As you probably guessed from the title, it’s a portal fantasy. This one’s for readers ages 8-12.
The setting is the Oregon Coast, where I grew up.
(At least, that’s where the story begins…)
I based the lighthouse on a very real one: Heceta Head. Isn’t it stunning?
If you squint, you might see me in the picture to the right, leaning against the base, on a research trip.
I’ve been saying that this book is like a love letter to middle school me—to that kid who devoured every book she could find about dragons or witches or portals in the sky. It’s just the kind of book I would have loved when I was a kid.
By the time I finish a book, my office is a disaster. Papers everywhere, books scattered, receipts and lists littering my desk. So before I can get started on that next book, I have to clear away the clutter from the old one. And you know what I discovered?
Yep, that’s right. Apparently The Lighthouse between the Worlds is the second lighthouse book I’ve written. The last one was from 5th grade, when I had just learned how to put shadows on block letters. (Ha!) I have to say, I’m glad the good people at Simon & Schuster found artist Kailey Whitman to do the cover this time around. Isn’t it gorgeous?
This book was so fun to write—a new challenge for me in so many ways. This one is pure adventure, a fast-paced world-hopping tale.
I hope you and the young readers in your life love it!
Each person who preorders The Lighthouse between the Worlds by November 12 will receive the Everyone’s A Winner! swag pack including:
In addition to the Everyone’s A Winner! swag pack, 10 people will win the Second Place is Still Pretty Great silver plated lighthouse bookmark.
And finally, ONE lucky Grand Prize winner will receive the swag pack, the silver plated bookmark, and:
(with a drawing of a typewriter on one side and on the other, the words:
WRITE WITHOUT FEAR. EDIT WITHOUT MERCY.)
I got one of these for the holidays last year & I love cozying up to read with it!
(Actual color will be blue—to match the book cover, obviously!)
These are handmade in Oregon where the book is set! They save the ocean from single use plastic straws and are extra-special since my main character and his dad are glass makers!
(First name only. No guarantee I won’t kill them off… 🙂 )
That’s it! You’ll be guaranteed the Everyone’s A Winner! swag pack **while supplies last** as well as a chance to win a Second Place is Still Pretty Great bundle or the Grand Prize! I’m not requiring a proof of purchase for the first two tiers but I will ask to see your receipt if your name is drawn as the Grand Prize winner, so hold on to it!
Good luck, and truly, THANK YOU!
THE FINE PRINT:
A new study released in January demonstrates that as early as 6 years old, girls’ perception of their own gender’s intelligence shifts; all that subliminal messaging and systemic sexism out there has both boys and girls believing boys are smarter.
When I look back at my own life, it was 4th grade when I began to realize that being a girl meant my voice was valued less than that of my male peers. I was attending a public school in a low income neighborhood, but the teachers didn’t let that stop them from giving us amazing learning opportunities—they took us to the coast to study oceanography, they sent us to outdoor school to learn about the forest, and they applied for grants so we could put on a play every year at the city’s performing arts center. That year it was a musical production of Peter Pan.*
Now, everybody wants to be Peter, right? Well, I was cast as Wendy.
I took it hard. I remember my teachers consoling me, saying that the role of Peter had to go to 5th grader. It wasn’t that I wanted to have the most lines or be in the spotlight for the whole play—it’s just, I wanted to be the hero of the story.
Don’t we all?
You might be saying—hey! You had a starring role—speaking parts—and a song to sing. And while all that’s true, Wendy’s role in that story is to mother and scold and idolize Peter while he and the lost boys adventure. And in our particular production?
Peter, Michael and John got to fly. But Wendy didn’t.
I remember watching my classmates swinging from wires high above the stage during rehearsal—and that feeling—of being stuck on the ground while others got to fly, that’s what my own life was beginning to feel like, being a girl in a boys’ world.
So I found my solace in stories. I was drawn to fantasy because (obviously, dragons are super cool) but also, I wanted to live in worlds where sexism didn’t exist. Or if it did, it was something that could be conquered.
It wasn’t an easy thing in those days to find novels where the girls were the heroes. Thankfully, there are so many more today. But still, you’ll find people saying this book is for boys and that book is for girls. Or that a book for a school-wide or city-wide read has to have a boy protagonist because boys won’t read stories about girls. Or that books written by grown-up boys are more valuable than books written by grown-up girls.
I hear those things and I cringe on behalf of all the girls out there getting the message loud and clear that they are worth less.
I hear those things and I cringe on behalf of all the boys out there getting the message loud and clear that girls and stories about girls are worth less.
I changed during those Wendy years, those late elementary school days when I first recognized that everyday sort of sexism. I stopped writing. I stopped telling my own stories. I would try—I’d write a few pages, but then later, when I’d pick it up to begin again, I would rip what I’d written to shreds. Every time. Believe me when I say that internalized misogyny is poison.
I didn’t write my first novel until I was nearly 30.
All month long, on the #kidlitwomen facebook page, individuals have been discussing different aspects of this problem: the double standards that exist for men and women in our industry, how teachers and librarians can help, how male creators in our industry are at a distinct advantage, how these biases are linked to sexual harassment, how the movement will fail without intersectionality, how binary language in these discussions falls short, and much more. The month is up and there’s still more to say.
