Monday, August 20, 2012


Welcome to the 1st stop in Claire Legrand's blog tour for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. I'm excited to not only have Claire on the blog today, but I've got an excerpt from her book, and a GIVEAWAY! After you're read through my interview with Claire, please be sure to click on the blog tour link high lighted above to follow the entire tour. First, here's a little bit about the book.

Published by: Simon & Schuster Kids
To Be Released on: 8/28/12
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | iTunes | The Book Depository

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy -quoted from Goodreads

Hi Claire! Thank you for being on Mundie Kids today. Congratulations on the release of your book! I can only imagine how surreal this all feels right now. Are you able to describe what it feels like to have something you've spent years working on to be out in book stores? 

 You know, I’m not sure it’s possible to convey this feeling in words. Instead, how about I use GIFs? (I will admit to having an unhealthy obsession with GIFs. I have a massive folder full of them on my computer. And when I say massive, think that moment in Jurassic Park when they see the Brachiosaurus for the first time and are all like, “GUYS GUYS THIS IS A MAGIC MOMENT.”)

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(In the above gif, I am the Tramp, and CAVENDISH is that eeeetle weeeetle fluffy puppy *dissolves into baby talk*)
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How did your story come about? What inspired it? Was it a certain scene in your book, a character, or a part of the setting? 

CAVENDISH was inspired by real-life locations! When I was in college, I lived down the street from a questionable orphanage. In actuality it probably wasn’t that questionable at all. But my overactive imagination and a few strange occurrences had me convinced something was up at this place. Police tape on the front door. A disturbing lack of activity on the grounds, despite signs advertising field days and open houses. An unmarked van pulling out of the driveway and following me and my friend around town. I get delicious chills just thinking about it! I knew that I had to write a “creepy orphanage story”, and for the longest time, that’s what I called CAVENDISH when talking with friends and family: “My creepy orphanage story.” CAVENDISH was also inspired by the town my dad lives in. It’s a great place to live—clean, beautiful, safe. But there’s lots of money in that town, and with that money can sometimes come a rather Stepford-esque quality. So I took this creepy orphanage and this shiny Stepford-esque town and thought, “How far would a town obsessed with perfection and appearances go to achieve that perfection?” And CAVENDISH was born. 

Do you have a favorite scene or chapter in your book you can share with us? 

Yes! One of my favorite scenes happens fairly early on in the book—and don’t worry, this will be spoiler-free! This scene happens after the main character, Victoria, has realized her best friend, Lawrence, has gone missing. She goes door-to-door down her street, looking for answers:
“I’m going to find out exactly what is going on here,” Victoria said … “I’ll knock on every single door if I have to.” She turned the corner and pressed the buzzer on Two Silldie Place’s gate.
Mr. Everett answered. He and Mrs. Everett were very old and collected porcelain figurines of African animals.
“Yes” said Mr. Everett, through the intercom.
“Mr. Everett, it’s Victoria. May I come in, please?”
“No. Victoria.”
“What now?” said Mr. Everett.
Victoria heard Mrs. Everett sigh and say, “It’s Victoria, darling,” and the gate clicked and started opening. “Victoria Wright.”
Mr. and Mrs. Everett let Victoria in and gave her tea, which Victoria only pretended to sip at.
“Have you seen my latest giraffe?” said Mrs. Everett, and she held out a giraffe with a neck twice as long as its stub of a body, painted in pinks and blues. “It cost one thousand dollars. It’s an antique, you know.”
All the Everetts’ figures were antiques. Victoria couldn’t believe something so ugly was so expensive. She also couldn’t believe that a pink and blue giraffe was an antique.
“Yes, it’s nice,” said Victoria. “Now I have a question.”
“Why, ask away!” said Mr. Everett, looking over their shelves for another figurine to show off. His hand was reaching for a smiling crocodile when Victoria said, “It’s about the Prewitts.”
The Everetts paused. They looked at each other and then at Victoria. They didn’t say a word. Mrs. Everett poured Victoria more tea and dumped four spoonfuls of sugar into it.
“The Prewitts,” Victoria said. “You know.”
“Yes, of course,” said Mrs. Everett.
“Are they sick or something? Do you know? And Lawrence—”
“He’s out of town,” said Mr. Everett. “Visiting his grandmother. That’s what we heard.”
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Everett. “We did hear that, didn’t we? Just the other day.”
Victoria said, “Yes, yes. But—” She paused. “Did you hear when he’ll be back?”
The Everetts looked at each other again. Mrs. Everett held out her giraffe and smiled. “But don’t you want to see the rest of our collection?”
“Look at this croc,” said Mr. Everett, his pointy white teeth matching the crocodile’s grin. “Priceless, you know. We have only the best in our collection.”
Oh, they knew something, all right. … They were only pretending they didn’t know what she was talking about. They weren’t going to help her. This realization enraged her. She forced herself to smile the sweetest smile she had ever worn.
“I’m so sorry, but I have to go,” she said at last, stopping just short of slamming down her teacup.” Thank you ever so much for your time.”

