Q & A with Olivia Rivers with Giveaway!

Olivia Rivers—author of Tone Deaf—takes on the Sky Pony Q & A. Tone Deaf pubs May 3rd!

“The portrayal of Ali as Deaf is authentic and modern. She loves rock concerts for the vibrations and sensory pull of the crowd. She prefers to sign but exasperatedly reads the lips of people who talk fast or turn away as they talk. As Ali, Jace, and the band tour amid Amber alerts, surprising emotional connections are painfully forged and will resonate with young survivors of abuse, especially as Ali takes small steps toward recovery. VERDICT This gripping tale of survival has great appeal due to the parallel boy/girl narrative structure, the portrayal of a Deaf character at home in the realm of music and songwriting, and the overall pop culture tenor.” School Library Journal


 

Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I started writing YA because it’s for teens, and I’m a teen! Well, technically, I just turned 20, but for most of my writing career, I’ve been a teenager. I can naturally relate to my teen characters, so writing Contemporary YA was the perfect fit for me.

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading The Unbound, which is the second book in a YA Fantasy series by Victoria Schwab. It’s all sorts of spooky and awesome!

I’m also reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which is both ridiculously long and ridiculously good. I’ve always adored a good revenge tale, and Dumas is one of my favorite classic authors, so it’s a fabulous book all-around.

 

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Hmm . . . I think I’d be Buck from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. I don’t think it’s technically a children’s book, but I read and re-read that book probably a dozen times in grade school, and I continue to love the story. Buck always charmed me with how loyal and determined he acts, no matter how difficult things get for him. Plus, being a giant sled dog would just be pretty darn awesome!

 

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write? 

I’m lucky enough to have my own office nook at my house, so that’s where I do most of my writing. I have two bookshelves packed with books, but aside from that, not much decoration, since I kind of suck at the whole decoration thing. The room is an organized disaster zone, so it probably looks like a giant mess to most other people, but I know exactly where everything is. I just can’t function when things are neat and tidy! This is my desk, complete with my demonic chair-guardian, who is aptly named Diablo.

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

Okay, confession time: I’m really, really bad at watching movies. I get like fifteen minutes into them and my mind wanders and I find myself thinking about something entirely different. So I can’t claim to have a favorite classic movie, because I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through the entirety of one . . .

 

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

I already own my dream pet! His name is Romeo, and he’s an Italian Mastiff and my BFF. He’s also the inspiration for Cuddles in Tone Deaf, who’s a giant, lovable pit bull mutt. Here’s a picture of Romeo posing with a copy of Tone Deaf.

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Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

All of them. Together. Now, please?

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas! My family celebrates with a giant feast and lots and lots of baking, so I spend a bunch of time around Christmas in the kitchen.

 

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? 

I have a thing for simple smiley face emojis. I use them probably way, way too much, but I find them strangely addicting. 🙂

 

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Ali’s age?

I wanted to be a Sky Pony author! When I was 17, I’d just signed my contract with my agent and was about to go on sub with Tone Deaf. It was a crazy year—I was finishing up high school, starting college, and embarking on a writing career all at once!


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Tone Deaf

His world is music. Her world is silent.

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

 

Rivers, Olivia - Tone Deaf

Olivia Rivers is a hybrid author with a passion for young adult fiction. As a certified geek, she enjoys experimenting with new publishing technologies, and her online serials have received more than one million hits on Wattpad.com. When she’s not writing, Rivers works as a freelance digital artist and assists at a literary agency. She resides in Northern California.

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Stephanie Kate Strohm on Writing and Acting

The Taming of the Drew author, Stephanie Kate Strohm, blogs about writing and acting. Check it out below!


When I was four years old, my parents took me to see Peter Pan on Broadway, and I knew from the moment that Wendy Darling thought her first lovely thought and flew up to the nursery ceiling, that I was going to be an actress when I grew up.  I had the sort-of-confused thought that actors could fly, but more importantly, I knew that theater was magic, and I wanted to be part of the magic.  Flying, turns out, was not all it was cracked up to be—my own turn about the stage in a flying harness, many years later, left me more nauseated than anything else—but I was absolutely right about theater being magic.  I spent the rest of my adolescence in various theater camps, classes, and after-school programs, confident that my destiny was on stage.

