Thursday, May 29, 2014

Word from the road, Skype visits, moving, and writing

Before anyone sends a search party: I haven't fallen into a black hole, or deep swamp, or gone on a pilgrimage to a faraway place (although that last one sounds intriguing, right?). I apologize for the radio silence on the blog. But things have been, well, a bit busy around here.

First, I've been on the road. Good fun, especially the school visits! I love talking to kids, even if they are a lot smarter than I am... I've been to book signings, book festivals. This is me (to the right) with the lovely Emily from Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi. Local bookstores are always the best, but Lemuria is like a hideaway from the world, filled with books. Go visit if you get a chance; you won't regret it.

I've been enjoying my Skype visits with classrooms too. What did we do before the internet, people? It's awesome how you can travel without leaving home.

Also, I've been writing. Dark, broody YA crimey stuff. I'll keep you posted on where that goes, I promise.

And the Bradley clan is relocating, back to beautiful Colorado. We're packing up cats, kids, and books this June, so I'll apologize right now for future radio silence. This 2014 year appears to be the year of chaos...

How have you all been? Any good book recommendations for my summer reading pile??

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

For World Read Aloud Day, here is my clue to finish the mystery scavenger hunt...

It's World Read Aloud Day! This is one of those holidays I can get behind, because I read aloud every day. It's easy, like national pizza eating day, or national chocolate day...

As part of a fun mystery scavenger hunt, I'm participating in a linked blog contest for kids run by LitWorld and Since I love codes (as those of you who've read the Double Vision books know), I wrote my secret word in a number code below.

To decode, simply substitute each number by the corresponding letter in the alphabet: so 1 is the letter A, 2 the letter B, and so on....

Here's your number code, kids:

20 - 8 - 5 - 13

Isn't this fun? Now you can head over to BonbonBreak to finish the puzzle...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happy birthday, George Washington!

It's George Washington's birthday! Pass the cake, all...

I hope you've enjoyed this mini-blog tour and celebration of Washington's spy history. And let me know if you have any facts to share about the first president in the comments! I'm a bit of a history nut...

Happy birthday, George.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow interviews me (plus, a #giveaway of CODE NAME 711!)...

The awesome Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog was kind enough to review Double Vision: Code Name 711 a few weeks ago. And now they've interviewed me, so I had a chance to talk about how long it takes to write a book, and what spy gadget I'd like Henry to invent for me.

Check out the interview, and enter the giveaway of Double Vision: Code Name 711!

And if you're in Jackson, Mississippi, come see me at Lemuria Bookstore. I'll be signing books at 5 p.m., and sharing cool spy stuff about George Washington...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For Educators: George Washington resources to use in the classroom

As part of this week-long celebration of our first president's birthday, I wanted to share some resources I found helpful when doing research for Double Vision: Code Name 711. I hope educators out there find them useful! If you have any links to add, please comment...

The internet offers a wealth of links and resources to bring Revolutionary War history to life, and help kids see George Washington as a pretty cool guy who shaped our country. Here is a short list:

Culper Ring History Links
The International Spy Museum: this Washington, D.C. museum has a wealth of resources for educators, plus great events for kids throughout the year.
Mount Vernon: What better place to get the skinny on George Washington’s history than at his home, Mount Vernon. Be sure to visit the links at the bottom of this narrative, for images that bring the Culper Ring activities to life for students.
History Channel: a history on the Culper Ring. If working with older (middle-grade) students, consider watching the Decoded episode on the Culper Ring.
Stony Brook University library: Another recap of Culper Ring history, with great images of original documents.
Information on George Washington
The White House: Your first stop for all things presidential. You can find a biography on George Washington, and First Lady Martha.
Library of Congress: Did you know that the LOC has a whole section devoted to games, resources and activities for kids and families? A great site to keep bookmarked.
The Smithsonian Institute: Be sure to visit the Smithsonian’s kids page, and the “Mr. President” link for profiles on all our country’s presidents, including George Washington.
PBS George Washington page: A great comprehensive resource, for reports or other projects.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marvelous MG Monday review: George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen

Happy President's Day! 

Since I'm celebrating George Washington's birthday (and his part in Double Vision: Code Name 711) on my blog all this week, I thought I would review some non-fiction for a change:

George Washington, Spymaster
How the Americans Outspied the British and won the Revolutionary War
by: Thomas B. Allen

From the publisher:

Follow the action as 1775 dawns, and Washington finds himself in serious trouble. At war with Britain, the world's most powerful empire, his ragtag army possesses only a few muskets, some cannons, and no money. The Americans' only hope is to wage an invisible war—a war of spies, intelligence networks, and deception. 

Enter the shadowy world of double agents, covert operations, codes and ciphers—a world so secret that America's spymaster himself doesn't know the identities of some of his agents. Meet members of the elusive Culper Ring, uncover a "mole" in the Sons of Liberty, and see how invisible ink and even a clothesline are used to send secret messages. You can even use Washington's own secret codebook, published here for the first time. Experience at close quarters the successes and failures of the Americans as they strive to outwit the British. Meet the chief of covert operations, one Benjamin Franklin, and several other surprising players in America's secret war. 

Author Thomas B. Allen has sifted through dozens of historical documents and coded letters to uncover the facts about a time shrouded in secrets. Archival art, coupled with lively pen-and-ink sketches by children's illustrator Cheryl Harness, detail all the action and adventure of this momentous tale. Like the highly acclaimed hardback, this little paperback is sure to have a big impact on the imagination of readers everywhere.

My thoughts:

Phew, that plot description from the publisher was long. But the praise is not unwarranted--this is a fun historical paperback perfect for anyone interested in learning more about George Washington. The historical facts are entertaining enough for any kid grade five and up (I found it fun to read). There's even a chart at the beginning of the book, so you can see just how intricate George Washington's web of spies really was. It's a fascinating bit of history, and this book makes George Washington three-dimensional to kids.

My only minor criticism is that it felt a little dated, with only pen-and-ink sketches. But otherwise, this is a non-fiction winner I highly recommend to teachers, parents and kids.

How I found out about this book:

A Google search when I was researching the Culper Ring (George Washington's spies) for Double Vision: Code Name 711 gave me this book. It's a bit of an undiscovered gem, I think...

For more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews, head over to author Shannon Messenger's blog!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Announcing the Code Name 711 blog tour, part 2: a celebration of George Washington's birthday

It's Presidents Day next week, and George Washington's birthday on Feb. 22!

Okay, so our first president isn't alive anymore, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate what a cool spy guy he was.

Since Double Vision: Code Name 711 features George Washington's spy history as the head of the Culper Ring, I thought I'd add a mini blog tour next week. Plus, the virtual cake is on me.

Here's the schedule; I hope you'll follow along!

Feb. 1-22: Goodreads giveaway of signed copies of Code Name 711 (see the handy-dandy gadget in the sidebar of this blog, to the right).

Feb. 17: Marvelous MG Monday review of non-fiction book George Washington, Spymaster. Right here, on the blog.

Feb. 19: Educator resources (links) to lots of information on George Washington and his role in the Revolutionary War as a Culper spy.

Feb 21: Author interview at the Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog--plus, a giveaway of Code Name 711. 
And if you live near Jackson, MS, come see me at Lemuria Bookstore! I'll be doing lots of school visits around Jackson that day, and I'll be at the store to sign books at 5 p.m.

Feb. 22: George Washington's birthday!

I promise that by the time I finish this little blog tour, you'll look at George Washington in a whole new light.

Now I want to know: who is your favorite U.S. president, and why?