This scene goes on to highlight a few other neighbors on Victoria’s street, which was so much fun to write. Then, the scene ends like this:

Victoria stood alone on the porch, the wind whipping her hair around. Her curls were falling out, which added insult to injury.
“Fine,” she said. Clearly, everyone around here knew more about what was going on than they were telling her, and nothing about any of it made any sense. And things were supposed to make sense in Belleville. The entire situation was unacceptable.
“So rude,” Victoria said, straightening her coat with a snap. “Maybe Mrs. Cavendish will be more polite.”
She walked to the end of the street, stopping right at the Home’s gate. The gray brick wall disappeared into the woods on either side. There wasn’t a buzzer or anything.
“How do I get in?” Victoria muttered.
The gate clicked open.

Which of your characters did you feel like you connected with the most and why? 

 Oh, definitely with Victoria! She’s like an exaggerated version of me when I was twelve years old: Bossy. A perfectionist. Obsessed with grades. Mega goody-goody. A lot of people think Victoria’s a bit of a snot, and she is, but I empathize with her need to be the best at everything. It’s less about competing against other people and more about competing with herself, and I completely understand that drive. We’re the same in that way. At that age, I didn’t care if other people were better than me because I wanted to be better than them; it wasn’t about taking joy in seeing them fail. I just wanted to be better because I had set extremely high standards for myself. So, I get Victoria. She was very easy to write, and she came to me fully-formed. She was clear in my head from Day One. Oh, and instead of trying to make my hair curl perfectly like Victoria does, my twelve-year-old self was dead set on getting mine to lie flat! It never worked, though. Ah, the hours wasted in front of the mirror with a hair dryer!

What children's authors were influential on you growing up? 

 So many! Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Bruce Coville, R. L. Stine, Michael Bedard, C. S. Lewis, Louis May Alcott, and Marguerite Henry, to name a few. I was obsessed (and still am) with horses and unicorns, scary stuff, weird stuff, and magic. I remember bursting into tears when I first read the end of A WRINKLE IN TIME. It was so chilling, so powerful. Come to think of it, Victoria's town of Belleville kind of reminds me of Camazotz, the planet controlled by IT in A WRINKLE IN TIME, where everyone looks the same and does the same things at the same time. Absolutely shivery. 

If you could share one piece of writing advice with young authors, what would it be? 

Read—a lot! That has been the most important learning tool for me as a writer, to read as much as I can and dissect each book to find what I like and what I don’t like. That helps me figure out what I want to achieve as a writer, what I don’t want to achieve, and what I can do better.


Author Bio
Claire Legrand is a Texan living in New York City. She used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a full-time writer, Claire can often be found typing with purpose on her keyboard or spontaneously embarking upon adventures to lands unknown. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is her first novel, due out August 28 from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers, comes out August 2013. Her third novel, Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker, comes out Fall 2014. 

You can follow Claire on: blog | twitter | facebook | tumblr | goodreads

The Giveaway:

To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, simply comment on the post below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Ends September 12th.

Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

By: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Published by: Aladdin
Released on: August 7th, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: book from the authors to review
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed
Purchase from: AladdinAmazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: Heroes in Training #1

After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series!

The terrible Titans—merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans—have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe....      

Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.      

Zeus gets his wish—and a lot more than he bargained for—when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, Zeus grabs the first thing he sees—an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime—and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods - quoted from Goodreads

From the authors of the Goddess Girls series, comes a brand new series with whole new cast of characters, Heroes in Training. Though some of the characters have the same name of those who are in their Goddess Girls series, these characters are anything but the same. I really enjoyed the creative spin Joan and Suzanne have given this Zeus. It makes reading about his epic adventure appealing to a much younger audience and it's a great introduction to Greek mythology for young readers. Combine that with the length of this book, and I think this one even a reluctant reader will enjoy. It's a fun, fast paced read with a handful of great illustrations that help bring this story to life.

We all know Zeus as this great powerful God whom many feared, but before he become that fearless leader he was just your average awkward teen who sought out adventure. Maybe that fearlessness he had when he's first introduced to the story, and the fact he was hit my lightening more than anyone you've ever read about will be an indication about the type of person he came to be. Orphaned, and alone, Zeus knows how to defend himself, and do what it takes to survive. So when the giants come and take him away, he's not as scared as you might except a young Zeus to be. This leads him to one of my favorite characters in this story his thunderbolt, Bolt. Similar to that of a loyal dog, once Zeus found or rather retrieved Bolt they became inseparable and had each other's backs.

There are a few other well known Olympians in this story, but the primary focus is on Zeus, Bolt and their quest to save the others. Don't worry, Poseidon, and Hera both make appearances in this book, as dose a rather comical Oracle. Though she's suppose to be able to tell the future, Oracle's often foggy glasses tend to confuse her a little bit and she might mix a few things up. Her part in this series is definitely humorous and one I think a lot of readers will enjoy.

This series reads like a greek mythology for kids. One of things I enjoyed about this original spin on Zeus is how relatable Joan and Suzanne make Zeus, while at the same time staying true to the heart of Greek Mythology. It's modernized and yet still loyal to the mythology many of us grew up reading. It's fun, easy to follow along and full of adventure. This creative spin on Zeus's epic adventure is sure to be a hit with young readers!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~