her safe. This book is a great combination of adventure, fantasy, and horror, with two strong heroines who form an unlikely alliance.”

School Library Journal


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Puzzles, Puzzles Everywhere

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Book: The Eureka Key, Promotion, Uncategorized | 0 comments


No, you can’t just click this symbol. It’s a little harder than that.

Feeling a little bored? Need a challenge? Locate this symbol somewhere on my website and click on it to see if you can solve four puzzles related to The Secrets of the Seven. If you succeed, a reward beyond riches will be yours! (Well, there’s a reward. It’s kind of neat.)

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Visiting with Ben

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in American History, Book: The Eureka Key, Historical Fiction | 0 comments

Ben kindly greeted me at the visitor's center.

Ben kindly greeted me at the visitor’s center.

On book tour in Philadelphia (yes, I still love saying that), I got the chance to visit the Franklin Museum on the site where Ben Franklin’s former home and print shop stood. Fantastic museum, so well done! Since he is a major player in The Eureka Key, I feel a bond with him. Once you write about a person, it does sort of turn them into your best friend.


Franklin used this contraption to store electricity. It’s kind of like a colonial-era battery. He was fascinated by electricity and tinkered with it constantly. The kite and the key are his most famous experiment, but not the only one.






The “ghost houses” outline the space where Franklin’s home and his son-in-law’s print shop once stood. Evocative and strangely beautiful


The glass harmonium itself–invented by Franklin, it plays a key part in a pivotal scene of the novel.

Isn't it amazing what archaeology can, er, dig up?

Isn’t it amazing what archaeology can, er, dig up?

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The Big Blue Marble

Posted by on Apr 9, 2016 in Book: The Eureka Key, Events, Promotion, Uncategorized | 0 comments

imageThe aftermath of our panel on middle grade series at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia. So cool to hang out wiht the talented and funny Amy Ignatow for an afternoon in Philly!

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A Stroll in Philadelphia

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in American History, Book: The Eureka Key | 0 comments

The Eureka Key

The Eureka Key

Amazing to be staying in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district. I took a little walk to stretch my legs after the plane ride, and wound up visiting Ben Franklin’s home, walking past the oldest post office in the U.S. (supervised by B. Franklin, postmaster), getting a glimpse of Mr. Franklin’s grave, and taking a quick peek at the liberty bell. My goodness! And all so relevant to The Eureka Key, in which my three young heroes have to track down the key that Franklin flew from his kite, or dire consequences will ensue.

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Boston and Buttonwoods!

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Book: The Eureka Key, Events, Promotion, Uncategorized | 0 comments

imageHad a delicious time yesterday at the Buttonwoods Book and Toy Store. Don’t skip this place if you’re near Cohasset, MA! Great staff (children’s book buyer Bill Grace really knows his stuff!), beautifully curated collection, lovely store with cozy chairs. I was tempted to move in.

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