Books for Kids about Moving

When we left the US, my kids were 9, 6, and not-yet-born. We’re returning with a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a nearly 6-year-old, each of whom will be facing the emotional and physical upheaval, all the challenges and changes associated with leaving here and starting somewhere new. New schools, new people, new rules, new climate, new almost everything.

When I face any challenge or change in life, I turn to books. Sometimes it’s purely for escape and other times it’s for answers, advice, or ideas of how to cope. So I’m making my book list. Here’s what I’ll be checking out at my local library or buying:

Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst. This is for the 4-8 crowd, and it consistently comes up with great reviews on lists of books about moving. Like Alexander, my daughter is adamantly opposed to moving, so I hope this book will offer her a relatable character and potential upsides to moving.

Moving by Fred Rogers. Written for preschoolers, this one may already be a little young for my daughter. But it’s by Mr. Rogers. Nuff said.

The Moving Book: A Kid’s Survival Guide by Gabriel Davis. This is non-fiction, which will appeal to my 12-year-old son. It looks to be for the 8-12 crowd, making it a little young for him, but WRITER ALERT!! There is a serious dearth of books about moving written for adolescents and teens!! Quick, write some more!! The book deals with both the practical and emotional aspects of moving. Again, this one appears on many moving day lists.

Moving Day by Ralph Fletcher. Written as a series of poems by a 12-year-old boy who is facing a move, this one also may be a little young for my own son. It seems to focus on the emotions associated with saying goodbye to the old rather than on those hello to the new. 

The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve been pushing these books on my 12-year-old for years because I just know he’d love them. He’s an outdoorsman, born to camp, fish, climb trees, and cook over an open fire. At this point, he may be a little old for them, but I started re-reading the series about a year ago and fell in love all over again. And man, that family is tough. When they move house, they MOVE HOUSE. They don’t have Skype or email or phones or plane tickets for visits home. When the Ingalls say goodbye to their grandparents in the big woods, it’s a forever goodbye. Kind of puts my own pain into perspective.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume. School Library Journal says this is for kids in grades 6-10. Tony is 13 and dealing not only with a family move, but also with the onset of puberty. This might hit close to home. I’m curious to find out if this book, first published in 1971, stands the test of time. I think it will. After all it’s by the incomparable Ms. Blume, writer of books kids need to read.

The Year My Parents Ruined My Life by Martha Freeman  Sixth grader Kate moves with her family from California to Pennsylvania, and hates everything about her new life. She makes a disastrous trip by herself back to California, and (not much of a spoiler) makes peace with the change. As she should. As you want your own kids to. The reviews are mostly good. I expect it will be relatively light-hearted and fun to read.

Military Kids Speak: Celebrating the Way You Think about Being a Military Kid by Julie Rahm. I’ve tended to stay away from military books. Although we used to be a military family, I’ve never been good with the rah-rah, it’s all for the greater good, sacrifice and stiff upper lip stuff. However, this book intrigues me. It starts with a collection of essays written by military kids aged 10-16. They discuss the tough stuff about moving all the time, but also the perks. The second half of the book is a collection of interviews with famous former military kids. Role models! Of which I am not one. I can’t even quite fathom what it’s like to be my oldest son, who at 15 is facing his seventh move. He’s lived in four American states and four countries. I didn’t even fly on a plane until I was 19.

Club Expat: A Teenager’s Guide to Moving Overseas by Aniket Shah and Akash Shah. Another non-fiction offering, this book is written by a couple of teens who have traveled the world with their family. The reviews are positive, and it sounds like a decent offering for my 15-year-old.

The Year My Life Went Down the Loo by Katie Maxwell. 16-year-old Emily is forced to move with her family from Seattle to a small English village for a year. This mirrors – sort of – what we did two years ago, and I’m pretty sure my own teen (13 at the time) would have related to the title if nothing else. It sounds like a funny, lighthearted, upbeat read, and sometimes when you’re going through a tough transition, that’s precisely what you need. Escapism is good. 

So what did I miss? Do you know any great books for dealing with moving?

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An Interview with Patrick Freivald

Patrick Freivald, is a high school teacher, a beekeeper, and author of zombie apocalypse/high school novel, Twice Shy and its sequel, Special Dead. Patrick kindly agreed to answer questions about his writing and reading for me.
twiceshy(Special Dead comes out July 12th)

What are you working on right now? What’s next for your YA audience?

