Welcome

This is the blog of children's book author and third grade teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Monday, December 11, 2017

#IMWAYR December 11, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. This week I was still reading middle grade Cybil nominees. I also had a chance to read a YA novel by one of my favorite authors.


Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Kat Greene may seem like the average fifth grader, but at home she is facing a big problem. Her mother has become so afraid of germs her hands are raw and she can't leave the house without gloves. Kat knows she should tell her dad or another adult, but what if they take her away from her mom? A much needed story about seeking help and finding a way to say what needs to be said.


Since my students have become obsessed with the Spy School series, I am always looking for great new stories about kids that solve crimes. The Van Gogh Deception is a fun and exciting mystery that is a cross between Jason Bourne and Home Alone. When a boy is found alone in Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art with no idea of who he is and how he got there, the authorities place him in foster care as they look for clues. But the authorities aren't the only ones trying to find the boy. As "Art" attempts to rediscover his past  he and his new friend Camille find themselves outsmarting adults as they look for clues.

Young Adult


From the time he was a young boy, Lazlo Strange has been obsessed with the mysterious city of Weep, whose real name disappeared from people's minds like magic. Now, as a young man and junior librarian, he finally has the resources to learn all he can, so that when the inhabitants of Weep come looking for help, Lazlo is able to convince their leader to allow him to come too. Little does Lazlo know that in Weep he will find answers to questions he didn't know he needed to ask. A great new high fantasy for lovers of the genre. 

Did you miss my interview with Magaret Peterson Haddix? Follow the link to leave a comment and be entered with a chance to win a copy of the second book in her Children of Refuge series.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Interview with Middle Grade and YA Author Margaret Peterson Haddix

Today I have the privilege of interviewing author Margaret Peterson Haddix. She is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.


When did you decide to become an author?

I started thinking about it as far back as third grade. I remember making up and writing down my own stories way back then. But I wasn't planning out my whole career as an eight-year-old--it was just something I did for fun. And sometimes after I finished reading a book I loved, I would make up new adventures for the characters, because I missed them like I would miss a friend. Years and years later I realized what I was doing was actually fanfiction, but nobody had invented that term yet when I was a kid. For me, being a writer just seemed to evolve from being a reader.

Tell us about your journey. How did you get your first book published?

I wrote a novel in college, and my creative writing professors encouraged me to try to get that published. And I did try a little, but quickly realized that I'd outgrown the book, and would have been embarrassed if it ever did appear in print. Then for my first few years out of college, I worked in newspaper journalism and wrote fiction on the side. The journalism jobs were actually great practice for both writing and writing discipline, and some of the newspaper stories I wrote gave me ideas for fiction I wanted to write, too.  By the time I wrote RUNNING OUT OF TIME, I felt a lot more hopeful about its chances. But I still collected a lot of rejection letters and had to do a lot of revision along the way. When I was ready to seek publication, I mostly used the "try everything" approach, submitting to agents and publishers both. (This was in the early 1990s, when that approach made more sense.) Ultimately, it helped me to go to a writers conference, where I met both agents and editors; a contact I made there led to me getting my first agent, and she was the one who sent my book to David Gale at Simon & Schuster. He and I ended up working together on more than forty books.

You have written a number of series, as well as a bunch of standalone novels. Do you find the development process different? Do you know you are writing a series when you start book one or does that happen later?

Two of my series began with books that I thought were only stand-alones. With the first one, AMONG THE HIDDEN, it took a lot of other people (including my editor and agent) to convince me that a series was possible; I truly had to shift gears as a writer to see interlocking stories there. With the second, JUST ELLA, I always felt there were possibilities for continuing the story somehow, but about a decade passed before I saw how I wanted to do that. All my other series were planned as series from the beginning. Writing a series vs. a stand-alone is a different process. With a standalone, I try to avoid tangents and detours that would be a distraction from telling that book's main story. With a series, I'm constantly looking around at possible detours and thinking, "Is this going to be important in a future book in the series?"

Is there anything about being a published author that has surprised you?

Oh, yes. Pre-publication, this is how I pictured life as an author: I'd spend my time alone at my computer, grappling with ideas and always searching for the right word. It's true that I do plenty of that, and I love it. But I never expected to also spend a lot of time traveling and meeting/talking with kids, educators, librarians, booksellers, parents, etc. I've now been to all 50 states, and some of my trips to about 35 of them were for book travel. I've also spoken about my books in China, Honduras, Germany, Spain, and Canada. If you count Skype visits as well, I've gotten to interact with kids in countries as far away and remote as Tajikistan. And all of this has been an unexpected delight. I love to travel and love to meet new people. It's allowed me to keep some of my favorite parts of being a newspaper reporter (getting to talk to different people, whose lives are very different from mine in some cases) without having the stress and challenges that I didn't like in that job.

