Archive for the ‘The Prairie Thief’ Category

The Prairie Thief in Paperback

August 19, 2013 @ 6:36 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, The Prairie Thief

The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley

Hurrah! I love it when a book comes out in paperback. Such a thrill to know it will reach a new audience. 🙂

Handy-dandy purchasing links for you, because I’m helpful like that:

AmazonB&NIndiebound

Do you know what I would love? If you happen to buy a copy (or if you have already purchased the hardcover) from your local indie, would you leave a comment to let me know the name of the bookstore? There are few things lovelier for a writer than knowing someone wandered into a bookshop and met your book on the shelf, and adopted it for keeps.

Here are some reviews:

“Wiley has created a charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and Tony DiTerlizzi’s ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ (S & S). Short chapters and the air of mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, and readers will be taken with Louisa, who is sweet and mild-mannered, yet has the strength to fight for what is right. The writing is breezy and lyrical…[a] top-notch story.” —School Library Journal

“Fans of the Little House books will recognize the setting and enjoy the fantastic twist. Stylized black-and-white illustrations capture key moments and add to the warm tone. The comedic, unexpected, satisfying conclusion hits just the right note. A pleasing folkloric/historical blend.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Wiley’s cleverly constructed story, which switches over to the circuit judge’s amusing perspective for a few chapters, is not only a fine tall tale but also gives some sense of nineteenth-century frontier life.” —Booklist

“Frontier fiction and folkloric fantasy are an unusual combination, but they actually blend remarkably well here, and Wiley does a fine job of staying true to the pioneer inflections of Louisa’s story while effectively integrating the magical brownie…The effective mashup of popular genres will make this a hit with a variety of readers, so try handing it to Little House fans and folktale-lovers alike.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“…a delight from start to finish.” —Jen Robinson’s Book Page

“Every now and then a book makes me miss having a class to read to. Some books absolutely beg to be read aloud. The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley is that kind of book….And then, the must of all musts for reading a story aloud… the language. The Prairie Thief is rich with gorgeous, evocative language that begs to be heard as well as read. We feel as though we’ve been transported back in time when we listen to expressions like, ‘He was wailing loud enough to curdle milk,’ or ‘Ye look like last year’s scarecrow.’ Even the simple ‘Balderdash!’ sounds better out loud. Wiley uses big words too—words that some kids will latch on to and roll around in their minds and mouths—like audacious, gesticulations, rapscallion, scrutinizing—they add to the mood and help us sink into this world.” —Writing on the Sidewalk

“Wholly delightful. I found it impossible to put down and read it in one great gulp. I don’t think I could have loved it more, had I read it as a child. The characters are lovely, each and all. The story, while never veering from the path to a happy ending, had plenty of dips and bobbles and surprises. I grinned my way through much of it, and am not ashamed to tell you my eyes filled with tears at the end. It’s wholesome without being smarmy, and fun without being arch.” —Salamander House

“…a mystical mystery not to be missed.” —the kids at Bookie Woogie

The Prairie Thief is a Junior Library Guild selection, an SCBWI Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award nominee, and a Bravewriter Arrow selection. It is currently a nominee for New Hampshire’s Great Stone Face Children’s Choice Award. (Check out the rest of the books on that list, you guys—looks like some fun reading there.)

Always a squee moment for me

August 9, 2013 @ 3:23 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, The Prairie Thief

Best. Review. Ever.

January 21, 2013 @ 8:16 am | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, Read-Alouds, The Prairie Thief

There is nothing quite like the feeling of clicking to one of your favorite book blogs and discovering your own book is the day’s entry.

Dad:  Tell me about the “Thief” part of the title…
Lily:  The girl’s dad was accused of theft-ing.
Gracie:  You’re not even saying it right.  It’s “thievering.”

The Prairie Thief at Bookie Woogie. I’m thrilled. And that art! ASTOUNDING.

P.S. Gracie really is the Blurb Master.

“Some books absolutely beg to be read aloud”

November 20, 2012 @ 8:59 am | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, The Prairie Thief

A wonderful review of The Prairie Thief at Writing on the Sidewalk:

And then, the must of all musts for reading a story aloud… the language. The Prairie Thief is rich with gorgeous, evocative language that begs to be heard as well as read. We feel as though we’ve been transported back in time when we listen to expressions like, “He was wailing loud enough to curdle milk,” or “Ye look like last year’s scarecrow.” Even the simple “Balderdash!” sounds better out loud. Wiley uses big words too – words that some kids will latch on to and roll around in their minds and mouths – like audacious, gesticulations, rapscallion, scrutinizing – they add to the mood and help us sink into this world.

via Book Thoughts: The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley « Writing on the sidewalk.

