Posts Tagged ‘The Kneebone Boy’

This year the American Library Association has chosen San Diego for it’s midwinter meeting. From January 7-11th nearly 10,000 leaders in the library and information media industry will gather for meetings, events and exhibits. My blog buddy Sarah and I are planning to check out the exhibits some time this weekend (I’ll be the one with the comfy shoes).

One of the special features of the midwinter meeting is the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. Each year the ALA honors books, videos and other outstanding materials for children and teens. The 2011 award winners will be announced at 7:45 a.m. PST, Monday, Jan. 10, at the San Diego Convention Center. A live Webcast of the award announcements will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Award press release will be posted online by 10 a.m. PST at www.ala.org.

I was happy to note that “The Kneebone Boy” by Ellen Potter was on the nominee list for Notable Books. Ellen has done an author spotlight feature and we have reviewed several of her books as well. Yay Ellen! I was also happy to see “The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda” by Tom Angelberger there as well. We will be featuring Tom on our next author spotlight this Friday.

I wish them both well and look forward to hearing the results on Monday.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

Read Full Post »

Alyson Beecher loves books. Alyson is an educator, writing mentor and blogger and I love her taste in books. She recently posted her list of favorite books for 2010 on her Kid Lit Frenzy blog.

Here are Alyson’s picks for Best Mid Grade Novels:


by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith



by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile



by James Burks



by Kazu Kibuishi



by Tom Angleberger



by Adam Gidwitz



by Jennifer Cervantes



by Sharon M. Draper



by Rita Williams-Garcia



by Ellen Potter



by Lisa Schroeder



by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter


I have read several on this list and even featured them here on the blog, I agree with Alyson that they are great books. I have made it my goal to read all of the books on this list that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Alyson has also compiled a list of the best Picture Books and YA for 2010 as well, be sure to check those out as well.

I will have an opportunity to meet Alyson next month  when I visit her school for an author visit to share my book “Grandma’s Pear Tree.”  I hope during the visit we will have time to discuss books, she really knows her stuff.

Happy reading,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

Read Full Post »

I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of the The Kneebone Boy (Feiwel & Friends, 2010) from author Ellen Potter a few weeks back. I had only read the first two pages when I closed the cover and decided to read the book later. I like to classify books like food; some are light snacks or junk food (not very filling but highly addicting), some are meals that you get through and aren’t very memorable (think Hamburger Helper), and some are like fine meals that must be savored. I knew from the first two pages that this was a book to be savored and in the middle of the hustle and bustle of summer vacation I wouldn’t be able to give the book its proper respect. I am glad I waited.

Here is the synopsis:

Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar seaside village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal…

Here are my thoughts:

  • I really enjoy Ellen’s writing style. Her word usage and language are both intriguing and beautiful especially while dealing with dark and gritty topics, this is what makes the book a something to be savored.
  • I was charmed by her characters. We get a sense of the overwhelmed single father, the quirky aunt, and the Viking-like taxidermist Saint George in addition to the other characters.  The Hardscrabble children themselves are outcasts but they don’t lose their heart or charm even when they bicker among themselves.
  • I was intrigued by the plot. Where was their mother? Who was the author of the story? What was the secret that Aunt Haddie was keeping? Why does Otto always wear the black scarf? Was there truly a Kneebone boy?  I must say that I was tempted to peek at the back of the book to find out but I was glad that I waited for the answers.

I am happy to say that The Kneebone Boy received a starred review, I think it was well deserved.

This story is not for everyone. If you are looking for puppies, flowers and Unicorns I would suggest you look elsewhere. If you are looking for a dark and compelling novel in the style of Dahl or Snicket The Kneebone Boy is just right for you.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to announce our Author Spotlight this week is the super-talented Ellen Potter.

Here is a brief bio:
Ellen Potter is the author of several middle-grade novels, including the award-winning Olivia Kidney series, Pish Posh, SLOB, and The Kneebone Boy. Her non-fiction book, Spilling Ink; a Young Writer’s Handbook, was co-authored by Anne Mazer.

Olivia Kidney was awarded Child magazine’s “Best Children’s Book Award” and was selected as one of the “Books of the Year” by Parenting magazine. Additionally, it was one of the finalists for the Ottakar’s Children’s Book Prize in the United Kingdom.

