Southern Festival of Books 2015 - Nashville, TN

Image Credit Humanities Tennessee

From the Humanities Tennessee website (click that link for more information):

Humanities Tennessee's Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word was first held in Nashville on the second full weekend (Friday-Sunday) in October, 1989, and has been held annually on the same weekend since then. One of the first book festivals of its kind, it has inspired hundreds of similar book festivals throughout the nation and beyond.

What an incredible festival! I had so much fun hanging out in Nashville, and the Southern Festival of Books did not disappoint. Unfortunately, I had just heard about this event earlier in the week, so I wasn't able to plan on attending the whole festival since I had a big program at the library on Saturday (it broke my heart knowing that I completely missed David Levithan, Eric Litwin, and Newbery Award winner, Kwame Alexander!). But I was there on Sunday, and it was worth it.

The Southern Festival of Books has it all. Whether you are a reader, writer, librarian, editor, book reviewer, or just want to enjoy some literary readings and local music, you need to make this an annual event. There are authors and publishers representing genres of all kinds. There were big name authors, locals, indie authors, historians, poets, and many more. Every booth I passed had something unique and exciting to offer.

Booksellers included McKay Books, Parnassus,  Pennyworth Books Reading Rock Books Red Carpet Books Safe Harbor Books Two Little Birds Books Usborne Books & MoreKubik Fine Books, Ltd., and Landmark Booksellers who each offered a selection of their collections for purchase as well. If you know anything about me, you probably know that I collect leather bounds. So when I saw shelves upon shelves of this, suddenly I thought I had died and gone to heaven:

Why yes, I will take the lot, thank you. 

Publishers also provided books and information on upcoming titles. There were some publishers that I haven't worked with before, so browsing what they had to offer opened up some new exciting opportunities. I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing a few selected titles from Clarksville based Zone 3 Press! You can see the full list of exhibitors here.

Performances ranged from readings, poetry, music, writing advice, and even special appearances from the Nashville Public Library and Nashville Ballet. It was also great to see author Amanda Eyre Ward, who I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with earlier this year at the Books in Bloom Literary Festival in Eureka Springs, AR. 

Then, of course, there were the authors. My favorite part. Every author has a different story and is in a different place in their journey. I love sitting and talking with them, learning about what they've written and why they wrote it. Regardless of whether it's a genre I'm interested in or not, these are the magic makers. They are the ones that had a story in their heart they felt needed to be told, and they did it. I met all sorts of writers. For a list of all participating authors, I encourage you to visit this page. Normally, I would provide all of them here, but there were so many, it would make this post painfully long. In the meantime, check out some of my loot (aka books to review) from the weekend:

The Southern Festival of Books is probably the biggest festival I've attended to date, and I didn't even have the opportunity to attend the whole thing. Even though this was the last day of the festival, it was lively and the excitement wasn't lacking. The diversity of the event offers appeal for various audiences, so regardless of what association you have with the literary world, you will likely find something to peak your interest. Not to mention, there are so many books! Just being in their presence should bring you endless amounts of happiness. I have definitely added this to my list of favorite festivals.


Review: Pocket Guide to the Outdoors by Jean Craighead George

Title: Pocket Guide to the Outdoors
Based On: My Side of the Mountain
Author: Jean Craighead George, Twig C. George
Publication Date: September 17th, 2009
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Pages: 144 
ISBN: 0525421637
Source: The Library

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Generations of readers have escaped into the woods with My Side of the Mountain, the story of a city boy named Sam who learns to live in the wild. Now, Newbery winner Jean Craighead George offers an easy-to-follow guide for fans who want to live the adventure?just like Sam. Learn how to start a fire, build a shelter, catch a fish, identify useful plants, and much more. Hands-on activities are perfect for backyard campers or an afternoon stroll through the park. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings and packed with activities, naturalist trivia, and practical wilderness tips, this entertaining and informative handbook is your guide to outdoor fun.

Jean Craighead George wrote over eighty popular books for young adults, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and the Newbery Honor book My Side of the Mountain. Most of her books deal with topics related to the environment and the natural world. While she mostly wrote children's fiction, she also wrote at least two guides to cooking with wild foods, and an autobiography, Journey Inward.

The mother of three children, (Twig C. George, Craig, and T. Luke George) Jean George was a grandmother who joyfully read to her grandchildren since the time they were born. Over the years Jean George kept one hundred and seventy-three pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York. "Most of these wild animals depart in autumn when the sun changes their behaviour and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories." 

