Back-to-School Guest Post: Author Hilary Wagner

For our final Back-to-School Guest Post, Kid Lit Frenzy is hosting debut author Hilary Wagner.  Hilary's middle grade novel, NIGHTSHADE CITY, is being touted as the next REDWALL.  I can't wait to read it. Hope you enjoy Hilary's journey from reluctant reader to published author.

Bill Peet Reforms a Reluctant Reader!

When I was in first grade, I had a bit of a problem: I loathed reading! I was a good reader, but I always thought it took up far too much of my valuable kid time! I’d much rather be scaling the monkey bars or playing Ghost in the Graveyard with the neighbor kids (nighttime version of tag, much more fun in the dark!).

At parent teacher conferences, much to their mortification, my parents were informed about my lack of enthusiasm when it came to reading. We had a list hanging in the classroom with everyone’s name on it and a star for each book a student had finished. Let’s just say my name might have been at the bottom of that dreaded list and might have had maybe one star...or possibly none at all!

Long story short, duly worried, my mother forced me to our local library. The librarian asked me what I liked. I told her I liked animals and I like going to the zoo. She said, “I have just the book for you!” She vanished into an aisle and quickly returned with a book in hand. She handed me the book. It didn’t look too long, so I liked that! It was called HUBERT’S HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURE. The cover looked crazy! There was a lion, a zebra, a rhino and something that might be a goat, all tangled up in a massive pile of legs and hooves. My interest was piqued!

My fascination with books began at that moment, all thanks to famed author and illustrator, Bill Peet. HUBERT’S HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURE has been in print for 50 years (yes, I said 50)! After that day in the library, I read every single book that Bill Peet ever created—and the list is long! I have an inkling that Bill Peet’s wonderful books are a reason I so love writing about animals so much today! It’s amazing that one person’s writing can make a child love reading and eventually writing so very much.

You can find out more about Bill Peet at I highly recommend his books for any young reader—reluctant or otherwise. His stories are absolutely relevant to today’s world and could have been written yesterday! They are fun, exciting, teach great lessons about life and are beautifully illustrated by Bill Peet, covering just about any animal or creature you can think of!

Hmmm . . . from reluctant reader to published author! Sounds like I’ve had a hair-raising adventure of my own!

Hilary Wagner

NIGHTSHADE CITY is available for purchase on Amazon here.

Back-to-School Guest Post: Renee from Notes In The Margin

For this month, I invited friends, authors, librarians, and bloggers to share their thoughts on the theme of "Back-to-School" and reading.  Today's guest blogger is Renee from Notes-In-The-Margin.  Renee and I met through connections over at the YA Literature Review Blog and our friendship grew from our love of books.  So, join me in welcoming Renee to Kid Lit Frenzy.


As a young person growing up in the 21st century, I didn't really see the appeal in reading. Sure, I went to school and I had to read textbooks for History, lab books for Biology, workbooks for Math, and novels for Literature, but I didn't understand why people read for fun. Why read the book when the blockbuster movie is coming out next summer? The ticket is probably cheaper than a book, and I only have to give up 2 hours of my day, instead of several hours or even... *gasp* several DAYS to reading one book! Madness!

It wasn't that I wasn't good at reading -- I was always pretty good at reading comprehension at school. I even read a few of the Harry Potter books, but that was it (and honestly, HARRY POTTER is probably the exception to everyone's I-don't-read rule). I just had so much going on between school, clubs, friends, TV... I didn't see where books would fit into that picture.

Then when I was 13, I moved to different country with my family. I didn't have any clubs and I didn't have any friends. Suddenly, my busy life had huge pockets of free time. That's when I started reading, as a way of interacting with "people" when people weren't really around. I didn't feel quite so lonely if I could go on adventures and meet new characters whenever I wanted. I started out with A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS by Lemony Snicket, which at the time seemed to be a metaphor for my parent's uprooting me from Jamaica and dumping me in America all by myself. I felt like I could really relate to the characters -- young kids around my age who were clever and funny. Cornelia Funke, J. D. Salinger, Louise Rennison, Judy Blume... I read books of different lengths and genres, but I think young adult might still be my favourite!

