Monthly Archives: April 2012

Interview with Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived

Cat Patrick is the author of two of my favourite books, Forgotten and Revived (which you can win here on my blog).  Cat’s stories are really original and I always wonder where she gets her ideas.  I asked her if she could answer some of my burning questions about her books and her writing so here are her wonderful answers.

  • Forgotten and Revived are two of the most original young adult books I’ve read.  What inspired you to write these stories?

I really believe that inspiration is everywhere. In the case of Forgotten, it was in my kitchen when I was a new, sleep-deprived mom, and I forgot what I was doing in the middle of an activity. I never remembered, but my brain wandered and landed on the book idea.

With Revived, inspiration came in the form of a news story about a drug that could potentially jolt stroke patients back to normal, read at a time when a family friend’s death from cancer was also on my mind.

  • In Forgotten, London can see what will happen in the future, but she can’t remember her past.  How did you keep track of London’s story while writing?

I kept memory timeline, and every time I’d sit down to write, I’d also read back a few chapters to make sure I was *forgetting* the right information.


  • If you had to live the life of one of your characters who would you choose, London or Daisy?

I think I’d choose Daisy’s life. So much of us is our past—bad or good, it helps shape us. It would be incredibly difficult not to feel lost in London’s life.

  • One of the things I like the most about your stories is that the male characters are normal and relatable.  Are Luke and Matt based on guys you know?

Luke and Matt are guys I wish I’d known in high school. Sometimes when I read back, I get glimmers of recognition, but ultimately they’re fictional.

  • Relationships play an important role in your books.  Matt in particular is quite caring and loyal in his relationship with his sister and with Daisy.  Do you know before you start writing how these relationships will evolve or does this happen as you write?

It happens as I write. I’m not an outliner. I don’t start books in any sort of organized fashion. Basically, I get the idea, obsess about the main characters’ names, then start typing. The characters take me where they want to go. In the case of Matt, I’m happy that he turned out to be such a good guy.

  • Each time Daisy is revived she has to move to a different city.  If you could relocate to any city in the world what would it be?

Oh goodness, that’s a long list. If I have to pick one, I’d say London. I spent two days there once. I fell in love and desperately want to go back.

  • I love your Australian book covers for both Forgotten and Revived because they stand out and look really appealing.  Which editions have your favourite covers and why?

My Australian publisher, Hardie Grant Egmont, has indeed done an amazing job with my covers. Not only are they lovely on their own, but they work well together. For Forgotten, I really love the covers from Australia, UK, Sweden and France. For Revived, the US, UK and Australia covers are amazing.


  • What movies/books/music inspire your writing?

I tend to listen to alternative rock—it lets my mind wander to the right place to get inspired. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas while either walking or driving while listening to music. Some of my favorite bands are Arcade Fire, Airborne Toxic Event, Radiohead, Muse, Florence & The Machine, Coldplay and Snow Patrol. And like seemingly everyone in the world, I’ve got Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” on infinite loop in my brain right now.

As for books, honestly every great read inspires me to be a better writer.

  • Your third book, The Originals is due out in 2013.  Are you able to tell me a little about the story?

Sure! The Originals is about three identical clones living as one person in order to hide from their past. They split each day, with one going to school in the morning, one attending class and cheer practice in the afternoon and one handling night classes, an afterschool job and other evening commitments. Like Forgotten and Revived, the story offers a mixture of romance and mystery, but it is also an exploration of what it means to be an individual as part of a very unique family dynamic.

Thank you again for the opportunity!

You can follow Cat on her website (, on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@seecatwrite).

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Win Forgotten and Revived by Cat Patrick

If you haven’t discovered Cat Patrick yet this is your chance to get your hands on two books from an amazing new author.  I’ve just read Revived (you can read my review here) and Forgotten was one of my favourite books of 2011.

In Revived, Daisy and her family have to relocate to a new city or town every time she is revived.  To go in the draw to win a copy of Forgotten and Revived leave a comment with your name and email address telling me What city would you relocate to if you were Revived?
Competition closes Monday 7 May (International).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Melannie.


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Win The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn DVD

Normally I only give away books on my blog, but one of my favourite movies of 2011, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, is released tomorrow (Wednesday 25 April) on DVD so I want to celebrate by giving a copy away.  I’m a huge Tintin fan and I thought Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson did a fantastic job making this movie (couldn’t believe that it didn’t get nominated for the Oscars!).

To get in the draw to win a copy of The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn on DVD leave a comment on this post with your name and email telling me what is your favourite Tintin adventure.  Competition closes Wednesday 2 May (NZ only).

