FORGE earns Star #3!

Things are shifting into high gear in the Forest as the book tour approacheth. The suitcase is semi-packed and the washing machine is busy. Hotel and airplane reservations have all been made. More chickens have decided to lay eggs.

Ok, that last bit it not exactly tour-related. But this is.

The Horn Book has given FORGE its third starred review!

“Chains (rev. 11/08) ended with slave girl Isabel escaping from 1776 New York with fellow slave Curzon, who takes over the narration in this sequel. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army in late 1777. His experiences as a young runaway slave during the American Revolution differ greatly from Isabel’s; though he lives in fear of discovery, he befriends a white soldier boy named Eben and even gains a sense of patriotism and camaraderie serving alongside other soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Unfortunate circumstances bring Curzon and Isabel back together, and it is the struggle to mend their friendship and continue their quest for freedom that drives the latter half of the novel. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their interpersonal relationships. Relevant historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter add authenticity, as does Curzon’s firsthand account of daily life at Valley Forge; his detailed narration of privations, inequalities, and hard work compellingly conveys the plight of the common soldier. As one man in Curzon’s regiment explains, Valley Forge “is a forge for the army; it’s testing our qualities. Instead of heat and hammer, our trials are cold and hunger. Question is, what are we made of?” With this riveting sequel, Anderson certainly passes the test. ” —(Oct.) Horn Book, starred review

Two Weeks to FORGE! (sort of)

You know how when J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins releases a new book there are VERY STRICT RULES about what day it is allowed to be sold to the public? And how bookstores hold parties the night before the on-sale date and start selling the book at the stroke of midnight?

Yeah, that won’t be happening with FORGE.

The “technical” release date is Tuesday, October 19th. I suspect you might be able to find it in your bookstore a day or so … or more… before that. I leave to start the book tour a week from tomorrow. First stop is the Texas Book Festival in Austin! Will you be there?

Old Week Ends, New Week Begins

Banned Books Week is over. I wish I could report on the status of Wes Scroggins’ challenge in Republic, MO, but I have not been able to get official notification of  what is going on. There is a school board meeting later this month. Perhaps they’ll post something in the minutes.

There are a few more links I’d like to share with you. Popmatters ran a long interview with me. And Random House posted the wisdom about censorship from four giants in children’s literature: Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, Zilpha Keatly Snyder, and Lois Lowry.

Now that Banned Books Week is over, many folks will be tempted to tuck the issue away in a small box and revisit it again next year. I understand. It’s hard to keep outrage boiling on high 24/7. I’ve spent the last two weeks responding to this challenge and my other work is sorely overdue for attention.

The books for the libraries in MO will be shipped tomorrow. I will continue to try to contact the superintendent of the district. I haven’t contacted any of the district’s teachers because I figured they were already busy enough with their students and the last thing they needed was me poking my nose into things. It seemed more appropriate to keep my communications with the district limited to the superintendent. Although that sure isn’t working because all my emails have returned as undeliverable (yes, I called the district office to double-check the address) and he hasn’t responded to my letters.

I think the best place for those of you who want to continue the discussion about censorship and First Amendment issues is over at I’ll continue to speak up both here and there.

At the same time, I need to turn some of my attention to FORGE. I leave on the book tour in 11 days!!! ARGH!! Must find new tour pants!!

Second Star to the right!

Publisher’s Weekly has also graced FORGE with a star!

“Second in the Seeds of America trilogy, this sequel to the National Book Award finalist Chains is narrated by Curzon, the slave Isabel freed from prison while escaping her own enslavement in 1777 New York City. Curzon immediately explains how he and Isabel lived in New Jersey for a few months, before she ran away with their meager funds in hopes of finding her sister, a quest Curzon refused to support. Months later, Curzon is doing his best to forget Isabel, though the depth of his feelings is made evident in flashbacks of their time together. After Curzon saves the life of Eben, a young rebel soldier, he joins the army and suffers through the winter at Valley Forge; tension mounts when Curzon’s former owner arrives. Anderson includes meticulous details about the lives of soldiers and, with just a few words, brings readers deep inside Curzon’s experience (“My belly voted louder than my wits”). Her masterful storytelling weaves themes of friendship, politics, love, and liberty into a deeply satisfying tale that will leave readers hungry for the final volume.”


Sarah, a sixth grade Language Arts teacher (and incredible book slogger) weighs in on the book’s classroom potential and calls it a “MUST READ.”

It’s going to be very hard to get any work done today.

You Can Come to the Best BookFest ever

One of the stops I am most looking forward to on this fall’s book tour takes place in New York City on Saturday, October 30th.

It’s much, much, MUCH more than one silly author excited about her new book.

It is an extravaganza for teachers, librarians, educators and other people who care deeply about books for kids and teens. It’s a bookaganza. A day-long festival with authors, illustrators, editors, children’s literature experts, librarians and reviewers. (And lunch!)

It’s BookFest @Bank Street!!!!

A short list of guests:

Leonard Marcus, author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon

Wendell Minor, illustrator of Nibble, Nibble

Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director, Golden Books

Stephen Savage, illustrator of The Fathers are Coming Home

Mac Barnett, author, Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

Jon Scieszka, author, editor, Guys Read: Funny Business

David Yoo, author, Stop Me If You’re Heard This Once Before

And me! I’ll be talking about FORGE!

Check out the entire, earth-shaking schedule!!

This is how the official website describes it: “BookFest @ Bank Street is an event devoted to the celebration, discovery, and discussion of books for children and teens. This event, designed for adults, features luminaries from the children’s literature community. Authors, illustrators, editors, reviewers, and scholars will take part in panel discussions and breakout sessions.”

Personally, I think the word “bookaganza” should have been used in there.

But here’s the thing. You must pre-register. And the registration deadline is this Friday, September 17th.

Do it now, OK? And spread the word!