It was a little strange, because I assumed the only people who read books were old people like my mother in her mid-40s, and that the only kids who read were weird and antisocial. Except, I was reading books, but I definitely wasn't antisocial... I just hadn't made any new friends yet. And, I kid you not, the first friend I made in America was with a girl who saw me reading (ANNA KARENINA... I was a bright 13-yr old) and started giving me book recommendations, then rides home from school, and soon we were exchanging BFF birthday presents.

Almost seven years later, I'm even more of an avid reader. By now I've obviously settled in and found my rhythm in America, but I cannot tell you how often I still make acquaintances and friendships with new people through a shared love of books. (Actually, I became friends with Aly -- who runs this blog -- through our mutual love of YA fiction!) I definitely find that reading gives me a few hours, or even a few minutes, in the day to relax and be by myself, which as I get older, I'm realizing more and more "me time" to keep myself sane (: Plus, your parents and teachers weren't lying when they said reading makes you smarter. I think it's something to do with learning new vocabulary and sharpening your mental skills.

Oh, and to anyone who thinks that reading is only for people with no friends and don't like to have a good time: you've obviously never been to a HARRY POTTER midnight release party!

- Renee

Back-to-School Guest Post: Louisse Ang from Soul Sisters

As part of my Back-to-School series, I invited friends, authors, librarians, and bloggers to share some of their "school" inspired posts.  Today, I am welcoming Louisse Ang to the blog.  Louisse is a fellow blogger who I have gotten to know through blogging.  She loves reading and tells you why. 

School. The one word that crosses my mind as summer ends. But it is a word filled with so much meaning; seeing your friends, meeting a new batch of teachers and the smell of new books being cracked open by the eager students. I've always been excited for school, that is why people think I'm weird. I also love going to the bookstore and buying new school supplies and the rush of the Back-To-School annual sale.

As I enter school the one thing I look forward to, other than seeing my wonderful friends, is seeing my former Reading teacher, Mrs. Portacion. She is our school's grade school Reading coordinator. We were lucky enough to have her as our teacher last year. She is one of the people who have inspired me to read, besides my mom. She has always encouraged me to continue my reading.

To me, reading books is like a second-nature. Ever since I was a child my mom had already exposed me to books. I started reading when I was around two or three-years-old. I still have most of my childrens' books in my library. My most favorite series would have to be: Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, it is about a boy and his loyal dog who help solve mysteries for their friends. But as I grew older my reading choices changed. Now, my library is over-flowing with YA novels that I sometimes end up stacking them up on the floor instead. I have always had the passion for reading and my wonderful parents have always supported me and have always bought me the books I wanted. They have always believed that I am more mature than other girls and that I should continue to enhance my reading skills.

That's why I asked Keila, my best friend since kindergarten, to help me create Soul Sisters, YA review blog. Keila and I want to spread how awesome books are. We frequently have giveaway because we want to draw people's attention to books. Speaking of giveaways our Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare Giveaway is up, click HERE.

I would really like to thank Aly for letting me do a guest blog post! :) Thank you, Aly!!! :)

Happy Reading,
Soul Sister

Back-to-School Guest Post: Miss Tammy's Favorite YA High Schools

Kid Lit Frenzy is hosting a series of Back-to-School Guest Posts.  Let's welcome Miss Tammy - a YA Librarian from Kentucky.  She is super cool - you should ask her sometime about her Steampunk Tea or Renaissance Faire.  Trust me when I say I have never met such a hip librarian. 

When Aly first asked me to do a back to school post I thought I would share some clever stories from my own days as a yellow-bus-riding, backpack-toting slave to education. You know, an “Adventures of a Teenage Teen Librarian” sort of thing. Problem is, I don’t actually have any great stories to file under Miss Tammy: The High School Years.

