Monday, August 4, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES by Kimberley Griffiths Little

THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES by Kimberley Griffiths Little (Scholastic Press, July 29. 2014)

What It's About (from the book jacket): When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family's antique shop, she knows she's in for a strange summer. A series of clues leads her to the muddy riverbank, where clouds of fireflies dance among the cypress knees and cattails each evening at twilight.

The fireflies are beautiful and mysterious, and they take Larissa on a magical journey through time, where she learns the secrets about her family's tragic past--deadly, curse-ridden secrets that could endanger the future of her family as she knows it. And when her mother suddenly disappears, it becomes clear that it is up to Larissa to prevent history from repeating itself, and a fatal tragedy from striking the people she loves.

Opening Lines: "The second day of summer was a flapjack-and-bacon morning with enough sweet cane syrup to make your teeth ache. A glorious, heavenly day when you got no more homework due for three whole months."

Why I Liked It:
1) The cover: it is instantly appealing, with all that shimmery light.
2) I'm a sucker for time travel, and this one is done exceedingly well. The setting is in the bayou--and there's a gracious old house which, throughout the course of Larissa's travels, falls into disrepair.
3) It is totally spooky! First there's the creepy doll, then the mysterious phone calls from the antique, unconnected phone in the store. Then there's the tragic fire, and a visit to a graveyard. I was a wet rag at the end of this.
4) Larissa's character arc. I was impressed at her growth from the girl who is furiously resentful about her scar, and hates the girl she believes is responsible, to a person who realizes that there's many sides to a story, and who can embrace forgiveness.
5) The gorgeous writing. Kimberley Griffith's Little is a master of sensory details. I felt uplifted by the language on every page.

And... she's an amazing book trailer maker too! Check this out:

Book Trailer:



I was delighted to be able to ask Kimberley my usual Mafioso questions. The Don was listening in, but apart from whooping at every mention of Italy, did manage to hold his tongue. I think he was as spellbound about this novel as I was! Here we go:

Hi Kimberley! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Your novel is a totalo winner, by the way. First, can you tell me:

1) Who are your favorite (middle grade) writers?

I started out reading a whole lot of classics: Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Louise Fitzhugh, Ellen Raskin, E.L. Konigsburg, Elizabeth Goudge – oh, and um, Nancy Drew. Like boxes full. That I saved for my daughters to read. Except I had 3 sons. Granddaughters, right!?

As an adult I’ve loved Caroline Starr Rose, Barbara O’Connor, Nikki Loftin, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Shannon Messenger, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lisa Graff, to name just a few. There are so many fantastic writers, and most of that previous list of current favorites have become personal friends. Lucky me!

Me: Yup, that;s a great list. *waving to Caroline Starr Rose, a fellow Project Mayhem writer*

2) What's on your nightstand now? 

Middle Grade: THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY by Tracy Holczer (Me: Oh yay! I just featured this on Project Mayhem the other week!)

Young Adult: KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary Pearson

Adult: HOUSE AT RIVERTON by Kate Morton

Nonfiction: Ancient Middle Eastern war tactics (research for my YA trilogy with Harpercollins).

Call me an eclectic reader. :-)

Me: You certainly do read widely. I'm pretty much middle grade, with the occasional foray into The Game of Thrones--I'm reading Book 5 right now.

3) Pick a favorite scene from your novel, and say why you like it: 

Oh, I’d have to say all the creepy doll scenes, icy blue eyes watching Larissa across the antique store, batting her eyelashes and smiling when the curse from the Island of the Dolls unleashes its fury. The hair raised up on my own arms! I also love the heart-to-heart talk Larissa and Grandma Kat have about the family tragedies when Mamma goes missing—and then the doll goes missing . . .  

Me: As I said above, that doll completely creeped me out! Good job!

4) Fill in the blank: I'm really awesome at.... 

Making cookies! I make a lot of cookies during novel revision time and I now have the ability to go from empty mixing bowl to a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies in 20 minutes. Yeah, I’m awesome like that. Don’t forget the ice cold milk . . . 

Me: I agree--those are special skills.  

5) My favorite breakfast is... 

Strawberry waffles and sausage, but I don’t eat it too often (usually it’s a yogurt, banana, and lots of ice water before I head out the door for my daily 3-mile walk). The older I get the more the weight hangs around making faces at me in the mirror each morning.

Me; Yeah, that pesky weight--what's with that?! (Oh yeah, the Don's wife cooks really good Italian food, and I always eat at my desk. Mamma Mia!)

6) If you could visit any place, where would it be? 

I’ve always been a scaredy-cat when it comes to flying, but I just do a lot of praying and force myself to go because I love visiting new, exotic locales and seeing fascinating historical sites. Ever since I was very young I would try to imagine what it would be like to live somewhere or in a certain time period.

My dream trip to the Middle East, Jordan, and Petra finally came true last year—and exceeded all expectations. Over the last decade I’ve stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, stood at the place that Joan of Arc died, ridden a camel in Petra, saw the volcanoes at Kauai, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

My next goal is Italy and/or Greece– and a cruise of some kind. I think I’m one of the only people I know who hasn’t been on a cruise at some point in their life!

Me: Kimberley, that's a heck of a lot of traveling! Did you see a Scottish ghost? And yay: Italy. The Don's broken into song. But I have to say: I can join you in the never-been-on-a-cruise club.

Thanks so much for being such a great guest. I loved your novel, and wish it and you every success. People, if you want to read something both lyrical and creepy, hie thee to a bookstore and get your mitts on THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES!

About the Author:
Kimberley Griffiths Little is the critically acclaimed author of several MG novels with Scholastic and an upcoming YA trilogy, FORBIDDEN, with Harpercollins in 2014. She has won the Southwest Book Award, the Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, starred on the Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, a Crystal Kit runner-up, and a New Mexico Book Award Finalist. Her books have sold several hundred thousand copies in the Scholastic Book Fairs and have been chosen for several state reading lists. She makes super cool book trailers and her first one for The Healing Spell garnered over 8,000 views despite the fact that she was/is a total unknown. Kimberley lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer, and their three sons.

Social Media Links:
Website: http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com
Blog http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.blogspot.com
Twitter @KimberleyGLittl
Facebook: Find me at "Kimberley Griffiths Little"
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/KimberleyLittle1?feature=watch
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/484627.Kimberley_Griffiths_Little



Kimberley has very graciously offered a copy of THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES for one lucky winner. All you have to do is comment, and the Don will pick a winner out of his hat next week. Till then, happy reading and writing. Ciao!