Festival Visiting Middle Grade Authors

MIDDLE GRADE AUTHOR REVIEW

The Benefits of Being an Octopus: Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there's Lenny, her mom's boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, & since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it's best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability & steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she's not totally invisible, & one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia's situation, & her own place in this town of people who think they're better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she's ever had?

Why pick it up: Braden has written a tender & honest book that vividly captures childhood poverty. Readers will appreciate her characters’ strong perspectives & the hope that runs throughout the story.

First line: I settle onto the couch with the chocolate pudding I saved from Friday’s school lunch.

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Just South Of Home: Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books & bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed.
Janie has a knack for getting into trouble & asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It’s also off-limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis & his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home & the people within it they call family.

Why pick it up: Karen Strong has created a playful-yet-gripping story about the ghosts that haunt the South. Her characters encounter traditional spirits, but also the echoes of a dark past that can still be felt today. This is a story of place & of heart.

First line: It wasn’t a mirage but a miracle.

Hope in the Holler: The poignant—and funny— story of a girl trying to be brave & find her place in the world after she’s sent to live with scheming relatives.
Right before Wavie’s mother died, she gave Wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it! But little did Wavie’s mom know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. Now Wavie’s back in the Holler—& in the clutches of her Aunt Samantha Rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose & her revolting cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there’s real pleasure in sleeping in her own mother’s old bed, & making friends with the funny, easygoing kids her aunt calls the “neighborhood-no-accounts.” With their help, Wavie just might be able to prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian, & find her courage & place in the world.

Why pick it up: This book is nothing short of glowing. Wavie’s story immerses the reader in Appalachia—both its magic & its poverty. Fans of precise & powerful writing & captivating storytelling will fall hard for this one.

First line: An actual clown conducted my mama’s funeral.

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The Splintered Light: Ever since his brother Luc's disappearance & his father's tragic death, Ishmael has lived a monotonous existence helping his mother on their meager farm where everything is colorless. Until one morning a ray of light fragments Ishmael's gray world into something extraordinary: a spectrum of color he never knew existed. Emboldened, Ishmael sets out to find answers hoping his long lost brother might hold the key.

He finds Luc in the Hall of Hue, one of the seven creative workshops at The Commons, the seat of all new creation. Luc is completing the final days of his training as a Color Keeper, adding the finishing touches of color to a brand new world designed & built by a team of young artisans. Although his heart calls him to a future as a Color Keeper, Ishmael feels too guilty to leave the duties of his old life behind. But when a catastrophe destroys nearly all of the color & light at the Hall of Hue, Ishmael & Luc are suddenly at severe odds. Torn between his family & his destiny, Ishmael must learn when to let go of the past, when to trust the path ahead, & when to believe in himself.

Why pick it up: This book is perfect for those who love unique world building. Johnson’s characters are full of intriguing & deliberate conflict & readers will appreciate her ability to craft powerful images.

First line: Ishmael’s first memory was rolling down Commons Hill, its massive stone wall behind him and the open market square before him.

Festival Visiting Picture Book Authors

PICTURE BOOK AUTHOR REVIEW

Gabrielle Balkan: Balkan’s playful and fun nonfiction style will keep young readers engaged while also teaching them incredible facts they won’t forget!

Also by Gabrielle: 50 Cities of the USA, Book of Bones, Book of Flight (forthcoming), The 50 States Fun Facts, The 50 States Activity Book

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Jonathan D. Voss: Jonathan’s lovable characters are full of whimsy and imagination. His books are perfect for lovers of friendship and adventure.

Also by Jonathan: Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story (forthcoming).

LK James: An illustrator & designer, LK’s debut picture book is sneakily reflective in a whimsical package. The colorful but muted tones set the stage for a thoughtful story time.

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Jessie Sima: Most recent winner of the GA Picture Book Award! Her books are cheerful, colorful, and hilarious.

Also by Jessie: Harriet Gets Carried Away; Love, Z

Illustrated by Jessie: Snow Pony & the Seven Miniature Ponies

Shelli R. Johannes: The Cece books encourage curiosity and determination. Perfect for tiny scientists!

Also by Shelli: Cece Loves Science & Adventure (forthcoming)

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Shanda McCloskey: Shanda’s writing is adorable and hilarious. Robots, missions, and dogs, oh my! Perfect for children of the technological age.

Also by Shanda: T-Bone the Drone (forthcoming)

Crystal Swain-Bates: Crystal’s books are confident and bold! Perfect for young ones with big personalities or those in need of encouragement.

Also by Crystal: I’m a Pretty Princess; Big Hair, Don’t Care

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Bart King & Jacob Wenzka: This author & illustrator team knows how to engage their audience, whether it’s a sneaky sleepy-time book or encouraging the power of imagination.

Also by Bart & Jacob: Juniper Gets Wet, The Girl Who Kept Night in Her Closet

Join Us for the First Annual Monroe Children's Book Festival

The Monroe Children’s Book Festival is a city-wide celebration of stories, imagination, and the community that blooms out of both.

 
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This FREE EVENT will take place on Saturday, May 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. We’ll have family-friendly activities and events for bookworms of all ages.

The Lineup

 
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Authors and Illustrators Ann Braden, Bo Burnette, Gabrielle Balkan, Jessie Sima, Joanna Ruth Meyer, Jonathan D. Voss, Karen Strong, Laura Weymouth, LK James, Lisa Lewis Tyre, Rebecca Ross, Shanda McCloskey, Ginger Johnson, Crystal Swain-Bates, Bart King, Jacob Wenzka, and Shelli R. Johannes will be joining us for this year’s festival.

Authors and Illustrators Ann Braden, Bo Burnette, Gabrielle Balkan, Jessie Sima, Joanna Ruth Meyer, Jonathan D. Voss, Karen Strong, Laura Weymouth, LK James, Lisa Lewis Tyre, Rebecca Ross, Shanda McCloskey, Ginger Johnson, Crystal Swain-Bates, Bart King, Jacob Wenzka, and Shelli R. Johannes will be joining us for this year’s festival.

 

Events

BOOK SIGNINGS:

  • Guests will get the opportunity to meet the authors in the Celebration Room or the Wardrobe at The Story Shop.

  • We will have the authors’ books on sale in the room at the time of the signing, as well as in our online shop.

  • In order to reserve a space in the signing line, guests must purchase the author’s book(s) from The Story Shop.

  • Pre-orders encouraged to guarantee a spot in the signing line. Pre-orders also get a privileged spot in line.

PRESENTATIONS & PANELS:

  • Many of our authors will give fun, interactive presentations at the Wayfarer Music Hall.

  • Author panels will be in the Wayfarer Sunroom, where authors will discuss their books and their writing process.

  • We will have two additional community panels involving the students of the Georgia Writer’s Project, as well as local teachers and librarians!

  • Story times will be in the Wardrobe at The Story Shop,

Don’t miss Indie Author Alley near the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts. Many great indie authors will be set up there - stop by and meet them!

At noon, the Storybook 5K & fun run will begin at Childers Park followed by a costume contest at 2pm at the Historic Courthouse.

There will be plenty more fun events, such as puppet story time at the library at 11am, the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts writing contest participants on display, photo ops with On Stage’s Peter Pan characters at the MWCA from 10am-12pm, opening day for the farmer’s market, the cow train, food trucks, bouncy houses, and more!

We can’t wait to see you there!

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Celebrations at The Story Shop

What do we love almost as much as reading?


Celebrating!

 
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Celebrations at The Story Shop are whimsical, bookish, and so much fun. We celebrate everything - birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, retirement parties, ladies’ tea, and so much more. We provide beautiful decorations, place settings, entertainment, and cleanup, so all you have to do is enjoy!

Kids’ Celebrations

Pin the rose on Belle

Pin the rose on Belle

 
Coloring and temporary tattoos

Coloring and temporary tattoos

 

Our children’s celebration packages cover a variety of ages and themes. We provide fun activities like “party name” name tags, pin-the-tail games, a scavenger hunt, temporary tattoos, and story time through the Narnia wardrobe. It’s the perfect place for your child’s celebration, no matter the occasion!