Some might attribute my less than exciting high school career to my own nerd-like tendencies, but of course they’re wrong. It certainly wasn’t my fault that my days were filled with an endless stream of tedious lectures and inane homework assignments. No, the problem was that I went to the wrong school. I mean, who could have a rollicking adventure in a public school of all places? I should have gone to one of those bastions of learning where even the most unassuming bookworm would find herself battling evil while falling in the love with the most beautiful, brave, and sarcastic boy God ever saw fit to create.

But which one? After all, there are tons of them scattered across the YA landscape. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and after much deliberation, I’ve narrowed it down to my top ten choices (listed by alphabetical order, because that’s how I roll):

Culver Creek Preparatory

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Boarding schools just sound so cool with everyone living on campus and pulling major pranks. Plus, this one is filled with some pretty outstanding characters. Guaranteed to never be a dull moment.

Gallagher Academy

Gallagher Girls series - Ally Carter

Spy school! Sure, it has the misfortune of being an all-girl school, but still - A school that trains you to be a spy! Awesome, right?

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

Magic wands. Moving staircases. Ghosts. Quidditch. House elves. Defense Against the Dark Arts. Professor Snape. Obviously, this is the best school ever.

House of Night

House of Night series - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast

House of Night students get to sleep all day and develop really cool powers. Of course, they have that whole chance of dying because their body can’t accept the change or getting killed by agents of their super-crazy High Priestess. Remember to weigh your options before sending in that application.

The Institute

Mortal Instruments series - Cassandra Clare

Technically, it’s not really a school, but young Shadowhunters train there, so I’m counting it. Maybe we could talk Magnus into teaching a class on the history of fashion.

The Princess Academy

Princess Academy - Shannon Hale

No matter what we might say or the image we project, every girl wants to be a princess.

Spence Academy

Gemma Doyle Trilogy - Libba Bray

Wearing corsets and dealing with Victorian society doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but it might just be worth it for a chance at an epic Gothic adventure. Just remind me to stay away from the trees, okay?

St. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters

X-Men comics - Marvel

Teachers who can control the weather and classmates who can walk through walls? Sign me up! Surely my ability to remember every lyric to every song I’ve ever heard is considered a mutant ability.

Sunnydale High School

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Joss Whedon

A high school built on a Hellmouth offers up daily chances at adventure. Plus, the library is where all the cool kids hang out.

Texas Prairie University

Morganville Vampire series - Rachel Caine

So maybe the other students can be a bit of a pain, and the whole town run by vampires thing can be a bit problematic, but I’d gladly deal with those minor flaws for a chance to run into Shane or Michael.

How about you? What’s your ideal school? Help me add to the list by leaving them in the comments below!

Back-to-School Guest Post: The Love of Reading - Pass It On!!

This month I am welcoming authors, bloggers, librarians and teachers to share about "Back-to-School" memories or experiences.  Today's guest blogger is Mel from He Followed Me Home

It all started when my oldest was still in my womb. Yes, I was one of those crazy first time moms who read to their unborn! Even now, every night we read a book together- though many times I thought it was also used as a stall tactic. We started out reading Golden Books, then onto my favorite Eric Carle books, Dr. Seuss and Rober Munsch. Now that he's reading chapter books on his own, it's been Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and most recently The 39 Clues series. Each night, we still have the bed time story ritual, but now he reads to himself.

Last spring during a parent-teacher interview, I was shocked to hear that some students in my son's Grade 2 class didn't have books at home. This was something I had never really thought of, taking for granted all the books I had growing up, visiting the library & the bookshelves of kids books I've accumulated over the years. It was then that I realized how fortunate my son is to have the love of books supported at home! He is no bookworm by any means. In fact, if given the choice of Lego or reading he'd pick Lego in a heartbeat, but I know the time he does spend getting lost in a book every night is invaluable.

As a mom of two boys, it's doubtful that my love for The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High or Anne of Green Gables will ever be shared but I'm proud to pass on my love for books. I can't wait for the time he picks up Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl and The Lord of the Rings. What other books do you consider 'must reads' for pre-teen or teen boys?

Thanks Mel for sharing about how you have passed on your love of reading to your sons.  If you want to know more about Mel, check out her blog: He Followed Me Home