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My Most Anticipated May New Releases

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.
Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever … because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.


Starters by Lissa Price

16-year-old Callie lost her parents when the ‘genocide spore’ wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first – the very young and very old. She and her little brother must go on the run, living as squatters, fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes in the form of the Body Bank run by a mysterious figure, known only as The Old Man. The Body Bank allows teenagers to rent out their bodies to ‘Enders’ – the elderly members of society – who want to be young again. But Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party in her body. She intends to commit murder…


The Phoenix Files: Fallout by Chris Morphew

The Shackleton Building has been turned into a concentration camp, and the last free people in Phoenix have been forced into hiding. Unless Jordan and the others can figure out where the Co-operative is keeping Tobias, everything they’ve fought for will be for nothing.

As Peter spins further out of control, can Jordan find a way to save Luke’s life, or is history doomed to repeat itself?

With only weeks left until Tabitha is released, Phoenix’s biggest secrets are still yet to be revealed.

And the clock is still ticking.

There are 35 days until the end of the world.


Dragonkeeper Book 4: Blood Brothers

The year is 325. The powerful Han Dynasty is a distant memory and tribes of barbarian soldiers fight over what was once the Empire. It is a dangerous time. Kai is 465 years old – a teenager in dragon years. He is searching for the person predestined to be his dragonkeeper. Kai’s search has led him to a Buddhist novice named Tao. But Tao is certain he is not the one; he has no interest in caring for a difficult dragon. He believes his path lies in another direction. But Tao must learn to listen to the voice within himself and that no journey ever reveals its true purpose until it is over.


10 Futures by Michael Pryor

Sam and Tara. Best friends in a future when artificial intelligence organises our lives, and micropets are the latest craze. Best friends when rationing means cold showers and no internet. Best friends when genetic matching makes asking a girl on a date a minefield of epic proportions.

But will they still be best friends in a future when plague wipes out most of humanity? Or a future when the Inquisitor asks Sam to choose one betrayal over another?

Michael Pryor, one of Australia’s best authors of speculative fiction, imagines what our next 100 years might be like. Utopia or dystopia? Miracle or catastrophe? Whatever might happen, it’s just around the corner. Which future will be yours?

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Revived by Cat Patrick

One of the things that excites me the most as a reader is finding new authors, especially ones that blow you away with their originality.  Cat Patrick is an exciting new author I discovered last year when I read her debut YA book, Forgotten (read my review here).  Forgotten is one of those books that sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it because it’s totally original and stands out.  Cat’s latest book, Revived, is just as amazing as Forgotten and hooked me in from the blurb.

Daisy has died five times.

She’s a test subject for a government super-drug called Revive, which brings people back from the dead.

Each time she is revived, Daisy has to move cities and change her identity to avoid suspicion.  Daisy has always got a thrill out of cheating death, but her latest move has come with unexpected complications: a new best friend, and a very cute crush.

As Daisy’s attachment to her new home grows, she discovers secrets that could tear her world apart.  And the more she learns, the more she feels like a pawn in a sinister game.

When the stakes are life and death, someone’s going to get hurt.

I had high hopes for Revived after loving Forgotten and it totally lived up to them, and more.  It’s difficult to try and put Cat’s books into a category or genre because they’re mostly a real-life story, but with a touch of science fiction thrown in.  Daisy first died in a bus crash when she was four, after which she got taken into the Revived program and now lives with two agents who pretend to be her parents.  Her and the other ‘bus kids’ have to undergo regular testing to make sure they are healthy and to ensure the drug is doing its job.

I thought that the background and structure of the organisation behind Revive that Cat created was really clever.  At the top there’s God who makes all the decisions and is in charge, then there are the agents who work for God called Disciples, and at the bottom are the Converts, those ‘bus kids’ who are part of the program and are given Revive to bring them back to life.  God thinks that he can do whatever he want and that nobody will stop him, which raises some interesting ethical questions in the story.

Another thing that I really liked in Revived, and also in Forgotten, is that Cat creates relatable male characters that aren’t douche-bags.  You won’t find any love triangles with moody, mysterious guys in Cat’s books.  The love interest in Revived is Matt, a normal, average guy who is friendly and loyal.  The relationship between Daisy and Matt progresses naturally throughout the story and they have their share of ups and downs.  There isn’t smoldering passion because there isn’t the need for it in the story and it would seem wrong between Cat’s characters.  Any teenagers who want to know what love feels like should read Cat’s books.