 
Naming ceremony

Naming ceremony

 
Peter Pan

Peter Pan

 

Adult Celebrations

 
Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

 
Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

 

Our adult packages are classy and versatile. In addition to the place settings, decor, and cleanup, we provide mini clipboards that hold several social games for the guests to fill out at their own pace. The setting is perfect for a sit-down affair or casual mingling.

 
Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

 
Woodland Fairy

Woodland Fairy

 

Here’s a sneak peek at some of our other lovely themes, as well as more details on how to book your celebration today. (We’ll even tell you how to get beautiful and theme-coordinated invitations from the geniuses at Gratuity Paper Co.!)

 
Woodland Fairy

Woodland Fairy

 
Harry Potter

Harry Potter

 
Construction Trucks

Construction Trucks

 
Unicorns

Unicorns

 
Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

 
Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit

 
Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

 
Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

There’s one more thing you should know before you book: we have partnered with Doyle Wallace Photography to offer a photography package for your party!

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The photos are sure to be elegant and fun, so you can take the celebration with you when you leave. To add a photography package to your celebration, simply click “Photographer” in the add-ons section when booking.

We hope The Story Shop inspires you to find something to celebrate (and come see us when you do)!

Mini-List: Gift Ideas from The Story Shop

The Story Shop is full of bookish gifts for all your holiday needs!

Here is a mini-list of items and book pairings we think are pretty great:

 
 
This  Under Water  book + these adorable sea-creature knee socks (Bonus: reverse the book to read  Under Earth !)

This Under Water book + these adorable sea-creature knee socks (Bonus: reverse the book to read Under Earth!)

 
 
 
Would You Rather Be a Princess or a Dragon?  + these colorful party crowns

Would You Rather Be a Princess or a Dragon? + these colorful party crowns

 
 
 
BabyLit’s precious  Moby-Dick  board book + this felt white whale ornament

BabyLit’s precious Moby-Dick board book + this felt white whale ornament

 
 
 
Time for Bed, Miyuki  + the Really Tiny Book Light (This works for any of our bedtime books - just pick a book and a book light in a cute pastel color!)

Time for Bed, Miyuki + the Really Tiny Book Light
(This works for any of our bedtime books - just pick a book and a book light in a cute pastel color!)

 
 
 
Curious George  onesie + library checkout card socks with grippies shaped like date stamps (We realize this one isn’t technically a book/item combo, but Evelyn’s outfit was on point, so we had to include it.)

Curious George onesie + library checkout card socks with grippies shaped like date stamps
(We realize this one isn’t technically a book/item combo, but Evelyn’s outfit was on point, so we had to include it.)

 
 

Stop by The Story Shop to pick up these great gifts, and many others!

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The Story Shop Subscription

Stumbling upon a package at your doorstep is a magical feeling. The only thing that could make it more magical? If that package was also a book.

Good news: book subscriptions from The Story Shop are now available — just in time for Christmas!

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The Story Shop Subscription is our fancy new mailing program that brings the magic of The Story Shop to your doorstep or mailbox. Receive one book per month for a customizable length of time. Whether it’s a picture book or a middle grade chapter book is up to you!

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More Details:

  • Receive a monthly subscription for a period of 1 month, 3 months,
    6 months, 9 months, or 1 year

  • Picture books recommended for ages 1-9

  • Middle grade books recommended for ages 8-12

  • Subscription will contain 1 recently-released book per month

  • Each subscription shipped out on the 15th of each month

  • Cost is $24.99 per month (shipping is included in this price)

  • Automatic recurring payments will be set up upon purchase of a
    several-month subscription

  • Billing will go through on the 10th of each month

  • Our first box will ship December 15th!

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Whether you need the perfect gift for your bookworm or you simply never want to run out of reading material, The Story Shop Subscription has you covered.

As always, happy reading!

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