Category Archives: Best Middle Grade Books

ATTENTION HOLIDAY SHOPPERS…

Considering a copy of Deadweather and Sunrise or New Lands as a holiday gift?

You should! Seriously. These books are AMAZING, and I’m not just saying that because I get royalties.

And if you are…why not make that gift EXTRA-SUPER-SPECIAL by having it signed and personalized to your friend/loved one/person-you-got-stuck-with-in-the-Secret-Santa-drawing?

Because for a limited time only, I will autograph and personalize as many books as you want FOR FREE!

Well, not exactly. That would be kind of a hassle (although if you’re dead set on it, and/or live within a five-block radius of my apartment, email me and maybe we can work something out).

But what I WILL do for free is send you a personalized, autographed Chronicles of Egg book plate that you can affix to the inside of your copy!

It’ll be almost exactly like my having signed the book itself, and it’ll look something like this:

IMG_0841Nice, right? Do you like the “Get hooked” catch phrase? And the little drawing of a hook? There’s no extra charge for those.

Also, for those of you unclear on the concept of “book plate,” it’s basically a fancy sticker. You can peel off the back and stick it pretty much anywhere you want. Most people choose the interior title page, but it’ll stick to anything, so if you’d rather put it on a notebook, refrigerator, the back of an unsuspecting victim, etc…have at it. I’m not going to judge you.

And again: THIS IS FREE, and I’ll send as many book plates as you have books to stick them in. Just send a mailing address and the first name of the recipient to geoff@geoffrodkey.com and I’ll hook you up.

Do it by 4pm on December 18th, and I guarantee delivery in time for Christmas!

Any later than that, and I will guarantee delivery by Martin Luther King Day. (For which the Chronicles of Egg books would also make a fine, if somewhat inexplicable, gift.)

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brand! New! Covers!

The Chronicles of Egg books are about to get a whole lot more awesome:

EGG_HQNot that they weren’t already awesome.

And I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover.

But still. These are pretty great. Especially the new Deadweather cover.

Incidentally, if you don’t already own Deadweather and Sunrise and New Lands, YOU NEED TO BUY THEM RIGHT NOW (preferably by clicking one of the “Get the Books!” links on the right side of the page).

Because pretty soon, the first edition covers will be gone for good.

Which means they are going to be ENORMOUSLY VALUABLE COLLECTOR’S ITEMS.

(I hope.)

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 6 Comments

Things I Wrote When I Was Fifteen…

I’ve been visiting a lot of elementary and middle schools lately to talk about writing, which turns out to be the secret, practically-full-time job of most middle grade writers.

I say “secret,” because when I first got Deadweather and Sunrise published, nobody told me that the only way kids will realize your book even exists is if you show up at their school with a PowerPoint presentation.

But it is, and so I do.

One of things I talk about is how I got my start: by writing humor pieces for my high school newspaper, starting with an article I wrote as a sophomore about how I couldn’t understand why, just once, Wile E. Coyote couldn’t catch, kill, and eat the Roadrunner.

A bunch of kids have asked if they can read the article, so here it is. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it good…but to be fair, it WAS written by a 15-year-old:

Roadrunner1985 2

 

Incidentally, the front page of that same issue is below, and it’s worth a look for a couple of reasons:

PretzNewsheader1985 2

First, do you see the pretzel in the upper left corner?

That was our mascot.

Our mascot was a pretzel.

We were The Pretzels.

We had “Pretzel Pride.”

The weirdest thing about it? Nobody in my high school thought it was weird.

Second…take a look at that headline over the lead article. See anything amiss?

Apparently, we were a little short in the “Pretzel Proofreading” department.

Posted in Appearances, Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 15 Comments

Deadweather and Sunrise: The Stop-Motion Lego Trailer

This is just crazy great: a trailer for Deadweather and Sunrise, made in stop motion…using Legos…in a 13-year-old’s basement.

Many, many thanks to the awesome Natalia Zeller MacLean for making this.

If your browser chokes on the plugin, try clicking here:

Deadweather and Sunrise Movie Trailer

And if that doesn’t work, feel free to leave a little sad-face emoticon in the comments section. :(

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 7 Comments

Why I Love The Germans

Two words: PROMOTIONAL SKULLS.