Right now I’m working on a supernatural thriller that stars the leader of a team of augmented human beings trying to bring down a cartel boss whose drugs cause euphoria, superhuman strength, and homicidal mania.

My next YA book, Special Dead (Twice Shy, book 2) comes out July 12th from JournalStone Publishing, and Blood List, a thriller I co-wrote with my twin brother about a serial killer who’s trying to save his father’s life, comes out in November. I’m just finishing up a nasty little Christmas horror story for a charity anthology, too.

Have you ever been required to tone down the horror element in your novels for your YA audience? 

I haven’t toned down the horror elements in my novels for YA readers. YA readers are smart, and they want books that are smart. YA horror readers want books that contain horror, and horror by definition is horrific!

How did you come up with the idea of a zombie high school student?

The idea for Ani came from a comment that a reader made on FlashFictionOnline.com about my short story, A Taste for Life. The comments have long-since been deleted, but he said something to the effect of, “You know Zombie fiction will have come into its own when you see zombies in high school romance.” I laughed and thought, “Challenge accepted!”

Do your students know you’re an author? What’s the funniest thing a student has said to you about your writing?

My students do know I’m an author, and many have read and enjoyed Twice Shy. The funniest thing I’ve heard from a student (who didn’t know I was there) is, “Ugh. Why would anyone write that?” I guess she wasn’t my target audience.

The fun thing about Twice Shy is that different people get very different experiences from the book. Some find it touching, others tragic, others think it’s hilarious–and I think that’s wonderful.

Aside from Stephen King, who are your favorite authors? 

Asking me for a favorite author is like asking me for a favorite book or a favorite food… I can’t just pick one. I’m a fan of Peter Straub, Robert Jordan, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry, Sebastian Junger, J.A. Konrath, David McCullough, George R. R. Martin, Jeff Strand, Peter Clines… How much time do you have? I just finished NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and it wasn’t perfect, but it was excellent. David Moody’s Autumn series is fantastic.

What are you reading right now?

 I’m currently reading Forever Man by Brian W. Matthews — it’s fantastic — and I’m lucky enough to have an advanced copy of Steel Breeze by Douglas Wynne, which I’m reading as soon as I hit the last page of Forever Man.

You can find out more about Patrick on Goodreads or Facebook. 

What I’ll Miss

Soon I will leave England, and I am sad. I’ve lived here for two years, and in that time I’ve barely scratched the surface of seeing and doing everything there is to see and do, and what if I never get to come back?

I don’t want to go!

Well, I do. But I don’t!

But I do. So I am.

There’s so much I’ll miss. I’m going to miss hearing my five-year-old daughter, who speaks mainly in an American accent, read to me in a British one. She’s attended a year of preschool and a year of primary school here. It’s hilarious to hear her mixing the accents and words, but that’s going to disappear fast once she’s back in North America. She’ll stop saying zebra with a short e. She’ll forget she ever called herself a “silly sausage” or a “clevah guhl.

I’m going to miss hearing her call out to other tiny people with ridiculously old fart names like George, Harriet and Imogen.

I’m going to miss walking around my village, seeing cottages older than anything in North America nestled right up next to new construction. I’ll miss cathedrals next to shopping centres.

I’ll miss driving on the left and roundabouts. I’ll miss walking everywhere and feeling safe. I’ll miss gun control and sensible healthcare.

I’ll miss Cambridge right down the road and London only two hours away. I’ll miss day trips to thousand-year-old Anglo Saxon burial sites.

I’m going to miss hiding my grin when my 12 year old asks for a rubber to erase his maths mistake. I’ll miss going to his football matches. Although I might do the pretentious thing and keep calling it football. I’m sorry but it just makes more sense as a name

I’ll miss having to catch myself before I say pants. They’re trousers. Trousers is a great word. I never want to say pants again. Unless I am in fact talking about underwear. I’ll miss the slang. Skiving and scupper, blimey and crikey, twee and prat. I’ll miss the fabulous comedies on the telly.

There’s so much more. I’ve barely settled in and begun to make this village home. It’s not an easy place to call home when you’re not from here. In two years I haven’t reached that comfort level here where I think of this place as home.

