Some Winners

I’ve got a bunch of winners to announce and congratulate from a recent set of giveaways.  For those of you who are looking for other book giveaways, please check out the right sidebar as always for giveaways on the blog and elsewhere on the Internet.

The winner of The Bedtime Book for Dogs by Bruce Littlefield and Illustrated by Paul S. Heath is #1 Rhapsody in Books, who said, ”

I love this line: ‘Normally, I’m not a children’s book reviewer..’ Serena, you are SO going to be one in no time at all! :–)

One of my favorite books to read to children is actually of book of children’s poetry, although I think it is out of print now. It is ‘Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say It Again’ (rhymes by Clyde Watson and pictures by Wendy Watson). It’s got a bunch of ‘interactive’ rhymes that you can act out with children, such as tickling them at the right moments, etc.”

Congrats to Jill.

The winner of The Decadent Lovely by Amy Pence is #13 Brittany Gale, who said, “Really enjoyed reading the second part of the interview. I love poetry and this seems to be the only site with poetry giveaways!”

Congrats to Brittany, and I hope the Canada Post stops striking soon.

The winner of the ARC of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See is #13 Reading Adventures, who said, “I can’t wait to read this book! As to my favourite Lisa See book, I think it is Peony in Love, although all of her historical fiction titles have been good. I wasn’t as keen on the mystery book I read by her.”

Congrats to Marg.

Finally, I had a giveaway for War & Watermelon by Rich Wallace, which is a great kids book for ages 10-12 that focuses on the home front aspects of the Vietnam War and growing up as a young boy.  The winner is #3 Wordy Evidence of the Fact, who said, “Finding solid books for young male readers can be a particular challenge…our award panels of late have definitely favored the female voice. Nancie Atwell’s school compiles gender-specific lists each year (created by the students) that are posted on their website http://www.c-t-l.org. It stays fresh and has some good classics too. Please consider me interested in this one. Thanks!”

Congrats Sara, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Guest Post: Rich Wallace’s Writing Space

I read and reviewed Rich Wallace’s War & Watermelon yesterday on the blog. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel and the home front view of how the Vietnam War impacted families in the United States, especially among those with sons nearing draft age.

Today, I’ve got an additional treat for those of you who love a glimpse of writers’ work spaces.  Also, this presents a second chance for you to enter the giveaway if you live in the United States or Canada.  Without further ado, please welcome Rich Wallace:

I’m pretty low-tech. In fact, I just wrote my first blog post earlier this month and I just got speakers for my computer in May. That means I can listen to stuff on YouTube in my office.

My office. That’s what this is supposed to be about.

It turns out I don’t have any photos of my office. Here is one of my wife Sandra in her office, which more or less mirrors mine in the upstairs of our house. That’s Lucy with her. Lucy is the subject of that first blog post I mentioned. You could read that here.

We live in a cool college town in New Hampshire. I get a lot of ideas just walking around. I do most of my writing in my office, which is small, has some baby pictures of my boys—Jonathan and Jeremy–on the walls (they’re both in their twenties now), a painting of a giant shark Jonathan did in third grade, a trophy of Jeremy’s from sixth-grade basketball, an old Rheingold beer can in honor of my father, my grandparents’ wedding photo, a couple of bookcases (with lots of books by John Updike, E.B. White, Annie Proulx and many others), random copies of the New Yorker, a Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel alarm clock, huge clutters of papers of all sorts, a couple of hammers, a flashlight, a small pile of clothes that haven’t been worn quite enough for the laundry, last month’s edition of Rolling Stone that was devoted to Bob Dylan (they listed what they considered to be his 70 greatest songs in honor of his seventieth birthday; I made my own list of 50), my track spikes (I still compete), the massive Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, lined yellow notepads, and a whole lot of other things. You get the picture? (It would be so much easier if I actually had a picture.) My office overlooks the back yard, which has a giant river maple in the center. The yard backs into a wetlands area with a stream. The downtown is only a few minutes away by foot.

Here’s a picture of me outside our house.

My wife is also a novelist, so we spend much of every day just a few yards apart but in our own separate worlds as we write. Lucy comes up frequently to remind us that it’s time for a walk or a snack. I go out to run when I need a break. Or we walk into town and stroll the wide main street, getting a tea at one of the cool coffee shops or checking the marquee at the old theater to see what independent films are coming up. Sandra and I make our living as freelancers, which is wonderful. We work hard but have control over our schedules. The boys are launched. I have no complaints, and lots to be grateful for.