SLOB was selected for the Junior Library Guild Spring 2009 List and the 2010 Texas Lone Star Reading List.

Her middle-grade novel The Kneebone Boy will be published by Feiwel & Friends on September 14, 2010.

What was your road to publication?

It was a seasonal access road; bumpy at best and sometimes impassable. It took years of writing while doing odd-jobs (dog grooming, waitressing, etc.) before I was actually published. Still, I’m glad I had those experiences. During those years I met drifters, Tibetan refugees, actors. It was a great education for a young writer. And the tips weren’t bad either.
Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?

I don’t plot out my books. I’ve tried, but it never works for me, and I generally wind up with an ugly case of writer’s block. Whenever I have a preplanned storyline, I eventually have to force my characters to do things that they wouldn’t really do, just to make the story move according to plan. That’s when my characters rebel. They stiffen up and refuse to move. Instead, I prefer to stay more fluid and to follow my characters’ lead. I trail behind them and see what they will do next. Sometimes I know what will happen in the following scene, but that’s about it. It’s a little scary to write this way, and I often go down dead-end streets and have to backtrack. Still I find that the story tends to flow more naturally this way, and since I’m surprised at the things that happen, I know my readers will be too.
Describe your studio or usual work space for us.

I’m not fussy. I’ll write in bed, in a café, in a park. It’s like having a floating office. Hmm, there’s an idea! Writing on a raft would be interesting . . .
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

A baker. Whenever I watch Ace of Cakes I have an uncontrollable urge to make a fondant replica of the Millennium Falcon.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I have never, ever in my entire life worn flip flops.
How do you balance your writing and family life?

Now THAT is the million-dollar question! It’s tough, no kidding. For the first five years of my son’s life I woke up at 4:30 am to write. I conducted important business calls while changing poopy diapers. There are all sorts of strategies for successfully juggling work and family—writing lists, delegating chores. But I think the most important thing you can do is make friends with sleep deprivation.
Is there a reason that Pish Posh, Slob and the Olivia Kidney series are all set in New York City?

I write about NYC in part because I grew up there. But also it’s a great setting for children’s’ books because kids are very mobile in the city. They don’t necessarily need their parents to drive them places. They can walk or take public transportation, so there is great potential for independent adventure.
Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

I’m working on a new middle-grade novel now, which should be out in 2011. I’m also very excited about my newest book The Kneebone Boy. I loved writing about the quirky Hardscrabble siblings and their adventures.
We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?

I’m a hyperactive procrastinator. I procrastinated for the first half of my life and now I am hyperactively trying to make up for lost time.
Ellen is a truly talented author and I have enjoyed reading many of her other books including SLOB and Spilling Ink which I have quoted on this site more than once. I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Ellen’s new book “The Kneebone Boy” and will post my book thoughts next week. For more information on Ellen please check out: ellenpotter.com or for more writing tips check out spillinginkthebook.com.
Thanks Ellen.
Suzanne Santillan
Writing on the Sidewalk

Read Full Post »

I just recently received an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of “The Kneebone Boy” by author Ellen Potter and I was really excited. The ARC is a copy of a book privately released by its publisher before the book is printed for mass distribution. In others words it’s like getting a sneak peak and enables you to see the book before it is released. These copies are not sold in stores.

Publishers do this for review purposes and to generate buzz. The role of the ARC was mentioned in author Jody Hedlund’s blog post about Influencers. Since these copies sometimes contain errors and text that will not be included in the final copy, ARC’s are often sought after by collectors.

When I attended Book Expo America in May, several publishing houses were giving out ARC’s for books that they were promoting, and  I was able to pass some of them on to friends and family. If I go back next May you can be sure that I will make a point to try and collect more.

I will be reviewing “The Kneebone Boy”  shortly after Labor Day. I have just begun reading the book, but let me tell you what I have read so far is very yummy!

**Spoiler Alert!**

Here is the tag for Chapter 1-

“In which we meet the Hardscrabbles, unearth a triceratops bone, and begin to like Lucia even more.”

Intrigued? Be sure to check back after Labor Day for a full review.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

Read Full Post »