Pocket Guide to the Outdoors is the hidden gem of Jean Craighead George. Most people have no idea that it exists, and if you are an outdoor enthusiast, then you need to pick up this book.

George shares practical knowledge she learned out in the wilderness on how to survive in the most vulnerable circumstances. Learn how to build fire, make a shelter from ferns, make your own clothing from animal skin, which plants are poisonous, edible, and medicinal, and even how to identify different species of birds from the pattern of their singing. If you spend any time outdoors, this is a great book to have.

One of my favorite feats about Pocket Guide to the Outdoors is that George also includes the scientific names of things. It's a wonderful ode to education when a reader can pick up on the multiple names given to a species simply because an author took the time to provide it. I love when authors do this. There are no live images in this book. If there are images, they are drawings. In a way, this makes it harder to identify what you are looking at, but it also adds charm to the overall feel of the guide.

When I go for a run, I always stop by the river that's surrounded by a wooded area. I've been able to use what I've learned in Pocket Guide to the Outdoors to go further into the wilderness because I was able to identify the plants I was walking through. I was even delighted to find that I could identify a few of the bird calls I heard while I was out. I love going outdoors and learning survival skills just for the heck of it, and this book has opened numerous doors for me. Not to mention, it takes My Side of the Mountain to a whole new level.


Storytime: Sing, Sign, and Storytime

(American Sign Language)
Ages 0-6

A to Z Sign with Me by Dawn Babb Prochovnic (optional)
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Five Little Ducks by Anthony Lewis
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Previously, I had taught my kids "The More We Get Together" with signs. They picked up quickly and really enjoyed singing and signing along! The first book, A to Z Sign with Me, I only used with my older kids because I knew some of them already knew the alphabet. I usually have them sign their name to me when they come in to see if they remember. 

BOOK A to Z Sign with Me by Dawn Babb Prochovnic (optional, I save this for older kids)

BOOK Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
For this book, I taught them the signs for "monkey" and "mother." Of course, they already knew how to sign "five," so they signed that with me, too.


Up to the Ceiling
Up to the ceiling, (stretch both arms overhead)
Down so you’re small. (bend at waist and touch floor)
Right to the bookshelf (stretch arm to right)
Left to the wall. (stretch arm to left)
Right hand, left hand,
Turn them around. (spin hands around each other, 'wheels on the bus style')
Fold them together
And now sit down

BOOK Five Little Ducks by Anthony Lewis (this is also a song, so we sang along as we signed)
The signs we used with this song were "duck," "swim," "over," and again we signed "mother" and "five." I had really good feedback from this book/song. When I researched it, I found that it's like a nursery rhyme from Europe. Pretty cool!

BOOK Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

As our final book, I signed the whole story so they could see a more fluent interpretation of signing a book. I taught them a couple easy words during, but they were watching the signs and you could tell they were interested.


Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (with Sign Language)


Sign Your Name!
I found a sign language font and printed out each letter so the kids could learn how to say their names in sign. I provided crayons, glue, and scissors in case they wanted to cut around the hands.

Flash Cards
I was lucky enough to find these in the deep dark depths of dusty nowhere (the back of the filing cabinet)! This was a great visual for the little ones since it's simple and just colorful enough.

ASL/Braille Blocks
These blocks circulate between branches, and I'm so glad we have them! I left them out most of the day and kids really enjoyed playing with them. They not only introduce them to sign, but also braille. This is a great language toy!

Printables via SignLanguagePrintables.com
I provided a copy of this sheet for each person that attended. The only thing I don't like about it, is that the numbers stop at 9 and not 10. Other than that, this is a great resource for the alphabet and numbers.

RECEPTION: This was such a fun storytime! Both parents and children seemed to have a lot of fun, and the signing helped to keep their attention. The songs were a hit. I had introduced "Twinkle, Twinkle" the week before with my ukulele, so they've been learning different variations of it. We had people from other branches join us for this specific storytime as well. A lot of the parents asked me to repeat certain signs from Goodnight Moon so they could use them with their child at home. I feel this storytime was a definite success.
Follow My Sign Language Pinterest Board.

Spotlight: Dreamwielder (The Dreamwielder Chronicles #1) by Garrett Calcaterra

Title: Dreamwielder
Series: The Dreamwielder Chronicles #1
Author: Garrett Calcaterra
Publication Date: September 29th, 2015
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 382

Synopsis (from Author): In a world shrouded by soot and smoke, young Makarria has literally been forbidden to dream.