Dreckswetter_Schädel2

 

I think my 13-year-old put it best:

“This book is going to do really well in Germany.”

With special thanks to Katja of the Coffee and Books blog and the Eckermann Buchhandlung in Weimar, Germany.73150645

Which, incidentally, might just be the world’s cutest bookstore.

Just look at it!

It’s like a gingerbread house!

Full of skulls.

Thanks also to my German publisher, Carlsen, for sending out all the skulls.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 4 Comments

Go see Adam Gidwitz! (Or at least read his books!)

Like most writers facing deadlines, I spent yesterday not writing. This was probably stupid of me, but it sure was fun–especially because I got to spend the time sitting in on a presentation Adam Gidwitz gave to my kid’s sixth grade class.

Adam’s the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm and its sequels, In a Glass Grimly and The Grimm Conclusion,imgres the last of which comes out next week. They’re retellings of classic Grimm’s fairy tales that–unlike the familiar, watered-down versions–are scary, bloody, gruesome…and therefore MUCH more appealing to kids like mine.

The books are also hilarious, engaging, and just all-around fun–which is equally true of Adam’s public appearances. I have, in all sincerity, never seen a more captivated audience of kids than the one that laughed, screamed, and applauded through Adam’s retelling of the original version of Cinderella — in which there are chamber pots, knives, pecked-out eyes, and many, many more scary/funny/cool parts than I ever knew existed in that story.

Raise your hand if that sounds awesome:IMG_0735

See?

AND HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS — Adam’s heading out on a book tour, and if you live in New York City, San Francisco, Oregon, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, or Rhode Island, YOU CAN SEE HIM, TOO! Click here for dates and details.

And if you’re in NYC this Friday night, October 4th, definitely come by BookCourt in Brooklyn at 7pm to hear Adam retell more gruesome fairy tales.

My kids are very excited about it–which, if you know my kids, is a real accomplishment.

How much will your kids love it? THIS much! IMG_0727

Posted in Appearances, Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Endangered Authors Tour | 1 Comment

Best Panel Discussion Ever!

Someone just sent me a photo of the awesomest panel discussion I’ve ever had the honor of participating in, along with Sonia Manzano (aka Maria from Sesame Street), Newbery Award winner (for The One and Only Ivan) Katherine Applegate, and fantastic moderator/MG author Nan Marino (Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace).

You’re going to have to take my word for it that it was awesome, because the photo makes it look like Sonia’s angry, Katherine’s nodding off, and I’m staring down a heckler just offstage:

Brooklyn Book Fest

 

I’m not exactly sure what made this particular panel (at last week’s Brooklyn Book Festival) so much awesomer than the usual.

It may have been the inspirational quality of Sonia’s story–both how she got her start as a writer on Sesame Street and what led her to create the fascinating and moving The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, set in Spanish Harlem in 1969. 

It might also have been Nan’s uncanny ability to pose questions that alternately evoked thoughtful answers and provided the perfect setup to punch lines.

Or it could have been Katherine’s willingness, within five minutes of meeting me, to make fun of my bad parenting skills in front of a large group of strangers.

In any case, it was fantastic. If you were there, thanks for coming! If you missed it, please contact your local book festival and demand that they book the four of us. Katherine’s up for it, too:

And a special thanks to outstanding Penguin publicist Marisa Russell, who not only managed to convince the Brooklyn Book Festival people that I belonged in such esteemed company, but also took the following (and much less angry/sleepy/heckled-looking) shot of the four of us post-panel: IMG_7431[1]

ETA: Click here for Nan’s take on the event, which is full of both A) applied math and B) surprises. (Nan: you were a pro! I never once got the sense that you were thinking about making a run for it. Although, now that I think of it, that would have made the whole thing EVEN MORE memorable.)

Posted in Appearances, Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series | 2 Comments

How (Not) To Talk Like A Pirate

This Thursday, September 19th, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day — a fake but increasingly popular holiday of which I’ve been vaguely aware for a number of years, and which I used to think was totally ridiculous.

Then I wrote The Chronicles of Egg, and I suddenly realized International Talk Like A Pirate Day was absolutely brilliant!

tlapdbanner2 By “absolutely brilliant,” of course, I mean “a marketing opportunity.” There are, after all, quite a lot of pirates in the Egg books, and nearly all of them talk.