But it’s in England. The home of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and so many of my favorite writers. And every day I’m here I see the possibility of it becoming MY home get a little more real.

I’ve made good friends here and so have my children. Making friends is never easy for me, and as with every move, it took me a while to stop being constantly lonely. But then suddenly I wasn’t. I had people who I care for a little bit more every day. It hurts to say goodbye to those friends, to the ease of seeing them in person regularly. I’ve moved a lot through my adult life, and I know that friends, real, in-person, huggable friends, are a lovely necessity.

I just don’t know how to put a positive spin on the fact of leaving them behind, the probability of never seeing them in person again. I don’t know how to make that okay. Not for my children and not for myself.

I’m leaving. And soon these particular people whom I have grown to love will be memories, Skype faces, emails. This place will be photographs, an address I struggle to remember.

I hope that in leaving we’re moving to a place that will become home in the way I long for. Real, permanent, watch-my-friends-get-old home. But right now, what I know is I’m leaving here. THIS place. England. This temporary home with its wonderful words, infuriating roads, and abysmal yet lovely climate. I’m leaving THESE irreplaceable people.

It’s time to go. It is. But I’m a little bit heartbroken right now.

An Interview with Jennifer Gooch Hummer

I read the fabulous YA novel, Girl Unmoored, last summer and fell in love with the main character Apron, her story, and author Jennifer’s gorgeous way with words.

Girl Unmoored

Tell us about Girl Unmoored.
Girl Unmoored is about a teen girl growing up Maine who is drowning in a sea of grief after the loss of her mother. Until she meets Jesus. Not the real one, of course, but the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ Superstar. Mike and Apron and Mike’s boyfriend, Chad, become Apron’s new family and in so doing save her.

Apron is thirteen years old in 1985, when AIDS hit mainstream awareness. Did you sit down to write a story about an eighties teen?
No. I started writing the beginnings of this book when I was ten years old. It took until I met my real-life friend Mike, to find Apron’s story. I had her character all along, but I needed more than just Apron’s heartbreak at her mother’s death. I met Mike in the late 80’s which was just when the AIDS epidemic hit America.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you know where your story will go from the beginning? In other words, are you a plotter or a pantser?
For me, the toughest part of the writing process is the first draft. I live in fear of the blank page. So I allow myself to do what the great Anne Lamott always prescribes to other authors: write the worst first draft you could possibly write. Then, once I have the horrid first draft, the real writing begins.

I’ve read that next up for your readers is a middle grade fantasy. Can you tell us about it? 
Yes, middle grade fantasy is next. It’s a fairy-ish tale that will be a trilogy. Writing a fantasy was much different than writing contemporary fiction. I’ve learned so much about the importance of story world with this project. Writing about a place I’ve actually stood in, smelled and breathed is second nature. Writing about a completely made-up world that’s never existed in anyone else’s mind but mine really tested my dedication to the story.

Where do you get your inspiration? How much of Apron, Mike and your other characters are drawn from real life?
When people ask me this question about inspiration, I can never come up with the right answer. Whatever it is that inspires me to write, or an athlete to compete, or a painter to paint, is kind of magical I think. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. Always. I have three daughters and a husband and I dedicate myself to them completely. But I have to write and they know it. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to write… all that time I could have to do other things. But after three days away from writing I’m lost and confused. The world is weird; writing is my safe haven.

What are you reading right now?
I can’t read fiction when I am writing or even rewriting a book. I just don’t want someone else’s storyline to creep into mine. So I read memoirs or nonfiction. But when I’m in between projects or awaiting notes, I read YA. I was a script reader for many years so I can read a book faster than I can make dinner. And I have a book blog so I am lucky enough to get books before they are published for review.

What authors inspired you to become a writer yourself?
Judy Blume was my first favorite author. That dates me, but unless you were in that era you can’t understand how crucial she was for us. She was the only author any one of my friends ever wanted to read outside of required reading. Next came Hemingway. His sentences read like music, his cadence is perfect. And now I am in awe of David Sedaris.

If you could take only one book to a desert island, what would it be?
Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue. Derivations of words and language and story mesmerize me. I just absolutely adore “the story” and all the elements within it.

