Posted in Tween Reads

Blog Tour: TILTERSMITH by Amy Herrick

Welcome to The Tiltersmith Blog Tour!

Follow along as we celebrate the release of The Tiltersmith with behind-the-scenes looks from author Amy Herrick, plus 10 chances to win a copy!

Old Books that Bump into Magic
by Amy Herrick

In yesterday’s blog I talked about my early reading habits, how I particularly loved the kind of fantasies where magical encounters came to ordinary children much like myself as they moved through their ordinary worlds.

Several of these books I go back to again and again looking for the same sensation they gave me the first time I read them, of sitting in my bedroom on a dull and rainy afternoon and noticing a slightly open door in the wall of my bedroom. A door that had never been there before. A door with some light coming through it or maybe a little music or laughter or maybe a scent I’d never scented before. A World in Back of the World.

I’ll mention here a few of the books from my childhood that still do this for me. Books that are still in print, but possibly you have missed.

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt

This book was first published in 1902. Although it takes place in England and is over one hundred years old, you will find the children in it perfectly recognizable and ordinary. They have been brought on a summer vacation to a house in the country. One day they find a big sand pit and decide to try to dig a hole to Australia. They don’t manage to get that far, but along the way they accidentally dig up a Psammead, “which in plain English” is a Sand-fairy. It is round and fat and furry with eyes at the end of long horns, like a snail’s eyes.  It has been sleeping in the sand pit for the last few thousand years and, as it turns out, is able to grant wishes. This, it proceeds to do, giving them one wish each day. Although the children attempt to be careful, knowing from fairytales how easy it is for things to go wrong in such matters, each wish brings on more trouble than the one before. The book is funny, charming and cleverly suspenseful. It was pretty much a ground-breaker in its time.
Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton

This one was originally published as two books, the first in 1943 (Bedknob), the second (Broomsticks) in 1945. They were later combined in an edited version in 1957.  In this story, three siblings are sent away from London to stay with a relative in a countryside town. There, early one morning, they accidently observe their very proper and upright next-door neighbor flying by their window on a wobbling broomstick. When they confront Miss Price with their discovery that she is a witch in training, she devises a clever means of keeping their mouths shut and her secret safe. She gifts them with an enchanted bedknob which will turn their bed into a magical vehicle. When they twist the knob, the bed will carry them anywhere they wish in time or place. The catch is that she will take the spell away if any of them divulge her secret.

In the beginning, it appears that the adventures will be of the tangled, light-hearted variety. For their first wish, longing to see their mother, they give the bed their home address. The bed plops them down in the middle of a foggy London street, dressed only in their pajamas. Unfortunately, their mother is not at home and they are soon carted off to a nearby police station by an annoyed policeman. By guile and quick wits, they manage to get out of this one, but as the book moves on and they are taken across the world* and then thrown into the distant English past, the stakes grow higher and it becomes the sort of book you are reading under the covers with a flashlight.

*It should be noted that in one of these later chapters there is a “cannibal island” scene in which the children meet up with a fictional primitive culture. Nowadays, Norton’s descriptions of the tribe the children encounter might be considered stereotypical and inaccurate.

Half Magic by Edward Eager

Half Magic was the first written of Edward Eager’s seven books about ordinary children who happen to bump into magic right in the middle of their ordinary United States of America childhoods. It takes place at the time of Eager’s own childhood in 1920’s United States and was first published in 1954. The story opens at the beginning of summer. The four protagonists, one brother and three sisters, are bored and hoping they might encounter some magic like the children do in the books of Edith Nesbit. Although, as Mark, the brother, says: “Magic never happens, not really.”

Then Jane finds what she believes to be a nickel stuck in a crack in a sidewalk and puts it in her pocket. She doesn’t really look at it and doesn’t begin to realize the peculiar power of the coin until she innocently wishes out loud that a house would catch on fire somewhere nearby, so they could have some excitement. In the next moment several fire trucks go racing down the street and the children go running after them. They soon stop in front of a yard where a very fancy play house is burning to the ground in a great conflagration of smoke and flames.

