Go West Young Cats!

 Cecil's wild ride.

Cecil's wild ride.

Anton and Cecil are off again, this time sailing on powerful "landships" to carry them across the country to find and rescue their mouse friend Hieronymus, held captive by a princess and a dragon (or so says the mouse network...).  

Their only direction: Head toward the setting sun.  Their only clue: Between the whale and the coyote.  Along the way the brothers befriend a pugnacious dog, a wily ferret and a wise lynx, while trying to stay out of the clutches of a great horned owl, a villainous coyote, and worst of all -- a boy who wants to make Cecil a pet!  They travel deep into the west and meet creatures they've never dreamed of, but can they find Hieronymus in time?

We absolutely can't wait for you to climb aboard this adventure with the brothers and all their newest allies!  Yee ha!

Word Work

Had a fantastic time with the 4th graders at St. Mary's Catholic School in Richmond, VA last week, participating in their annual multi-day Writer's Workshop led by the awesome Susan Trout.  I talked a bit about the inspirations for Anton & Cecil and then we had great conversations about starting out, getting stuck, and the publication process.  We discussed our works in progress and I even got some suggestions for the future!  These young writers were exposed to varied forms of the craft during the week, from poetry to screenwriting, and I'll bet their own stories will be captivating.  Thanks to Ms. Trout for having me, and to the students for their kindness and enthusiasm!

Young Authors Inspire

I was invited to the inaugural meeting of the Young Authors Club at Meriwether Lewis Elementary in October and man, those authors were ablaze with ideas and energy.  And knowledge: when the fabulous Media Specialist, Andrea Atkinson, went around asking what everybody liked to write, there were amazingly savvy answers like, "realistic fiction."  Wow.  In fifth grade I would have said I like to write about frogs.  The club members are writing stories and having them hard-bound, so cool, and their concepts range from poetry collections to fables to nonfiction to an epic tale of a girl and her horse.  I chimed in with the inspirations for our Cat stories and a bit about the PROBLEM every good plot must have.  Kudos to Ms. Atkinson for creating a place for all this energy to grow!

The Pride of Gaithersburg

Our co-author duo headed up to Gaithersburg, Maryland for the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May.  It was a gorgeous day and good thing, too, because the outdoor Festival attracts 18,000 visitors!  A serious book-loving town.  Valerie and I did a stand-up routine with dueling microphones, then signed and visited.  Thanks to Politics and Prose for the hospitality!  A big highlight for me was meeting and chatting with Brian Floca, a cool and nice person, who kindly signed my copy of Locomotive.  Also, the crab cake sandwiches were not bad either.

An Open Book

 Tag-team signing.

Tag-team signing.

Valerie and I visited the beautiful H. D. Cooke Elementary in Washington DC to talk with the 5th grade about Anton & Cecil.  It was a great event sponsored by An Open Book Foundation, the amazing group that puts a brand new book into the hands of every student!  It was the first time Val and I were able to present together (and of course she embarrassed me with stories from when I was little), and then we got to sign all the books together too, which was tremendous fun.  Thanks so much to these two groups for having us!

Celebrate the book

Five great days of festival-izing the joys of reading and writing at the Virginia Festival of the Book here in Charlottesville!  I visited Meriwether Lewis School and the amazing 3rd, 4th and 5th graders there, who have enthusiasm coming out of their ears -- it was so much fun, I didn't want to leave.  We talked about getting inspired, getting to the end, and creating a story to capture your reader.  Then bookstore events, panels, receptions, a whirlwind, all terrific.

The World Reads Aloud

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March 5th, 2014 is World Read Aloud Day, a global event promoted by LitWorld to match up students and authors for a great big read-aloud.  Last year a million people participated in 65 countries worldwide!  

I had a total blast visiting classes via Skype and introducing Anton & Cecil to some new friends. We asked questions and laughed about the answers, and I made so many new friends, even as far away as New Zealand, where they sang a beautiful folk song for me.  Incredibly fun.

OK by me

The largest newspaper in Oklahoma has rounded up some of its favorite cat tales (not tails) and Anton & Cecil are right in the mix!

"Valerie Martin, who has written books for adults, and her niece Lisa Martin target middle-readers with this story of friendships, hope and survival. But older readers are likely to be charmed as well. The illustrations by Kelly Murphy add to the delight."

You can read the whole thing here.

Sign of the Times

A wonderful write-up in the New York Times Sunday Book Review  (Oct. 13, 2013):  

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[R]emarkable for its delicate use of language (a female cat is “a petite thief in the dark night”) and for its watertight descriptions of seafaring.  The story is engrossing and unpredictable, with likable heroes and charming accomplices.

Read the whole thing here, it really captures the heart of the story!

Mind your ABC's

 Love elephants.

Whoo-hoo!  Anton and Cecil was selected as one of the 2013 Best Books for Children by the Association of Booksellers for Children.  The ABC is part of the American Booksellers Association, and its focus on children's books, from picture books to teen novels, allows them to be a great partner and resource for bookstores everywhere.  A&C will be part of this lovely catalog sent out in October, yay!