Monday, December 13, 2010

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday--Ella Enchanted (and a signed book Giveaway!!!)

I can't tell you how excited I am for today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. In fact, I've been saving this prize for months because it's particularly special to me. But with this year almost over--the year I finished my first middle grade book and signed with an agent--I thought it only fitting to feature the book that inspired me to write middle grade in the first place. So I humbly (re)introduce you to ELLA ENCHANTED, by Gail Carson Levine.


Before I gush and rave about the book, I should probably tell you my story. How this one book changed everything for me.

I think most of you know I went to film school and worked in Hollywood for a bit. But I left about a year after I graduated because Hollywood just wasn't me. At first I put all those dreams behind me--including writing--and for a little more than two years I didn't write at all. But I missed inventing characters and telling stories and letting my imagination run wild. Eventually I realized I needed to write again. I just had no idea how to do that, or what I wanted to write anymore.

To spare you an endless post, I'll skip all the steps that brought me to the children's section at my local Barnes and Noble, and cut straight to the moment when I finally recognized a title. ELLA ENCHANTED. I'd never read it, and I didn't know much about it, but I knew it was a reinterpretation of Cinderella (my favorite fairy tale) and that it won the Newberry Honor. That was enough for me.

It was the first children's book I bought as an adult (I even remember being a little embarrassed as I bought it, and pretending it was a "gift"--*blush*) and I'll confess...I had fairly low expectations. I'd imagined it would feel "simple" and "young." Like reading a picture book or something. So imagine my surprise when I found a book of beautiful writing, compelling characters, and so much imagination I was astounded. I read the whole book in one sitting and I swear if I were in a movie a light would have come from the sky to visually represent my Ah Ha! moment. I finally finally FINALLY knew what kind of book I wanted to write.

So believe me when I tell you, this is an amazing book--and you don't have to be a kid to appreciate it. The world Levine has created is fabulous, and the way she's tweaked the classic fairy tale to give (cinder)Ella some much needed gumption and personality makes you want to throw rocks at the earlier story--not to mention the writing is knock-me-down gorgeous. It's glaringly obvious why this book won the Newberry Honor, pretty much from the first page.

And do not let the movie--whether you've seen it or not--influence you. It's not the worst movie I've ever seen--and it's certainly not the best. But mostly, it's not ELLA ENCHANTED. Sure, there's certain elements in common, but really...not a whole lot. (ahhh...Hollywood, why do you do it?) Judge the book by the book, and you will not be disappointed.

I'll stop the gushing and praising there, because I have a feeling most of you have at least heard of this book. It's kind of a classic. Plus I want to make sure I leave room to talk quickly about the giveaway.

Over the summer I was lucky enough to meet Gail Carson Levine--twice--and she was every bit as amazing as I'd imagined her. And of course, I picked up a signed copy of ELLA ENCHANTED to give to one of you. They only had paperbacks--le sigh--but did I mention that it's SIGNED? See:


And I'm giving it away to one lucky commenter on today's post. All you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment on this post before 11:59 pm PST on Tuesday December 21st. I'll announce the random winner on December 22nd. International entries welcome.

And...go!

Oh, and if anyone else has done a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and would like me to link your post, drop me an email and let me know. :)

UPDATE: The always fabulous Shannon O'Donnell (I guess we Shannon's have to stick together) has done a fabulous MMGM feature on Tyger Tyger. Make sure you hop over THERE and check it out.

MORE EXCITMENT: Joanne Fritz is talking about BOOM, a fabulous MG book you may have missed when it came out this year. Make sure you STOP BY to check it out.

73 comments:

  1. This is an awesome giveaway!

    DreamyCowgirl @ hotmail.com

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  2. What a beautiful post, thank you! I have a few books that fit into this category--the 'why I write what I write' books. There's an idea for a fun blogfest, actually. Not the 'why I write', but the 'why I write THIS' question!

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  3. I love this book and would love to win. You're right, it is incredibly awesome.

    I didn't realize that you just finished your first book this year and got your agent this year. You sound like such a pro, I just assumed you had gotten an agent a lot early. Learn new things about you everyday.

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  4. My daughter has a few of her Faerie books. She would LOVE to have this one!

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  5. Amazing giveaway! I enjoyed the movie version, and I've heard the book is infinitely better. Also, thanks for your consideration for international readers. :)

    cc932005 at hotmail dot com

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  6. I loved this book, a signed copy would be awesome!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your story, I loved reading it.

    Ella Enchanted is an amazing book. Great giveaway!

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  8. Great book! I haven't read it. I'd love to have it. *wink*

    salarsen71@gmail.com

    Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - I hadn't thought of that. I'll let you know when I start. Thanks!

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  9. Ooh! Me! Me! Me! Me! *waves jedi hands* I will win this time. ;)

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  10. Great book - especially with your backstory added to it. :)

    bridgettebooth at gmail dot com

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  11. I've heard GREAT things about this book, and I saw the author speak at SCBWI this past summer. Crossing my fingers extra tight. :)

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  12. One of my friends was gushing to me about this book not too long ago! I remember wanting to read it when it came out but I never got around to it!