There’s something in Revived for everyone – mystery, suspense, romance and a touch of science fiction.  Get your hands on Revived and discover the amazing writing of Cat Patrick.

5 out of 5 stars

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My favourite Anzac novels

In my other Anzac posts I’ve highlighted some great new Anzac books from New Zealand authors.  In my last Anzac post I want to tell you about a couple of my favourite Anzac books, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson and A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French.

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson

What would you do if the ghosts of World War Two were stuck inside your head and wouldn’t leave you alone?  Paddy is an ordinary New Zealand kid who becomes obsessed with a book that he gets from the library about the wrecks of warships sunk in World War Two at Guadalcanal.  This book is special – the ghosts of men who were killed in these battles are trapped inside and they want everyone to remember why they died.  The ghosts call out to Paddy but only he can hear their voices.  Whose voices are they and why are they reaching out to him?  The ghosts tell him he has to ask his grandfather about the battle at Guadalcanal, but his grandfather has never talked about the war so how will Paddy get him to tell him his story?

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound is a fantastic and unique book about the horrors of war and how it affects people.  The ghosts of the war talking to Paddy is a really interesting way to tell the story and Sandy Nelson makes you really care about what happens to the characters.  This is now one of my favourite war stories. Sandy Nelson joined us on the Christchurch Kids Blog in 2011 to talk about her book and the research she did before writing her story.  Her posts are really interesting and well worth checking out.

A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French

The ′War to end all Wars′, as seen through the eyes of three young women

It is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge′s brothers are in the army, and her twin, Tim, is listed as ′missing′ in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli .

Desperate to do their bit – and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society – Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls – and their Anzac boys as well – discover that even going ′home′ can be both strange and wonderful.

Exhaustively researched but written with the lightest of touches, this is Jackie French at her very best.

The reason I love A Rose for the Anzac Boys is because it tells history from a female perspective.  In this case it tells the stories of a group of Australian girls who travel to France to do what they can for the war effort.  Jackie French is an amazing writer and she always tells a good story. Jackie also provides detailed historical notes at the end of the book so you can see how historically accurate her story is.

  • I’m currently reading David Hill’s My Brother’s War and Ken Catran’s Earth Dragon, Fire Hare, both of which are shortlisted in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  I’m sure I will be able to add these two to my list of favourite Anzac stories too.


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Meet the Apocalypsies #4: Laurisa White Reyes

Today I’m joined by debut author and member of The Apocalypsies, Laurisa White Reyes.  Laurisa is the author of The Rock of Ivanore, book one in the new middle grade fantasy series The Celestine Chronicles, due out in May 2012. Laurisa lives in Southern California with her husband and five children. Publishing her first novel is a life-long dream come true.  Here’s the blurb for The Rock of Ivanore:

The annual Great Quest is about to be announced in Quendel, a task that will determine the future of Marcus and the other boys from the village who are coming of age. The wizard Zyll commands them to find the Rock of Ivanore, but he doesn’t tell them what the Rock is exactly or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is at it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.

Now, it’s over to Laurisa to tell you about magic, impossible feats, and how The Rock of Ivanore came to be.  Thanks Laurisa for your wonderful post.

“Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – JohannWolfgang Von Goethe

I love magic. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a big fan of Harry Potter, Bartimaeus, and Eragon. As a kid, I devoured The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis. I watched the Disney fairytales a hundred times over because for Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid magic always saved the day.

Magic’s Long History

Magic has been around for as long as human kind has existed. Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used rites and rituals to gain the favor of their Gods who in turn used their magical powers to intervene in human affairs.

During the late middle ages, people were often fascinated by magic, but they feared it, too. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was accused of being a witch and burned at the stake. In 1692-1693 in Salem, Massachussetts, 200 people were accused of practicing magic, or what they called witchcraft. Twenty were executed.

Magic eventually became a form of entertainment. In the early twentieth century, Harry Houdini captured the world’s attention with his death-defying escapes and feats of magic. Today magic is as popular as ever with live stage shows, movies and television, and books attracting audiences all over the world.

Why We Love Magic

Why this ongoing fascination with magic? Could it be that deep down in the human psyche we long for the ability to change the world around us, to manipulate things to our liking? We want to defeat evil, to beat the odds, to overcome seemingly impossible challenges. Magic enables us to reach beyond the mundane and even negative aspects of our lives and to visualize what could be.

When Harry Potter, an otherwise average boy, destroys the ultimate evil villain Voldemort, we can imagine destroying whatever bad things are in our lives. When Eragon flies on his dragon across the mountains of Alagaesia, we are, in a sense, flying with him, achieving the impossible.

