My beautiful family/suspense/ghost story got a coveted star from SLJ. I am giddy with delight and absolutely thrilled. Thank you, dear Renee Steinberg!
I personally know the pain of bad reviews. After all, I've received many of them over the years since I started writing. I've also spent way too much time being jealous of all those authors for whom every book they write regularly get 2-4 starred reviews from the review journals. Heck, they probably yawn when they see them now! :-)
But I kept writing, kept submitting, kept receiving rejections, kept having books published that ended up orphaned and poorly reviewed (or not reviewed at all!) and then remaindered and out of print.
So this is a really special day for me. I feel validated. A milestone and goal achieved. And weird relief, too. Hopefully I can stay in print for awhile, ha, ha! School Librarians are the best! They work super long hours, are devoted to getting good books into the hands of their students and work tirelessly running several school libraries nowadays (with budget cuts!) and reading as many new books as they can squeeze into their late night hours so they will be able to match up the right book with the right child to help create a new reader - and a lasting reader into adulthood.
To get my very first *star* from SLJ means a lot to me. And Ta Da, here it is!
School Library Journal
December 1, 2011
Starred: LITTLE, Kimberley Griffiths. Circle of Secrets. 325p. CIP. Scholastic. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-16561-7. LC 2011000889.
Gr 5-8–A story of loss, love, and forgiveness. When Shelby Jane’s father is sent out of the country for his work and her Grandma Phoebe must have an operation, she is sent to live with her mama deep in the Louisiana bayou. Because Shelby, 11, believes that her mother abandoned her, the start of this mother/daughter reunion is contentious, and Shelby seems determined to maintain her distance. Mirage is a traiteur, a healer who ministers to those in need with herbal remedies, prayers, and patience. Shelby’s reluctance to give an inch at first makes her transition to life in the bayou that much more difficult. She can’t, however, squelch her fascination with the blue bottle tree in the backyard. Mirage explains that the bottles are supposed to capture spirits and that notes are put inside to send messages from the beyond. A mysterious tone permeates this gripping story. Shelby is a believable, fully developed character, as is Mirage. When the child starts at her new school, she is drawn into a frightening truth-or-dare challenge by the in crowd, which foreshadows future eerie, terrifying developments. Her strong friendship with mysterious Gwen dovetails with her determination to understand notes she takes from the blue bottle tree and Mirage’s references to painful memories she is trying to forget. Little’s rich, vivid prose and characterization create an intriguing universe in which realism and mysticism intertwine as the story’s secrets unravel. Fans of Little’s The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2010) and Donna Jo Napoli’s Alligator Bayou (Random, 2009) will be well served by this selection.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