Except for Mung, who lost part of his skull to a cannonball and can only gurgle incoherently. Which is admittedly kind of disturbing, although if you’ve read Deadweather and Sunrise, I think you’ll agree Mung’s shown great fortitude in living with his disability, and on the whole maintains a very positive, even charming, demeanor.

But I digress.

The thing is, marketing middle grade kids’ books–even critically acclaimed ones that adults love as much as kids–is HARD. Even when you’re blessed with incredibly fortunate alphabetization (“Rodkey” just happens to be conveniently wedged between “Riordan” and “Rowling” on the shelves), it’s tough to get the attention of potential readers.

So when an obvious hook (there’s a pun to be had here, but I’m too lazy to develop it) like International Talk Like A Pirate Day presents itself, only a fool would overlook it.

Hence this post, which began with a flurry of research. Talk Like a Pirate Day (or TLAPD, as its founders call it) has quite an interesting history, which you can read about here, and which involves a racquetball court, somebody’s ex-wife, and humorist Dave Barry.

It turns out Dave Barry was the key to the whole thing. TLAPD started as a private joke between a couple of guys in Oregon, and it probably would’ve stayed that way forever if Dave hadn’t publicized it in his syndicated column back in 2002, at which point TLAPD’s popularity exploded.

(Actually, now I’m thinking that if I can just get Dave Barry to plug The Chronicles of Egg in his column, all my marketing problems will be solved. If you know how I can get in touch with Dave Barry, PLEASE EMAIL ME.)

Some further digging into the TLAPD site revealed a glossary of the appropriate jargon to use when Talking Like A Pirate. And this is where the trouble started.

Because none of the pirates in The Chronicles of Egg talk like pirates are supposed to.

In the course of three books (Blue Sea Burning comes out April 3rd), NOBODY SAYS “ARRRR!” Not even once.

No one ever gets called “matey,” or “lubber,” or “me hearty.”

There is not a single exclamation of “Avast!” or “Shiver me timbers!”

Worst of all, when the verb “to be” is deployed, it tends to be in grammatically correct situations–as opposed to, say, “I be thirsty fer grog!”

(There’s also no grog. But that’s a whole other story.)

So how DO the pirates in The Chronicles of Egg talk? Here’s a short excerpt from Deadweather and Sunrise, in which our 13-year-old hero, the unfortunately named Egg Masterson, first encounters the infamous pirate Burn Healy:

“By strange coincidence,” said Healy, “I’ve just come from a meeting with a very powerful man. And your name came up.”

As my chest started to thump with fear, he reached back and plucked a piece of stiff paper from his desk. He studied it with a frown.

“Do you know what this man asked me to do if I saw you?”

He slid the paper across the table to me. I didn’t have to look at it to know what it was.

“He asked me to kill you.”deadweathersmall

I didn’t know where to put my eyes — on the wanted poster with my face staring up at me, or on the pirate captain staring at me from the other side of the table.

I settled for staring at my hands. I wondered if I could ask him to shoot me instead of throwing me overboard. It’d be over faster that way.

“Don’t worry — I’m not going to.”

I looked up. There was a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth.

“I do a volume business. Five thousand silver’s not enough to get me out of bed. Can’t say the same for most men, though. And hats off to you.” He tapped the wanted poster with his finger. “Murderer or not, that’s quite a price for a fruit picker’s boy. Why is that? Is it the company you keep? Or is it something else?”

See what I mean? Not a lot to work with there, arrr-and-matey-wise.

So I guess there’s no angle in this for me. Even so, take the time this Thursday to talk like a pirate. It’s completely ridiculous, but it’s fun.

And if it’s not too much trouble, please tell everybody you know to pick up a copy of Deadweather and Sunrise. You’ll find it in the kids’ section, right between the Riordans and the Rowlings:

imagesdeadweathersmallimgres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Too much? I know. Sorry! Couldn’t resist.)

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 8 Comments

More Fun With Foreign Covers

For those of you who enjoyed my post a while back about the various foreign covers of Deadweather and Sunrise, a couple of things worth mentioning:

First of all, Mrs. Hembree over at Bulldog Readers is running a poll asking readers which of the foreign covers they like best. Head over and vote!

