Monday, July 7, 2014

Claude's Picture Adventure

Alrighty, friends, today we're doing something crazy! We're doing something nuts! We're doing a...D.I.Y. post! 

So roll up those sleeves and get ready to make your very own Claude and Sir Bobblysock cut-out!

For those of you who have yet to meet this charming traveling duo, there are just a few things you ought to know about Claude and Sir Bobblysock (besides the fact that Sir B is extremely photogenic): 

1.) Claude is a small, plump dog who wears shoes and a sweater and a rather nifty beret. (See diagram below.)

2.) Claude’s best pal in the whole world is both a sock and quite bobbly. (Though, what it means to be bobbly, he has yet to explain.)
But most importantly… 
3.) They love to go on adventures! 

In fact, Claude and Sir Bobblysock are looking for new places to go this summer, AND THEY NEED YOUR HELP!  Whether it’s to the beach, a theme park, a big city, or a neighborhood cookout, these two want to come along!  Look, they’re already packed! 
So here’s the D.I.Y. bit:
1.) Print this Claude and Sir Bobblysock cut-out on plain white paper. (Hint: If you use card stock it will work better!)

2.) Gather your other supplies! (Glue, scissors, & a Popsicle stick)

3.) Use scissors to cut along the dotted line. 

4.) Glue or tape the cut-out to the Popsicle stick.

5.) Take a picture of Claude and Sir Bobblysock on your trip!

6.) Finally, send your pictures to publicity(at)peachtree(dash)online(dot)com by August 31, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. 

Are you on social media? You can post them there too! Just post your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and tag us with #ClaudesPictureAdventure so we can see the fun!  (And don’t forget to follow us!) 

After the summer is over, we’ll put all the pictures we receive together in a video montage/slideshow so everyone can see all the exotic places Claude and Sir Bobblysock went! 

Need ideas? 
Take a look at their past adventures, Claude at the Beach, Claude at the Circus, and Claude in the City.  And get ready for their next adventure, coming out in October, Claude on the Slopes!  

Happy adventuring! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Football Facts Even a Bookworm Can Appreciate

Well, folks, it's officially summer. You know what that means, right? Football season is right around the corner! 

We're actually pretty big fans at Peachtree, and not just because we're southern. Fred Bowen, coach and Washington Post sports columnist, is coming out with a brand new football title this August! 

Double Reverse is an action-packed middle grade chapter book chronicling one team’s inspiring journey in conquering expectations and seeing themselves, not for how they look, but for what they can achieve.

Now, we know that the stereotypical bibliophile isn't a huge football fan, but until reading becomes America's favorite pastime, we thought we'd put together some fun facts about the sport to help you at those inevitable football watch parties.

  1. Professional football was first played on November 12, 1892 between Allegheny Athletic Association and Pittsburgh Athletic Club ending in a 6-6 tie! Look! We even found the “birth certificate” of pro-football! 

    The payment of player W. Heffelfinger made it official!
  2. Football came about from a combination of soccer and rugby.
  3. The first college game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, but the sport didn’t become popular until the 1880s.
  4. Before college games, competitions between Athletic Clubs were fierce and exciting!
  5. The oldest man to ever play the game professionally was George Blanda, aged 48, who played for the Oakland Raiders in 1927. He is also the person who has played the most seasons (26). 
  6. Here’s a link to a very extensive time-line of the game including when touchdowns were altered from five points to six (1912) and the first televised game (1939). Pretty Nifty! 
  7. The longest field goal was 64 yards made from Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos on December 8, 2013!  (You’ll meet an unexpected kicker in Double Reverse!)
  8. There's an awesome online exhibit called Football and America which details stories of professional football players who served in various wars and the sacrifices they made. Perfect fodder for Fourth of July picnicking conversation!
  9. The title of “The Greatest Game Ever Played” is attributed to the 1958 Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. This game led to football becoming America’s favorite sport to watch in the 1960s! Read the full story here
  10. The highest scoring game is between the Redskins and New York Giants with the final score of 72-41 with the Redskins taking the win! It was on November 27, 1966.
  11. Fran Tarkenton was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 2, 1986. This player is a huge inspiration for this Bowen novel, so take a look at his impressive history! He retired as the all-time leader in attempts (6,467), completions (3,686), passing yardage (47,003), and touchdown passes (342).  Read more here! 

If you’re itching for more awesome facts about America’s favorite past-time, these all came from Pro Football Hall of Fame’s official site.

Visit Fred Bowen at and And look for Double Reverse in your local library or bookstore!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Audiobook Giveaway: June is for Bumpers

To celebrate June as audiobook month, and to celebrate the third installment of our Charlie Bumpers series, we’re hosting a giveaway!  Enter to win a hardcover AND audiobook of Charlie Bumper vs. the Teacher of the Year AND Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

It’s easy to enter. Just take a pic of yourself reenacting your favorite CB cover, and post it with the hashtags #JuneisforBumpers #BookGiveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The top three silliest, wildest and most original submissions will win.  You may enter as many times as you like before the July 1st deadline...just in time for the release of the third installment of this series, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull. Remember to comment/share/like/follow us.  We have so many more giveaways lined up!

Happy Reading

- C

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dads & Dinos: Guest Post by Julie Middleton

Greetings, readers! Today we have a Father's Day guest post from the fantastic Julie Middleton, author of Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? She's here to talk about the real father/son outing that inspired her Irma Black Honor-winning picture book. Enjoy!

Harley (right) & Sam (left)
Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? is the story of a dad and his son on a day out together that takes some surprising twists and turns.

The inspiration for the book came from my son Harley, who was then five years old. I was taking him and his dad, Sam, to the train station. They were going up to London for Harley’s first trip to the Natural History Museum. There was a lot of excited chatter about the dinosaurs they might see, and then silence.

A look of panic crossed Harley’s face. “The dinosaurs are dead, aren’t they, Daddy?”

Sam smiled. “Of course they are.”

Harley looked as if he didn’t really believe it!
Natural History Museum, London

After waving goodbye, I started to play around with the words in Harley’s question, enjoying the potential for alliteration. At the end of my ten-minute drive home I had Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? —the title of a book I had no idea I was going to write!

I liked that Sam was so certain in his reply and that Harley still had a notion that something unexpected could happen. That was the seed of the idea I wanted to play with.

I knew that I needed different dinosaurs with different characteristics to make the story work, so I began researching dinosaur facts. I wanted to include some dinosaurs that weren’t as well-known as others, and I wanted to make sure that each dinosaur did something with Dave (my main character) that was possible for that dinosaur. The Ankylosaurus had bony eyelids, so that made him perfect to wink at Dave. The Deinocheirus, with the longest arms, was perfect for tickling. 

Once I knew which dinosaurs I wanted to include and the actions that Dave would see—winking, tickling, grinning, roaring—I then had to think of a way of making these facts and actions into a story. I liked the idea of Dad not believing what was actually happening, and I chose to find a rhythm for his responses, "It’s just your imagination…."

And with Russell’s wonderful illustrations the book came to life. When an advanced copy popped through the post, seeing Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? completed was so special. 

Harley, however, looked at the book somewhat nonchalantly.  “It’s good, Mum,” he said, “but you wouldn’t have that book if it wasn’t for me and Dad!”

Indeed I wouldn’t.

Happy Father’s Day!

Julie Middleton was born in Manchester and now lives by the sea in Brighton with her husband Sam, children Frankie and Harley, and a saggy ginger tomcat, Joe Noodle. For the last 15 years Julie has been writing scripts and stories for children’s television. Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? is her first picture book.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Read with a Falcon

Paul Worrilow | Linebacker
Every summer, Peachtree teams up with the Atlanta Falcons for a weekly online story time called Read with a Falcon.

Community-minded Falcons players and cheerleaders take the time to share a picture book with young sports fans. We are very proud of this partnership, and we're so glad that the Falcons are doing their part to promote literacy and a love of reading.

I got to tag along to watch the filming for a few of the segments! Too cool, right?

This summer's videos aren't live yet, but I thought I'd share a few behind-the-scenes pictures here. Enjoy! And make sure to check back for the full-length story times!

Here we are with Paul as he reads STANLEY THE BUILDER. We taped the segments on the indoor practice field.

Matt Bryant | Place Kicker
Brian is getting Matt all mic'd up!

Joe's reading of LOST FOR WORDS was excellent. He even did the voices for Giraffe, Hippo, and Flamingo--so cute!

Joe Hawley | Center

Make sure you watch for these new story times, and check the Read with a Falcon website to see your favorite book and Falcons player!

Which player/book would you like matched up next?

Thanks so much to the Atlanta Falcons, especially Matt, Joe, & Paul! 

Keep reading!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fall 2014 Catalog

Hey juvenile literature enthusiasts!  Our Fall 2014 catalog is ready for your perusal, and we couldn't be happier to share our Fall Frontlist titles with you.


Peachtree is launching our new "Stanley" series with William Bee.  Stanley the Builder and Stanley's Garage are both due to launch in September.

Two English artists pair up to create this gentle picture book; Can I Come Too? Brian Patten authors and Nicola Bayley illustrates this story of a tiny mouse on a great adventure.

Alex Latimer of Lion vs Rabbit, Penguin's Hidden Talent, and The Boy Who Cried Ninja has a new hilariously quirky picture book, Pig and Small.

And for those readers who are already fans of our current series, you will not be disappointed in this season's selection.  We have the latest installments of the About series, Claude series, Charlie Bumpers series, Fred Bowen Sports Stories, and Dog Chronicles.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chris Platt: Peachtree's Renaissance Woman

If I was an eighteenth century lady and you and I were wearing petticoats and chatting over tea and scones, I'd probably refer to Chris Platt as accomplished.

Since I'm wearing jeans and typing this while munching on a microwaved veggie burger, I'll say instead that Chris is pretty awesome

She's broken barriers as one of the first female jockeys in Oregon, can often be found shooting bows, and has a black belt in a hard-style karate discipline called "Shotokan." She's played the drums since she was a kid and is currently taking a break after playing for 12 or so years in a bagpipe band. She's also run a couple of marathons, and even had a pot-bellied pig that lived in her house for a while.

Somewhere in there, Chris has found time to author more than a dozen books for young readers, including the popular horse novels Willow King, its sequel Race the Wind, and many titles in the Thoroughbred series.

This month, she published Wind Dancer, and we at Peachtree couldn't be more excited about it! It's the story of a neglected horse who helps a girl named Ali get through to her brother, a young man suffering from PTSD after his tour in Afghanistan. 

Chris dropped by the blog to chat about her new book, writing professionally, and her (ADORABLE) horses.

Chris Platt on the Daily Life of a Writer

Aside from writing, how do you spend your days?

Chris shooting her bow
I’m a crazy-busy person.  A usual day for me is getting up around 8:30, feeding my 4 horses and cleaning stalls, taking care of the cats and parrot, and feeding all the neighbor cats that hang out in my yard. (I’m the only one in the neighborhood who doesn’t have a dog. lol) 

I’ll go for a run 2-4 times a week, or the gym, karate, or horseback riding.  

I live on an acre of land, and have another 5-acre parcel, so I do a TON of weeding and cleaning outside, plus building fences, painting, roofing, etc. 

I also have a part-time job in a mall, so I squeeze work days in there, too. I have friends and elderly people that I help out doing odd chores and errands. I’m currently sewing a quilt for my 91-year-old grandma. Gotta squeeze time in for the hubby and doing some fun things. We love to go to the movies.  

I do my writing on the back end of the day, and don’t get to bed until about 1 or 2 am.

If you could invite any 3 people (living or dead) to a dinner party, who would you pick?

One would be my grandmother.  She’s 91 and one of my favorite people in the world. Her cancer just came back and we don’t know how much longer she has. I’m going back to see her in a few days.  I just want to spend every minute I have with her talking, enjoying her.

Another would be God. Lots of questions to ask.

And just for fun a favorite author, Ray Bradbury, or an actor like Russell Crowe.

Chris as a jockey!

Tell us a little about your career as a jockey.

I’ve been riding since I was two. My uncle used to take me out to a field of ponies and put me on one of them and slap it on the rear end. I’d hang on to the mane and we’d go jetting off across the pasture.  That came to an abrupt halt when my mom found out. Ha, ha!

As far as the jockeying… when I was 16 I started helping someone out at the racetrack in Salem, Oregon.  He let me get on a few of his horses and gallop them around the track.  A few of the more experienced exercise riders took me under their wings and taught me how to do things correctly.  I galloped horses in the morning workouts for a few years and then got approved for a jockey’s license.

There were only a few women riders at that time. Some of the male jockeys used to give the girls a hard time: cutting them off in a race, or slapping them across the seat of their pants with a whip as they rode past. I didn’t have much trouble with them.

I spent 5 years on the track, and loved every minute of it, but eventually, you’ve gotta eat. Ha, ha! I got tired of the constant diet and always having to weigh in. You needed to weight about 103-108 lbs.  I naturally weighed about 120 lbs at that time.  When I turned 21, I moved to Reno, Nevada, and that was the end of my jockey career.  

Storm Chaser & Trip
Tell us about your horses!

I’m down to only 4 horses now: 2 black and white paints that are beautiful, and a cute little miniature mare and her baby.  I used to have 8 horses.  I don’t know how I did it. It’s a lot of work.

You’ve lived such an interesting life so far, do you ever put your own experiences into your books?

Yes, all the time.  I use a lot of things that happened to me during my years of owning and working with horses. Sometimes I model characters after people I’ve known.  I don’t use the exact person, but I’ll take many of his/her characteristics and toss in a few of other people’s that I’ve known. It adds a lot to the book when you use real life experiences.

Chris signing copies of Star Gazer
What is your favorite part about being a writer? What is your least favorite part?

Favorite part is getting to create characters and the world they live in. Getting to see my book in a book store.  Talking to fans.

My least favorite part is deadlines. Ugh!

Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?

From the time I was about 11 or 12, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I started out writing poems and then moved to short stories and eventually books.

Do you have anything in common with your characters?

Yes.  My values and viewpoints go into many of my characters. I think every writer has a character in their book that has same point-of-view as themselves. I think they’re fibbing if they tell you they don’t. lol.   

Whom, of all the characters you've written about, would you most like to meet?

Probably Katie, my main character from my first book, Willow King.  She was born with a slight handicap and had to overcome a lot of things.  She was a strong character.  I think I’d also like to meet Camela, from the sequel, Race the Wind.  She was a blind girl and a real pill.  She was very smart, but also a bit mischievous. In the book, she uses her cane to trip people that she doesn’t like, or who are mean to her or others.  Then she sits there looking all innocent. Nobody suspects that it was her.

Do you have a favorite of your books?

Of my horse books, Willow King and Race the Wind were probably my favorites. They were loosely based on a real racehorse I used to ride and a great trainer I worked for.

But my favorite book is the one I’ve been trying to write for years now, in between writing horse books.  It’s a coming of age book about 4 teenage girls growing up in a small town. One can’t wait to grow up and leave, another discovers her roots, and how deeply they’re buried in the town, another is trying to hold her family together and the last is trying to prevent changes that will drive them all apart.

Maybe I can finish it this summer. J

Chris Platt on Her Writing Process
Were there any authors who inspired you to write?

Yes, when I was young, I LOVED to read Marguerite Henry’s horse books (Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind) and Walter Farley (Black Stallion, Man O’ War).  When I was in my teens, my favorite English teacher helped me discovered Ray Bradbury and his science fiction books (R is for Rocket, S is for Space, Martian Chronicals). They taught me to love books.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I’m not really sure “where” they come from.  Mostly they pop into my head when I’m jogging, or as I go about my day.  Things just kind of come to me, and then I flesh out the idea.

Where do you do your writing? Do you have one place where you feel most inspired?

I do most of my writing in my work office at my house.  I have a room that is set up just for me and my writing.  But I do a lot of my plotting in my head while I’m jogging.  I’ve always been a runner.  I love to run long distance. That’s my quiet time that I reserve just for myself. I make lists in my head, think about things I have to do, and plot books. (I know, I’m a crazy person. lol) 

How do you get your creative thoughts flowing?

Like I said, a lot of things come to me while I’m running, but I don’t say to myself, “Hey, I need an idea, so I’m going to go for a run.”  When it’s time to write, I write.  I have a degree in Journalism.  I know a lot of people like to get inspiration from special routines or such, but I’m trained to park my behind in the chair and write. No time for waiting around for things to happen or to “feel” like it.  I make things happen by sitting down in the writer’s chair and writing.

What part of a story comes to you first?

The basic plot.  I just get a loose idea of a plot line: “Girl rescues abused horses.”  Then I flesh it out a bit: “Girl lost her beloved horse a few years earlier and vows to never love another horse.”  Then throw in the idea of the girl having a brother who returned from the war with PTSD, and parents who bring home the abused horses for the girl to care for, and there you have it... Wind Dancer.

Are you a meticulous plot planner or do you just let the story flow?

I’m what’s known as a “pantster.”  I fly by the seat of my pants, writing as I go. lol. It’s a crazy process and probably not the best, but I HATE doing a synopsis, or chapter outlines.  When I wrote for the Ashleigh Thoroughbred series, I had to write a chapter-by-chapter outline.  I hated it, but I have to admit, it definitely made writing the book soooo much easier.

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you overcome?

I don’t let myself have writer’s block.  I just sit down and write.  If I read it later, and don’t like what I’ve written, I can always change it.  Never be afraid to change things and make your work better.

How do you know that a story’s finished?

When it feels like all the loose ends are wrapped up and there’s nothing more to say. 

How do you go about revising your writing?

I’m one of those writers who writes a few pages, then goes back over those to make sure everything looks good.  Or, if I find something that’s wrong, I fix it then and there.  Then I continue on writing the next few pages.  I’m a really busy person, with a gazillion things I’m doing all at once.  So, sometimes I will go days or weeks without writing anything.  (I probably shouldn’t admit that. lol) When I get back to writing, I need to go over a chapter or two and refresh my memory before I continue on with the book. When I get to the end of the book, I may or may not go over it, depending on how many times I’ve re-read and re-written it as I go.

Do you have any advice/resources (books, blogs, etc.) for aspiring authors?

Yes… If you truly want to be an author, don’t EVER give up! Keep writing until you get it right.  Every author has a book or two under their bed that will never see the light of day. Learn to take criticism. Too many writers have very thin skin and quit when someone points out their weaknesses. Listen, learn, and grow.  Get into a GOOD critique group.
As far as books on writing… Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation & Conflict is the best.  Also anything from the Reader’s Digest books on writing series is good.

Christ Platt on Wind Dancer

Are all of your stories about horses? Why do you write about them?

Yes, so far, all of my books are about horses. I love horses and I loved reading about them when I was growing up. They made me happy.  I want to write books like the ones I read as a child.  I hope they’ll make others happy.
Little Bit

Do you think of the horses in your stories as characters? Do they need the same kind of development?

Yes, the horses all have a distinct personality, just like they do in real life.  They often will develop right along with the human character.
Tell us about the inspiration for Wind Dancer.

Wind Dancer was another story that came to me when I was jogging. I pull crazy ideas out of the air and say, “What if?” 

I have a friend who came home from the war with PTSD, and he doesn’t think he has it.  I wanted to put a character that has some of those issues in the story in hopes that it will help others learn to deal with it.

The story deals with some serious issues. Did you have to do a lot of research on PTSD?

Yes, there’s a lot of stuff on the internet that explains what PTSD is.  But I also used a lot of the behaviors of my friend, and what his family went through with him.

How would you use this book in a classroom?

There are several ways this book could be used in the classroom.  The first one is intertainment value for those who love to read.  The second it to teach kids about caring for animals, and for our friends and members of our families.  The third is to approach the subject of PTSD and make kids aware of what it is, and some of the warning signs, and where to get help if needed.

      What do you hope your readers get out of this book?

I hope that they learn a little about being aware of what’s going on around you; about caring for people and animals; about friendships, about PTSD, and I hope that they enjoy the story and find value through either entertainment or gaining of knowledge.

Thanks so much to Chris for spending time with us this morning! 

Leave a comment about your own favorite horse memories, and one of you will win a copy of Wind Dancer!

You can pick up your own copy of Wind Dancer at your local bookstore and visit Chris' website to see the rest of her fabulous work.

Psst! Follow the Wind Dancer blog tour here!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Tour for Wind Dancer

Our final book for this season's Blog Tour concludes with a middle grade fiction novel, "Wind Dancer" by Chris Platt. 

Can a rescued horse help Ali get through to her brother, who has returned from Afghanistan with PTSD?
Ali used to love horses. But that was before the accident, when she was injured and her pony died. Before her brother Danny joined the military.
Now Danny has returned from Afghanistan. He's learning to walk with the prosthetic that has replaced one of his legs, but he can't seem to find a way to reconnect with family and friends. Withdrawn and quick to anger, Danny suffers from terrible nightmares and frightening mood changes.
When Ali realizes that an elderly neighbor has been neglecting her horses, she decides she has to act. Can Ali rise above her painful memories and love a horse again? And can Wind Dancer, also injured and traumatized, help Danny rediscover meaning in his life?
You can follow along this last Blog Tour here:
Follow along on the blog tour:

Monday 4/28-Blue Owl and Sally's Bookshelf

Tuesday – Chat with Vera
Wednesday- Horse Book Reviews
Thursday- Kid Lit Reviews