In the next instance, their mother, without asking for permission, borrows the coin (also mistaking it for a nickel) off Jane’s dresser. She goes out for a boring evening with relatives, wishes she could be at home without needing to take the long bus ride, and suddenly and inexplicably finds herself on a dark and lonely road, halfway to where she has wished to be.

It soon becomes apparent to the children (although not to their mother), that the coin can grant wishes, but only half a wish at a time.

As the book unfolds, the foursome must experiment as they try to figure out how to cajole the coin into giving them an entire wish.

You might say, that by the end, they are half successful.

The process, however, is a fully satisfying joy ride for the reader.

If you’ve missed any of the above, I envy you. What a first-time treat you have in store for yourself.


About the Book

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

Myths and monsters collide with climate chaos in a thrilling fantasy adventure.

Spring has arrived in Brooklyn, New York, but winter refuses to let go. Sleet, snow, and even a tornado batter the city. Mr. Ross, the science teacher, believes climate change is the cause, but classmates Edward, Feenix, Danton, and Brigit suspect older, magical forces are at work. When a peculiar character calling himself Superintendent Tiltersmith appears with a keen interest in the foursome, their suspicions are confirmed, and they’re swept up in a battle of wits and courage.

The friends must protect a set of mysterious tools belonging to the Lady of Spring. If they can free her from her underground prison, winter will end. But if the Tiltersmith steals the tools, he will keep the Lady in his power and upset the balance of nature forever.

Perfect for readers of Madeleine L’Engle and Susan Cooper, The Tiltersmith returns to the world of Amy Herrick’s acclaimed Time Fetch in a timely, exciting stand-alone adventure.

Praise:

“Herrick combines vivid descriptions of climate events, school-set science lessons, and weather-related stories from various cultures around the globe . . . resonates with current events and fits tonally alongside children’s fantasy classics.”
Publishers Weekly

“Vacillating between scientific reasoning and lore from worldwide cultures, the descriptions of beautiful legends of seasons and the sobering study of climate change are so rich.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Despite the contemporary setting, a diversified cast, and topical themes, events take on ritualistic elements that readers up on their Greek mythology will recognize. American fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence will find themselves on familiar footing, albeit a bit closer to home.”
Booklist

“The author proves to have a keen eye for developing wonderfully dastardly villains. Tiltersmith is a fantastic bad guy who oozes disarming charm while also being deeply unsettling … cleverly handled … a compelling tale.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books  

“It’s a great combination of the mystical and the scientific! A bit of gentle romance shouldn’t deter younger readers . . . The writing style is craftily literary, with warm incisive forays into each character’s inner life.”
Youth Services Book Review   

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Amy Herrick grew up in Queens, New York, and attended SUNY Binghamton and the University of Iowa. She lives in Brooklyn, where she has raised two sons, taught pre-K and grade school, written books, and kept company with her husband and numerous pets. A retired teacher, she loves traveling, learning Spanish, and above all reducing her carbon footprint.


GIVEAWAY

  • Ten (10) winners will receive a hardcover of The Tiltersmith
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/6 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

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Blog Tour Schedule:

October 17th Mama Likes This
October 18th A Dream Within a Dream
October 19th Always in the Middle
October 20th BookHounds
October 21st Mrs. Book Dragon

October 24th Good Choice Reading
October 25th Mom Read It
October 26th YA Books Central
October 27th Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
October 28th Randomly Reading

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Go read Rust in the Root RIGHT NOW!

Rust in the Root, by Justina Ireland, (Sept. 2022, Balzer + Bray), $18.99, ISBN: 9780063038226

Ages 14+

Justina Ireland’s new historical fantasy is everything that other historical fantasy about magicians in the 1920s and 1930s should have been. Set in 1937, Laura Ann Langston arrives in New York, from her small town in Pennsylvania. She wants to earn her mage’s license so she can become a baker to the stars, but fate has a curve ball waiting. She takes a she applies for a job with the Colored Auxiliary of the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps: magic exists in this history, and like everything else at the time, it’s segregated. Ireland expertly weaves U.S. history into her fantasy to give us an incredible story where white Necromancers and Mechomancers – magic with metal – threaten the world’s structure; the Auxiliary, made up with different areas of magic users, use natural means to combat them. Sent into the Ohio Deep Blight – an area of Ohio under attack from Necromancy – and Laura, now known as the Peregrine, ventures into the Blight with her mentor, the Skylark, and a group of apprentices. When they arrive in Ohio, they discover a deep, evil purpose behind the disappearance of the previous team sent out, and that their own lives are in danger. Justina Ireland views American history through a social lens and brings to life a fantasy that makes perfect sense. Black and white photos run throughout, with wry observations from Peregrine; missives from the Skylark will keep you guessing until the end. Incredible storytelling and world-building make this one of the best books I’ve read this year. Read this, booktalk this, and give it to history and fantasy fans alike.

Rust in the Root has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, and Kirkus.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

A fairy tale retelling of the Japanese “Cinderella” within the Eva Evergreen universe

Alliana, Girl of Dragons, by Julie Abe, (Aug. 2022, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9780316300353

Ages 8-12

In a Cinderella-inspired Japanese fantasy tale, Alliana is an orphan living with her cruel stepmother and stepsiblings, with only her Grandmother Mari providing any affection. When Grandmother Mari dies, Alliana is bereft and alone in a hostile home, until she rescues a baby nightdragon and meets Nela, an apprentice witch. Alliana and Nela become fast friends and the nightdragon, whom Alliana names Kabo, give her hope of escaping her home living the life she dreams of: attending the Royal Academy. Alliana, Girl of Dragons is set in the world of Julie Abe’s Eva Evergreen universe and is filled with rich fantasy worldbuilding and elements of Japanese culture. Fairy tale readers will recognize elements of the Cinderella tale, including references to Alliana being a “girl of dust”, a royal ball, and Alliana’s secret attendance. The story explores friendship and found families, resilience, and greed. Readers do not need to be familiar with Eva Evergreen – I wasn’t! – to enjoy this adventure. Filled with dragons and magic, Alliana, Girl of Dragons is a great book to recommend to fantasy readers, readers who enjoy new takes on classic fairy tales, and anime and manga fans, who will also enjoy the manga artwork that sets off every chapter and places readers in Abe’s world.

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Fenris and Mott – you’ve never read Norse mythology like this!

Fenris and Mott, by Greg van Eekhout, (Aug. 2022, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062970633

Ages 8-12

Greg van Eekhout’s latest novel is an hilariously adorable spin on Norse mythology starring a tween girl in need of a friend and an adorable dog who is much more than he seems. Mott is a 12-year-old root beer enthusiast, transplanted from Pennyslvania to California, and missing her best friend. She discovers an abandoned puppy in a recycling bin and promises to keep him safe, not realizing that she’s just sworn to protect Fenris, the Norse mythological wolf who will devour the moon, eat Asgardian god Odin, and move the events of Ragnarök – Doomsday – into motion. Aided by a Valkyrie in training, with a supporting cast of Norse gods, Fenris & Mott has laugh-out-loud humor, great dialogue and action, and characters readers will cheer for. Fenris is adorable enough to have readers coo every time he “mweeps”, and will stop readers in their tracks when he opens his gaping maw to devour Viking warriors and moving vehicles. Rick Riordan fans will love this new take on Norse mythology, filled with modern takes on ancient stories. Supporting cast is largely white and Nordic, and Mott is Indonesian and Dutch, and is picture on the cover as a brown-skinned girl. Nonstop action, characters with heart and devotion, and unbearably cute moments with a fluffy puppy make this an essential addition to your fiction collections.

Fenris & Mott has a starred review from Booklist. Visit Greg van Eekhout’s author page for more information about his books and appearances.

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The Great TBR Read-Down: The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza

The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza, (Nov. 2021, Harry N. Abrams), $18.99, ISBN: 9781419752599