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I never planned on becoming a writer.  I studied theater and history in college (acting as a career goal; nineteenth century American history for fun), and was cast in a touring production fairly soon after I graduated.  My theater experience doesn’t just influence my writing—it was the reason I became a writer.  While on tour, I started writing a blog to keep my friends and family back home informed on all of my adventures.  As the grind of tour began to wear on me, I came to look forward to my time alone in the hotel lobby with my blog and my laptop as the highlight of my day.  It was an escape from directors who said I wasn’t pretty if I didn’t smile and from the monotony of having to repeat someone else’s lines day after day.  This was right in the height of Twilight mania, and one day, in the middle of Indiana, I decided to try writing my own YA story.  Just for fun. And much to my surprise, I fell in love with writing.  I wrote backstage, in our tour van, in the bathroom of every Comfort Inn while my roommate slept.  I loved coming up with my own ideas and creating my own worlds instead of always living in someone else’s.   Writing felt like freedom, and I couldn’t get enough.

I don’t act professionally anymore, but my theatrical past has been an invaluable tool in my writing process.  I hear each line of dialogue like it’s part of a play, and it all has to pass the “would I say this on stage?” test.  If it sounds awkward, it’s out.  I listen for where the emphasis would be, where the laugh lines would be, where a scene might need a dramatic pause.  I might be a writer now, but I write like an actor.  And Stephanie Kate Strohm, YA author, is a role I love.

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 Taming of the Drew_REVISEDThe Taming of the Drew

Cass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.

But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.

The best kind of entertainment, The Taming of the Drew is smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.

 

strohmphotoStephanie Kate Strohm is the author of The Taming of the Drew, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture and the upcoming It’s Not Me, It’s You and Prince in Disguise. She graduated from Middlebury College with a dual degree in theater and history and has acted her way around the United States, performing in more than twenty-five states. She currently lives in Chicago with her fiance and a dog named Lorelei Lee.  Visit her online at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com, follow her on Twitter @stephkatestrohm, and like her on Facebook.

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Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd! To celebrate, check out some of Sky Pony’s environment-related books below!


Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles by Kate Louise, illustrated by Bethany Straker

9781632204110-frontcoverLike most dogs, Pierre, a French bulldog, loves the excitement of digging things up. He hoards his treasures in a hole in the backyard and then makes space for more. One day Pierre tosses some old stuff into the trash can, but he forgets to recycle. Now, instead of being transformed into new things, that plastic bottle and newspaper will sit in a landfill forever! Well, not if Pierre has anything to do with it. He chases the garbage truck through town, but will he catch it in time, or will those treasures be trash forever?

From author Kate Louise comes Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles—a quirky and fun lesson about the importance of recycling. Bethany Straker’s expressive illustrations make this adorable pup come to life on every page and are sure to get kids thinking about the importance of saving the environment one small piece of trash at a time.

A Weird and Wild Beauty by Erin Peabody

9781634502047-frontcoverThe summer of 1871, a team of thirty-two men set out on the first scientific expedition across Yellowstone. Through uncharted territory, some of the day’s most renowned scientists and artists explored, sampled, sketched, and photographed the region’s breathtaking wonders—from its white-capped mountain vistas and thundering falls to its burping mud pots and cauldrons of molten magma. At the end of their adventure, the survey packed up their specimens and boarded trains headed east, determined to convince Congress that the country needed to preserve the land from commercial development. They returned with “stories of wonder hardly short of fairy tales,” to quote the New York Times.

With the support of conservationists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, the importance of a national park was secured. On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Bill into law. It set aside over two million acres of one-of-a-kind wilderness as “a great national park for the benefit and enjoyment of people.” This important and fascinating book will introduce young adults to the astonishing adventure that led to “the best idea America ever had.” Today over 130 countries have copied the Yellowstone model, and billions of acres of critical habitat and spectacular scenery are being preserved for all of us to enjoy.

