The Dyerville Tales Blog Tour & Giveaway

In 2011, M. P. Kozlowsky released his debut novel, Juniper Berry.  I was excited to be able to participate in the blog tour and giveaway for his second book.  Thank you Walden Pond Press for organizing the tour and providing a signed hardcover of The Dyerville Tales for one lucky reader.

by M. P. Kozlowsky
Illustrations by Brian Thompson
Walden Pond Press (April 22, 2014)

Description of Dyerville Tales from the Publisher:
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline meets Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs in M. P. Kozlowsky’s The Dyerville Tales, a powerfully imaginative middle-grade novel that blurs the line between fantasy and reality, from the author of Juniper Berry.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

Its unique voice and ability to combine creepiness with great story and character development make The Dyerville Tales a real standout middle-grade novel.

My thoughts on the book:
In the above description, The Dyerville Tales are compared to Coraline meets Breadcrumbs. However, it feels more like a modern twist on Grimm.  Two Vincents, the grandfather Vincent whose stories are told as tales, and the young Vincent who sets out to his grandfather's funeral and a journey to hopefully see his father again, find themselves on nearly parallel adventures to find hope and family. They are each pursued by a different nemesis and each must find their own way with the help of unlikely friends.

Kozlowsky spins together this complex tale filled very real characters whose lives are intertwined through curses and magic, and an old crone, a giant, a gnome, a talking horse and more.  The language in the story is beautiful and rich and provides a just right tone for this style of storytelling.

As you go on this journey with Vince and Vincent, you grow fond of the two heroes. You want to see them succeed and find yourself turning pages just to see what will happen next and will they find what they are searching for. However, I will caution that because of how the two tales are intertwined it does become a bit complex at times and a bit confusing.  There were a few spaces where I needed to re-read a passage to make sure that I did not over look an important detail that I would need later in the story.  When I arrived at the ending, I was a bit surprised and could not help speculating about whether another book would follow.

Students who enjoy scary tales will find a new favorite in this novel.  I suspect that they will also appreciate a number of the scenes in this book as well as the way Kozlowsky spins his tale.   
Illustration by Brian Thompson

Look for The Dyerville Tales by M. P. Kozlowsky at your local library or indie bookstore.

More about the author: M. P. Kozlowsky is also the author of Juniper Berry. A former schoolteacher, he lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. Visit him online at

Don't forget to check out all of the stops on the blog tour:

4/29 - KidLit Frenzy
4/30 - Mundie Moms
5/3 - The Book Rat
5/5 - Mundie Moms
5/7 - Small Review
5/8 - Novel Novice
5/14 - The Hiding Spot

Thanks to Walden Pond Press, one lucky reader (with a US mailing address) has the chance to win a signed hardcover copy of The Dyerville Tale.   Please complete the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Juniper Berry

Author: M.P. Kozlowsky
Illustrator: Erwin Madrid
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (April 26, 2011)
Source: ARC for Review
Audience: Ages 9 to 12 years
Fiction * Modern Fairy Tale * Elementary

Description from GoodReads:
Juniper's parents have not been themselves lately. In fact, they have been cold, disinterested and cruel. And lonely Juniper Berry, and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to figure out why.

On a cold and rainy night Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world's secrets in a simple red balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn't.

M.P. Kozlowsky's debut novel is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

Sometimes the key to writing something scary is to simply write the truth. M. P. Kozlowsky in his debut middle grade novel Juniper Berry combines just the right aspects of the truth with powerful storytelling for a novel that grabs you from beginning to end.  Juniper Berry has everything in some ways except for the attention and affection of her famous parents.  She wishes for friends, for a life outside of her family's home, and most importantly for her parents to see her again.  While exploring the woods around her home, she meets a boy named Giles.  It seems that Juniper's parents aren't the only one who have been changing.  Giles has been noticing a change in his parents as well. Together the two discover a secret that is both alluring and terrifying.  And how does a woodcutter, a raven, and a red balloon fit into this puzzle?

Kozlowsky plays with common themes of desire and hope and the consequences of getting what you asked for.  Juniper and Giles are likeable protagonists that you want to root for as they must address what is happening to their parents, the struggles in their own lives, and some attractive choices.  As I read through the story, I could feel tension that these two children are facing.  Layered with a secret underworld and a really creepy adversary, the two children must fight for their lives and the lives of those they care for.