Ages 12+

Do not let the cover fool you: The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass is a fantasy mystery that will keep you guessing. Vera Glass is a high school student living in a world where everyone has a magic gift; Vera’s is the ability to open locks, while her mother’s intuition magic makes her a wonderfully empathetic and comforting parent. She lives with her scientist parents and siblings, has a strong faith community, and a solid group of friends, but something just isn’t right. No one can quite voice it, but there’s something missing; something leaving a hole in more and more people’s lives, and Vera is determined to find out what it is. There are a few suspects, including a group of “witches” from the Goth kid group and the organization that Vera’s parents work for. The strength here is in the jarring disappearances that pop up throughout the book: a character is part of the scene, and then they’re just… not. And Vera pauses, trying to remember something just outside of her memory, not able to quite grasp what’s changed; just that there’s an ache she can’t quite shake. Heartbreaking and very readable, Vera is the first-person narrator, written with deep feeling by Anna Priemaza. Vera’s faith doesn’t come across as preachy; it’s a facet of her life, and she has an inclusive group of friends that also includes some atheist representation. The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass examines the feelings we have for those in our lives that go deeper than the surface; deeper than memory.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Graphic Novel Bonanza: Adora and the Distance

Adora and the Distance, by Marc Bernardin/Illustrated by Ariela Kristantina, (March 2022, Dark Horse), $14.99, ISBN: 9781506724508

Ages 12+

Like I said, I read a HUGE backlog of graphic novels while I had my little break, so be prepared for some “If you didn’t read it, it’s new to you!” posts. This time, I’ve got Adora and the Distance, by television writer-producer and comic book author Marc Bernardin. Set in a high fantasy world, Adora is a young woman of color living in a world full of adventure: there are pirates, ghosts, a royal family, and a malevolent entity known as The Distance. The Distance devours and destroys, and Adora, connected to The Distance, must leave her home on a mission to stop it.

The artwork is stunning. The colors, the shading, the depth, bring this book to life in a reader’s hands. The story builds to an incredible conclusion that made the world come to a halt around me as I took it all in. Adora and the Distance is a father’s love letter to his daughter in the best way he could reach her; the best way to let her know he sees her. Adora and the Distance is a story of autism, you see; Marc Bernardin’s author’s note at the end of the book  explains his impetus for creating this epic tale. Adora is smart, brave, and full of love.  There’s humor, adventure, family, and forgiveness all here, bound into this story that connects a father to his daughter.

Put Adora and the Distance in your distributor cart, and get it on shelves for your readers. Give it to parents, educators, and caregivers.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The Monsters of Rookhaven is all about Family

The Monsters of Rookhaven, by Pádraig Kenny/Illustrated by Edward Bettison, (Sept. 2021, Henry Holt), $16.99, ISBN: 9781250623942

Ages 10-14

Mirabelle loves her very unique family: there’s Uncle Bertram, who can transform into a grizzy bear, and Aunt Eliza, entirely made up of spiders. There are the twins, Dotty and Daisy, who can be a little cruel, and Odd, who travels through portals. There’s Gideon, the newest addition to the family, and the mysterious Piglet; and there’s Uncle Enoch, who presides over the group. They have an agreement with the English village that separates them by way of a magical border: they don’t cross the border and eat the townsfolk, and the village keeps them fed and safe from the outside world. But Jem and Tom, two orphaned siblings, discover a tear in the magic and find their way into Rookhaven, with consequences for everyone on both sides of the border.

This book is gorgeous; beautifully macabre and perfect for kids who loved Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. The narration moves swiftly along but is never rushed; it’s deliberate and takes its time creating the world of Rookhaven and the post-War English countryside; we meet a group of people devastated by war and the grief and loss it brings, making them susceptible to the worst type of manipulation. We meet another group of beings, specially gifted but assumed terrible, also suffering from grief and loss, with the added confusion of having two very human children stumble into their secure world and turn things upside down. Pádraig Kenny masterfully brings these elements together with dark humor and gentle moments, tension and terror mixed with wonder and pain. Edward Bettison’s blackwork illustrations add the perfect moodiness to the story. An excellent choice for book groups

The Monsters of Rookhaven is out in hardcover now and will be released in paperback this September, to coincide with the hardcover release of the next Rookhaven book, The Shadows of Rookhaven.

