Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal

Because living with "modern-hippy" parents on a goat farm means fourteen-year-old Janie Gorman cannot have a normal high school life, she tries joining Jam Band, making friends with Monster, and spending time with elderly former civil rights workers.

How to Build a Story . . . Or, the Big What If

How to Build a Story . . . Or, the Big What If

From bestselling author Frances O’Roark Dowell comes a fresh and accessible guide to storytelling that breaks down the sometimes-daunting writing process into straightforward, doable steps, just right for budding writers! If you’ve written anything, ever, you’re already a writer—so, congratulations! As many aspiring authors know, though, telling an actual, complete story is, well, a different story. As unfinished drafts pile up and writers’ block strikes, it may start to feel like there’s a special formula to finishing a project that you’re just not getting. But crafting a story isn’t magic, if you have a little know-how! And here it is—know-how! In her witty, clever way, critically acclaimed author Frances O’Roark Dowell explains the storytelling process with simple, easy-to-understand steps. Follow along as she shares sample stories and identifies building blocks and obstacles to conquer—all hilariously illustrated, in a way that’ll have you typing all the way to the end of your own story. In addition to writing many books including Shooting the Moon and Dovey Coe, Frances O’Roark Dowell has over a decade’s experience teaching writing workshops for kids. Ready, set, write!

Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water

From the award-winning author of Dovey Coe comes a “powerful” (School Library Journal) tale of the friendship between a black girl and a white boy and the prejudices they must overcome in segregated Celeste, Kentucky, as the pair try to solve the mysteries surrounding a lonely old dog. Eleven-year-old Callie is fearless, stubborn, and a little nosy. So when she sees an old yellow dog wandering around town by itself, you can bet she’s going to figure out who he belongs to. But when her sleuthing leads her to cross paths with a white boy named Wendell who wants to help, the segregated town doesn’t take too kindly to their budding friendship. Meanwhile, a nearly invisible boy named Jim is stuck in a cabin in the woods. He’s lost his dog, but can’t remember exactly when his pup’s disappeared. When his companion, a little boy named Thomas, who’s been invisible much longer than he, explains that they are ghosts, the two must figure out why they can’t seem to cross the river to the other side just yet… And as Callie and Wendell’s search for the old dog brings them closer and closer to the cabin in the woods, the simmering prejudices of the townspeople boil over. Trouble the Water is a story that spans lifetimes, showing that history never truly disappears, and that the past will haunt us until we step up to change the present and stand together for what is right.

Sam the Man & the Dragon Van Plan

Sam the Man & the Dragon Van Plan

Sam the Man is back with not one, but TWO plans in this third hilarious chapter book in the Sam the Man series from Frances O’Roark Dowell. Sam Graham is a dragon fan and a big truck man. Monster trucks to be specific. And when the family minivan needs replacing, Sam has the perfect plan: get a family monster truck instead! But convincing Mom that a monster truck is the way to go may prove to be a little too difficult, even for Sam. So he comes up with plan number two: Turn the minivan into a monster minivan with a super-cool dragon painted on it! First, though, Sam has to convince his family why a monster minivan is the best choice—oh, and learn how to paint a dragon…

The Class

The Class

Twenty Kids. Twenty points of view. One rambunctious, brilliantly conceived novel that corrals the seeming chaos (c’mon, TWENTY points of view!) into one effervescent story. Sixth grade is a MOST confusing time. Best friends aren’t friends anymore. Worst enemies suddenly want to be partners in crime. And classmates you thought you knew have all sorts of surprising stuff going on. The kids in Mrs. Herrera’s class are dealing with all these things and more—specifically, three more: 1. There’s a new girl who just seems to be spying on them all and scribbling things in a notebook. Maybe she IS a spy? 2. Someone is stealing all of Mrs. Herrera’s most treasured items. 3. Their old classmate, Sam, keeps showing up and no one knows why…until they do. Which leads to a fourth problem. But we can’t tell you about that yet. The twenty kids in Mrs. Herrera’s classroom can, though, and they do. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Sam the Man & the Secret Detective Club Plan

