Monday, August 1, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes--and an ARC GIVEAWAY!!!

Yay--MMGM is BACK!!! (sorry for missing a couple of weeks--this summer has been SO crazy!)  And it's back with not just an awesome book and ARC giveaway--but I got to interview the hilarious author too!

But first, let's talk about the book: PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES, by Jonathan Auxier.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. When he tries the first pair, he is instantly transported to a hidden island where he is presented with a special quest: to travel to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom and rescue a people in need. Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.

Sounds amazing, right? It IS! Trust me when I say this is one book you don't want to miss. 

And it's funny, I actually discovered  PETER NIMBLE at ALA completely by accident. I'd met up with PJ Hoover (my lovely agent-sister) and some of her friends for lunch and Jonathan was hanging out with them. I quickly learned that he was a) hilarious, b) a fellow So-Cal middle grade writer *high five* and c) the author of a book that sounded insanely awesome. So when he did a signing at the Abrams booth later in the convention, I made sure to get in line for my copy. I think this picture pretty much sums up the kind of guy he is:

But don't just take my word for it. Jonathan was kind enough to answer some interview questions for me, so you can see how smart, funny, and awesome he is for yourselves. You can also see his awesomeness in action at his website: www.TheScop.comBut before you leave to go check that out, let's get to the interview:

Thank you SO much for taking the time to hang out with me today! It's always fun to talk to a fellow middle grade writer, because there don't seem to be as many of us sometimes--especially in the blogosphere. And personally I think part of that is because writing middle grade is HARD. So what do you think is the key to writing for kids in this age range?

When I was a kid, the thing I hated most was when adults talked to me in that voice -- you know the one -- where they jump up an octave and end each statement like it's a question.  I always appreciated it when grown-ups just treated me like like a normal person ... and if I didn't understand everything they were talking about, that was okay.  I tend to rise (or sink) to people's expectations, and when people treat me like I'm smart, I actually get smarter.  It's like magic!

I think there are some children's writers out there who make the mistake of talking to kids in that voice.  Basically, they treat kids like kids.  Maybe that works on some young readers, but it didn't work on me.  So, to answer your question, I would say the key to writing for children is to not write for children.  Roald Dahl, James Thurber, Lewis Carroll -- all my favorite children's authors talk up to their young readers. Write for yourself and trust that children are smart enough to keep up. 

I couldn't agree more. NEVER underestimate the intelligence of kids--they are amazingly smart. Okay, switching gears here a bit: What is one thing that you think everyone should know about you?

I was not a very good student in high school ... primarily because instead of doing homework, I was busy developing my skills as a yo-yo player.  I was a sponsored competitor who would tour elementary schools around Canada showing tricks to kids.  Every once in a while, you can still find me at a party throwing an "atom smasher" to impress the ladies! (And by "the ladies" I mean "my wife"!)

Wow. Leave it to you to make yo-yo-ing cool. And I'm totally hating you a little right now because I don't think I've EVER successfully operated a yo yo--and I've TRIED. Stupid thing would never cooperate--so frustrating!!!! Speaking of frustrating: what has been the most stressful part of the publishing process so far? And then, so we don't totally depress everyone, what has been the most rewarding part of the publishing process so far?

Well, it's funny because the most stressful part was also the most rewarding!  I've been drawing my whole life, and when Abrams asked me to do interiors for the book, I was pretty thrilled!  Sadly, some scheduling conflicts meant I only had about six weeks to complete thirty one drawings.

I tend to do a lot of trial-and-error when I work, and this was sort of a liability with such a compressed timeline.  The last two weeks, I was drawing about eighteen hours a day and overcome with exhaustion -- I couldn't see anything more than a few inches from my face, and I couldn't stand without holding onto stuff.  The day after I sent the final art to my publisher, I got an eyeball ulcer that left me effectively blind for several days -- ironic after just having finished a book about a blind thief!