Especially if you want to see the “this-could-just-as-easily-be-the-cover-of-a-Nordic-death-metal-album” German cover dominate the puffy-shirted, “we-wandered-out-of-a-Matisse-painting-and-seem-none-too-happy-about-it” kids on the French cover.

Or the “I’m-sorry-I-was-under-the-impression-this-was-a-Disney-cartoon-from-the-’90s” Spanish cover. Or even the “where-did-this-Goth-vampire-come-from?” British cover.

Second, the Bulldog poll unfortunately went up 24 hours too early to include the new Israeli cover, which just arrived in my inbox yesterday. Check it out:

Harpatkaot_EG

I like this one a lot, partly because it manages to convey a sense of humor along with adventure.

And partly because Millicent’s holding a gun, which we could NEVER get away with on a U.S. cover.

Like I said, the Israeli cover showed up too late to be included in the Bulldog poll, but you can always cast a write-in vote in the Bulldog comments section.

I’d do it, but I already voted.  (Guess which cover I voted for?)

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 2 Comments

More Excerpts From My Personal Correspondence

Dear _____,

Hello! I notice that in your latest blog post (http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2013/07/books-of-june.html), the list of recent books you’ve read includes The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geraldine McCaughrean.

Are you quite certain Geraldine wrote that book? Because I believe I did.

Unless Geraldine ALSO wrote a book called The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise. Which would be a rather extraordinary coincidence — and in which case, could you please let me know how I could get a copy? I would be fascinated to read it, and a perfunctory Google search only yields editions of Deadweather which were written by me.

In the event that this was a mistake of attribution, and you did in fact read the Deadweather and Sunrise that I wrote, I’d suggest (per your stated request for good book recommendations) checking out its sequel, New Lands. It is quite a good book!

Although to be honest, I’m not only biased on the subject, but I have a financial interest in making such a recommendation. So take it with a grain of salt.

If, again, this was not a mistake of attribution, please let me know if Geraldine is planning any sequels, and whether any of them are also called New Lands.

Have a great day!

Best wishes,

geoff rodkey

[ETA: Upon receipt of this email, the blog’s author corrected her original post. Which, while very gracious, was actually kind of a shame, because it renders this whole post totally pointless. Not that it wasn’t already.]

[ETA 2: The blog’s author, Charity Beasley – which I half-suspect is a pseudonym borrowed from a P.G. Wodehouse novel – just published our full correspondence here: http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2013/07/letters-from-mr-rodkey.html. Worth a look, if only to get Charity’s perspective on the matter.]

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 1 Comment

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part Three

Today’s letter is the first one I ever sent to my kid at summer camp.

Although technically, it wasn’t camp. But it was pretty much the same thing: the first time he ever went a way for an extended trip, when he spent two weeks at his grandmother’s apartment in Paris.

(I know! Nice, right? Too bad it’s only a 300-square foot studio, and she’s not willing to put up anyone bigger than a 10-year-old…which was my kid’s age when I sent this to him.)

 

Subject: Re: Paris

Date: July 1, 2010 6:59:13 AM EDT

Xxxx [again, not his real name]:

Thank you so much for the update!  It is very good to get emails from you.  I was also relieved to hear that you fixed the problem with the flip video.

Now I have a problem that I am hoping you can help me with.  Since you’ve been gone, no one has left their underwear on the bathroom floor.  You might not think this seems like much of a problem, and when you left for Paris, neither did I.

But to my surprise, I have discovered that if I don’t have to remove dirty underwear from the bathroom floor every evening, my life feels strangely empty and lacking in purpose.  I have tried to leave my own underwear on the bathroom floor and then remove it later, but it’s just not the same.

I spent most of last night lying awake in bed trying solve this problem, and I have come up with two potential solutions.

First, would it be all right with you if I took some underwear from your bedroom and left it on the bathroom floor for a while before picking it up and taking it to the laundry room?  Before you answer, consider the fact that — and I am not certain of this, but I strongly suspect it — for my life to feel truly purpose-driven, the underwear must be dirty.  Which means I will have to make one of your brothers wear it around for a while beforehand (I would wear it, but I am too big; and I would ask your mother, but she is too picky about her underthings). I assume you would prefer that Zzzz wears the underwear and not Yyyy.

