Monday, April 20, 2015


Krista Van Dolzer's debut novel (from Penguin Young Readers), THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING, releases on May 5th! I love, love, LOVE this one, and I have a signed ARC that I'm giving away to one lucky winner.

Rose Wong's cover art reflects the diverse story within. The jacket copy reads: Twelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin back to life from blood on his dog tags, Ella Mae is skeptical—until he steps out of a bio-pod right before her eyes.

But the boy is not her cousin—he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and despised. When her aunt refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae and her Mama take him home instead. Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches Takuma English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when his memories start to resurface, Ella Mae learns some shocking truths about her own family and more importantly, what it means to love.

Ella Mae's voice grabbed me from the first sentence. The family dynamics (especially interactions with her parents and between her mom and her aunt) rang true. This book made me laugh aloud in many places, but it also made me go find a box of tissues.

Krista and I have been reading each other's manuscripts for about five years, and I've read this story more times than any other manuscript I've critiqued. For anyone. It has changed dramatically from draft to draft, but the scene with Takuma and Ella Mae that makes me cry has been there since my first read. And it makes me cry (tears leaking down my face) every. single. time.

If you have a U. S. mailing address and would like to be entered in the drawing, please comment below before Thursday, April 23, at 10:00 pm PDT. I'll give an extra entry to anyone who shares an interesting historical fact or even their favorite time and place in history. :o)

If you need a less biased review, here's one by Publisher's Weekly.

And if you're interested in reading more Marvelous Middle Grade reviews, Shannon Messenger has the links on her blog.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Awesome you're Krista's critique partner. I'm going to let someone else win as I'll be hosting Krista too.

  2. What an interesting cover on this new title. The story is also intriguing as is the time period discussed. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I've been dying to read this book ever since I first heard about it. Thanks for the chance to win an arc. Interesting historical fact? Well, since I recently read BLUE BIRDS by Caroline Starr Rose, I can tell you that although no one knows for sure what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, more than a hundred years later a surveyor named John Lawson went to Croatoan (now Hatteras Island) and saw people there with gray eyes, people who could well have been descended from the 1587 colonists who intermarried with the Croatoans.

  4. I also have been looking forward to reading this, ever since I heard about it on Krista's blog. It sounds amazing! Thanks for doing the giveaway.

  5. Thanks for the review! This book sounds amazing :). Interesting historical fact: A woman named Deborah Sampson pretended she was a man and became a soldier in the revolutionary war in order to fight for her freedom. She has always been so interesting to me! Thanks,


  6. I ABSOLUTELY want to read this. So much.

    As for a historical fact... Wow, all my random trivia appears to be in linguistics and ecology. But here's one about WWII that I find really interesting: Admiral Yamamoto was educated in the US, which is one of the reasons why he was such a successful leader against the US in the Pacific War. He also knew that if he couldn't get the US out of the war in six months, Japan would inevitably lose, because that is how long it would take the US to mobilize its industrial might for war.

    Six months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese would have won at the Battle of Midway if the US code-breaking effort had been less successful––instead, the Japanese lost four of their most important aircraft carriers and never recovered. They hadn't won the war in six months, and were generally fighting a losing battle ever after, because the lost the war of industry.

    1. You won! Please let me know when it gets there. :o)

  7. I'm so excited about this book! I haven't read this one yet, although I have gotten to read one of her others :). No need to enter me in the drawing as I already pre-ordered. Looking forward to May 5!

  8. This book sounds fascinating. I hadn't heard of it so appreciate this review. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. If I could go back in time, I think I'd like to live in the 1920s.

  9. Wow, this one sounds quite original. If I could go back to any time period, I would go to the time in prehistory when language (and singing?) developed to obsrve how that process took place.

  10. I look forward to reading this book, whether I win a copy or not!

  11. I'd live to enter! And I'm a bit obsessed with Victorian England.

    Jpetroroy at gmail dot com

  12. I'd love to win a copy! My favorite time and place in history... oh, that's hard. But I love Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh.

  13. It is the story of healing the relationship between two countries because of the World War II. It also tells about love in family and friends.