Middle Grade Author Event of Epic Wonderful-ness!!!

A few months ago, Bridge to Books (Alethea and I are co-founders of this grassroots movement) was approached by Simon & Schuster with the opportunity to do an event with none other than Margaret Peterson Haddix (Missing Series) and Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds).

Seriously, how do you say "no" to this opportunity?  Better yet, why would you want to say "no"? I quickly responded "yes".  I figured all the details would work themselves out.  And they did.

We found a location - Thank you McKinley School in Pasadena for hosting the event in your beautiful library.  
Shannon Messenger shares a moment with Lisa McMann
Helen Stringer speaking to the crowd
In speaking with Kelly from Simon & Schuster, our two person panel grew to a foursome when we included debut author, Shannon Messenger (The Keeper of the Lost Cities) and Helen Stringer (Spellbinder). 

We had some great questions from the audience.

And our author panelists managed to show great enthusiams in responding to questions despite it being 106 degrees and the library had no air conditioning.  Definitely an amazing team of authors.

There was signing of books, and posters, and more books.  I am certain at one point Margaret Peterson Haddix thought we were never going to let her leave.  With 30 books to her credit, there were piles of books to sign.

Isn't this a lovely Middle Grade Author Panel? 

One of the highlights of the event for me was when Margaret read a letter from Jackie, my 11 year old niece who was out of town.  In her letter, Jackie credits Margaret's Shadow Children series as kick-starting her love of reading.   

Thank you Simon & Schuster and thank you Margaret Peterson Haddix, Lisa McMann, Shannon Messenger, and Helen Stringer for epic wonderful-ness and for delighting an audience of children, parents, teaches, and librarians on one of the hottest days of the year.

Some final thank you's to Kris and Maureen at Once Upon a Time in Montrose for all the book sales; Katie Ferguson for the wonderful photos of the event; and finally, thanks to all the Bridge to Books volunteers who set up, cleaned up, sold bottles of water and made people feel welcomed.

Book Review: Cryer's Cross

Author:  Lisa McMann
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster (February 8, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Personal Copy

Description from GoodReads:
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

When I first read WAKE by Lisa McMann, I think I started it at 11 at night and finished it a couple of hours later.  I was struck by her writing voice.  It was different and I found it unique.  Of course, when I heard Lisa talk about Cryer's Cross at a Wake/Fade/Gone book signing (a year before Cryer's Cross was released), I knew I wanted to read it.  

Immediately upon starting Cryer's Cross, I felt drawn back into McMann's unique writing voice though this book is in many ways different from the Wake Series.  From the beginning of the book, I felt as if McMann grabbed me and pulled me right into the story and the feeling didn't let up until the end.  And even then, I was a bit haunted afterward and kept thinking about it.  The main character, Kendall, is a quirky narrator thanks especially to her OCD.  It certainly gives her a unique perspective on the events happening in her tiny community.  First, there is a disappearance of a high school freshman, Tiffany, which pulls the town together as they search for her.  Then, just after the summer and the start of the school year, Cryer's Cross faces another disappearance.  This time Kendall's boyfriend Nico.  Things are complicated with the arrival of Jacian and his family.  Does this new boy have anything to do with their disappearances?  And what is happening to the teenagers of Cryer's Cross.

For me, Cryer's Cross had several elements that I truly enjoyed.  Less than perfect but relate-able characters, just the right level of creepiness, a mystery to solve, and a potential romance that doesn't just happen because the characters glanced at each other one time.  I also enjoyed the fact that the book never dragged on.  I have heard some mixed feelings on this.  Criticisms that McMann doesn't develop certain aspects of the book because it is so short.  However, I never once felt confused or that there wasn't enough information about something.  The addition of her main character having OCD also allowed McMann to write a few things in and have it be believable/understandable.  The small-town element of the story provided the perfect back drop to the story.  Rather than have non-existent parents, McMann writes in parents, and grandparents, and all kinds of small town neighborly connections.

When I arrived at the end, I found myself feeling satisfied that the story felt appropriately wrapped up.  However, parts of me wanted to hang out more, especially with Jacian and Kendall.  For fans of Cabel (Wake/Fade/Gone), you'll understand when I say that Jacian might just eventually capture your heart as well.  I think I might just have a new fictional crush.  For fans of Lisa McMann, you will love this...but I am warning you, it might be best to read it in the daytime.

Lisa McMann at Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica; Cryer's Cross Tour


Below is the book trailer for Cryer's Cross:

Here is a chance to listen to author Lisa McMann talk about Cryer's Cross: