Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winners of the Weenie Books for Halloween

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for joining the Halloween party with David Lubar. Wasn't he a perfect guest for getting into the spirit of things? I thought so, too. Be sure to read down past the winners, for another treat and a slightly different side of David. Well, sort of . . .

CONGRATULATIONS  to LUCKY WINNER #ONE: Mjolner (the guy in the beret) Please e-mail me (claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com) within one week with your mailing address and your autographed copy of  The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies will be on it's way to you asap!

 CONGRATULATIONS to LUCKY WINNER #TWO: Janet (Writing in the Blackberry Patch) Please e-mail me with your address, and your Halloween treat will be in the mail asap!

You can purchase a copy of Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar from your favorite bookseller! (Available in paperback!)  Don't forget to visit David's web-site: http://www.davidlubar.com

From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7-10 -Scott Hudson is the quintessential freshman. He's small, he's lost, and seniors yoke him for spare change. His honors homework keeps him up all night and his gym teacher is trying to kill him. He joins the paper, runs for student council, and tries out for the play, just to be near a girl he likes. This all backfires. He turns out to be the least athletic sports reporter in school history, and freshman lackey to the sadists on stage crew. Meanwhile, his mother is pregnant. The plot is framed by Scott's journal of advice for the unborn baby. The novel's absurd, comical mood is evident in its entries, like "Scott Hudson's List of Good Things about Getting Beat Up," and jabs at the fetus ("I hope we can recover our investment [in baby furniture] when I sell you."). The author brings the protagonist to three-dimensional life by combining these introspective musings with active, hilarious narration. This format also breaks up the story for slower readers. Scott's character arc is extremely satisfying as he develops his true strengths over the nine months of school and the pregnancy. His interactions with the school delinquent and the heavily pierced new girl are fresh and subtle. Though Scott purposely peppers his journal with SAT words, Lubar's language use and writing style are deceptively simple. The teen's physical and emotional tumult is as clear, familiar, and complex as high school itself.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library  
David Lubar

 Thanks for joining us! Have a Happy and Spirited Halloween with good friends and good books! 

My November guest is Theodore Geisel Honor Winner, the Fabulous Illustrator/Author Suzanne Bloom. See you soon . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar

Dear Friends,

No tricks here, just a great treat from a really funny writer and friend, David Lubar. David has treats in store for you. He has generously donated two copies of his Weenies' book, The Battle of the Red Hot Weenies. I know the middle grade crowd will gobble up these stories faster than candy corn.

Read about Author David Lubar's unique sense of humor and imagination in his personal essay, and then meet David at the end of the post and find out how to win one of the autographed copies of his books! Thanks so much for celebrating Halloween with us! David's books are great reads for anytime of the year. Read on . . .

Hats off to the Weenie Guy by  David Lubar

 For most of my freshman year in college, I wore a black cowboy hat. I had no legitimate reason to do this. I didn't grow up on a ranch, wrangle cattle, or engage the Clanton boys in gunfire. Since this fashion statement occurred in New Jersey during the mid-seventies, nobody questioned, or cared about, my authenticity. When people met me, they'd stare for a moment, and then, as recognition clicked into place, say, "Oh, yeah. You're the guy with the hat." There was a lot more to me than some ratty piece of felt, of course, but that was my identity back then. The guy with the hat. I have a new identity these days -- one that I suspect is far rarer and more amusing than any clothing-inspired description. I'm the Weenie guy. And that's a good thing.
 My passion for short stories was spawned during childhood by the fortunate combination of a short attention span and a lack of athletic or social skills. The latter ensured I would have lots of leisure time for reading. The former nudged me away from lengthier works. I devoured short fiction as a kid. I started writing stories when I was in high school. In college, I wrote the typical angst-driven literary pieces that most freshmen feel compelled to inflict on their friends, roommates, and professors. I wanted to be James Joyce. Alas, my eyesight was too strong and my liver too weak to completely emulate my idol's path through life.
Fortunately, after college, I found greater joy in writing stories that were fun to read. I’d made the transition from poseur (and from the sort of person who flaunts words like “poseur” and “flaunt”) to entertainer.  Even more fortunately, I found a publishing house that saw potential in my work. Most fortunate of all, my first story collection, In the Land of the Lawn Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, had hot dogs on the cover. These were not just any hot dogs. These were brilliantly drawn anthropomorphic Weenies who pushed lawn mowers while they stared into space with hypnotized eyes.
 In case you're wondering about "Weenie," that's an affectionate term for someone who has a bit too much enthusiasm for something that shouldn't merit much enthusiasm at all.. Lawn Weenies are folks who love to mow and fertilize far more often than necessary. This was just one of thirty-five stories in the collection. The other tales delved into vampires, mummies, killer parrots, overgrown sea monkeys, cow-fearing little brothers, and other horrors.

The book sold well.  My publisher asked for second collection. As I assembled the stories, I decided there should be more of those amazing hot dogs on the cover. This time, the Weenies were the joggers who never smile. Three more collections followed, most recently, Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales As always, the stories range from pure horror to pure humor.  There’s a bonus section explaining where I got the ideas for the stories.  The title Weenies this time are young people who think vampires are cute, huggable, and sparkly. This is a tragic mistake.  Next time, in June of 2012, it will be Ninja Weenies.  I just saw the cover, and it is the best one yet. I can’t take any credit for that, but I can take pleasure in it.

There is a down side to my Weenie empire. First, just as being The Guy with the Hat collapses me into a one- or zero-dimensional entity, the Weenies on the cover seem to promise a depth more associated with thin-sliced salami than plump and subtly spiced sausages. That’s not a fair assessment of what lies beneath. I wasn’t just walking around with a hat when I was in college.  I was also reading a lot of literature. I might not write like Joyce, Borges, or Hesse, or Chaucer, but I do write like someone who has spent quality time with all of them. So I can’t help flinching just a little when friends pass along eyewitness accounts of parents at book fairs telling Weenie-collection-clutching children to, "Put that down and get a real book."

The other down side is that when I visit schools, odds are there will be hot dogs on the menu.  But that's okay. The down side is minor compared to the up side. Millions of young readers have enjoyed my stories, both on their own and in classroom read-alouds. I've had the pleasure of introducing these kids, by way of my fiction, to a wide variety of prose styles, voices, genres, and tropes. (I'm guessing about that last part. I really do need to look up "trope" one of these days, or stop using it.) I can pull off tricks and twists that would never work in a massive novel, but work just fine in the space of five pages. I get to write what I love -- short stories -- and you get to read my work. It's good being the Weenie Guy. As Caesar said, "Weenie, Vidi, Vici."
If you're a fan, please check out the newest collection. If you've never encountered the Weenies, give one of my books a try. Share it with your kids or your students.  I promise you that they will love it. And so will you. If not, I'll eat my hat.

 David Lubar has written twenty-five books for young readers, including Hidden Talents, Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, and Punished.  His novels are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madam Bovary.  His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Boy's Life, READ, and Nickelodeon. He has also designed and programmed many video games, but he'd much rather spend his time writing books and hanging out with teachers and librarians.  In his spare time, he takes naps on the couch.  He lives in Nazareth, PA.  Read more about David here: http://www.davidlubar.com/

And here's David’s  absolute favorite blurb: "There is no doubt about it – David Lubar is the Rod Serling of Middle Grade Fiction."   Paul Goat Allen, on his Barnes and Noble Blog 
Read the complete article here: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/   

To win a copy of David's book, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, battle-of-the-red-hot-pepper-weenies simply leave a comment by October 26th. The drawing will be on October 27th! Stop by to comment on the blog post, share your favorite creepy or spooky book, or just say, "Hi!" We'd love to hear from you. As Caesar said, "Weenie, Vidi, Vici."