If you do not approve of this, there is a second option.  I believe that if I take the phone into the bathroom at the usual hour of 8pm, call you, and yell at you to come pick up your underwear, my life might feel just as meaningful as if you and your dirty underwear were actually present.  Given the time difference, I’d be calling at 2am Paris time.  Would this be all right?

I realize it is something of an imposition to call you in the middle of the night, but to make it worth your time, while we’re on the phone I could also yell other things — not just the obvious “Xxxx, will you PLEASE hang up your towel?” but also things like “Get your shoes on!”, “Seriously, you HAVE to get off the computer now!”, “Stop touching Zzzz!”, and “Are you listening to me?!  What did I just say?”

Thanks in advance for helping me with this.  You are a good son.

I hope you’re having a great time!  Has Grandma taken you to see the view of Paris from the steps of the Sacre-Coeur yet?  I know I can’t pronounce that name, but I believe I spelled it correctly.

Love,

Dad

 

Tragically, this may be the end of the series — at least until my kid gets to camp next week and I start sending him letters again — because while I have more of them, the quality tails off pretty dramatically after this.

But you can always re-read the first two! They’re here:

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part One

Letters To My Kid At Summer Camp, Part Two

And if you’re hungry for quality reading material, there’s always The Chronicles of Egg series! Which you can purchase by clicking one of the links under “Get the Books!” on the right-hand menu. Or, for more information, click on the “About The Chronicles of Egg” link on the top menu.

Or just email me and ask for a free copy. I probably won’t send you one, but you never know.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 3 Comments

The Germans are NOT fooling around

I’d been wondering what the deal was with the German edition of Deadweather and Sunrise, because I hadn’t heard anything about it in the more than two years since the rights sold to the lovely people at Carlsen. 9782021089677

Which is a pretty long time–I mean, the French rights didn’t sell until almost a year after that, and Le Trésor des Okalus has been available in fine French bookstores (and hopefully the less fine ones, too) for a couple of months now.

The lack of news from Germany was actually starting to worry me. Not to engage in cultural stereotyping, but you wouldn’t ordinarily think the Germans would take second place to the French in the speed-and-efficiency department.

Turns out I shouldn’t have worried. Apparently, Carlsen just needed the extra time to get a running start at the truly Teutonic levels of Sturm and Drang that are going on with this cover: German cover

Seriously! Right? I mean, if covers could talk…

Hey, let’s imagine they can. Here’s what I’m figuring is on their minds:

las-cronicas-de-egg_11814

 

Spanish cover: Wheeee! What an adventure!

 

 

 

 

9782021089677

 

 

 

French cover: Ah, bonjour! Let us bake a cake!

 

 

 

German cover

 

 

 

German cover: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.

 

 

 

Dreckswetter und Morgenröte won’t be out until October 2nd — which is probably a good thing, because it’s going to take a while for the schoolchildren of Germany to prepare themselves for the onslaught.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 4 Comments

The Chronicles of Egg: Now Internationally Awesome

What’s that you say? Can’t get enough of The Chronicles of Egg? Tired of re-reading the first two books while pining for the release of Blue Sea Burning next April? 

Why not try reading it in Turkish? Or Italian! Or French! Or Spanish!

Not that you would. But you could! Just look at these:

9782021089677 las-cronicas-de-egg_11814 Mortaria images


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You could even read it in British English, which is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE!

Okay, that’s not actually true. The text of the U.K. editions is basically the same, except for a couple of innocent-seeming American words that turn out to be totally filthy in England… But the covers make them look like a whoooole different series: 

UK cover NewLandsArt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy, right? I mean, are these really the same books as these?

Deadweather_and_Sunrise pb art New Lands cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, yeah. They are. Covers are funny things.

Speaking of funny things, if you haven’t seen the Turkish TV ad for Deadweather and Sunrise, it’s worth checking out.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 10 Comments

NEW LANDS has nearly landed…

New Lands, the second book in The Chronicles of Egg trilogy, arrives in stores on Thursday, and it’s REALLY GOOD.

