Hey Kid! with Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen (LITTLE MISS EVIL)

hey kid

Hi there 12-year-old Bryce and 12-year-old Kristy,


Bryce, I know that right now it’s an absolute nightmare being in that head of yours and you don’t know why. Unfortunately, in your time period, ADHD isn’t a thing yet, and Ritalin hasn’t been invented, so you’ll just have to muddle through with that messed up brain for a few more years until everything just sorts itself out. And Kristy, I know you’re probably wondering why you’re wasting time talking to us when you could be studying for the next 6 months worth of tests and obsessing over that last A+ you got when you thought you should have gotten an A++, but we’re here to tell you that marks aren’t everything and you’ve got to learn to…

Dang. Kristy just fainted.

OK, Bryce, stop spinning in a circle and help your future wife.

Is she OK? Can she sit up? How many fingers am I holding up? What? NO, this won’t be on a test later! What’s the matter with…

Ahem. Right. Encouragement. OK, let’s try that again…

Bryce, we know you’re probably confused and frustrated by all these people trying to “label” you. You’re probably even more frustrated that the government doctor put a big red “Mentally Challenged,” stamp on your file. He was wrong, but in his defense, you COULD have just answered his questions instead of trying to gnaw his ankle off like a rabid, insane hyena. That’s on you, little buddy.

And Kristy, we know you’re frustrated too, but for the opposite reason. Your parents picked out a label for you before you were born, and that it was “Academic Over-Achiever, Eventual Engineer” without even asking you. No, it doesn’t fit, and no, it’s not fair that your entire life seems to be planned out for you for the next twenty years.

But to both of you, we’re happy to tell you that both of you will eventually shed those labels you didn’t ask for and didn’t want. Bryce, you’re going to end up excelling in school, eventually graduating with a Masters of Computer Engineering degree from the most prestigious university in Canada. You’ll even get the girl in the end, which I’m SURE is something even your wildest fantasy couldn’t have predicted. And Kristy, you’re going to bust through your label and keep shooting for the stars. You’re not going to accept the hum-drum life of an office drone and you’re going to pursue your dream of being a writer with the intensity of a thousand suns until you finally pull it off.

You know, it’s too bad that our teachers and parents put so much effort into trying to label us. It was their way of compartmentalizing us, classify us. Figure out which box we fit in so they knew how to deal with us. What a useless, pointless waste of time. All that achieved was making us feel bad about ourselves, and in the end they weren’t even right!

Do yourself a favor. Next time someone tries to label you, see it as a challenge. “You think I’m just a nerd? Well, I’ll show you!” Next time someone tries to tell you what you can and can’t do, prove them wrong. And if anyone EVER tries to stick you in a box, you punch your way out the side and never look back.

~Bryce and Kristy

P.S. To celebrate our LITTLE MISS EVIL book launch on March 10, 2015, we’re hosting a Super-villain Super Giveaway! You could win an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, a $50 Amazon gift card, as well as signed copies of LITTLE MISS EVIL. Click here to enter.

Little Miss EvilFind Little Miss Evil on IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.
And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?

Apparently, these guys.

Big mistake.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Bryce and Kristy are a tag-team writing duo with too many voices in their heads. As engineers living in Toronto, they can’t be safely contained by mere cubicle walls, and therefore spend every waking moment writing to keep the crazy from leaking out at the office.
Connect with them on kristyandbryce.com, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Hey Kid! with Abi Elphinstone (THE DREAMSNATCHER)

hey kid

Dear 8-year-old Abi,

It’s 30-year-old Abi here. Yup, you’re still here. The monster that you thought lived in the attic at home didn’t actually gobble you up – even though you probably deserved it once or twice. I’m sorry to say that 30-year-old you is no wiser than 8-year-old you (you’re still headstrong, impulsive and lacking in common sense). But for what it’s worth, and with the power of hindsight, I’m going to answer ten of the questions that are whizzing around your head right now.

Abi by sea

  1. Why is my hair so knotty? Trust me, Abi, knots in your hair is the very least of your worries. I’m afraid you accidentally dye your hair pink the day before senior school starts and when, weeks later, you try to go for the Gwyneth Paltrow Sliding Doors style, you dodge that completely and end up looking like Dawson from Dawson’s Creek. So chill out about the knots; it gets worse…
  2. Will I form a secret club soon? Yes, together with two of your best friends, you’ll form BULC (CLUB backwards). It will be like Just William’s gang but for girls. You’ll have purple tracksuits, secret passwords, funky handshakes and you’ll get into trouble a lot.
  3. Why am I so bad at Maths? Don’t take it to heart when your brain freezes and you can’t add up the simplest sums. You’re not stupid. You’re actually dyslexic and it’s just that your brain processes numbers in a different way from a lot of other children. It’s slow to count but fast to build stories. And that’s fine.
  4. Will boarding school be scary? You’re going to have the time of your life there. You’ll have dorm feasts, you’ll run away with a group of friends in the middle of the night into the woods, you’ll play rounders for Scotland and you’ll make lifelong friends.
  5. Do I get any cool pets any time soon? You get two mice, which you pretentiously call Mozart and Beethoven. But you lose interest in them when a black rabbit called Shadow comes along. You lose in her, too, when she bites you so hard you have to wear ski gloves to handle her. You’re still waiting for a snow leopard. Ever hopeful.
  6. Is growing up going to hurt? There are times when it’s really going to hurt. Your parents aren’t going to stay together and though you think you can stop that happening aged 8, you can’t. This is something that can’t be fixed, Abi, and it’s not your fault. Though it’s going to knock you down for a while, you’ll get back up again and fight. And out of all the pain, good things will happen. For one, you’ll realise you have family and friends who will stick by you no matter what.
  7. Is it possible to stay 8-years-old forever? You’ll be pleased to know that your mental game is still pitched at 8-years-old. You had a giggling fit in front of twenty 15-year-old pupils you were teaching the other day, you wear a lot of animal onesies and you love swings so much you bought one to go inside your house last week.
  8. Am I going to be famous when I’m older? No. But you’re going to bounce on a bouncy castle with Charlie from Busted. And Westley from A Princess Bride is going to hug you. Three times.
  9. Am I going to present Blue Peter when I’m a grown up? You haven’t presented on that show (yet) but you did as your mum told you – you dreamed BIG – and now you’re a published children’s author.
  10. Do I still have my teddy aged 30? Yes, you do. It even comes on your honeymoon with you.

Yes, 8-year-old Abi, you can go back to your tree house now. Keep dreaming magical thoughts, don’t worry about the times you walk out of class with your skirt tucked into your knickers and know that the adventures you’re having right now – jumping into icy rivers, searching for hidden waterfalls on the moors, building dens in the woods – are going to happen all over again in your debut children’s book, The Dreamsnatcher.


Dreamsnatcher Final High Res Cover

Find The Dreamsnatcher in the UK on Hive, Waterstones, WH Smith, and Amazon, worldwide on The Book Depository, or request it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London. THE DREAMSNATCHER is her debut novel and when she’s not writing about Moll and Gryff, she runs her children’s books blog www.moontrug.com.

Connect with Abi on abielphinstone.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Hey, What’s Happening?

I’ll tell you what’s happening. Book things!

Hook’s Daughter, the UK version of Hook’s Revenge, releases this week—out Thursday from Chicken House Books! So, if you are across the pond from me, keep a look out. Fellow Americans, if you want a copy because you love both covers and, like a Pokemon, gotta catch them all, The Book Depository offers free shipping.

Hook's Daughter-Hook's Revenge

Go ahead and judge this book by its covers because they are both awesome.

I’m celebrating the UK release with a blog tour! Check in at the following locations.

Hook's Daughter blog tour banner

I have some events coming up! Come see me:

March 25 Green Bean Books Family Book Club
April 2 Dallas Public Library (Dallas, Oregon)
April 18 SCBWI Next Level Professional Series

What’s happening with you?



Hey Kid! from Alison DeCamp (MY NEAR DEATH ADVENTURES)

hey kid


Dear Middle-Grade Me,

5th grade meYou are just about the right amount of weird. I like that you wear the same sweater every day and don’t care how your hair looks. I like the yellow and orange hat you’ve grown attached to and how you still sleep with Teddy, your oldest and most beloved stuffed animal. I like how quirky you are, how imaginative you are, and how happy you are reading a book or being read to.

You are never too old to have someone read to you.

It’s okay to spend time by yourself. It’s also okay not to be “popular.” No one really knows what that means, anyway. Keep those friends who make you feel good about being you, and let go of the ones who don’t have a sense of humor.

Also, your mother is smarter than you think. Remember things she tells you because you’ll want to repeat them when you have your own children.

Make things. Forts. Poorly constructed stuffed animals that have all the insides fluffing out through the seams. Dollhouses and miniatures to fill them. Maps. Tunnels. Fairy villages in the woods. Jewelry. Games. Drawings of castles. Potholders.

Do the little things. Pick up a dropped pencil. Invite someone to sit next to you at lunch. Put the dishes from the sink into the dishwasher without being asked (I guarantee your mom or dad will LOVE this one). Fold a blanket. Pick wildflowers. Look for four-leaf clovers. Lie on your back and look at the clouds. Play in the rain. Write a letter to a grandparent. Let the dog in. Or out. Or back in again. Scratch the cat under the chin. Say a prayer for the man walking along the street. Give someone a dollar and tell her she doesn’t have to pay you back. Get dirty.

Be kind. You never, ever have to regret being kind. Even if someone takes advantage of your kindness, that’s the person who has lost—he has lost the trust of a kind person.

Don’t worry about boys. I know that’s easier said than done, but now that you have both a son and a daughter, you realize boys don’t necessarily like the prettiest girls—they might just prefer the happier one, the funnier one, the one who laughs at their jokes, the one who is comfortable in her own skin and makes him feel comfortable, too. Boys can make for really great friends.

Change is good—don’t try to fight it. Friends will change. Houses will change. People will change. Presidents and principals and weather and schools, health and family and location and what you value will all change. Love where you are and who you’re with. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up on everything else, it means you value the present.

If you can, travel. Don’t ever be afraid of looking stupid. Always laugh at yourself and never laugh at other people. Make mistakes. Make more mistakes. Don’t keep making the same mistakes.

Don’t wait around for other people to recognize how great you are. Just be your awesome self. And if some people are late for that party bus, well, they are just going to have to run to catch up. Because you are worth it.

You are worth every bit of it.


Find Alison DeCamp’s debut novel, My Near Death Adventures on Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Random House, or order a personalized and signed copy at her local indie bookstore, Between the Covers.

front cover

It is 1895. Stan is on a mission to find his long-lost father in the logging camps of Michigan. And he’s embellishing all of it in his stupendous scrapbook.

There are many things that 11-year-old Stanley Slater would like to have in life, most of all, a father. But what if Stan’s missing dad isn’t “dearly departed” after all? Who better to find this absent hero/cowboy/outlaw than manly Stan himself? Unfortunately, Stan’s fending off his impossible cousin Geri, evil Granny, and Mama’s suitors like Cold-Blooded Killer Stinky Pete. If only he could join the River Drive, the most perilous adventure of all, where even a fellow’s peavey is at risk.

It’s a wild ride for Stan as he finds out about true manliness. But at least Stan has his scrapbook, full of 200 black-and-white 19th-century advertisements and photos, “augmented” with his commentary and doodles.

Alison DeCamp grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, graduated from Michigan State, and used to teach middle school and high school language arts. She lives in Harbor Springs, Michigan with her husband and two children.
Connect with Alison on AlisonDeCamp.com, or on twitter, facebook, and Goodreads.

Hey Kid! with Elana Arnold (THE QUESTION OF MIRACLES)

hey kid

Hey, Kid!

EKA at 11Eleven, huh? It seemed like eleven was going to feel older than this. Like it would be a bigger deal, more of a transition, maybe even magical. Double digits plus one, the symmetry of how it looks, “11,” two tall proud straight-backed lines.

You don’t feel like that, though. Not tall. Not proud. Not straight-backed. Rather, you hunch forward, shoulders rolled, eyes down, thick glasses slipping down the bridge of your nose. Hoping no one notices you, but at the exact same time wishing desperately that someone might notice after all.

Not a boyfriend. That’s not what you want. What you want—what you need—is a friend. A bosom friend, as Anne of Green Gables would say, a best friend. A second half, the answer to your echo.

At the mall, you gaze wistfully at the display of BEST FRIENDS necklaces, one heart divided into jagged halves, made whole when pressed together. At school, the necklaces seem to follow you, to mock you, swinging from the necks of so many girls—half of them reading BE FRIE, the other halves declaring ST NDS.

You contemplate buying a pair for yourself and the girl Laura around the corner. You imagine presenting it to her—it would be almost like proposing. What if she refused to accept it? What if she said she liked you, but not that much, not enough to declare to you and everyone else that you were a matched pair, linked even when separated by the promise of that necklace set?BEST FRIENDS necklace

There’s another girl, Carly Carson, with whom you would love to share a necklace set. Not because you’re such close friends—actually, you don’t know Carly all that well—but rather because Carly is popular, and if she shared a necklace with you—if she agreed to be the ST NDS to your BE FRIE—then you would be popular, too.

You know this is not the spirit behind the BEST FRIENDS necklaces. They are not supposed to be currency that buys admission into popularity. But the more you think about it, the better it sounds: Why wouldn’t this work? Couldn’t you perhaps give Carly Carson your birthday money in exchange for her agreeing to wear a BEST FRIENDS necklace with you? And what if, after wearing the fake pronouncement for a week or two, Carly discovered what a great, fun, special person you were and decided that she really did want to be your best friend, and she insisted you take back the money, and you used it to buy milkshakes and fries for the two of you, and your fake best friendship became the real thing?

A couple of years later, when the movie CAN’T BUY ME LOVE comes out—about a nerdy teen boy who pays a popular cheerleader to act like his girlfriend, thus paving the way to his own popularity—you wonder if they stole the idea straight from your brain, oblivious to the more obvious truth… your fantasy of buying your way into love, of using someone to bridge the social gap, is not unique. It may actually be ubiquitous.

For now, Kid, try not to resent the girls who have successfully paired up. Don’t hate them because of what you do not have. If I could, dear eleven-year-old me, I would time travel back to the eighties and buy one of those necklace sets. I would smile at you and offer you half, whichever half you wanted. I would fasten the clasp for you. Then I would string the other necklace around my own throat, and I would wear it proudly.


Question of Miraclesfacebook

Find The Question of Miracles on Indiebound, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, B&N, and Amazon, or ask for it in your local bookstore or library.

Sixth-grader Iris Abernathy hates life in Corvallis, Oregon, where her family just moved. It’s always raining, and everything is so wet. Besides, nothing has felt right since Iris’s best friend, Sarah, died.
When Iris meets Boris, an awkward mouth-breather with a know-it-all personality, she’s not looking to make a new friend, but it beats eating lunch alone. Then she learns that Boris’s very existence is a medical mystery, maybe even a miracle, and Iris starts to wonder why some people get miracles and others don’t. And if one miracle is possible, can another one be too? Can she possibly communicate with Sarah again?

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Elana K. Arnold, the author of several young adult novels, earned her master’s in creative writing at the University of California, Davis. She lives in Huntington Beach, CA, with her husband, two kids, and more than a few pets. THE QUESTION OF MIRACLES is her debut for younger readers.
Connect with Elana on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Photo credit: Melissa Hockenberger

Hey Kid! with Laurie McKay (VILLAIN KEEPER)

hey kid
Hey eight-year-old Laurie,

Kid pic - McKayRemember how in kindergarten, you ran into that playground pole? You were running flat out. Then – DING – it was like someone rang a giant bell. The goose egg on your forehead was so big the school called your mom because they were afraid something was seriously, medically wrong with you. Then, in first grade, you were staring at your feet while walking with your class from lunch and – DING – you smacked into that pole that held up the canopy. There was another goose egg. Another call to your mom.

Well, the good news about being eight is you will no longer run into poles.

Okay, yes, there’ll be more goose eggs. There will be the time when you and your older brother are playing. He’s spinning you around like a whirling dervish by holding your arm and leg. (Your little sister is watching – not her turn.) He loses control, you knock your forehead on the tabletop, and you and your siblings panic the babysitter. This is fairly impressive as you only have a babysitter about three times in your entire childhood, and manage a possible medical emergency with one of them.

Even now you sometimes run into things – counter, desk, rocking chair – any type of furniture really. Just the other day you managed to hit your head on the driver’s side door of your Subaru. You’re slightly taller than the car, so you’re not sure how that happened. But despite all that, between eight and thirty-something years of age, I can assure you, you haven’t dinged your head on another pole even once.

The point being, it takes you awhile, but you do get better at looking at where you’re going.

When I decided to write to you, I considered telling you specifics about things that will happen – good and bad, hopeful and depressing – then I realized that at eight you’ve only recently stopped looking at book’s endings before you decide if you want to read them. I don’t want to make you backslide by tempting you with any more life spoilers.
(Although, I do wish you’d be less mortified and more excited when your dad shows up in a gorilla costume to take you to your Diane Fossey report. Yes, that does happen. And, no, he doesn’t warn you beforehand. He wants to surprise you. So try to be happy. The only one who doesn’t realize immediately that gorilla is hilarious is twelve-year-old you.)

Okay. That was one more spoiler. But no more!

Instead, I decided to talk with you about poles, and knocks, and looking at where you’re going and where you’ve been. Know that some of the things that are hard for you now – showing people your writing, talking in front of people, new social situations – will be challenging for some time. In fact, I don’t think they’ll ever be easy.

Lots of things take practice. When you start something, you don’t have to be perfect at it. You don’t even have to be good at it. Not being the best at something doesn’t make you the worst. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure. And you struggle through. It’s one of your better qualities. I’d tell you not to stress so much about it along the way, but I know you will anyway.

And although sometimes it’s a disaster, most times it’s not. Eventually, many people are shocked these things are challenging for you.

So expect years of comedy (and sadly some tragedy), keep a lookout for poles, and realize if you do get dinged, most times it just hurts for a moment. After the swelling goes down, it’ll become another hilarious tale. Just write it down and make it part of the story.


FinalVillainKeeperLastDragon_CVRFind Villain Keeper on Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, HarperCollins, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you. 

All his life, Prince Caden has dreamed of slaying a dragon. But before he has the chance, he is ripped from his home in the Great Winterlands of Razzon and finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina—a land with no magic and no dragons.

Or so he thinks. The longer Caden spends in Asheville, the more he comes to realize that there is unexpected and dangerous magic in this strange land. There just may be dragons here, too. But what if Caden’s destiny isn’t to slay a dragon, after all?

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Laurie McKay is an author and biology instructor who lives in Durham, NC. When she’s not working, she spends time with her family and her two elderly dogs. Her debut MG fantasy novel, VILLAIN KEEPER (The Last Dragon Charmer #1), is available now!

Connect with Laurie on lauriemckay.net, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Valentines for Authors

Want to show the author in your life (or on your shelves) a little extra love this weekend? Here are a few Valentines that will make him or her swoon for you:

Love in the Stacks
valentines for authors 4
An Online Romance
valentines for authors copy
Share the Love
valentines for authors3
Anticipating a Beautiful Future
valentines for authors2


Speaking of which… Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code is currently available for preorder on Barnes & Noble and Amazon or, even better, ask for it at your local indie.


Hey Kid! with Cory Putman Oakes (DINOSAUR BOY)

hey kidDear Fifth Grade Cory,

I write to you specifically (not to fourth grade Cory or sixth grade Cory) because fifth grade was a really important year for you (us). Epic, really.

This is the year that you discover you’re not cool.