Magic is, of course, not real. As much as we love it, none of us will cast spells or tame dragons. But magic does allow us to dream and to discover ways to achieve the impossible that are within our means.

Reaching Beyond the Possible

On October 31, 2003 thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 15 foot shark while surfing off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. Bethany lost her left arm and, many believed, her future as a professional surfer. But Bethany did what seemed impossible: she taught herself to surf again with one arm and returned to the world of competitive surfing. Her story was made famous in a book and the recent film Soul Surfer.

Bethany’s courage and determination are not unusual. These are the very traits that have motivated individuals throughout history to achieve the impossible.

At the turn of the twentieth century, flying was nothing but a dream, something magical that had only been explored in fiction novels. Man could not fly. Everyone who had tried had failed. But Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed big. They reached beyond human limitations and did the impossible. They flew.

How The Rock of Ivanore Came To Be

For me, writing and publishing my first novel was an act of achieving the impossible. Six years ago, my son and I often read stories together at bedtime. One night, he asked me to make up a story instead. I told him a story about Marcus, an enchanter’s apprentice who was a failure at magic. Every time he tried to cast a spell, it backfired. Each night, I’d ask my son what he wanted to hear about, be it dragons, or magic, or sword fighting, and I’d weave those elements into the story. Over the course of time, Marcus learned how to master his abilities to do what he never thought he could do before.

I have always wanted to be an author, but although I spent many years writing for newspapers and magazines, I thought I could never publish a book. Like Marcus, I was afraid that if I tried, I would fail. But telling those stories to my son gave me courage. I spent a year writing the first draft of The Rock of Ivanore. I received dozens of rejections and there were times I almost gave up.  But instead, I kept telling myself, “If someone else has done it, I can do it, too.” Eventually, Tanglewood Press offered me a contract and my dream of being a published author became real.

Aim High. Dream Big.

So what can magic do for you? It might propel you to climb Mount Everest or discover the cure to cancer or invent something that’s never existed before. It might motivate you to master a musical instrument, to paint a masterpiece, or win the next big football game. Or it might help you become the next New York Times bestselling author. Remember, magic is really nothing more than reaching beyond the possible to achieve the impossible. And in that case, there is at least a little magic in all of us.


My website  –

My blog –

Joan of Arc –

Bethany Hamilton –

Harry Houdini –

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Guest Post: Glenda Kane on Anzac Day Parade

Today I’m joined by Glenda Kane, author of the picture book, Anzac Day Parade.  Glanda tells us about her Anzac memories and why she wrote her story.

My husband is Australian and I’m a Kiwi, so we’re Anzacs. Having travelled a lot, we realise we’re pretty lucky to live in this peaceful corner of the world.

We have three sons who love playing war games. To them, it’s fun. But I wanted them to understand that, in real life, war is not a game.

“There he stood on the sun-parched hill, a straggler from 18th Battalion.”

I’d attended an Anzac Day service at the Auckland Cenotaph with my family. Afterwards, I noticed an old man dressed in his best jacket – complete with medals – leaning on a walking stick, staring out towards Rangitoto. A small boy was looking at him with an expression of awe.

At that moment, I wondered what the old soldier was seeing as he gazed into the distance. What was he remembering? What had he been through? And what did the little boy think?

I’ll never know who they were. I just went away and made up the story.

“Did ya shoot them dead,” asked the bright-eyed boy. “Did it feel real cool to kill?” With a voice bereft of joy, he sighed: “No son, it was no thrill.”

When the illustrator, Lisa Allen, needed an old soldier to become her model, we contacted 92-year-old Crete veteran Noel Dromgool and his wife, Peggy. They allowed us to photograph Noel while he reminisced about training, battle, defeat, and his long internment in a prisoner of war camp.

We were privileged to hear his stories over the course of an afternoon. We left with immense respect for a man and his mates who sacrificed so much for their country and for future generations – us, and our children.

Quite a long time passed before the book was printed. Finally, I phoned Noel and Peggy to tell them it was published. There was no reply. Eventually I called another number listed under ‘Dromgool’ in the phone book. It turned out to be Noel’s son.

I explained who I was and said I wanted to show his father the new book. “Bad news, I’m afraid,” he said. “Dad died.” I wanted to cry. Instead, I asked if I could send the book to Peggy. “I’m afraid she died, too.”

The youngest soldiers from the Second World War are now at least 85 years old.