This book has a wonderful ecological and historical message for readers ages 12 and up. No book about Yellowstone’s founding has been written for this age group before, yet Yellowstone National Park is a major destination for many families, so many readers will likely have heard of Yellowstone or even have visited there. This is a great book for any school library or for history or science classrooms in middle and high school, where information can be used for research projects.

To Save the Earth by Jules Archer with Foreword by Erin Peabody

9781634501965-frontcoverWith today’s climate change, our environmental problems aren’t going away any time soon.

To Save the Earth looks at the lives of four extraordinary Americans who fought to save our earth. John Muir, a pioneer of conservationism, was the founder of our national park system. Rachel Carson, biologist and author, educated our country about the effects of pesticides and chemical waste. David McTaggart, the organizer of Greenpeace, introduced nonviolent protest into the struggle, while Dave Foreman, cofounder and former leader of the activist group Earth First!, shook up a movement that had grown complacent.

The biographies of each of these figures, as well as personal interviews with David McTaggart and Dave Foreman, help us to understand the environmental movement specific to the United States. With current issues of excessive pollution and climate change, this is an excellent resource for introducing young readers to the cause. Upon first publication, To Save the Earth was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection, and now, this fascinating and important book is back in print to teach a whole new generation of readers the importance of environmental conservation and preservation.

 

Stella and Steve Travel Through Space! by James Duffett-Smith

9781628738155-frontcoverDid you know that Jupiter is eleven times the size of Earth? The solar system is an incredible place that is still mostly unexplored. So, when Stella and her family move to a new town—where Stella has no friends except for her dog Steve—she goes exploring. In this educational book, travel across the solar system with Stella and Steve as Stella looks for a new home on another planet and imagines what life would be like on another world, from Mercury to Pluto. But along the way Stella learns that Venus has acid rain and Neptune is made mainly of gas, and she begins to wonder whether Earth might actually be the perfect home for her after all.

Featuring a fun and informational story from author James Duffett-Smith, and bold, comic book–style illustrations by Bethany Straker, Stella and Steve Travel through Space shows just how great the Earth is (while providing young children with an early science lesson) in a twist on “there’s no place like home.”

The Little Raindrop by Joanna Gray

9781628738216-frontcoverFrom cloud to puddle, and puddle to stream, the Little Raindrop is making its way on the remarkable journey that is Earth’s water cycle. In this inviting story—illustrated with pastels for a soft, full color—readers are taught about science and nature through a character-driven narrative that leads a little raindrop on a big adventure. With an easy-to-follow plot that teaches precipitation, water flow, and evaporation, The Little Raindrop offers a sweet story full of learning and discovery.

Featuring a heartwarming adventure from author Joanna Gray and beautiful pastel illustrations by Dubravka Kolanovic, The Little Raindrop takes readers on a fun and educational ride through the water cycle.

 

 

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Spring Has Sprung!

Whether it’s a rainy day and you’re stuck inside reading on the couch or out in the sunshine, reading in the sunlight, you can’t go wrong with these books by Nancy Cote:

9781620879917-frontcoverDixie Wants an Allergy by Tori Corn, illustrated by Nancy Cote

It’s Dixie’s first day of school, and some of her classmates are sharing details about their various allergies. Bridget tells of her wheat allergy and how she gets to order a special meal from restaurants. Dixie thinks that must be a really special meal! And Charlie had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance once due to his dairy allergy. Dixie thinks that must have been thrilling! Even Hannah gets to wear a fashionable bracelet due to her peanut allergy. Dixie races home and begins to eagerly search for the slightest sign of an allergy. After many failed attempts, Dixie discovers that she is allergic to something after all. But is getting what you wish for actually as exciting as it once appeared?