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  13. I love hearing about how a favourite book inspires people. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. It's so wonderful that you're giving away a book that changed your life. Thanks for sharing <3!

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  15. Thanks for the story behind your love of the book, and for being willing to part with a precious signed copy!

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  16. I love this book, and had Gail sign my copy when I was at the LA conference this year. :D

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  17. Ooh, this sounds like one *I* could read and enjoy and then pass on to my niece!

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  18. I love this book, I read it years ago back when I was doing my student teaching... it is a MUST READ for any MG writer.

    Have you read How to Train Your Dragon? It's a PERFECT Middle Grade book. Very different from the movie but still funny, endearing and clever and heartfelt. Go off, read this book.

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  19. Wow on this giveaway...and you are so right in everything you said about the book. Go glad it inspired you and opened up the world of kid lit!

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  20. Beautiful story, Shannon! I never realized that's how you decided to write MG fiction. Truly inspiring!

    I've never read this one, but I did see the movie. Your excitement about this book makes me want to read it!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

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  21. I loved you personal story and I'd love to own a copy of this book! Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Love this book! Thanks for the great giveaway!
    lexie.bookbug(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  23. I haven't read the book but I love the movie. Maybe because Anne Hathaway is so adorable in it. I've had this book on my TBR list for quite some time, though!

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  24. I read Ella Enchanted over Christmas break last year and was blown away! I picked it up thinking it was going to be "just another MG read." I kicked myself for not reading it earlier! So jealous you got to meet her!

    -Stephanie :)
    moonglo at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  25. I've never read this one but after your wonderful review, I'll definitely put it on my list.
    Thanks!

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  26. I can't count how many times I've read this book. I loved it when I was twelve, and I love it now. It's just the kind of book that stays with you--so glad you found it in the bookstore!

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  27. You love Ella Enchanted too? I glomp you. *glomp* Such a good book to throw you onto the road of MG writing. Thou art awesome.


    This is the book I have read more than any other (and probably more than any two books combined). This was before I realized just how many good books there were and would read my favorites over and over and over again. Quite literally, I lost count after 37 readings. (I'm not kidding on that). Now I'm feeling nostalgic...

    *hunts for my own copy*

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  28. I love Ella Enchanted! Crossing my fingers.
    k_anon[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk

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  29. I have actually never read the Ella Enchanted books! But I do have a daughter coming this April and I'm sure she'll be gifted enough to read them as soon as she's out of the womb!

    magan.vernon@gmail.com

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  30. Never read it! Kind of glad to know it isn't the movie. The movie was cute but I didn't want to read that, if that makes sense. Would love to read it! Great giveaway!

    ce.murphy at yahoo dot com

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  31. How awesome that this book was the one to inspire you--it's certainly a beautiful story by a brilliant author. I don't have Ella Enchanted on my shelf but I do have The Two Princesses of Bamarre (I loved that story too...it actually made me cry!)

    Thank you for the amazing giveaway! Whoever's meant to win will definetely be getting a treasure of a book :)

    piratepenguinreads(at)gmail(dot)com

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  32. Oh, I just love this book, too. I have a copy on my nook, but ya know, I love the author's blog, it was (and still is) very inspiring to me as a fledgling writer.

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  33. What a wonderful story, Shannon. It's amazing that words have the power to put us on the right path, isn't it?

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  34. Well, random number generators obviously hate me, but that's not going to stop me from commenting. Your blog is wonderful, Shannon, and I continue to be amazed that you reply to comments! Am-azing!

    I haven't read Ella Enchanted (What?!), probably because I did see the movie numerous times as it was one of my son's faves du jour a while back. But when I taught writing to my oldest son's 5th grade class, I used Gail Carson Levine's "Writing Magic" as my "textbook." It's a great little writing primer for young writers (and old!) and I highly recommend it. (I also highly recommend getting in classrooms and teaching kids writing. You learn a lot that way! But that's a whole different story.)

    Cheers!

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  35. Thanks for the great giveaway! I love Gail Carson Levine and this the only book I don't own from her!!

    vicky216n@hotmail.com

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  36. Cool giveaway! I would have posted sooner, but I was too sleep since I slept at 12 A.M. today! :)

    -Aishah

    oceanbreeze235@gmail.com

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  37. This was in the books that I collected to give to kids in foster care. I thought about plucking it out and reading it but decided it was best to pass on to them. I'll have to read it though. :)
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

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  38. Oh be still my heart! I <3 this book!!! Ella is such a grand character! :) *wiggles my nose and crosses my fingers* Maybe I will get a signed copy!

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  39. Oh wow. What an amazingly fun giveaway. Thanks for the backstory and for the chance to win such a fun prize.

    okelberry dot chris at gmail dot com

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  40. I love Ella Enchanted! It's definitely one I read every couple of years. I've never bothered to see the movie because I didn't think the previews looked that good anyway! Besides, Anne Hathaway was too old for that role.