The other unexpected joy has been getting to meet and befriend other authors. We are a strange tribe, and it's nice to feel that solidarity with people who also think deeply and care passionately about both the fate of humanity and grammatical minutia such as the Oxford comma.

Any advice you would give to a writer just starting out?

Savor the journey. Starting out (and who am I kidding? Lots of times even now) I would stress myself out trying to plan or predict the direction of my career; I wanted to be able to plot my life the same way I plotted my characters' lives. But that's not possible. And many of the really wonderful things that have happened have been more serendipitous. When I look back, it's a lot of little moments that have truly mattered: the burst of intense joy that comes with suddenly understanding what should happen next in a story, the glow of hearing a reader quietly tell me what one of my books meant to her or him. This profession comes with a heaping portion of self-doubt--most writers have to pass through a lot of rejection on the way to their first acceptance, and even success is no guarantee of future success. So celebrate every victory along the way, constantly look for ways to grow as a writer, and surround yourself with people who will help build you up, not tear you down. And make sure you are that encouraging person for others in your life--whether they are fellow writers or not.


Thank you so much for joining me today! For more information about Margaret Peterson Haddix and her books, visit her at HaddixBooks.com. You can check out my review of Children of Refuge, the second book in the Children of Exile trilogy. Comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Monday, December 4, 2017

#IMWAYR December 4, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 


Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Amy Anne is a shy girl who never says what she thinks until her favorite book, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is banned from the school library. Along with learning how to stand up for books, she learns to stand up for herself. A wonderful story of book love, personal growth, and freedom.


When Anjali's decides to risk her life to join Mahatma Gandi's freedom movement, everything she thought she knew changes. Set in India in 1942, this book will give kids a window into a time period and struggle they probably don't know much about. 


When Edwy is returned home after living in a mysterious place called Fredtown, he thinks he is going to get to know his parents for the first time. Instead, they send him away to a place called Refuge City to live with a brother and sister he has never met. Life in Refuge City seems too good to be true and as Edwy starts to learn more, he realizes he can't go forward until he settles some details of his past and finds his friend Rosi, who he has left behind. This story is full of unexpected twists and turns. It is the second book in The Children of Exile trilogy, but can be read as a first. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Come back to the blog on Thursday to see my interview with the author of Children of Refuge, Magaret Peterson Haddix.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, November 27, 2017

#IMWAYR November 27, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

My Cybils reading continued this week. I am so amazed by how many incredible middle grade historical and realistic fiction books were published in 2017.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Caleb has lived his life with cystic fibrosis, a disease where your lungs fill with fluid. His parents, brother, and even his best friend are so hyper focbused on keeping him safe, he never has a chance to experience the world. When he meets Kit, a wild girl who lives in the woods with her mother, he starts to take risks and be independent. But Kit's independence comes with its own set of problems. A wonderful story about friendship and coming of age.



David is a middle child stuck between a brilliant older sister and a severely autistic younger brother. He considers eating his ability to eat large sums of food quickly his biggest asset. When he accidentally buys something online for two thousand dollars, he thinks it is eating that will get him out of trouble. As David prepares to win $5000 at a pizza eating contest, he spends his days taking care of his brother and figuring out his rules. The book is about discovering your self-worth. 


This sequel to The War That Saved My Life is as good or better than the first book. Ada's mother has died and she and her brother are living her guardian Susan.  Even though Ada's club foot has been surgically corrected, she still has trouble believing that she deserves to love and be loved. As she fights her own personal war, she is also affected by the real war around her, losing more loved ones and getting to know a Jewish German girl named Ruth who has more reason to hate Hitler and the war than she does. 

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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, November 20, 2017

#IMWAYR November 20, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I continued to read middle grade novels for the Cybils, and to share with my class. I also had a chance to read two Young Adult books.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Bea is a poet who thinks in haiku and writes poetry in the air. When her best friend abandons her because of her differences, Bea has to find a way to start over with a new group of friends. This book is full of interesting, unique characters - and as a fan of Grey's Anatomy, I connected with the the idea of dancing it out and finding your Person.


Even though Aven was born without arms, she has always had friends she could count on. But when she moves, no one wants to give her a chance. Afraid to turn her classmates off completely by watching her eat with her feet, Aven seeks refuge in the school library. There she meets Connor, a boy with turrets syndrome, and Zion, a shy overweight boy. Together they find a way to fight peer pressure and expectations.