Legend has foretold the demise of Emperor Thedric Guderian at the hands of a sorceress with royal blood, and the Emperor has made it his legacy to stamp out all magic from the Sargothian Empire in favor of primitive coal fired smelters and steam powered machines. When Guderian’s minions discover a Dreamwielder on a seaside farmstead, a chain of events forces Guderian’s new threat—the young Makarria—to flee from her home and embark upon an epic journey where her path intertwines with that of Princess Taera, her headstrong brother, Prince Caile, and the northman Siegbjorn, who captains a night-flying airship.

Dogging their every step is the part-wolf, part-raven sorcerer, Wulfram, and Emperor Guderian himself, a man who has the ability to stint magic and a vision to create a world where the laws of nature are beholden to men and machines. Only by learning to control the power she wields can Makarria save her newfound companions and stop the Emperor from irreversibly exterminating both the magic in humans and their bond with nature.


“Hold on, what do you mean you know what to do?” Caile started to say, but Makarria ignored him and sprinted off through the tunnel toward the city before the words were halfway out of his mouth. “Get back here!” Caile yelled, but Makarria paid him no heed.

Caile snatched up his weapons with a curse and ran off in the direction of Issborg. At the edge of the cavern city, he caught sight of Makarria nearly halfway to the other side—the only movement in the entire city. The Snjaer Firan were hidden away in their homes and had closed the shutters over every window. Only the blue daylight protruding through the glacier aboe illuminated the city. Damn it all, she’s fast, Caile swore inwardly as he chased after Makarria. When he finally caught up to her at the far end of the city he grabbed her shoulder and dragged her to a halt, heavily winded.

“Stop. Wait!”

Makarria pushed his hand aside and trotted on. “Please don’t try to stop me.”

“I’m not here to stop you. I’m here to help. Now just slow down for moment and tell me what it is you think you’re going to do that a sorceresses can’t.”

They were getting close to the chambers beyond the city now and Makarria slowed to a brisk walk. “I need to get Kadar into one of the chambers.”

“All right, that’s a start. What chambers?”

“A few hundred yards down the corridor on the right, there’s a bunch of caves with doors.”

“Does it matter which one we get him into?”


“All right,” he said again. “And what do we do after that?”

“Then I do my work. Quiet now. We’re getting close.”

Caile bristled at being shushed. “Slow down then,” he whispered. “We don’t want to rush headlong into something.”

As if on cue, a heavy concussion echoed through the cavern.

“I’ve heard that sound before,” Caile whispered. “That’s sorcerers fighting.” He left his sword sheathed and instead strung his bow and notched an arrow, remembering what Talitha had told him about trying to kill sorcerers. Surprise them. Be unpredictable.

The sound of concussions and bellowing flames grew louder and more frequent as they continued on, and before long they could hear voices, although, they could not make out the words. Talitha’s indecipherable shouts were little more than guttural moans, while Kadar’s heavily accented words were taunting in their tone. Suddenly, dark figures appeared before them, and Caile almost let loose his arrow but luckily held it back at the last moment, realizing it was the Snjaer Firan warriors who had accompanied Talitha. There were only four of them, and they all huddled close to the wall at their right.

“We’re here to help,” Makarria whispered when one of them turned back to see her and Caile approaching. “Where’s Kadar?”

“Up there,” the man said with effort, and Makarria and Caile saw that he was badly burned on one side of his face. “Talitha is trapped on the far side, below the glacier.”

“Where’s the rest of your men?” Caile asked. “I thought there were twelve of you?”

“There were.”

Caile pursed his lips and pushed his way forward past the four men to peer farther down the corridor. A torrent of flames spat forward in the distance, and for a brief moment Caile could make out Talitha’s form huddled behind a stalagmite twenty yards ahead and Kadar a little farther beyond her. Then the flames were gone and he saw only shadows again. Caile stepped back safely out of sight. “He’s got her cornered, and he’s too far away for me to get a clean look at him,” he whispered to Makarria. “How is it you think we’re going to get him into one of those caves?”

“I’ll get him into the open,” Makarria said. “When I yell, start shooting.”

“I don’t see how—” Caile started to say, but before he could get the rest of the sentence out Makarria strode forward into the middle of the corridor.

“Kadar!” Makarria yelled. “Kadar! It’s me, Makarria. Stop, please.”

“Makarria, no, get back,” Talitha’s voice rang out.