Watch the Cookie by Nancy Cote

9781629146300-frontcoverSam and Mousey are best friends, and Mousey is always looking up to Sam and following his lead. They do everything together and share everything, too. So when Sam surprises Mousey with a big chocolate chip cookie, they can’t wait to split it. Unfortunately, Sam really has to go and he has to go NOW! “Watch the cookie. I’ll be right back,” he tells Mousey. Mousey diligently watches the cookie, but it turns out that he isn’t the only one. Pigeons come pecking and ants come marching. Mousey does his best to shoo them away, but it’s only when he yells in his loudest voice that he can scare them off. Just when Mousey thinks he has saved the cookie, a hungry cat appears—and this cat isn’t hungry for a cookie.

Puddle Jumpers by Anne Margaret Lewis, illustrated by Nancy Cote

9781634501859-frontcoverIt’s a rainy day in the month of May and Sam spots a rainbow, and then a puddle. A perfect spring puddle. His mother warns, “No! No jumping in puddles! You must keep clean today!” but Sam can’t stop himself from testing the water with his galoshes. And then the puddle invites him to play. The puddle whispers, “Jump, Puddle Jumper, jump!” and with that very first jump, Sam is off on an adventure of the imagination. He’ll be a frog in a pond, with a hat and some spots and a magic wand. He’ll be a crocodile with pink polka dots and teeth like blades, and a polar bear with purple polar hair. He’s going to jump, leap, dance, plunge, swim, and jump again. Sam is having so much fun in his puddle that even Mom can’t resist. With a leap and a thwump, she’s jumping too, cheering, “Jump, Puddle Jumper, jump!”

9781634502023-frontcoverWatch the Birdie by Nancy Cote

Mousey was watching a baby bird when it fell from its nest. The baby bird is okay, but she can’t fly yet! So how will she get back up the tree to safety? Mousey may be too small to get the baby bird back up by himself, but maybe he can find somebody else who can! Maybe a frog can jump high enough. Or maybe a bunny can hop far enough. Maybe a snail will be able to crawl his way up the tree . . .

Will Mousey be able to save the baby bird? Or will the hungry cat get in the way of Mousey’s valiant attempts? Sometimes it’s just the size of your heart that really counts.

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Sky Pony Books at St. Christopher’s Elementary School

Mary Alice Alvarado shares the story of how Sky Pony books found a home in the library of St. Christopher’s Elementary School. Check it out below!  


Over President’s Week 2016, six major pipes burst in St. Christopher’s Elementary School, in Baldwin, New York. While students and teachers alike were elsewhere enjoying their winter recess, water spilled into several classrooms, ruining countless books and other classroom necessities. Many teachers received the heart-breaking phone call that their classroom was one of the ones affected by the water damage, and that the books they had lovingly accumulated over the years to share with their students, were destroyed.

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Faculty member Mary Alice Alvarado shared the news of the devastation with her daughter, Ronnie, an alumnae of the school and an employee at Skyhorse Publishing. When Ronnie informed some of her fellow Skyhorsers and Sky Ponies about the school’s need for books, Skyhorse galloped to the rescue.

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With a helping hand from many great Skyhorsers (especially Julie Matysik and Brianna Scharfenberg), Skyhorse was able to send dozens of Sky Pony books to the students of St. Christopher’s, who were overjoyed at being able to read with their friends again during recess and play time.

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While all the books that Skyhorse sent were special, some of the students’ favorites included:

Thank you, Skyhorse for your outstanding donation! The students and teachers of St. Christopher’s greatly appreciate it!

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The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy

In honor of National Poetry Month, we’re featuring one of Sky Pony’s novels-in-verse! Check it out below!


The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy by Marie Jaskulka

9781632204264-frontcoverIf I let you read mine, will you let me read yours?

Forgotten Girl, a fifteen-year-old poet, is going through the most difficult time of her life—the breakup of her parents, and her mom’s resulting depression—when she meets Random Boy, a hot guy who, like her, feels like an outcast and secretly writes poetry to deal with everything going on in his life.

In The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boy, the couple’s poems come together to tell their unique love story. The two nameless teenagers come from opposite sides of the tracks, yet they find understanding in each other when they lay bare their life stories through the poetry they write and share with each other.

