Monday, August 31, 2015

WELCOME BACK! Our Summer Vacation & a Question for YOU*

Mr. Pig here, back home in the Enchanted Woods after a summer of travel, adventure, and a few mishaps. (Word to the wise: never stay in a b & b made of straw!)

Anyway, my fellow Cottagers--Anika Denise, Kara LaReau, Jamie Michalak--and I are back for another exciting year! We have many celebrity guests lined up. Stay tuned for tours of art studios and writing spaces, my interviews with children's book characters (like, er, Bacon), book recommendations, and more!

Sadly, our fifth Cottager, the talented and hilarious Kristen Tracy, is leaving us to move to California. Sniff! We'll miss you, Kristen!

What did the other Cottagers do over the summer?

ANIKA announced some stellar book news! Abrams acquired her new picture book series STARRING CARMEN, in which Carmen, a thespian extraordinaire, struggles to share the spotlight with her little brother. Lorena Alvarez is on board to illustrate. Publication is slated for spring 2017 for the first volume, with the second to follow in spring 2018. Read the full announcement in PW here

In between visits to the Adirondacks, Chesapeake Bay, and various Clam Shacks throughout Rhode Island, Anika plugged away at revisions for a new picture book and continued work on her middle grade novel. She also successfully grew tomatoes, kale and cucumbers in her gardenbut had a little trouble with squash. 

Happy as clams -- Anika & Christopher Denise hanging with their family in Warren.

KARA spent her summer finishing two revisions: one for the first book in her new series, THE UNINTENTIONAL ADVENTURES OF THE BLAND SISTERS, and one for the second book in her INFAMOUS RATSOS series. She’s also waiting to hear about several projects out on submission, and has two new picture books and a new chapter book series in the works. Somehow, she managed to find time to relax on the beach with her husband and toddler. 

Kara strolling in Narragansett with her beach-loving cutie.

JAMIE received happy news -- her early reader, JOE AND SPARKY GO TO SCHOOL, is 1 of 52 Great Reads by the Library of Congress at this year's National Book Festival! She spent her summer writing a top-secret project, teaching "The In-Betweeners: Writing Early Readers and First Chapter Books" workshop with Kara at the Highlights Foundation, and revising the forthcoming JOE AND SPARKY, PARTY ANIMALS! (Candlewick Press, 2017), illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz.

Jamie also learned to play darts, read a stack of creepy middle grade mysteries, took the Lays potato chip challenge (New York Reuben FTW), and caught waves with her sons.

A race to the shore. Jamie bodyboarding with her oldest son in Westerly.

* What have YOU been up to this summer? Tell us what we've missed -- and what great books you've read! Write the book title(s) and your name, if you wish to share it, in the Comments section. We'll share your suggestions in a future post.


  1. Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley is my new favorite book! -Josh Funk

  2. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett & Christian Robinson, and Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elise Primavera.

  3. In addition to Boats for Papa (good recommendation, Josh), I also really liked Spy Guy, My Grandma is a Ninja and First Grade Drop Out.

  4. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough; The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh; First Grade Drop Out by Audrey Vernick/ illus. by Matt Cordell; Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee/ illus. by Christopher Denise; We Forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich

  5. Great suggestions, Marcie and Anika! Keep 'em coming, folks!

  6. Roller Girl! How could I forget Roller Girl! Adored this MG graphic novel.

  7. We read several wonderful books over the summer (some may make it into the Literary Lunch column) but without giving any future posts away, I would say The Part-Time Princess and Zack's Alligator.

  8. Thanks for sharing, Nina & Marcie! We'll add those gems to the list.