Since Calvin moved, he has spent most of his time with his younger brother Sammy. In order to make things interesting, he uses Sammy's devotion to get him to get him to do tasks in order to earn badges, promising one day that Sammy will make it from ant to eagle. When a new girl moves to town, Calvin ditches his brother for his new friend. But Sammy is sick, and it is serious, and no badge will make things right. This beautiful story reminded me of The Bridge to Terabethia. 


Young Adult


In this chilling novel in verse, Will has just watched his brother's murder and now he knows what he has to do. There are rules to follow, especially when you are sure you know your brother's killer. But in order to deliver justice, Will must go through the longest elevator ride of his life. On each floor he will meet a ghost from his past who help him see the real consequences of following those rules.


Sasha and Ray have never met, but yet they've shared a room for their whole lives. That's because Sasha's dad was once married to Ray's mom and they have joint ownership of their summer home - even though they refuse to be in the same room together. Told from multiple points of view.


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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, November 13, 2017

#IMWAYR November 12, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I continued to read middle grade novels for the Cybils, and to share with my class. I also had a chance to squeeze in another Young Adult fantasy.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


David Da-Wei Horowitz prepares for his Bar Mitzvah in 1983, during the end of the Cold War. After watching a movie called The Day After, his friend asks him to help him build a nuclear fall out shelter. David faces the dilemma of deciding who he would want to survive with, while navigating the challenge of girls, invitations, a Russian refusenik, and two hilarious grandmothers who each believe that their heritage is best. As a Jewish child who grew up in the 80s, so much of this book brought me back to my childhood and to the Bat Mitzvah I shared with a Russian "twin."



Annabelle has a five mile rule. That's the closest her friends are allowed to come near her home because if they come any closer they might realize that Annabelle's mom is a hoarder and that the piles have become so large her younger sister is worried she might die under a pile. But as Annabelle's parent's relationship starts to crumble faster than the piles, she needs to decide whether she stays and fights for cleanliness or leaves for cleaner places. A heartfelt story about family relationships and facing family problems.



Maria Luisa (Malu) is not happy about moving from Florida to Chicago with her "SuperMexican" mother. She misses her punk rock father and her friends. On the first day of school she is called into a special assembly for kids breaking the dress code and is called a Coconut (someone who is brown on the outside but white on the inside) by a mean girl named Selena. But Malu isn't going to let those things stop her. She forms a band with other kids who want to be punk and together they take on the school. While I like this cover, I don't thinks it captures the depth of this book which does a great job capturing the challenges of middle school.


Young Adult


In a future world run by superheros called Renegades, the supervillains are stuck living in hiding. For Nova, the supervillians are family. She has been living with them since her Uncle, the head of the villains, rescued her when her parents and sister were killed by a gang, before he was also destroyed. In order to help equalize the balance between good and evil, Nova has become a Renegade, hoping to destroy the superheros from within. This book is considered YA, but I think it could be enjoyed by an upper middle grader.

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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, November 6, 2017

#IMWAYR November 6, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I continued to read middle grade novels for the Cybils, and to share with my class. I also had a chance to squeeze in another Young Adult fantasy.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Maverick is determined to live up to his father's memory and right the wrongs of sixth grade. Unfortunately each time he plays the hero, he ends up being the villain instead. But the more he looks out for others, the more people see him for the kindhearted person he is. This book explores many difficult topics such as an alcoholic mother, her abusive boyfriends, and a classmate with and abusive father.


Arturo loves spending time with his family at their Miami restaurant. When a big developer threatens to close them down, Arturo tries to be a hero and save the day. Unfortunately his plans don't go as expected. A wonderful book about the importance of family and community.


Meet The Vanderbeeks, five children ranging in age from four to twelve. When their parents tell them that they will have to move out of their brownstone in Harlem because their grumpy landlord, the Biederman, doesn't want to renew their lease, the Vanderbeek children decide to change his mind with kindness. A fun group of characters with an important problem to solve.


I could not put down this new novel by Laura Shovan. A full review and interview will be coming to Sporty Girl Books before the book releases in June 2018. For now, I will just tell you that this book should be on your TBR list.

Young Adult


Ember, a dragon turned rogue, continues to fight Talon, the dragon body that is set on the destruction of humans. In this fourth book, Ember and her friends have to help sworn dragon fighters, the soliders of St. George, in order to ensure that both humans and rogue dragons survive. 


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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, October 30, 2017

#IMWAYR October 30, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I continued to read middle grade novels for the Cybils, and to share with my class. I also had a chance to squeeze in another Young Adult fantasy.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Before, Ethan was a happy, healthy kid with a best friend named Kacey. Now he needs to learn how to go on without her. A heartwarming story about finding a way to move forward after tragedy 



Sophie is one of the only black kids in a white neighborhood in 1967. She faces racism, explores friendship, and learns about love and family in this coming of age novel.