(See more reviews here.)

Monday Morning Links

October 15, 2012 @ 9:27 am | Filed under: Books, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, Links, The Prairie Thief


Today’s Google Doodle is a tribute to Little Nemo in Slumberland—one of their best Doodles ever, a tribute to Winsor McKay. Don’t miss it! And be sure to click the tabs. GeekMom has a nice post up with some background.

New Thicklebit! Me love that boy.

I worked alllllll weekend on the book recommendations master list, but I still have a long way to go. Happy with its progress, though!

Last day to nominate books and book apps for the CYBILs! The Book Apps team would especially appreciate your help—lots of great apps still waiting to be nominated.

Semicolon reviews The Prairie Thief: “a delightful little tale.”

I also like the fact that this story for young readers doesn’t shy away from those wonderful, challenging vocabulary words that my young readers at any rate relished and gloried in. Ms. Wiley uses words like “obfuscating” and “predilection” and “amenities” and “laconically” just as handily and appropriately as she does the shorter, also vivid words like “pate” and “mite” and “frock”, all of which might enrich a child’s vocabulary as well as delight her mind.

(Amy at Hope Is the Word liked that part too.)

Fox and Crow Are Not Friends is reviewed in this month’s School Library Journal:

Children eager to move beyond easy readers and older students requiring simple text in a chapter-book format will find this title a good choice. As in many familiar folktale themes, Fox and Crow are trying to outwit each other….“That will teach you not to steal my cheese,” says Mama Bear, whose presence in the earlier chapters will be noted by astute observers of Braun’s lively, colorful cartoon-style illustrations. With its crisp writing and short sentences, this is a solid addition.

It also gets a mention in this SLJ piece: “Fresh and Fun Books for Emergent Readers“:

Melissa Wiley retells and expands upon an Aesop’s fable in Fox and Crow Are NOT Friends (Random House, 2012; Gr 1-3). Three entertaining chapters describe how these two enemies repeatedly—and humorously—try to outwit one another to earn bragging rights along with a tasty piece of cheese. Sebastien Braun clearly depicts the animals’ antics with lighthearted artwork in sherbet hues. The straightforward text, amusing illustrations, and hilarious rivalry will encourage developing readers to persevere.

More reviews here.

Things We Read Today, and Other Happinesses

October 9, 2012 @ 6:19 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Books, The Prairie Thief

Choo-Choo by Virginia Lee Burton. (She’s one of Huck’s favorite author/illustrators, going by how often he requests her books.)

Freight Train by Donald Crews. (You may detect a theme.)

Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. (Chapter 1, to Rilla. I remember riding my bike to three different library branches in search of this book—not all on the same day—because I’d read it and loved it so, and couldn’t remember the author’s name later, only that it began with B. Today it would take my mom ten seconds on the library website to locate a copy. Back then it meant a bona fide, muscle-burning quest, and all in vain. I couldn’t find it. Years later, when I took a job at HarperCollins, I discovered that it was a Harper book, still in print. And yet somehow I didn’t reread it. This go-round with Rilla will be my first time in decades. I’m eager to see if it holds up to the glowing memories I have of that first reading so long ago. Minikin, nicknamed Minx! I got goosebumps. It’s out of print again, I see: pity.)

Speaking of Little Witches, it’s time to put another round of Dorrie books on hold at the library. One, two, three, ten…there, I’m done, no bicycle required.

Karen Edmisten made my day with a delightful account of a Prairie Thief luncheon held by her daughter’s book club. Potato chowder, dried berry scones, a bucket of hazelnuts (brilliant!), and brownies, of course. They even brewed some horseradish tea, which demonstrates an impressive degree of commitment. Thanks, Karen, for that wonderful post.

This morning we discovered that the passionflower vine I planted ages ago had snaked its way halfway across the butterfly garden. We untangled the wandering tendrils and tied them up along the back fence. I have every suspicion that it is out there right now, busily untying itself, and I’ll find it embracing the hibiscus bush tomorrow.

Recent Reviews

October 2, 2012 @ 6:15 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, Early Readers, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, The Prairie Thief

 Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books review of The Prairie Thief:

“Frontier fiction and folkloric fantasy are an unusual combination, but they actually blend remarkably well here, and Wiley does a fine job of staying true to the pioneer inflections of Louisa’s story while effectively integrating the magical brownie…The effective mashup of popular genres will make this a hit with a variety of readers, so try handing it to Little House fans and folktale-lovers alike.”