Sam the Man & the Secret Detective Club Plan

Sam Graham is a mystery man. But when there are no mysteries to solve, Sam comes up with a plan to find one in this hilarious fourth chapter book in the Sam the Man series from Frances O’Roark Dowell. Sam Graham loves solving mysteries. After successfully solving the mystery of Annabelle’s lost sock, Sam decides to make mystery-solving his main hobby (after tending the chickens, of course). He recruits his best friend Gavin and a couple of their classmates for a detective club, and together they’re ready for any mystery that comes their way. There’s a problem though…there are no cases to solve! So, Sam comes up with a plan: They’ll take the most interesting things in the lost and found and try to find out who lost what. But who could a locked box, a very long stuffed snake, and a red jacket belong to? And how will Sam and his friends find them? And…why does that jacket smell so bad?!?

Falling In

Falling In

There are some people in this world who are a little more aware, a little more in tune with what’s happening around them. Isabelle Bean is one of those people, and when she sits in her regular, average classroom, listening to an odd buzzing sound and feeling as if she is teetering on the edge of the universe...she is not too far from the truth. Like Alice falling through the looking glass, Isabelle soon finds herself in a parallel universe, where she’s mistaken for a witch, then finds out that her grandmother is a witch, then finds out she isn’t, but no one believes her, which is the whole reason Isabelle has tumbled into this world—to straighten everyone out on the witch and non-witch business. Oh, and to find a true friend. Dowell’s fantasy debut is, yes indeed, entrancing.

Sam the Man & the Cell Phone Plan

Sam the Man & the Cell Phone Plan

Sam Graham wants a cell phone to help him with his research, but when his parents say no, he has to come up with another way to keep all the info he needs in his pocket in this hilarious fifth chapter book in the Sam the Man series from Frances O’Roark Dowell. Here are the facts: Sam Graham is an information man. But to get information, you need to do research. You never know when you’ll need an urgent piece of info—like, say, the number for a chicken emergency hotline—so a resource for instant research is a must! This is why Sam needs a cell phone. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad disagree. So, Sam has to come up with a plan. But what is small enough to fit in your pocket and can hold all the information you need? Sam will have to go old-school with his latest plan and use a handy notebook instead. Luckily, retro is in, and à la Nick in Andrew Clements’s Frindle, Sam might just start the latest trend!

Miles Past Normal

Principles for the Journey

Miles Past Normal

At each turn in life we are bombarded with the idea of normal. Normal finds a job he hates so it can pay for things he doesn't need while he wishes he was doing something else. Normal believes that creativity, imagination, innovation, and dreaming should cease after the fifth grade. Normal goes to church for an hour on Sundays but doesn't get carried away or allow her faith to truly intersect her life any other time of the week. Each day of normal becomes a tedious, hard-pill to swallow. But each day of normal also swells our thirst for something more. Have you ever wondered if there was something beyond normal? Have you ever craved adventure? What about purpose? Wished for meaning? Longed to know that what you do really matters? Maybe you've just longed to know that you matter. What if you could unlock the secrets to an abnormal life just like those men and women in Hebrews 11? What if God's design for your life is so much more than the trappings of this world? What if there is a life up ahead that could be meaningful, adventurous, and most of all, matter for eternity? What if God is not done altering the course of history? This is your invitation to travel miles past normal.

Phineas L. MacGuire . . . Gets Cooking!

Phineas L. MacGuire . . . Gets Cooking!

Chemistry in the kitchen? Phineas L. MacGuire applies his science skills to culinary creations in this food-tastic tale from the bestselling author of Chicken Boy. Phineas L. MacGuire—scientist extraordinaire—has a new chore: cooking dinner every night. He may be a genius, but he knows nothing about following a recipe. A pinch? A dash? A smidge? This doesn’t seem very scientific. A pound of spaghetti? Salt on brownies? Lemon in biscuits? Why, these recipes look a little funky. But he’d better learn quickly if he and his friends are going to win the $10,000 Bake-Off prize. And to complicate matters, school bully Evan Forbes has taken a liking to Phineas’s brownies…too much of a liking. As in, if Phineas can’t make Evan enough brownies, he’ll get clobbered for sure. Fortunately for Phineas, he has the help of his friends, and even better, he soon discovers that cooking actually is kind of like chemistry. So the whole recipe thing might just work out—as long as he can keep his cool in the kitchen.