More importantly, there is more to do. We’re trying to make our world a better place. Won’t you join us?
*There is a great deal (in addition to the sexism) that is problematic with Peter Pan, as this article by the Smithsonian Mag illustrates.
I am over the moon to share the first reviews for my new YA. First, there was the excellent Booklist review, where the journal’s cover is a full-frame image of my book cover. Isn’t it stunning?
“Themes of poverty, social injustice based on ethnicity, violence toward women, coming-of-age, romantic love, and a sliver of precarious hope are woven into the plot. This poetic, historical novel is an important addition to libraries given its focus on the consequences of U.S. involvement in Bolivian politics.”
Publishers Weekly chimes in with the third starred review, writing:
“Crowder delivers a disturbing portrait of innocent families trapped in corrupt systems, as well as a testament to the strength of enduring cultural traditions and the possibility of finding family in the unlikeliest places.”
And finally, RT Reviews gives An Uninterrupted View of the Sky its coveted *five star gold* rating, declaring:
“There are writers and then there is Melanie Crowder, who advances the art form to such a degree that when you reach the last page you can only hope that she will bless you with another literary masterpiece. Her young adult novel is raw, gripping, poetic and bold as it tackles the lingering impact of colonialism in South America’s poorest country and America’s unscrupulous War on Drugs in the region. Crowder takes you on an emotional pilgrimage that you won’t want to end.”
Thank you, all, for so enthusiastically welcoming this book that means so very much to me!
Some of my favorite parts:
“The language of this short and intense story is spare and evocative, and the chapters are brief and impressionistic.”
“This tender tale of human frailty tugs at heartstrings and will satisfy tweens who like to read with a tissue handy.”
Maybe I should add in a mini-pack of tissues for all preorders?
Happy reading, friends!
ARCs are out in the world, which means reviews are on their way in…
The first review for THREE PENNIES is a wonderful one—a star from Kirkus! I won’t share the whole text here because, of course, spoilers. But the last line is my favorite. Kirkus says THREE PENNIES is:
“A beautifully written and thoroughly modern family breaking-and-making story.”
And I couldn’t be happier!
We have a cover!
I am always so grateful for the many, many hours the design and editorial teams spend to carefully wrap my words in an artistic rendering of what lies within. So very grateful!
For a book description and preorder links, click here: AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY.
I love it! Isn’t it fantastic?
Here’s the panorama of the whole jacket:
Feeling very fortunate over here to have such a thoughtful editorial and design team at Atheneum making these gorgeous covers for my books!
For more about Three Pennies, including release date and preorder links, click here.
Or to add Three Pennies to your Goodreads list, click here.
Thanks for taking a look & happy reading!
I admit, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. You write a book, you research and research and research and you wring your hands, hoping you are able to bring honor to the person, and to the life that has inspired you, that is your story’s subject. Wringing hands doesn’t actually do anyone any good, so you research more, deeper, and you revise and revise and revise and revise.
And then you send the book out there; you wish it well on its journey, and as my literary agency likes to say, you wish it into the hearts of readers. AUDACITY went out into the world on January 8, 2015. A year and a week later, a flood of announcements washed in. AUDACITY has been honored with the following:
YALSA Books for Young Adults list (a Top 10 pick!)
Amelia Bloomer List (a compilation of the best feminist titles from this year)
Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book list (from the discerning BCCB)
and last, but certainly not least, a shiny sticker from the Jewish Book Council
I have a locket that I wore to the Audacity book launch a year ago, with a picture of Clara inside. On days when I need to be brave or bold, or when I need to step outside myself and the minutiae of daily life that so easily overtakes us to remember our real purpose here–to make the world a more just, joyful, loving place–I wear the locket. I’m wearing it now.
I am humbled and honored and so very grateful for these awards and accolades. But this book and the recognition it is getting is about so much more than me. It’s about my agent, who insisted this story had to be told when I was beginning to doubt. It’s about my editor, who brings passion and absolute commitment to the stories she chooses. It’s about the Philomel Books family and the larger Penguin Group who designed, copyedited, vetted and championed this book, who gave it a stunning cover and enthusiastically shared it with the world.
And more than any of us, it’s about Clara: her descendants, her story, her struggle, her legacy. May she and those who fought with her on behalf of all of us never be forgotten.
I’m so pleased to tell you all about my newest book! It’s a middle grade this time, and a fantasy story–my first! Just today, Kirkus posted their *starred* review online and I couldn’t be more excited by what they have to say:
This lyrical story has a once-upon-a-time quality and, like the best of fairy tales, an evil to be overcome, a magic charm, and a lesson to be gleaned. Crowder’s language is sumptuous, written with an elegiac quality that suits the wistful longings of her protagonists.
A quiet story of perseverance and hope, exquisitely written with words and images that demand savoring.
Isn’t that a fantastic review? Oh, and have you seen the cover yet? The artist is Zdenko Basic. I think he did an amazing job.
Thanks so much for sharing in my excitement for this, my third book! You can find the book summary, and links for purchase here.
Happy Perigee, dear readers!