Just ask Kirkus Reviews:New Lands cover

“Occasionally gruesome, often funny and full of suspense, this one is sure to win Egg some new fans.”

Or Examiner.com:

“…fantastic characters and non-stop action…very difficult to put down…like riding a racing locomotive downhill with no brakes…”

Or this review from an actual kid!:

New Lands is a MUST read book… I don’t want to give away the secret Egg discovers in the Okalu temple, but I didn’t see it coming and it made me so happy…all my friends at school can’t wait to read!

Take it from the kid–get a copy today from…

Your favorite indie book store via Indiebound!

Or Barnes & Noble! Or Amazon!

Or, if you live in NYC, you can drop by the Strand on 12th Street, where last Friday they had two New Lands hardcovers in stock for $8.50. Which is annoying, for like five different reasons. But don’t get me started.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 1 Comment

How To Lose A Major Literary Award

The winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize was just announced in London, and as I predicted on the day the shortlist came out, Deadweather and Sunrise got its scruffy little butt kicked by R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.imgres

Earlier this morning, my British editor emailed me to request that I write an acceptance speech for her to deliver on my behalf at the announcement ceremony in the event that I won.

While I more or less knew this was a complete waste of time (I mean, have you read Wonder? It is heartbreaking), I complied. Because, really, who wants to let down their British editor? I feel lucky to even have a British editor.

But as I wallow in the bitter tears of defeat, it occurs to me that, well, I have this blog…the whole point of which is to post things that are a complete waste of time. So here’s the speech my British editor never had to give on my behalf:

TO BE READ IN THE EVENT OF MY WINNING THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE

I am flattered, honored, eternally grateful, and thoroughly convinced that you are all out of your minds.

I can only hope that you do not come to your senses until tomorrow morning at the earliest, so that I can enjoy the spectacle of reading more headlines like the one that appeared in the Telegraph when Deadweather and Sunrise was first short-listed. That particular headline, “Beavis and Butt-head Writer Short-Listed For Literary Award,” provided me no end of joy — irrespective of how relatively minor my two co-written episodes of Beavis and Butt-head were in the context of that show’s several hundred OTHER episodes, none of which I had anything to do with.

This honor also comes as a great relief from a purely nativist perspective. For nearly as long as the United States of America has existed, our domestic writers have received the lion’s share of the blame for the decay of English-language culture, while the United Kingdom has held itself up as the last bastion of eloquence and civility in an increasingly barbarous world.

Having grown up watching repeats of The Young Ones, listening to the Sex Pistols, and quoting Monty Python’s Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nudge sketch from memory, I have never fully understood this affectation.

Which is why it gives me great pleasure to see that you stepped over such a touching and frankly high-class work of genuine, American-bred art as R.J. Palacio’s Wonder in order to recognize a book in which unpleasant young boys employ foul language while bashing each other on the head with cannonballs.

This seems, at long last, to be incontrovertible evidence that Western civilization’s headlong rush off a cliff and into an apocalyptic abyss is, while still arguably America’s fault, at least being abetted by our more putatively cultured forbears across the Atlantic.

In all seriousness, folks, thanks much. If I seriously believed I had a snowball’s chance in Bermuda of winning this award, I would have spent more than three minutes composing my speech. I might even have gotten on a plane to deliver it. If you get a chance, please send an email and let me know if the canapés would have been worth the price of a ticket.

And please do let all the schoolteachers and librarians in the U.K. know that I’m available for school visits and Skype talks.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Geoff Rodkey

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Less Than Completely Serious | 3 Comments

The Chronicles of Egg blog tour!

So, this is exciting: Deadweather and Sunrise comes out in paperback on Tuesday, and to mark the occasion, I’m going on a blog tour!

How special is this? Special enough to have its own logo!

Egg - Horizontaltourbutton

Those of you who are new to the world of middle-grade book marketing may be asking yourselves what a “blog tour” is. Turns out it’s exactly like Led Zeppelin’s 1977 tour of America, only without the, um…or the, y’know…and definitely none of the, uh…

Okay, it’s got nothing in common with Zeppelin in ’77. Or even Bieber in ’12. The truth is, I’m not even leaving my desk to go on this tour, although I might play Physical Graffiti while I type. Not sure yet.