YOU GOT AN EYEBALL ULCER????????????? *wants to ask more questions about that* *realizes that any and all eyeball related stuff makes me gag* *gags* Okay--time for a RAPID TOPIC CHANGE: what advice do you have for aspiring middle grade writers?

The biggest advice I would give to writers in any medium is finish drafts.  Do whatever it takes to be able to write "the end."

Those truly are the two best words you'll ever type. Great advice! And since you're a fellow SoCal writer, I'm sure you'd agree with me that the coolest writers live in Southern California, right? So I have to ask: what is it about this area that makes us so insanely awesome? :)

I actually struggle living in Southern California.  You know how some people have that vitamin deficiency where they get sick if they're not in the sun enough?  Well, I feel like I have the reverse condition -- direct sunlight makes makes me miserable!

That said, the one good thing about this area is that Los Angeles is a cultural hub that attracts tons of wonderful, creative people.  (Present company included!)  Pretty much every person living here is pursuing a dream, and that gives the whole city a wonderful energy that I've never found anywhere else.  Also, you know, taco trucks.

Wait--you have time to like GO OUTSIDE AND SEE SUNSHINE????? I think I might need to have you teach me your time  management skills. Or at least share the name of your favorite taco truck (mmmmmmmm). But I think I've taken up enough of your very busy day--especially since, um, I don't know if you know this but PETER NIMBLE IS NOW OFFICIALLY IN STORES!!!! 

This is turning into kind of a long post, so I won't say much more about the book except: Go! BUY IT! Trust me on that--you won't regret it. 

But I realize that may not be in everyone's budget, so I'm also giving away an ARC (which Jonathan's agent was kind enough to donate--I am SO KEEPING MINE!) (ahem) here today, to one lucky commenter. To enter, make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, August 6th. I'll draw one winner and post their name on Sunday, August 7th. And I know my contests are usually international, but since I'm not shipping the prize, this time I have to limit it to US only. Sorry guys. I'll catch my international readers next time--I promise.


For more middle grade love, here's a list of other bloggers who have MMGMs on their blogs today:

-Shannon O'Donnell always has an awesome MMGM recommendation. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

-Natalie Aguirre is interviewing author Stephanie Burgis, with a giveaway of KAT INCORRIGIBLE. Click HERE for details. 

-Pam Torres is featuring BIRD IN A BOX this week. Click HERE to see what she thinks. 

-Barbara Watson is showcasing SOMEONE NAMED EVA. Click HERE to read all about it.

-Deb Marshall is spotlighting THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING. Click HERE to see her review.

-On a VERY special note, the amazing Lenny Lee--seriously one of my favorite blog readers ever--has done his first middle grade review. Yes, a MG review written by an actual middle grader! Make sure you check this one out you guys. He's featuring THE WHITE ASSASSIN. Click HERE to find out what he thought.

And if you've done an MMGM today, drop me an email and let me know. I'll add a link when I update this post.

Happy Monday!


  1. Great interview! Peter's advice on writing for kids is so right on.

    I really want to read this, so I hope I win the ARC. And I'll be interviewing Peter too on August 10th.

  2. I saw the cover for Peter Nimble in the bookstore and it is much more awesome than a photo makes it look. It just makes you want to pick it up and read it!

  3. Nice interview! I love these MG books that look so unique and have such great covers.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  4. Peter Nimble sounds like a fun read. I hope I win a copy :)

  5. What a fun interview. This sounds like a great book. I'll have to add it to my list.

  6. Great interview! Do I get extra points if I promise to buy a copy and donate it to my local library if I win the giveaway? :)

  7. Can't believe I didn't know about this one!

    What a great sounding blurb!

    *Hope I win!*


  8. I'm so excited because he is doing a guest post for my blog! He's sounds like so much fun so how could the book be any different!

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. That book looks FANTASTIC! How fun :)


  10. hi miss shannon and mr jonathan! guess what! i won a copy of that cool book at miss carolina valdez millers blog! :) its in the mail & i cant wait to get it. now i gotta take that advice and get at "the end" cause i got three stories going and not one ended. ack! thanks miss shannon for linking up my blog book review of miss hilarys book.
    ...hugs from lenny

  11. Fun interview! I'd love to win the book for me AND my nine year old!

  12. I totally want this book both for myself and my daughter :D

  13. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  14. This sounds like a great middle-grade book. Would love to win!

  15. I so want to win this!! When I discovered Jonathan on Twitter (and followed him) and then looked into his book, I couldn't WAIT to read it. And what a fantastic cover!

  16. My favorite quote out of the interview (among many) "Write for yourself and trust that children are smart enough to keep up."
    Thanks so much for the interview and feature. :)

    PS: I follow your blog under "akoss"

  17. Fantastic! Thanks again :)
    GFC follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  18. I've read an excerpt of this online and it looks incredible! I love the voice and the subject. Thanks for the chance to win it!
    bookwormoakes AT yahoo DOT com

  19. Cool!!
    Interesting interview!!
    The cover is great! And the drawings are spectacular
    I'm sure you make many more great stuff like this and I hope I can find it:D

  20. Please enter me in the contest- It sounds fun! How will you contact me though??? Also the cover is very interesting and full of deatils.
    Cool interview

  21. Once again you have put a new book on my must read list for my son. Thanks!

  22. Hey Shannon! My love of MG has recently been rekindled and now I'm definitely wanting to get my hands on more, especially this one. Thanks for the fabulous giveaway. I'm a follower. Of course. :P


  23. Due to the fact that you both hate "the voice" for MG, I have decided that you are my favorite people! That is why I teach MS! I HATE THAT VOICE!!! *deep breath* Thank you for that interview and I can't wait to read the book! :)

  24. It's so great that you feature middle grade books too - coming from a middle school teacher! Thanks for the giveaway offer :)

  25. Gorgeous cover! I'd love a copy.

    I'm a follower!

    thecozyreader @

  26. Great interview! I couldn't agree with you more on the awesomeness that is Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (I absolutely loved it). =)

    Good luck to all entering to win.

    The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

  27. That picture is awesome! I would love to win this book!

  28. Ooh, it looks so fantastical. Pick me! Jonathan looks awesome. I think we should be friends! Thanks for the chance! wilsondev(At)gmail(Dot)com

  29. Awesome interview!! I love the way Jonathan thinks! This one's already on my wish list. :-)

  30. This sounds awesome! Definitely count me in. This may sound strange, but I have a definite thing for MG books about thieves...not sure where that comes from, but they're always the best! :)

  31. Awesome Giveaway This book looks awesome!


  32. Nice interview; the book sounds fascinating!

  33. Great interview, Shannon.

    Enjoy your time at SCBWI-LA!!

  34. Love this interview! He sounds like a fun guy, but *ew* -- eyeball ulcers? I think I'd freak if I was blind for three days!

  35. I love the cover of this one!

  36. I agree with everyone else--great cover, cool sounding book.

  37. Sigh. I love MMGM! I'm writing an MG fantasy (boy oriented). I really zeroed in on the comment about FINISH YOUR DRAFTS whatever it takes! I am totally in that zone right now, and I desperately want to finish this thing!!! Thanks for a great interview and heads-up on a fun book and kooky MG author! High five ya back!!!

  38. I'm guessing you comment to enter? The book looks awesome and I'd love to be entered to win.

    jennloveded14 at gmail

  39. I love middle grade novels! Thanks for the giveaway. :]
    teddycavygal at yahoo dot com

  40. I read about this book on another blog, checked out the author's website (The Scop), and would LOVE to try it out (and no, I haven't been a middle-schooler for-cough-years)! Please enter me in the giveaway.

  41. Cool interview! This book sounds like it will be fun to read. Magical eyeballs? Can't wait to read it!


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. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.