IMG_6168Now I understand why, at this stage of your life, you wouldn’t necessarily see this as a positive. And you won’t see it like that, not for quite a while.

But let’s be honest, you’ve sort of seen this coming. Right? You know yourself. Last year got a little bit confusing, what with switching schools at all. Everybody was too busy labeling you “the new girl” to notice if you were cool or not. Nobody really knew you, so you sort of drifted through the groups and the cliques and the clubs like you were in some sort of weird, middle school utopia.

But this year is a brand new year. And now that everybody knows you better, they’ve figured it out. You, my dear, are not cool.

That’s not true for everyone. In fact, something weird is going to happen this year: some of the girls you’ve been hanging out with are going to magically be declared “cool.” No one knows who, exactly, decides this. Or what the criteria is. Or how those who achieve this mysterious honor are notified about their change in status. (There was probably a handshake or a secret meeting or pamphlet that explained it – but you’re not cool enough to be privy to anything like that). But however it happens, some of your friends will go on to claim the title of “cool” and all the rights and privileges associated with it. While you, and your fellow un-chosen friends . . . won’t.

The whole thing is going to make you a little bit miserable, to be honest. And I wish I could tell you “Buck up, Cory. In high school, your fairy god mother shows up and arms you with a new wardrobe, better hair, a working familiarity with acceptable music and trendy pop culture references and BAM, you become the homecoming queen.” But that isn’t what happens. Not in high school, not in college, and not in the mysterious “real world” that you are only now beginning to picture.

I’m sorry if that sounds harsh. The good news is, you do read a lot of good books this year. (And next year, wow, I can’t begin to tell you about the awesome reading that sixth grade has in store for you – The Song of the Lioness Quartet, The Blue Sword, The Egypt Game: it’s a truly inspiring year of books for you.) And if you had been tapped as “cool,” who knows if you would have had time for any of those? Or maybe they wouldn’t have meant so much to you. Food for thought.

You’ll be glad to know that being cool becomes a lot less important later on. And believe me, it’s not because we achieve it. I mean, yes, we do eventually learn how to blow-dry our hair straight. And the nice people at Sephora teach us how to do make-up properly. And we stop wearing flannel shirts and hiking boots All. The. Dang. Time. But you still use the term “cosplay” as a verb a bit too often, you get a little bit too excited about life-size Tardis replicas, and you are too quick to quote old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ah yes, that’s another thing you have to look forward to), to be considered “cool.” At least in the traditional sense.


And somewhere along the way, that stopped bothering you.

Maybe it’s because everybody else seems to have stopped caring if people are cool. Or maybe we’ve just learned to live with it. Or maybe it’s because we’ve realized that we know our share of awesome, inspiring, lovable people and none of them are cool either.

The point is, we end up doing just fine. And when I think back through all the people we’ve met, the books we’ve read, the experiences we’ve had – almost none of which were remotely “cool” – I wouldn’t trade any of them. Not if our fairy mother came down right now and offered me “cool” on a platter.

So thank you, Fifth Grade Cory. You’re taking one for the team this year. (And also next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and then some). But take comfort in the fact that somewhere, your thirty-four-year-old self is reveling in all of her grown-up, totally uncool, dorkalicious glory. And she’d like to sincerely thank the fifth grade version of herself who made it all possible.


9781492605379-PRFind Dinosaur Boy on IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Book People, and Amazon, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Everyone knows the dinosaur gene skips a generation.

So it isn’t a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus.

Despite the Principal’s Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka “Gigantor” and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved-until he discovers a secret about the principal that’s more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate…and it’s up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue them.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Cory Putman Oakes is a children’s book author from Austin, Texas. Her middle grade debut, DINOSAUR BOY, came out in February 2015 with its sequel, DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, to follow in February, 2016. She is also the author of THE VEIL (a young adult novel).

Connect with Cory on corypoakes.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

On My Mind: February 4, 2015

I have started bullet journaling. It hasn’t been long enough for me to really evaluate its effectiveness, but so far, I like it. Making lists is my jam.