What the blog tour REALLY is…is an eleven-day virtual tour of eleven different middle grade and YA book blogs — all of them run by thoroughly awesome bloggers to whom I am very grateful for the hospitality. (In this respect, the blog tour actually IS kind of like a fledgling punk band’s van tour, because I will be effectively sleeping on these fine bloggers’ virtual couches for the duration.)

Each day, I’ll visit a new site, write a guest post, and give away a signed copy of the Deadweather paperback. The posts will cover all manner of topics relating to Deadweather and the rest of the Chronicles of Egg series: character spotlights, origin stories, writing insights, and even a sneak peek at book 2, New Lands, which arrives in stores on May 2nd.

Here’s the full schedule, which I’ll update every time a new post appears. In the meantime, check out the sites! They’re awesome:

Tuesday, March 5th: Green Bean Teen Queen “Meet Egg Masterson”

also Tuesday: special bonus author Q&A at Bibliognome!

Wednesday, March 6th: Wanted Readers — “A Tale of Two Islands”

Thursday, March 7th: The Write Path — “Percy: The World’s Worst Tutor”Egg - verticaltourbutton

Friday, March 8th: I Read Banned Books — “The Story Behind Deadweather and Sunrise”

Monday, March 11th: A Thousand Wrongs — “Meet Millicent”

Tuesday, March 12th: Geo Librarian — “Action Sequences: Like Jokes, Only With More Blood”

Wednesday, March 13th: Chaos Is a Friend of Mine — “Meet Guts”

Thursday, March 14th: Buried in Books “Q&A With the Author”

Friday, March 15th: Book Sake — “Meet Roger Pembroke”

Monday, March 18th: Shannon Messenger — “Not Funny At All: The Real History of the Pirates of the Caribbean”

Tuesday, March 19th: There’s A Book — “An Excerpt From New Lands (Book 2 of the Chronicles of Egg)”

Some of these are real keepers, by the way. See you next week! Virtually, I mean.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 10 Comments

Deadweather and Sunrise: a great read at any age

Now that there’s a critical mass of Deadweather and Sunrise fan testimonials on Youtube (and by “critical mass,” I mean two), I thought I’d collect them in this handy anthology.

Taken together, they’re strong evidence that while the Chronicles of Egg books are being marketed as middle grade, there’s no such thing as too young or too old to enjoy the series. Augie and Bruno loved Deadweather even though, at six and seven, they were young enough to have it read aloud to them.

And the older teenage girl who goes by the Youtube handle TheOtakuSakura15 is adamant that Deadweather is “both a kids’ book and a teen book,” and a thoroughly satisfying read even if your tastes are more YA than middle grade (“the romance is…ohmygosh, it’s PERFECTLY balanced…”).

I’ve also lost count of the number of adults who told me they bought the book for their kids, only to wind up reading it themselves and loving it. None of them have posted a Youtube video (yet), but most had a similar reaction to that of the stay-at-home mom in New Jersey who wrote, “It’s a wonder I cooked any meals or did any laundry once I started reading the book. It is just so much fun! I found myself sneaking time to read it any chance I could, staying up late to finish a chapter, and then another…”

Nice, right? It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon — Deadweather and Sunrise comes out in paperback on Tuesday, and its sequel, New Lands, arrives May 2nd.

No matter how old you are, you’ll like them. I promise.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 1 Comment

Why I Love The British

So, this is exciting: Deadweather and Sunrise was just shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the U.K.

I am, as you can imagine, honored, flattered, and beyond certain that when it comes time to pick an actual winner, I’m going to get curb-stomped in the 5-to-12-year-old category. Probably by R.J. Palacio and Wonder, because everybody loves that book, and it’s hard to see how its deeply humane message of empathy and kindness could lose out to a story in which even the good kids aren’t above bashing each other in the head with cannonballs.imgres

(Although I do think there’s a great deal of incisive social commentary buried in the pages of Deadweather and Sunrise, not to mention some rather piquant observations on the human condition as it pertains to 13-year-olds, so if you’re a Waterstones voter and you happen to be reading this, please don’t let my opinion prejudice you. Also: does Wonder REALLY need more publicity? I think not.)