The Avon Ladies in Girl Unmoored made me laugh out loud. How did I come up with them?
My best friend Jessica and I really were Avon Ladies exactly like Apron and Rennie. We went on search missions to find anything packaged in any of our mother’s make-up drawers or our families junk drawers. Then we would go door-to-door with our products, rain or shine. We mapped out good customers and steered clear of the bad ones. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

You can find out more about Jennifer at her official website: jennifergoochhummer.com

An Interview with Leigh Talbert Moore

Leigh Talbert Moore is the author of the popular young adult romantic comedy The Truth About Faking, its companion The Truth About Letting Go, and the mature YA/new adult romantic suspense novel Rouge, a Quarter Finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Her latest novel, Dragonfly, released earlier this month.  Dragonfly

Leigh is an award-winning journalist and editor, who has also worked in marketing and public relations for many years. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the southeast and Midwest U.S., and she runs the popular writing-craft blog That’s Write. A southern ex-pat and beach bum, Leigh currently lives with her husband, two young children, and one grumpy cat in the Midwest.

1. Hi Leigh. Thanks for being here! Could you tell us about Dragonfly?

Dragonfly is actually the very first book I ever wrote, and it’s the start of a series all set at the beach. The first book (Dragonfly) is more “mature YA,” and as the series progresses, it moves more into new adult territory. Anyway, it’s a contemporary romance-family saga about this super-rich developer who has a big secret, and the impact that secret has on the main character Anna. (Anna becomes friends with his daughter and starts dating his son. Sort of.) Basically, it’s soapy and steamy and sexy and it’s got a little mystery, and it’s all set at the beach. Yay!

2. When can your readers expect the sequels? How many will there be?

At this point, I’m envisioning four books. The first three will be out by October 2013. Book #2, Undertow, releases on July 18, so they’re coming fast. But! The first three were already written in 2009-10, so I’ve just been revising and rewriting mostly. It’s possible there might be five books in the series, but it all depends on how things go in #4. I kind of have a lot of ground to cover before the story ends, so it might spill over.

3. What got you started writing young adult fiction? How does the journalist in you aid or hinder the novelist?

Journalism was my first love because I loved writing, but I honestly never believed I’d have the patience to sit down and write a whole novel. Then one day, I tried it, and I really liked it! So here I am. I think being a journalist really helped me with dialogue and having an ear for how people speak—and for meeting deadlines! But it hurts me sometimes because I want to “rush” through to the end. Start with the lead, you know. But I’m getting better at slowing down.

4. Where do you get your ideas?

Well, the idea for Dragonfly was actually inspired by my work as a journalist in south Alabama. I used to interview business people, and once this realtor told me how visitors to the coast always thought their company was named after a real man. It wasn’t. But I got to thinking, “What if it was?” and it all flowed from there.

5. What can your readers expect next?

Right now, I’m finishing up revisions for Undertow, and then I’ll dive into Watercolor, which is Book #3. After that I’ll finish out the Dragonfly series, and then I’m back to working on Rouge #2. I’ve had several readers asking for that one, and I need to finish writing it.

You can connect with Leigh online at:

Facebook | Amazon Author page | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Read excerpts of her books on Wattpad and Figment!

An Interview with Rebecca Phillips

Rebecca Phillips is the author of young adult novels, Just You and Someone Else. She is also the the author of a YA 2012 ABNA finalist, Out of Nowhere.

Just YouSomeone Else

Someone Else is a sequel to Just You. Will there be another book about Taylor Brogan someday?

This is the question I get asked most often from readers. Enough people want a number #3 that I’m seriously considering writing one in the near future. In my mind, #3 will be a New Adult, taking place in college, and it may be from another character’s POV instead of Taylor’s. I think a book from Taylor’s friend Robin’s POV would be interesting.

Your bio says Judy Blume was a strong influence on you. Whom else would you list?

Judy Blume is definitely my first and strongest influence. Shortly after I discovered her at around age 10 or 11, I began writing my own YA novels (which were, of course, horrible). No other author struck me as deeply as Judy did until about 2003, when I discovered Sarah Dessen for the first time. Her books prompted me to start taking writing seriously. She made me think “Maybe I can make a career out of this too.” She was, and still is, a huge inspiration to me. I also admire John Green, Sara Zarr, Courtney Summers, Ruta Sepetys, Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, Laura Wiess, and Colleen Clayton. Just to name a few.

