First STAR IN THE FOREST review!

Hey everyone!

Slowly but surely, I'm recovering from this flu. No fever now, but a lingering cough which kept waking me up last night. I might have to resort to the oregano-garlic-honey-chamomile tea that my Oaxacan friends recommend... of course then, I'd smell like a walking head of garlic at my book release tomorrow. Hmm.

Today I'm going to go out and buy a bunch of food and some supplies for little party favors I want to make. I'm so excited!!

Today and tomorrow, The Indigo Notebook is featured on Athena's Book Review, a great young adult blog by Minnie-- a very cool educator and writer and avid reader living in south Texas. She asked excellent questions for today's interview, plus a bunch of fun fact questions at the end (in which you can learn about how disgusting the inside of my car is and other random things...)

I'm excited that the first review of Star in the Forest has come in... and I'm so grateful that it's a good one. This is my first foray into middle grade fiction (ages 8-11) AND my first book that's set in my home state of Colorado (although there are some flashbacks to a Nahuatl village in Puebla, Mexico). This is a very special book to me-- it was inspired by some wonderful kids I know on both sides of the border.

As I wrote it, I was wrapped up in this intense feeling, utterly absorbed in the story the entire time... I don't know how to explain it-- I felt this sense of urgency. It's rare for me to feel that way throughout the entire writing process of a book-- with my other books, there have always been days when the writing was a bit torturous. But with Star, I felt completely swept away in the flow (and was sweating profusely much of the time... which to me is a good sign... it means I'm absolutely THERE inside the story.)

Here's an excerpt of the review, from the highly-respected librarian Richie Partington of Richie's Picks:

"One of the coolest things readers will take away from STAR IN THE FOREST has to do with giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I don't want to give the story away, but I'll say that the author sets it up so perfectly that when we meet a particular character far into the book, he is definitely and immediately the object of our anger. How could he do what he's done? But then we hear his side of things and find that we are totally wrong about him. Don't you totally hate it when someone treats you that way? And isn't that how prejudice and intolerance spreads -- we make judgements before really getting to know someone -- or a group of someones, like Mexican immigrants who are in our country without proper paperwork?

I love Laura Resau's RED GLASS, which was on my Best of 2007 list. (I was delighted to see that it has since made Oprah's list for 12-and-up kids, and has been winning all sorts of state awards.) But I think Resau has done something even bigger here. I find it a much rarer discovery to come across such an important-yet-sweet book that will be embraced by third, fourth, fifth and even sixth graders, one that deals so incredibly well -- on a level appropriate for younger readers -- with issues of friendship and poverty and borders and of not making assumptions about people you don't really know." -- Richie Partington

You can read the entire review here. Thank you, Richie!

It's interesting-- several of the things Richie likes best about the story are things that were developed after my editor Stephanie, and her assistant, Krista, gave me their suggestions. They were relatively minor suggestions, but they really added depth and tied together the storylines to bring out the themes. Thanks, Stephanie and Krista! (And if I'm thanking them, I can't leave out my mom and my writing group, who helped me take my editors' suggestions and run with them...)

Thanks for reading!