    I already own this so don't enter me in the contest. Maybe someday I'll meet Gail Carson Levine and get my copy signed! :)

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  41. Awesome story and I can see how it would influence you!

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  42. Awesome post! and thank you so much for the giveaway!, please enter me ;D


    Jaz.parks

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  43. I love reading what books influenced others into writing

    (BTW, not entering in this contest ;) You can leave my name out this time! Thanks again for The Healing Spell. I'm really looking forward to it!!)

    I've never read this one! I know, shameful. Geez, there are so many books I need to read!

    Cheers!
    Jen

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  44. I've been meaning to get this book. Haven't read it yet but I plan on correcting that!

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  45. You're right, #1 - Gail Carson Levine is awesome! Isn't it amazing how deeply we can be effected by the right book? Great story. :-)

    And of course I did a MMGM post!

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  46. I always loved Ella Enchanted 'the book', heaps better than the movie! If they weren't named the same think you would never know the movie was 'based' on the book.

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  47. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't realize 'Ella Enchanted' started as a book! But based off your glowing review, I definitely want to read it... whether I win or not!

    LizSF72(at)gmail(dot)com

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  48. Oh, I LOVE this book! And what a neat story behind it for you and your writing. Thank you for sharing. :)

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  49. I'll add this to my to-read list. And it would make it easier if I won a copy. ;) Put my name in the hat!

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  50. Well, heck! If this is THE book that spurred you to your writing success - I definitely want it!! Count me in! And, thanks ~ :)

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  51. What a great story of beginnings! How wonderful it must have felt to meet your hero! She was such a sweetheart, too, which I'm sure made it even more satisfying for you. It's good of you to give the book away in honor of your special attachment! And in honor of your successful year. May 2011 be an even more exciting year for you!

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  52. OMG!! My sister and I both LOVE Ella Enchanted! SIGNED COPY!! Thanks so much for the giveaway!
    rivkarno1(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  53. I love Ella Enchanted I've read it at least ten times. It defines my childhood. My copy is so worn out.

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  54. I've always loved Ella Enchanted. Nice post, Shannon.

    And another MMGM post on my blog.

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  55. Aw, Shannon. I didn't know that about your history with the book :) That's so sweet! And dude am I EVER glad you went the MG route because the one you wrote is ah-may-zing :) (And, yanno, so is the YA! You're pretty much just awesome all together...)

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  56. Great giveaway!! I would love to read this book.

    myra0502[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  57. Ella Enchanted is one of my favorite movies! I have a blast watching it every time it comes on TV with my DD. You give way the coolest prizes!

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  58. What a fun book. My kids LOVE the movie, now we need to read the book together.

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  59. I LOVE this story--and I think it's wonderful that this book has such a special place in your heart. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but I definitely want to!

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  60. How have I missed this book!?!? I've seen the movie and thought it was cute, but never really got around to wondering where the idea came from. I would LOVE to win this! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  61. Wow, what an awesome giveaway. So cool that you got to meet the author twice. I've not had the chance to read the book yet. It is on my ever growing TBR book list.

    Good luck to everyone entered!

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  62. I haven't read the book, but I should :D Thanks for the giveaway!!

    magabygc AT gmail.com

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  63. +JMJ+

    Ella Enchanted is one book that I've been meaning to read for years, but have never got around to . . . because of the same ideas about it that you had before you started reading it. Well, if you were impressed, with your high standards for MG, I'm sure I'd be, too!

    Please enter me in this giveaway. =) But even if I don't win, this is one book I'll end up getting some day, for sure!

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  64. Aw! Want! Want!

    lisa.aldin@gmail.com

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  65. <3 <3
    I actually saw the movie before I saw the book, and I loved (read: appreciated highly for what it was worth) the movie. (It was also right at that time where I was starting to appreciate pop culture and *cough* cute guys. Hugh Dancy...*swoon*) But, anyway, I later read the book and loved it too (ROMANCE!)! Loved the way it played on the real fairytale (a little closer than the movie). Two totally different stories/characters, and both well-told. So yes, count me in for that amazing, romantic, imaginative book. :)

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  66. I can't believe I didn't see this contest sooner! I love Ella Enchanted, the movie and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read the book. Gail Carson Levine sounds like a great person and had a long road before she got published (that gives me a ton of hope). SHe is vry inspiring.

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  67. I recently got into blogging and my sister really enjoys your blog so I thought that I would follow along too. I'm glad that I did. I love anything and everything that is Cinderella. :)

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  68. So super cool story! I've had a lot of students that read and loved this book. What I really like tho is how it showed you the depth of middle grade lit!

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  69. I LOVE, love, love this book! Yes, the movie is not the book. FOR SURE!

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  70. OMG. I'm so excited! I love Gail Carson Levine's books!

    szaboszilvia[at]gmail[dot]com

    (I'm a follower)

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  71. awesome giveaway like always :)

    khyla_808(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Friendly debate is fine, but always be kind to each other). <3