Makarria ignored her and walked on, fear in her belly. He won’t risk killing you—you’re too important to him, she told herself, but now that she was exposed, she wasn’t so certain.

Kadar peered out from his hiding spot and began laughing an oily, rodent-like laugh. “It is all right, Makarria. Yes, come to me. I would not hurt you.”

“Leave the woman alone,” Makarria said. “And then you can have me.” She stopped parallel to the first of the caves on the right. She saw in front of her the smoldering bodies of the slain Snjaer Firan warriors but quickly averted her eyes and kept her attention solely on Kadar.

“But I can kill her and still take you,” Kadar said.

“Not if I’m in the way, you can’t,” Makarria retorted, and she stepped forward to place herself firmly in the path between the two sorcerers. “Go,” she said, looking back toward Talitha.

“Are you mad?” Talitha hissed. “You’ll be killed.”

“Just go,” Makarria told her. “Trust me.”

In the distance, Kadar laughed again. “Go on. Let the little girl save you for now.”

“Go,” Makarria said again.

Talitha paused for a moment longer, then sprang from behind the stalagmite and scurried back into the cavern behind Makarria toward the others.

“My end of the bargain is met now,” Kadar said. “Now it is your turn. Come to me.”

“I’m right here. Come get me.”

Kadar stepped forward from his hiding spot, and when he spoke there was menace in his voice. “What is it you hope to accomplish, girl? Your dream powers are weak and unhoned still. I could burn you to ash or bring that ice crashing down upon your head before you even close your eyes, let alone dream.”

“Not if you want me to kill the Emperor, you can’t.”

Kadar smiled and his black teeth glimmered as he slowly stepped forward. “You are a clever girl. Too clever for your own good.”

He was almost upon her now. She waited one breath longer, then turned and sprinted away. “Now!” she screamed.

Caile stepped out into the corridor and loosed his arrow. It whizzed by Makarria’s ear, and Kadar leapt to the side, just narrowly dodging the projectile. He raised his hands to strike back, but Makarria had changed her course to run right for Caile, blocking Kadar’s line of sight. Caile fired another arrow over the top of Makarria, and this time Kadar had no choice but to jump for cover in the nearest of the chambers.

“He’s in!” Caile yelled, notching another arrow.

Makarria skidded to a halt and plopped down on her butt, facing back toward the chamber. “Keep him in there,” she said breathlessly and closed her eyes.

“I only have four arrows left—move fast,” Caile yelled, but Makarria was already halfway in her trance...

Garrett Calcaterra is author of the epic fantasy novel DREAMWIELDER, available from Diversion Books. In addition, he is author of the horror collection UMBRAL VISIONS, and co-author of the mosaic fantasy novel THE ROADS TO BALDAIRN MOTTE. His humor titles include CODE BROWN and A GOOD BREW IS HARD TO FIND. 

When not writing, Garrett enjoys hiking with his two dogs and quaffing good beer. 


Vintage Book Trailer Contest!


Book Trailer Ninjas and Rare Bird Books invite filmmakers to enter the first of its kind vintage book trailer contest. Entry is free and filmmakers may enter multiple times.

Entrants will choose one novel from Rare Bird Books’ library or any book available in the public domain. Participants will then create and edit a vintage book trailer based on the chosen novel and submit the trailer by no later than November 30, 2015.

Author Peter Straub will be judging the contest. The first-prize winner will receive $500, as well as a paid three-trailer mission with the ninjas. Runner-up will receive $250 and a paid two-trailer mission. Third-place winner will receive $250 and a paid one-trailer mission.

Filmmakers can visit Archive.org for available footage. Examples of successful vintage book trailers are viewable on the Book Trailer Ninja’s website.

Participants may enter the vintage book trailer contest here.

The Book Trailer Ninjas have created vintage book trailers for authors such as Ryan Holiday, Kenneth Calhoun, Sarah Gerard and more!



World Travelers: France

World Travelers: France
Grades K-5

My goal with this series is to bridge cultural gaps in children's literacy. The best part about it is that I learn a lot about the countries in the process, and even the parents get involved with asking questions. Sometimes I bring in a special guest or two that has lived or visited that specific country and they tell about their experiences and share items from there. The more this program develops, the better it gets!

Each child that attends gets a passport. I created a template to save ink, then filled in the space with the airplane and the quote with stamps. The inside pages are from this template, and each time a child comes to the program, they get a special stamp on the inside. If they "travel" to so many of the locations, they get a prize!