Juniper Berry will appeal to both female and male readers.  The story maintains a steady pace culminating in a battle which will determine the winner.  Though I wondered at times if children would fully grasp the extent of the author's underlying message about temptation, I never doubted that it would be a story they would enjoy and one that would be easy to book talk.

Kozlowsky's debut novel is a winner and I look forward to future books from him.  If this is on your "to be read" pile, I would encourage you to bump it up or at least add it to a summer reading list for students.  Thanks to Kellie and Walden Pond Press, I have a hardcover copy of JUNIPER BERRY by M.P. Kozlowsky to giveaway. This contest is open to readers in the U.S. or Canada only. To enter to win, please complete the form below.   

To check out Juniper Berry Blog Tour Week 2, head on over to the Walden Pond Press blog here.
To read M.P. Kozlowsky's guest post The World Outside A Book's Cover, click here.
For more information on M.P. Kozlowsky, check out his website here.

Here is the Official Book Trailer for Juniper Berry:

* Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays were started by Shannon over at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe. You can check out her Marvelous Middle Grade Monday choice and Giveaway Post here.

Rules for the Contest:

1. Please do not enter any personal information in the comments section, you must complete the Entry Form to officially enter the contest. Comments with personal information will be deleted.
2. The Contest runs from 12:00 a.m. PDT on May 16, 2011 to 11:59 p.m. PDT on May 21.
3. You DO NOT need to be a follower of this blog to enter.
4. You must be 13 or older to participate in this contest.
5. If you are selected as a winner, I will notify you by e-mail. If you do not respond within 48 hours, I will select a new winner.
6. Only US and Canadian participants may enter the contest.

Guest Post: The World Outside a Book's Covers

Today, I would like to welcome Debut Author, M.P. Kozlowsky to Kid Lit Frenzy.  As part of the JUNIPER BERRY Blog Tour, M.P. has done several guest posts and interviews.  To check on all of the posts, head on over to Walden Pond Press for more details.

When I set out to build the world of Juniper Berry – or any world for that matter – I knew I had to create something larger than the book itself, something that would exist outside its pages, somewhere in the reader’s peripheral long after the story is over. This is what makes a book rich, fuller. So, when creating the underworld of Juniper Berry, as well as its cast of characters, I tried to establish a backstory that, barring a sequel, may never even be revealed. Where did these characters come from and what are their fates? What is the meaning behind certain markings and all the suggestions and asides sprinkled throughout? Is there more to Mr. Berry’s rants and notes? Details cannot be gratuitous. There has to be a reason for everything – readers can spot inauthenticity. I made sure to insert many details that are not quite necessary to the progress of the story, but hopefully, in the end, broaden the scope of the book. By doing so, I have answers, entire plotlines with which to extend the story if I ever choose. I believe a reader, whether subconsciously or not, picks up on this. They become further invested in the story, creating their own theory for each scenario, their own subplots. This is why, after so many books, we, as readers, always wonder what happens next, perhaps continuing the story ourselves or debating possibilities with friends and family.

As a writer, one should also create a world that came before as well as after, an entire globe of information. Where did Skeksyl come from, how did Theodore get there, what is the origin of the balloons, the doors and Roman numerals? I had to think this all through in order to make it authentic to the reader. A writer should also know the individual world of every character. Where they were and where they’re going. I never mention how the Berrys found the tree, but of course I know, just as I know how Dmitri came to work for them. Every tiny detail should be accounted for. This is world building and the reader demands it, expects it every time they open the cover of a book. Even if such aspects are not in the text, they pick up on it. The work certainly pays off – it is something I would definitely encourage to every aspiring author. If all of this is done correctly, the reader wholeheartedly buys into the world the writer establishes. Juniper Berry is very much set in the real world, but it also delves into the fantastical, which can get tricky, since the reader also has to venture there, along with the characters. If the reader does not feel like the underworld in my book is credible, if they don’t sense the depth of its creation, there will be no suspension of disbelief. In essence, by creating a world, the writer is trying to capture the reader’s imagination in full. I can only hope I have done so.

Thank you M.P. for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing with readers about how you created your world for JUNIPER BERRY. 

M.P. Kozlowsky was a high school English teacher before becoming a writer.  JUNNIPER BERRY is his first book. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.  For more information about M.P. Kozlowsky, check out his website:

Juniper Berry Writing Contest: To celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write their own tales of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad, a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels, and his or her story published online at Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more: