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Just Left of Lucky

After what feels like a long time with nothing new, I'm so pleased to share my brand new middle grade, Just Left Of Lucky! It deals with the serious themes of homelessness and poverty, but it's got plenty of light, hope and heart too ... and of course, an adorable dog :)

The idea for this book first came to me a few years back when I read an article in my local paper about our food bank running low on provisions because the need kept increasing. I was surprised to learn the extent of the problem here in my own little hometown in north Idaho. Homelessness and poverty are not topics most of us like to think about, and yet the problem is so widespread, touching virtually every town and city in America. Since kids worry so much about what their peers think, I started to imagine how difficult it might be to face this problem as a child. How do you keep your friends from finding out your family is living in a car? How do you wash your clothes when you don't have access to a washer or dryer? How do you keep up with your homework when you're not getting enough sleep and you're not sure where your next meal is coming from? The stress, anxiety and lack of stability must be overwhelming. So I decided to tell this story through the perspective of 12 year old Shannon, a young girl who finds herself living with her Aunt Junie and little dog Boone in a car, while desperately trying to keep their situation a secret.

While I've never been homeless myself, the people I met and the stories I heard while researching this book have opened my eyes and forever altered my attitude toward homelessness. I hope it might do the same for my readers. You can read the first chapter of Just Left Of Lucky here. Please let me know what you think.

In other news, I'm excited to attend the Missouri Association of School Librarians conference coming up in April when I go back to accept the Mark Twain Award for A Million Ways Home. I've never been to Missouri, so my husband and I will be flying to St. Louis a day or two early so we can visit the famous St. Louis Zoo and a few other landmarks. Then during the conference, I'll be signing books and giving a couple of workshops as well, so if you'll be attending make sure you come up and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you. I'll be sure to post some new pics after I get home.

Finally, here are a few books I've enjoyed lately:

Bo at Ballard Creek, Kirkpatrick Hill
Life on Mars, Jennifer Brown
A River in Darkness—One Man's Escape from North Korea, Masaji Ishikawa

Until next time ... Happy Reading!