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

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Turnaway Girls, by Hayley Chewins

Raised in a shelter cloister with other young women, Delphernia Undersea is a 12-year-old Turnaway Girl: girls raised to be silent, invisible; to weave male Masters’ music into gold they call “shimmmer”. Delphina is well aware of her place in society – Mother Nine beats it into her regularly enough – but still has a rebellious streak in her. While she can’t make shimmer, she can sing; a forbidden action in this world. Girls are told that the sea waits to swallow girls with musical throats, but Delphernia must sing, so she does so in secret until the day a young Master named Bly comes to claim her. Once out of the cloister, Delphernia’s world opens up, befriending a trans girl named Linna, who calls herself a Master and wears a dress covered in bells. Delphernia spends time with Bly, discovering more about him and his sister, the Childer-Queen, and in so doing, discovers more about herself and the society she moves through. It’s time for rebellion, and Delphernia holds the key.

Wow. This book is high literary fantasy that has the gift of empowering readers. Delphernia is a strong, intelligent heroine who motivates those around her. This is a male-driven society that doesn’t want music, free thought, or questions. They twist the truth to suit their means, but this next generation of children is about to bring it all down. Hayley Chewins’ weaves gold – shimmer – with words that nearly brought me to tears as I read. I was Facebooking and texting passages from this book to my friends, family, and coworkers over the last two days, because I could not keep these words inside me.


This is how you talk to middle graders. This is how you write middle grade fantasy that makes a statement, always respecting your readers. This is fantasy that holds our society up to a mirror and lets readers see for themselves how change is theirs to make. Diverse and gender fluid characters, discussions about gender roles and corrupt leaders, and a tale of self-discovery, magic, and music put this firmly on my must-read, must-have list, and my Newbery and Hugo watch lists.

The Turnaway Girls has a starred review from Kirkus. Author Hayley Chewins has a playlist for the book available on her blog.

Want your own copy of The Turnaway Girls? Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!


Blog Tour Roll Call! Visit these book bloggers for their The Turnaway Girl thoughts.

October 8 – Purple Readers

October 9 – YA Books Central

October 10 – Cheyenne Reads

October 11 – Mom Read It

October 12 – Wizard Library


The Turnaway Girls, by Hayley Chewins, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763697921
Ages 10+

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, History, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

George Washington, friendship, and time travel: The President and Me

gw_hatThe President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat, by Deborah Kalb/Illustrations by Robert Lunsford, (Feb. 2016, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764351105

Recommended for ages 8-12

Fifth grader Sam is feeling down. He’s a bit of an introvert, and when his best friend, Andrew, seemingly abandoned him to get more involved in sports, he feels more alone than ever. Plus, the most annoying kid in school took the part he wanted in the school play: the role of George Washington! During a trip to Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, Sam finds himself drawn to a beat-up old hat in the gift shop, but this is no ordinary hat: it’s a magic hat that sends him off to the 18th century, where he meets George Washington himself! As Sam travels back and forth between the present day and the 18th century, he finds himself witnessing pivotal moments in George Washington’s life, and just possibly, building a friendship with the charismatic leader.

The President and Me is a fun middle grade fantasy adventure. The hat has a personality all its own, which makes for some amusing moments; whether he’s trying to find out what a bus is or what this newfangled century is all about, or blathering on while Sam’s trying to keep him a secret, the hat is a good supporting character for Sam, often encouraging him by showing him a time in George Washington’s history that teaches Sam a lesson he desperately needs – lessons that operate under the guise of history, but carry some pretty great lessons that help Sam learn about himself, too. Black and white illustrations add interest.

Readers will find some interesting history and facts about George Washington in the book, too. Most of us know by now that George didn’t really chop down a cherry tree, let alone confess the fact to his dad, but did you know that Mount Vernon was his brother’s estate first? Or that he wanted to be a sailor before he wanted to be a soldier? The author includes some helpful sources in her acknowledgements; pair that with some resources of your own and give kids a great George Washington or Colonial America bibliography. There are a few questions left unanswered, but you can use those areas as kickoffs to discussions. (What would happen if George Washington were given a LEGO spaceship?)

A light, fun addition to your historical fantasy fiction collections.