If anyone has a grandparent or great-uncle or neighbour who fought in the war, talk to them; ask them questions; write down their story. Do it now. There isn’t much time left.

I’m proud to say that when Noel’s son saw Anzac Day Parade he said he thought it was “pretty bloody good,” and that his dad would’ve thought so, too.

I hope young readers think it’s pretty good as well.


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Guest Post: Feana Tu‘akoi on Lest We Forget

Today I’m joined by Feana Tu’akoi, author of the picture book, Lest We Forget.  Feana tells us about her Anzac memories and why she wrote her story.

When I was a kid, war horrified me. The terror, hardship and ruined lives – it seemed like such a stupid way to sort out our countries’ differences. I didn’t want any part of it. And I definitely didn’t want to celebrate it.

But I was a brownie and then a girl guide in small town South Canterbury. So, every year I had to march in the ANZAC parade.

I hated it – all those speeches, raving on about the brave soldiers who fought for victory. How could it be a victory when so many people died? What about the fathers, brothers and sons, on both sides, who never came back? What about the people who did come back, but were permanently damaged? I thought we should have been able to find a better way.

When my family moved to the North Island, I stopped going to the parades. But then I studied history at university. I talked to people who were involved in World War II and I realised that things weren’t as black and white as I’d thought.

Lots of people actually wanted to go to war, for lots of different reasons. They thought that they were protecting their families and helping to make the world a better place.

So my husband, Sione, and I went along to a Dawn Parade. I was shocked. Nobody talked about how glorious war was, or even that it was the right thing to do. They just talked about how important it was for us to remember, so that we could all continue to live in peace.

That was when I realised. We weren’t there to celebrate war. We were there, Lest We Forget. And that’s why I wrote this book. We need to remember the past, so we can make better decisions in the future.

I think that the next generation is smart enough to do just that. And that’s why I dedicated this book to my kids.

Feana Tu‘akoi, March 2012.

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Guest Post: David Hill and Fifi Colston on The Red Poppy

This year there are a bumper crop of books about New Zealand’s involvement in war being published to coincide with Anzac Day on April 25.  The Red Poppy is one of them that really stands out for me because of it’s well-told story by David Hill and it’s stunning illustrations by Fifi Colston.  It’s a story full of tension, but ultimately about the friendship between enemies and the loyalty and bravery of one little dog.

I asked both David and Fifi if they would be able to tell me a little about their book and what it meant to them:

David Hill

The Red Poppy is a senior picture book which tells the story of a young soldier in a terrifying battle on the Western Front in France, during World War 1. Jim McLeod and his battalion have to attack across the open ground, into the face of artillery and machine-gun fire from the German trenches. With them goes the little black messenger dog, Nipper, whose job is to carry back requests for help, to save wounded men. As they charge across the open ground, past a place where red poppies grow among the shattered trees and buildings, Jim is hit by a bullet. He falls into a deep shell-hole, at the bottom of which lies a wounded German soldier. What happens between the two men, and the part played by Nipper in trying to save them, is the rest of the story.

I’ve dedicated my part in The Red Poppy to my uncles who fought in both World Wars. Their stories of the great battles and the courage of soldiers fascinated me from when I was a kid, and finally I had the chance to honour them in a story. Mud and huge guns and fear and the red poppies that have become the symbol of Anzac Day are all in this book.

Fifi Colston

My husband’s grandfather Rothwell, wrote postcards to his fiancé Hilda, from 1914-1918. Particularly poignant were two from France; they said simply “Am O.K” and “Keep smiling!” I was in the process of scanning and blogging these cards for the family ( when Scholastic asked me if I would look at a very special story to illustrate. I had decided some time ago that the next book I illustrated had to really mean something to me on a very personal level. Illustrating a book is a labour of love and I wanted to make a body of work that would enthrall me and push me to produce as excellent work as I could. For that I’d need to relate to the story; it had to move me. Then I read David’s manuscript. Jim’s letter home never mentioning the horrors of the trenches struck an immediate chord with me; those cheerful words from a young man, disguising the reality of his situation. Rothwell did come home from France to be a husband and father, but was far from ‘o.k’; dying just a few short years later from the cruel ravages of his war experience. Illustrating this book has been a journey through his time for me. I visited war museums, studied WW1 uniform, grew red poppies, photographed mud and rubbed chalk pastel until my fingers bled. I have learned much and my artwork is a tribute to him. It’s been a real pleasure working with David, Diana and Penny at Scholastic and Penny Newman the brilliant book designer who created the vision with me.


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