I found this snazzy playlist of French music on YouTube. It played in the background during the program.

Foreign exchange student, Anne Sophia, was kind enough to come in and talk about life in France. She provided a power point that everyone really enjoyed. The kids were especially interested in talking about the food! Since the last program, the kids have started opening up more and becoming involved in the presentation.

Each child received a page of questions and had to find the answers hidden around the room. Here are some random facts I used:
1. The name France comes from the Latin word Francia, which means 'country of the Franks.'

2. French is the second most studied language in the world after English.

3. The capital city is Paris. Other major cities include Marseilles, Lyon, Lille, and Nice-Cannes.

4. France is the most visited country in the world, with over 80 million visitors every year.

5. The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. The famous Mona Lisa painting is on display in this museum.

6. During World War II, allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in northern France. The first day of these landings is called D-Day.

7. The famous Eiffel Tower in Paris was built as the entrance point for the 1889 World Fair. It is one of the most visited monuments in the world.

8. France was the second country to host the modern Olympic Games in 1900 in Paris. Paris also hosted the games again in 1924. Three winter Olympics have been hosted in France.

9. The most famous road bicycle race in the world, the Tour de France, zig zags through the French landscape.

10. Louis Pasteur was a French scientist who made many discoveries in the fields of chemistry and microbiology.

Each station has a description of the history and uniqueness of the specific craft they are making. I also provide examples as well.

Cave Paintings
The Chauvet Cave and Lascaux are France's hubs for some of the oldest cave paintings in the world, between 20,000-36,000 years old! I had to incorporate the awesomeness of cave painting, so I got a cardboard box, wrinkled brown paper, and some crayons. My first version of the structure lasted about 5 minutes. So I reconstructed it and this is what I ended up with (along with some cave drawings I started them out with): 

Monet's Water Lilies
This was a great way to introduce impressionist painting. It allowed the kids the opportunity for open creativity and they really enjoyed learning about Monet and his method of painting. I also covered Degas a little bit while I explained the project.

Different shades of blue construction paper
Tissure paper
Scissors (although I would recommend ripping instead, to create that blurry Monet effect)

French Knitting
This was incredibly popular! I got the idea from BuzzMills. A lot of the parents asked me to print off the instructions so they could do it at home, too. Kids were wearing their creations throughout the library, it was great!

Toilet paper roll
4 Popsicle sticks
Some nifty tape

The French version of hop scotch! I just drew the game onto bulletin board paper so it was big enough to tape onto the ground.

How to play:
1. Decide which foot you will be hopping with. If you decide on your left foot, you must hop in and out each time on that foot.
2. Hop through the snail pattern
    a. Hop only once in each space. No player may touch a line when hopping.
3. In the center “home” space you may rest on both feet.
4. After resting, turn and hop back to the beginning. Repeat the pattern 1x.
5. After you have hopped in and out twice, choose one space for your “house”. Write your initials in this space. This becomes another rest space for you. No other player may hop into your house.

The game ends when it is impossible for anyone to hop into the center space or when all of the squares have initials in them. The player who “owns” the greatest number of squares wins.

Pretty simple. Just get the pom pom in the cup. This is a versatile game that has different versions of itself all around the world.

Whatever you wish to decorate the cups with
Something to puncture a hole in bottom of cups (since I had styrofoam, I just used a paperclip)

RECEPTION: Again, a very successful program! This was probably the biggest group I've had for this series thus far. I had lots of returning kids with their passports, and they became more involved with the speaker, too. The activities at this one were a hit, too. 

After the presentation, Anne Sophia said she was really grateful to come and share about her country. The night before, I was thinking about what a great opportunity this could be for people who are far away from home. This has become a chance to not only bridge cultural gaps for children and their parents, but also for foreigners to share about their homelands while they're over here.  I could tell it meant a lot to her, and that expanded my entire perspective on this program. 

Check out my list of books related to France HERE.

Follow My France Board on Pinterest.


Review: Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita

Title: Flunked
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School #1
Author: Jen Calonita
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 256 
ISBN: 149260156X
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):


Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run- down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).
Until she gets caught.

Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School- where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

There’s a boy up there, standing on the crystal chandelier! He has slightly curly blond hair and is wearing a uniform—­a navy sweater vest over a white shirt with khaki pants—­but his boots are muddy. He’s stepping on priceless crystals with cruddy boots? Is he insane?
“Jax! What are you doing up there?” Kayla whispers heatedly.
“I’m cleaning the crystal for Flora,” Jax says and rolls his eyes. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making
a break for it.”
Kayla applauds. “Yay! This time I know you can do it.”
I shade my eyes from the light bursting through the stained-­glass window next to the chandelier Jax is perched on. “Busting out? Why?” I ask Kayla. “I thought you said this place was cool.”
Jax laughs loudly and looks at me. I feel slightly stunned. I’ve never seen violet eyes before. “FTRS was fun for a while, but strange things have started happening and I don’t want to be here when something bad goes down.”
Strange things? What kind of strange things? Why does Kayla suddenly look pale?
“He’s exaggerating,” Kayla tells me, but she doesn’t sound convincing.
Drip. Whatever Jax is holding is leaking. Kayla and I move out of the way so we don’t get wet. “Grease,” Jax explains to me. “It lubes the window.” He swings the chandelier, and as it nears the window, he uses a fork to try to pry the window open. “A few more tries and I’ll have it.”
“Then what are you going to do, genius?” I ask. “You’re two stories up.”
Jax’s eyes gleam. “I’ve jumped from higher spots before.”
“It’s true,” Kayla says to me. “Jax once jumped from the gym to the dining hall turret. That was three stories up. We call him the Escape Artist. One time he even managed to break into Azalea and Dahlia’s rooms and borrowed their keys to the indoor pool so the whole dorm could take a midnight swim.”
“Impressive,” I tell him. “And I thought I was good at tricking obnoxious royals.”
“She stole a dragon’s tooth clip from one this morning,” Kayla fills him in.
“Nice,” Jax says. “Your first pull?”
“No, I’ve been doing it for a while,” I brag.
“Me too,” Jax says. “My father is a farmer. You can only get so far trading vegetables. I needed to kick things up a notch.”
For some reason, I don’t think any of us are going to make the transformation Headmistress Flora is looking for. “Why do you want to break out so bad?”
“I’ve got places to see, and Enchantasia isn’t one of them.” Jax swings the chandelier so hard the crystals clang together. The window latch pops open, and I watch Jax leap from the chandelier to the tiny window ledge. I’m in awe. Jax looks down at us smugly before pushing open the window. “Are you sure you two don’t want to join me?”
“There’s no time for us,” Kayla says. “Get out of here. Wait!” Her eyes widen. “You deactivated the alarm on the window, right?”
“There isn’t one,” Jax insists. “If there was, I wouldn’t be able to do this.” But when Jax lifts the window, we hear:
EEEEEE! EEEE! EEEE! Unauthorized exit! Unauthorized exit!
The shrieking sound is so intense that Kayla and I cover our ears. Within seconds, Flora is out of her office and running toward us.
I feel something brush past me and I whirl around. When I look up at Jax again, a large, muscular man with a long mane of hair is hanging on to the window ledge, his furry hands pulling Jax back by his shirt. How did the man get up there without a ladder?

“Mr. Jax,” the man says in a low growl, “we really must stop meeting like this.”

Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls and Summer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle grade series. 

She rules Long Island, New York with husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World. 

She’d love for you to drop her a line at jencalonitaonline.com or keep the fairy tale going at http://books.sourcebooks.com/enchantasia/

Ever wonder what happened to the evil step-monster in Cinderella? Or perhaps the Evil Queen from Snow White or the Big Bad Wolf? Chances are, they've attempted to turned their lives around. Imagine Cinderella's castle and Hogwarts had a child...it would be the Fairy Tale Reform School. Ran by Cinderella's ex evil step-mother, the school is a place to help the creatures of fairy tales set on the right path.

Gilly lives in a boot with her family. She has developed a habit of stealing to help feed them, and after being caught one too many times, she is sent to the reform school. This is the school's 5th anniversary, and there will be a ball that all the Royals will be attending. During preparation, Gilly begins noticing some shady behaviors and mysterious happenings that cause her and her friends to set out to save the school.

If you love storybook legends, magic, and charming humor, you'll get sucked into the world of Enchantasia. There were a lot of times I laughed because the writing is very witty. The main characters were great, and I enjoyed watching their personalities unravel. The secondary characters do seem a bit underdeveloped, but this is a short Middle Grade book, so I had to lower my expectations. However, some of the scenes left more to be desired. I wanted the world around me to be built a little more, but the environment lacked detail. For the size and audience it isn't that big of a deal, but I would have enjoyed those elements being added into the story.

This is a charming book, and it's a very light, quick read. I look forward to the sequel!