What are you reading right now?

I’m almost done with The Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey, the prequel to his Wool series. Wool was one of the top three best books I read last year. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. I’m not a sci-fi fan at all, but I devoured these books. The writing is excellent and the story is unique and compelling. And I have to admire an author who loves his fans as much as Mr. Howey loves his.

If you could only read one book over and over for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is like asking me to pick my favorite child. It’s impossible. If I have to choose, I’m going to cheat a little and pick a series. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve read it all the way through twice so far, and it’s so freaking long, it’ll keep me busy for several months.

Where do you get your ideas?

My imagination, past experiences, and the people around me. When I was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest last year, I was asked several times where I got the inspiration/idea for Out of Nowhere. I always had a hard time answering this, because there was no inspiration, really. I was lying in bed one morning and the idea hit me. In the book, the main character witnessed her father dying, she’s a hypochondriac, and she wants to be a doctor. My father is alive and well, I am most definitely not a hypochondriac, and I wouldn’t be a doctor if you paid me. Everything in that book was a product of my overactive imagination (and sometimes Google). But of course, there’s always a little part of me in each of my characters.

You can find Rebecca online on her website, www.rebeccawritesya.com, her blog, http://rebeccawritesya.blogspot.ca/, or her facebook, goodreads, amazon, kobo, or Barnes and Noble page.

Introducing L.A. Rikand

Aside from being one of my novel critique group buddies, L.A. is the author of the fabulous debut YA novel, Girl the Reaper. She agreed to be my guinea pig author for this blog. Thank you, L.A.!

girl the reaper

Tell us about Girl the Reaper.
GTR is the summer story of Cate Evans, who at 14 is leaving middle school and her childhood behind. Intellectual but shy, her life has always centered around family and their farm in Wisconsin. The cycle of life, including death, intrigues her; she composes epitaphs for fun and wonders what happens to people and animals right as they pass. One day she saves her father’s life by inadvertantly stopping the grim reaper from taking him. Now she has something that the reaper wants, and he won’t leave her alone until she lets her father die. She won’t do that, of course. But her situation has given her the ability to see and speak to other people who have died but not left earth. While searching for a way to save her father, she helps other people and in the end, proves that teens are capable of love beyond anything we normally give them credit for.

What made you decide to set your novel in the mid 1970s?
I was close to Cate’s age in the 1970s and found it an interesting time to both grow up and observe deep changes in the adults in my community. Veterans of WWI were dying with honor but “new” veterans of the war in Vietnam struggled to find their place back in the real world. Many brought the horror home with them. My family of farmers was not drafted into wars though a few volunteered. Our neighbors and friends who did often sought refuge in the rural areas where they grew up, trying to feel some kind of normal again.

The 1970s was an important time for the family farm as well…really the last decade of glory before their numbers rapidly decreased and large corporate dairy farms began to take hold. Dispersal auctions were common toward the end of the decade and with great sadness my father would stand by neighbors with other neighbors as their entire life’s work was sold off to the highest bidder.

Who’s your favorite character?
Cate’s grandparents Nan and Joe are my favorites because they are written as my grandparents really were. They are the only two characters in the book who are not mostly or completely fictional. Nanny and Joe established our family farm and lived through all the wars of the 1900s as well as the Great Depression. They both had a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense way of living which I’m sure was honed through decades of struggle–against nature, the economy, and constant change. And boy, they could make me laugh.

Any upcoming YA projects?
GTR was born out of a struggle to finish a series entitled THE SAME SPIRIT. In the end, GTR became a prequel to it, though it happens much earlier. THE SAME SPIRIT is set in a far-off future, during the next age of earth. Those who died as children during this age return to earth to live out their lives as they were intended. Will Apollo is a provincial farm boy with a mysterious connection to a missing artifact. He joins the frantic search for it–armed only with a storybook, some well-meaning friends, and a disenchanted king.

How do you get your ideas?
By observing people and imagining things about them–what secrets they harbor, how they grew up, what they like/dislike, etc. Daydreaming is the one skill that I’ve practiced every single day of my life.

You can find L.A. online at goodreads and facebook.