School Library Journal,Fresh and Fun | Books for Emergent Readers“:

Melissa Wiley retells and expands upon an Aesop’s fable in Fox and Crow Are NOT Friends (Random House, 2012; Gr 1-3). Three entertaining chapters describe how these two enemies repeatedly—and humorously—try to outwit one another to earn bragging rights along with a tasty piece of cheese. Sebastien Braun clearly depicts the animals’ antics with lighthearted artwork in sherbet hues. The straightforward text, amusing illustrations, and hilarious rivalry will encourage developing readers to persevere. Expand the reading experience by sharing other fables, and having your students come up with “what happens next…” scenarios.

(Bunch of other fun-looking books in that post I’m eager to check out.)

Review and Interview Roundup

September 13, 2012 @ 4:25 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, The Prairie Thief

School Library Journal on The Prairie Thief:

“Wiley has created a charming, inventive tale that reads like a delightful mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and Tony DiTerlizzi’s ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ (S & S). Short chapters and the air of mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, and readers will be taken with Louisa, who is sweet and mild-mannered, yet has the strength to fight for what is right. The writing is breezy and lyrical…[a] top-notch story.”

More reviews:

The Prairie Thief at Kirkus
The Prairie Thief at Jen Robinson’s Book Page
Fox and Crow Are Not Friends at Kirkus

Interviews:

Brave Writer podcast with Julie Bogart
Author Spotlight at Writing on the Sidewalk
Authors Are ROCKSTARS! podcast
Author letter at Ready-to-Read

Launch Day!

August 27, 2012 @ 5:19 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Books, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, Inch and Roly, The Prairie Thief

Today is a big day for me: pub day for two new books. That doesn’t happen often—books launching on the same date, and it’s been a whirlwind for me this month with Fox and Crow Are Not Friends launching a couple of weeks ago. Usually things are more spread out, but one book got moved up, and one got moved back, and boom! Three, three, three books in one month. I’m a bit dizzy.

And you’ll have to bear with me, because instead of doing my authorly duty to share links and talk up one book, I must do it for three. They’re all my babies. They’re heading out into the great world and I feel much the same as I did in June when I put my seventeen-year-old on a plane to spend the summer at an internship in Austin. I suppose the difference is that one never says about one’s book, “Oh, they just grow up so fast!” Takes a looooong time to raise these story-children.

Especially The Prairie Thief.

This novel, very dear to my heart, started taking shape in my head years ago, when I had an idea about a girl whose mother—it was going to be her mother at the time—being accused of theft, and it was up to the girl to clear her mother’s name, with the help of a magical creature. By the end of the very first sentence, it turned out the accused was her father instead.

“The Smirches took Louisa in when her Pa went to jail, but they weren’t happy about it.”

In the space of that one swift sentence, the whole story shifted. I knew, then, that it was going to take place on my beloved prairie landscape, in a time period that has always captivated me. My working title for the story was Not the Whole Truth, both because of a major plot point and because it hints at the tall-tale quality of the story. It’s set in a fictionalized version of a real historical time and place, but it isn’t straight-up historical fiction; it’s more akin to a folk or fairy tale. Well, if you’ve read my Martha and Charlotte books, you know how much I love spinning a fairy tale.

The main character is a girl, and the cover shows girls, so I’ve been asked whether it will appeal to boy readers as well. My answer: I certainly hope so! There are some very important male characters (including a couple of rowdy young boys), and adventure and bugs and wolves. If your boys read it, let me know what they think. Your girls, too, for that matter!

It’s a Junior Library Guild selection, the Bravewriter Arrow selection for October, and it got a nice review at Kirkus. If you’d like to hear me gabbing out it with the wonderful hosts of the Authors Are Rockstars podcast, it’s the first thing they asked me about. The novel features really quite breathtaking illustrations by the amazing Erwin Madrid (I mean, that cover, could you die?) and I am incredibly excited to see it in print. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

And now for Inch and Roly.

Inch and Roly Make a Wish is the first book in my early reader series about an inchworm, a roly poly, and their buggy friends. It’s a Level 1 Ready-to-Read, which means it’s aimed at the very beginningest of readers. (Whereas Fox and Crow Are Not Friends is a Step Into Reading Level 3.)

If Huck is any indication, Inch and Roly works as a read-aloud for younger children as well. 😉

Inch and Roly and the Very Small Hiding PlaceThe illustrations are by another fabulously talented artist: Ag Jatkowska. I swooned every time a new sketch came to my screen.

Here’s my author letter to readers at the Ready-to-Read home page.

A sequel, Inch and Roly and the Very Small Hiding Place, will be published in January, 2013.

Here’s a roundup of recent reviews and interviews.

So that’s the scoop on the new books! Got any questions for me?