Through verse, they document the power of first kisses, the joy of finally having someone on their side, the devastation of jealousy, and the heartbreaking sadness of what each of them is simultaneously dealing with at home and hiding from the world. Finally they have someone to tell and somewhere to tell it in their marble notebook.

This is the powerful story of two imperfect teens in first love who find solace in poetry.

Reviews for The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy:

“Told with such complete believability . . . Jaskulka’s narrative explores the hows and whys of an abusive teenage relationship with heartbreaking honesty, and her delicate touch renders the dark story even more powerful. Graceful. Searing. Haunting.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Realistic, gripping, worrisome yet hopeful. VERDICT: Give this to fans of Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins.” —School Library Journal

“This debut novel-in-verse is both beautiful and rough around the edges. Jaskulka handles her subject matter well, blending the poetry around the gritty details of the story. Each poet has his/her own distinct voice, making the transition between one and the other effortless. Both of these voices are real—real teenagers dealing with some major hardships. This is not an easy read; however, Jaskulka’s characters pepper their story with cynicism and wit. Readers will laugh, cry, and find themselves nodding their heads. Fans of Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins will want to get their hands on this novel.”—VOYA

“An original love story, arresting and beautiful. Heartbreakingly honest. At moments frightening, but ultimately hopeful.” —Laura Whitcomb, author of A Certain Slant of Light

“Eloquent, lyrical, combustible, Marie Jaskulka’s debut verse novel will draw you into the world of two teens whose thoughts and words resonate with raw beauty, love, and obsession. Jaskulka reminds us that, deep down, we know when love is real, and when we find it—we find our power.” —Bridget Birdsall, author of Double Exposure

“This is one of those books I wish I could travel back in time to give to fifteen-year-old me. It’s a lyrical, raw, and honest account of love, losing yourself, and finding your voice, and with it, your inner strength.” —Stephanie Kuehnert, author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

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The Five-Minute Brain Workout for Kids

Author of The Five-Minute Brain Workout for Kids, Kim Chamberlain writes up a post and shares some pictures from her event. Check it out below!


It was held at The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington, New Zealand The bookshop owner gave an introduction, my friend Ginelle who is a teacher explained how she uses the exercises from the book in schools to enhance language learning, Jon (my husband who did the illustrations) spoke about the illustrations and I explained how the concept for the book came about and the benefits you can gain from using it.

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Jon gave out some coloring sheets—a compilation of illustrations he used in the book:

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We also gave away a couple of photos of our pet lizard, Ra, who was the inspiration for many of his illustrations!


The Five-Minute Brain Workout for Kids by Kim Chamberlain, illustrated by Jon Chamberlain9781634501590-frontcover

Our brains are an amazing organ! And just like our bodies, our brain functions best when it’s put to work. So get ready to give your brain a full workout each day with The Five-Minute Brain Workout for Kids! Inside, you’ll find 365 word puzzles and games to keep your mind active and in great shape! Have fun with your family and friends as you learn about acronyms, anagrams, definitions, parts of speech, rhyming words, syllables, word structure, and more with these fun puzzles. From Alphabet Teasers and Mini Word Sudoku puzzles, to Speed Words and Word Store games, even doing one puzzle a day will help you to learn new words, spell better, problem solve with ease, and have better concentration.

With ten levels of puzzles—ranging from easiest to most challenging—and an answer key at the end to check your work, this book is sure to help keep your brain active and will help increase your understanding of and love for all kinds of words! So impress your family and friends by how quickly you can solve word puzzles and with how many words you’ve learned, too!

This is a fabulous word puzzles book with over 400 various puzzles ranging from easy to difficult. Parents and teachers will like this as an educational way to keep kids occupied and learning important words and phrases. The graphics throughout make it kid-friendly and lessen the emphasis on learning, which should pull kids in.

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Ask Sky Pony!

Live Blog Ask Sky Pony
 Today is our “Ask Sky Pony” Day! We’re taking questions about children’s literature, publishing, and all of your favorite Sky Pony books! Chime in with your questions!

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