But the absolutely coolest part of this news was the headline that England’s fourth-largest newspaper (yes, I googled that) chose to announce the shortlist:

“BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WRITER SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE 2013”

It would seem a curious editorial choice to elevate to headline status a minor, two-decade-old credit from just one of eighteen different writers on the shortlist.

Unless, of course, your sense of humor is keen enough–so keen, in fact, as to be positively British–that you not only notice the absurd juxtaposition of Beavis and Butt-head and a putative literary honor, but are willing to make that minor absurdity the main point of your story.

I think this might go a long way toward explaining why the British liked Deadweather and Sunrise enough to put it on the shortlist to begin with.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

I Would Send Rick Riordan a Fruit Basket…

…if only I knew his address. Because he keeps saying such nice things about Deadweather and Sunrise:

“Another brilliant middle grade debut, Geoff Rodkey’s Deadweather and Sunrise reads like Pirates of the Caribbean as written by Lemony Snicket. Our young hero Egg Masterson lives a miserable life on an ‘ugly fruit’ plantation until his father finds a mysterious parchment, which leads Egg on a dangerous quest with plenty of pirates, battles at sea, tricky twists of fate, and a beautiful plucky heroine named Millicent. A great mix of dry humor and good old-fashioned derring-do.”

Click here for prior instances of Rick Riordan saying nice things about The Chronicles of Egg.

At this point, all I really need is an efficient means of alerting the twenty million people who’ve enjoyed his books to the fact that Rick thinks they’d enjoy mine, too.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 3 Comments

Deadweather and Sunrise: The Turkish TV Ad

Every once in a great while, you come across something of such pure undiluted awesomeness that it cannot be explained. It must first be experienced. Like that baby panda sneezing on Youtube.

Or this:

 

Wow! Right? I mean, just…wow.

That was, as you’ve probably deduced from the title, an ad for the Turkish edition of Deadweather and Sunrise. I’m told it’s running on the Turkish versions of the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and the Cartoon Network.

Which immediately made me wonder just how cheap ad rates are on Turkish cable.

The enthusiasm of it is really something. That announcer sounds like he’s going to burst a vein in his neck. I have no idea what he’s saying, but he makes me want to log on to Turkish Amazon and buy a copy just to see what all the excitement’s about.

I will admit that the skeletons in pirate outfits gave me pause. While there are a couple of skeletons in the book, along with quite a few pirates, there are no actual instances of skeletons wearing pirate outfits. Nor, if such skeletons existed, would they be walking upright, in possession of live parrots, or given to flexing their knees like suburban housewives at an aerobics class.

Ultimately, it was the skeletons that convinced me I needed to get this thing translated.

As luck would have it, my son’s second-grade teacher is Turkish (this is one of the many benefits of sending your kid to an international school), and she was kind enough to translate the entire ad for me. Here’s the text of the voice-over:

Come on! Admit it!

You are dying to read other people’s diaries!

Especially if that diary is full of excitement and adventure!

You will love Egg’s diaries, too!

While you are reading, your heart will jump because in these diaries are mystery, murderous pirates, dangerous enemies, and a crazy young deckhand with one arm!

Non-stop entertainment! 

The first book of The Mysterious Diaries — The Fire King’s Treasure — presented by Epsilon Publishing House, your address for entertaining books — has come out!

Kind of interesting that The Chronicles of Egg is now The Mysterious Diaries. Particularly because there are no actual diaries in the book.

But I have to admit it’s a compelling hook: I actually am dying to read other people’s diaries, especially if they’re full of excitement and adventure.

These Turkish marketing people are pretty smart.

In fact, swapping out Deadweather and Sunrise for The Fire King’s Treasure is so smart it’s a little upsetting.

Don’t get me wrong. Deadweather and Sunrise is a fine title. Evocative, slightly mysterious, got a nice sort of lilt to it… But once I got the translation back, I ran it by my 12-year-old.

“So it turns out that, in Turkish, they’re calling it The Fire King’s Treasure.”

“Oh, geez, Dad!”

“What?”

“Why didn’t you call it that in English? That’s a much better title.”

This book is going to be huge in Turkey.

Posted in Best Adventure Books, Best Middle Grade Books, Best Middle Grade Series, Chronicles of Egg | 5 Comments