Flora and her brother Julian may have found a forever family, but until the mystery of their past is solved, they have a hard time believing in forever.



Young Adult


In this land of kings, queens, and hidden magic, a war is brewing between two kingdoms. Told from multiple points of view.



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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, October 23, 2017

#IMWAYR Oct. 23, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I continued to read middle grade novels for the Cybils, and to share with my class. I also had a chance to squeeze in one Young Adult fantasy over the weekend.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Told from multiple points of view, this book addresses the too real issue of over-testing in schools while introducing us to a number of wonderful characters who grow and change throughout the book. I hope it will be a series.



The Unbreakable Code is book 2 in the Book Scavenger series. Emily and James are two young code breaking book hunters who are trying to break a historical Unbreakable Code to solve the mystery of why their history teacher has been acting suspicious. Little do they know that their own search for answers is making them a target of an arsonist.



Clayton Byrd's grandfather is the coolest person he knows. A Blues Man, Cool Papa Byrd is loved by many and he has shared his love of the Blues and music with his only grandson. Unfortunately the one person who does not love Cool Papa's music is his daughter, Clayton's mother. When Cool Papa suddenly dies, Clayton's mother seeks to rid her life and Clayton's life, of her father's memory. No willing to give his grandfather's memory away, Clayton sets off by himself to find his grandfather's blues.


Young Adult



One Dark Throne is the second in the Three Dark Crown series. Unfortunately my library only has book two, but it didn't take long for me to get wrapped up in this world. In this kingdom, female triplets are born to every queen but only one of the three is allowed to take the throne. During this book, their ascension year, the three must battle to the death in order to see who has been blessed by the goddess and can rule the kingdom. Told in multiple points of view, this book is Game of Thrones for teens.



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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, October 16, 2017

#IMWAYR October 16, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

This week I was honored to see my novel, The Perfect Trip, on the nomination list for the Cybils. Since I already have the honor of being named a Cybil judge, I asked for the book to be made ineligible due to a conflict of interest. There are so many amazing books in the category that I continued to read this week. I'm also still reading books for school. 

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


I reread this book this week since I have a student reading it for my character change unit. I loved this book when I first read it and loved it even more the second time around. I love the development of the relationships between Ivan, Stella, Ruby, Julie, and Bob. It is a new classic.



Stef Soto always loved her father's taco truck, but this year she is tired of being the taco queen. But when his father's business is at risk, Stef realizes that sometimes you need to step up and support your family.



Charlie views the world through his knowledge of birds. An autistic boy with OCD tendencies, he has always relied on his father's support and the list they made of the birds they would see someday. When his father is injured and needs brain surgery, he takes a difficult road trip across the country to see him and his someday birds help him hold things together and face the challenges the trip has in store.



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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Monday, October 9, 2017

#IMWAYR October 9, 2017


Each week I join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

As a first-round panelist for the middle grade Cybils category, I have a ton of books that jumped to the top of my TBR list. I'm also still reading books for school. 

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


This historical fiction novel takes place at the end of segregation. At the end of the summer Charlie learns that his local friends have all changed schools because his local school "is going downhill." Turns out downhill means the school is being desegregated. Armstrong is one of the boys who will be bused in. Told from alternating points of view, you may want tissues for this one. I would recommend this for an older middle grade reader because of the descriptions of first kisses.


Four lives come together in this book about fate and friendship. When Virgil gets trapped at the bottom of the well trying to rescue his pet guinea pig, he thinks hope is lost. Fortunately the universe is sending some new friends to find him.


This book felt familiar - girl starts middle school and her best friend is becomes friends with someone else and is acting older, which leaves the main character behind. In this friendship story, the new friend is a bully who targets Karma's food and the hairs growing on her face in order to widen the gap between Karma and her former best friend. I thought the mustache was an interesting element in this story. I would have liked to see Karma struggle a little more with the issue of being half Sikh and wanting to cut her hair. 



I'm so glad I included this book in my 4th grade character study because it forced me to read it again and it's a book I have loved since I was in middle school. Bradley Chalkers is the school bully and the bad behavior kid. Nobody likes him, and he doesn't like them. That is until a new school counselor and a new student named Jeff challenge Bradley's reality and make him wonder whether he could be the kid in the class with the gold stars. If you loved Wonder, Fish in a Tree, and Finding Perfect, you will love this book.



This book is also part of my 4th grade character study. Edward Tulane is a fine porcelain rabbit who thinks very highly of himself, his clothing, and his pocket watch. He thinks very little about anything else. When he is accidentally thrown overboard and is found and owned by a series of adults and children, he starts to learn what it truly means to love and to be loved.

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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

It's Monday, what are you reading?