Thanks, Rich, for sharing your writing space with us.

If you would like to win a copy of War & Watermelon and live in the United States or Canada, please leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, visit my review. Deadline to enter is June 22, 2011, 11:59 PM EST.

War & Watermelon by Rich Wallace

War & Watermelon by Rich Wallace, a Junior Library Guide selection, is set in 1969 in New Jersey just as the Vietnam War is beginning to rage and Woodstock is ready to rock suburban New York.  New Jersey brothers Brody and Ryan take a road trip to the concert of their generation as Ryan continues to avoid questions from his parents about his future, particularly college, and the draft.  Brody is just about to start junior high school and is eager to join the football team, but his world is insular in that his main focus is football, girls, the Mets, and the Top 40 hits.

“I grab the ball, make a juke to the right, and send a line drive over the clothesline and directly into the basket.  The bell rings.  Ryan puts his hands on his hips and stares at the ceiling.  I raise my fists and say, ‘Yes!’

I carefully move past the shirt — it looks more like polka dots than tie-dye — and smack hands with him.  ‘Champion,’ I say, patting myself on the chest.

‘Mr. Clutch,’ he says.  ‘ Best in the basement, for sure.'” (page 23)

Told in Brody’s point of view, the novel thrusts readers into the life of a teenage boy who only thinks about sports and girls.  But it’s more than that for Brody.  He’s worried about fitting in at junior high and whether his brother will be drafted into the Vietnam War in September when he turns 18.  The prose is clipped and focused, with breaks between scenes as Brody’s mind shifts from football worries to family concerns and between girls and the start of school.

Wallace’s style is no-nonsense, and he has a football announcer/coach’s way of describing football plays so that even a layman can picture the players’ moves.  He had a firm grasp of what kids in junior high are thinking and feeling, particularly during this time period in the late 1960s.  What’s interesting is that there are poems sporadically thrown in written by Brody, usually about his family, football, and the like.  They are not masterpieces, but they’re also written by a young boy entering the seventh grade.

Woodstock Flock
by Brody Winslow (page 50)

Not to battle
All night long
Past barns and cattle
To hear a song

With my brother
With thousands more
To hear another
Against the war

Wallace creates a childlike innocence in Brody that becomes marred by his brother Ryan’s unwillingness to take action — to decide between college and the draft. Their father continues to insult Ryan’s indecision, pushing him to apply to college, and while Brody may agree with his father that Ryan needs to act to avoid going to war, he also agrees with his brother that he should not be forced into making a decision he’s not ready to make.

War & Watermelon is a coming of age story in which a young man realizes that there are events and issues larger than his concerns about school, football, and girls.  The war, protests, and his brother’s indecision prompt Brody to make some choices of his own and gain the confidence he needs to remedy his own issues at school.  Wallace has a way of teaching lessons without lecturing, and young boys should easily relate to the story.  However, young girls in this similar age group (9-12) may have a tougher time relating to a young football player unless they have older brothers or are interested in what boys their age are thinking about.

Stay tuned tomorrow, June 14, for my guest post from Rich Wallace about his writing space and another chance to win War & Watermelon.

About the Author (From TLC’s Website):

Rich Wallace is the author of many award-winning books for children and teenagers, including Wrestling Sturbridge, Sports Camp, Perpetual Check, and the “Kickers” and “Winning Season” series. He lives with his wife, novelist Sandra Neil Wallace, in Keene, NH. (As an aside, my cousin when to college in Keene.)

A note from Rich : ”Bloggers might like to know that, like Brody in War & Watermelon, I was 12 years old in 1969 and living in suburban New Jersey, just becoming aware of the war and the music and the other world-changing events of that summer. I also had an older brother who was eligible for the draft, which caused considerable concern in our household and informed the events of this novel.” Please visit his Website.

Please check out the rest of the stops on the TLC Book Tour.

To win 1 copy of War & Watermelon by Rich Wallace (US/Canada Only),

1.  Leave a comment on this post about what other middle-grade books you recommend.

2.  Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and the Blog about the giveaway for a second entry.

3.  For a third entry, read and comment on tomorrow’s (June 14) guest post from Rich Wallace.

Deadline is June 22, 2011, at 11:59 PM EST.


This is my 24th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.