Hook’s Daughter, the UK version of Hook’s Revenge, will be out in just over a month! That means I have just over a month to decide on my celebration dinner: Fish and Chips or Bangers and Mash?

Want to win a copy?

HOOK’S DAUGHTER, the UK edition of HOOK’S REVENGE, releases from @chickenhousebooks on March 5. Want to win a copy? Make an Instagram video telling why you would like to win—while speaking in a fake accent. (If you live outside the U.S., I’d love to hear your fake American accent!) Be sure to tag me on Instagram, @heidischulzbooks, so I see your video. The winner will receive a pre-order of HOOK’S DAUGHTER from the Book Depository, to be delivered after the book’s release, to any country to which the Book Depository will ship. (Check their website if you are unsure.) I will also send a signed bookplate and some HOOK’S REVENGE swag. I’ll choose a winner next Monday, February 9. Good luck! #vlogstagram #giveaway #books #mg #mglit

A video posted by Heidi Schulz (@heidischulzbooks) on

Pepper has learned the word “blanket” and comes running whenever anyone says it. If I don’t have a blanket on my lap, she attempts to climb up my pant leg. I thought you should know that.

I think this old McDonald’s toy (Lucy from Narnia) looks like me. It’s a bit unnerving, but in a delightful way. Would it be weird if I bought a bunch of them on eBay and put them all over my house? (Even if you say yes, I’ll probably still do it.)

Mystery figure. Anyone recognize? Lever in back makes her raise/lower arm that has small package. A photo posted by Tom Angleberger (@tomangleberger) on

The above image is from the Instagram account of Tom Angleberger, author of the the Origami Yoda series. It’s delightful.

What exactly is a banger? Some kind of sausage, right?


Hey Kid! with MarcyKate Connelly (MONSTROUS)

hey kidHey Twelve-Year-Old MarcyKate,

Right now school is a miserable place for you. I know how you dread the bus every morning. How you get made fun of when you have to take a day off from school for allergy tests and come back looking like you were bitten by a geometrically-inclined mosquito. How even recess has lost its fun now that that group of girls taunts you every day, telling you you’re fat and ugly (by the way, you’re not. And you’ll grow out of this awkward phase—mostly—I promise.)

TweenMK-2You may not realize it now, but you’re lucky because you have friends who are awesome and will be your friends for many years (even if you fight more often than you like). You share a love of books, and act out your own stories in the Redwall world at recess as way to escape the bullies. Maybe those bullies mock you for it, but some day, you’ll write your own novels. You won’t know what they’re doing, and you won’t care either.

The bad news: Before it gets better, it’s going to get worse. As hard as 5th and 6th grade have been, junior high is going to be harder. Then there will be high school. That’s where you learn to embrace your weird…unfortunately, not everyone else does. I know you worry that no one cares about you, but trust me—they do. The bright side of high school is that you collect a few more longtime friends along the way.

Now the good news: Someday you’ll go to a college where you’re not the weirdest or geekiest person in the room. And they won’t give you grades. Sounds like heaven, right? It is, and it’s how you got the courage to tackle a novel in the first place. You’ll meet people who challenge you in all the best ways, and inspire your creative side. It is glorious. It is life changing. I promise it is worth getting through what must seem like an infinite stretch of public school before you.

So, keep reading late into the night even after mom and dad yell at you to go to sleep. It’s okay to need an escape. Books are a healthy way to do that! And when you do go to bed, keep telling yourself stories as you fall asleep (though, you might want to whisper more quietly – your sister in the next room can hear you!). Keep creating, and most importantly keep dreaming. One day when you get to hold your own fantasy novel in your hands, you’ll know it’s all worth it.


will release on February 10th. Find it on IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, or order a signed copy from Porter Square Books by typing “signed” in the order comments.

Monstrous HC CThe city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.
Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.
Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life.

Reminiscent of Frankenstein and the tales of the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel by MarcyKate Connolly stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

MarcyKate Connolly is a writer and arts administrator living in New England with her husband and pugs. She’s a coffee addict and voracious reader. Monstrous is her debut middle grade novel.
Connect with MarcyKate on MarcyKate.com, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
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