The Monsters of Rookhaven has a starred review from Booklist.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Indie Spotlight: The Voting Tree by Gareth Griffith

The Voting Tree (The Pelagius Chronicles, Book 1), by Gareth Griffith, (Nov. 2018), $10.25, ISBN: 978-1729264485

Ages 10-13

The Voting Tree is an epic fantasy taking place across two worlds: Sydney, Australia in the year 2000, and a fantasy kingdom called the Land of Pelas. In the current world, Sam Archer is a middle schooler who’s just moved to Sydney, thanks to his dad’s new job. He starts school where he meets new friends Hamish, Sylvia, Athena, and Oscar… and the local bullies, who target Sam and his group of friends for being “freaks”. In the fantasy world of Pelas, there’s open war as Lord Boreas slays his brother, the king, and his wife; their child, Pelagius, is sent into hiding and will live in exile until he’s old enough to retake his father’s throne. Back in Sydney, Sam and his friends gather around a fig tree near their school, and discover that it’s a portal to Pelas, where they meet Pelagius and join his quest. Sam and his friends all have special abilities in this fantasy world to guide them and Pelagius on their way, and time works differently here: they can spend hours in Pelas, but almost no time has passed when they return home. At times, the differences between the two worlds made for a challenging transition, especially because there isn’t a lot of involvement with each of the worlds. Their time in Pelas does lead to character growth and confidence, making this a nice hero’s journey story to recommend. Characters deal with family stress, bullying at school, and inaction on the part of the teachers. Give this to your fantasy readers who love Garth Nix.

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Kicking off 2022 YA with a bang: The Bone Spindle

The Bone Spindle, by Leslie Vedder, (Jan. 2022, Razorbill), $18.99, ISBN: 9780593325827

Ages 12+

This fantasy YA is heavily inspired by Sleeping Beauty, with a touch of Red Riding Hood, and a lot of adventure. Fi – short for Filore – is a treasure hunter with a curse on her head. Actually, it’s on her hand, but it’s a terrible one. Shane is an exiled female warrior who loves fighting and pretty girls. The two unlikely partners end up working together to free a kingdom when Fi pricks her finger on a bone spindle and discovers Briar Rose, the prince whose kingdom is under a sleeping curse until Love’s first kiss awakens him. Briar’s body is asleep, but his magic allows him to appear to Fi, leading her to his kingdom: if she can make it through the perilous thorns and other dangers that await.

The first in a new YA fantasy duology (or trilogy!), The Bone Spindle is a fantasy adventure that flips traditional fairy tales and gender roles, giving readers strong and smart female protagonists and a gentle hero with a mysterious dark side. Fi is afraid to fall in love after a terrible ex left her in a bad spot, but Briar is so awkward and sweet that she wonders what will happen when she finally gets to his kingdom to deliver his kiss. Shane comes from a warrior kingdom, but she’s chosen exile. She loves the heft of her axe and the smile on a pretty girl, but her partnership with Fi means she’ll put herself at risk for a friend. Fantasy readers, LGBTQ+ readers, romance readers, all will find something to love in The Bone Spindle – enjoy spotting the influences as you read.

Posted in picture books

Julia’s House comes to the end of its journey with Julia’s House Goes Home

Julia’s House Goes Home, by Ben Hatke (Oct. 2021, First Second), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250769329

Ages 4-8

The third book in the Julia’s House series will tug at heartstrings. The last time readers saw Julia’s house, in last year’s Julia’s House Moves On,the house had sprouted wings and was flying; Julia’s plans in the literal air. Now, the house lands, but takes a terrible tumble and rolls away, leaving Julia holding only the sign from her door! As she tries to track down the house, she gathers her Lost Creature friends, who’ve all been tossed and tumbled as the house bounced away, but just when she thinks she’s found the house, she makes a distressing discovery. Can she and her friends make things right again? A touching close to the Julia’s House trilogy, Julia’s House Goes Home shows a maturing Julia; a main character who’s gone from always having a plan, to learning that it’s okay to throw your plans out the window and just live in the moment, to having your plans fall apart in front of you – and having your friends be there to catch you when you fall. Readers familiar with Ben Hatke’s books will delight in seeing familiar monster friends and a wink to his 2016 story, Nobody Likes a Goblin. Watercolor artwork gives a moving, wistful, yet comforting feel to the story, and the back endpapers offer a sweet epilogue to sharp-eyed readers. I really loved reading all three books together. It’s a very gentle story that unfolds and invites you in to spend some time with it.

You can follow Ben Hatke’s Instagram for more of his artwork.