Saturday, December 28, 2013

One of my favorite reviews!

This is an excerpt from one of my very favorite reviews of 2013, published in the Christian Science Monitor, written by reviewer and author Augusta Scattergood.  I love it because I think it captures BEHOLDING BEE so well.
"Yes, I'd heard the early buzz. Readers whose taste mimicked mine loved it.  I was attracted to the appealing cover art, the heft of the book, the fresh voice of the narrator. And it began with a surprising concept. After the death of her parents when she was quite young, 12-year-old Bee is in the care of her friend Pauline. Together, they work at a traveling carnival. Although Bee's birthmark causes her to constantly cover her face and look away, Pauline offers encouragement, telling her it is a diamond. Such a unique setting! So many oddball, intriguing characters, and Bee certainly seemed like a girl to root for....
"Sometimes you can only take so many goodbyes in life," Bee observes as she sets Cordelia free. The pig, the girl, and her funny-looking dog take off to an unknown destination, the animals taking the lead. Bee follows without much enthusiasm. After all, it's "hard to get excited about running when you cannot see the finish line."
Finish line? A pet pig and a rescued dog? Those aunts? I couldn't put the book down. Bee had stolen my heart. I worried she'd never find a home. When she did and she slept in her first real bed, I loved her bravery and her friendships. The disappearing aunts were such a surprising and funny touch. The strange, outdated clothes, the candles, and the neighbors turn the novel into a mystery. Worry about food rationing and soldiers fighting in World War II move it soundly into the realm of historical fiction.
Historical, mysterious, fantasy? In the end, none of this will matter to young readers. All they need to know is that Kimberly Newton Fusco's newest book is a really terrific, hopeful story. Yes, the year is young, but this could be my favorite middle-grade novel of 2013."

Augusta Scattergood regularly reviews children's books for the Monitor.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bee in Canada!

Thank you to Carrie Gelson, an inner-city school teacher in Vancouver, for her blog that names BEHOLDING BEE one of her favorite books of the year!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Editor's Review

My wonderful editor, Michelle Frey, at Knopf/Random House, wrote a lovely review of my second novel, THE WONDER OF CHARLIE ANNE.  Her thoughts were featured recently in the Random House blog, called Random Acts of Reading.

Thank you, Michelle!

Here it is:

"Kimberly Newton Fusco is a luminous writer. Her books make young readers feel both the pain in the world and the beauty—and show them the healing power of friendship.  THE WONDER OF CHARLIE ANNE is the tender, generous story of an interracial friendship between two young girls during the Depression.  It was acclaimed by many reviewers, and I love these lines from a starred review in Kirkus that capture its spirit: ”Good humor, kindness and courage triumph in this warm, richly nuanced novel that cheers the heart like a song sweetly sung.”  I know kids would respond to this gem of a book, if it could find its way into their hands.  And because Kim’s writing is spare and lyrical, it goes down fast and can reach a broad audience of both confident and more reluctant readers."  -Michelle Frey, Executive Editor,  Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bee's many travels....

CHILD MAGAZINE of South Africa recommends THE DARING ESCAPE OF BEATRICE and PEABODY (BEHOLDING BEE in the US) as one of its top picks for holiday gift giving.

Thanks to British publisher Faber and Faber, Ltd, Bee is going to places I've only dreamed of!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Don't forget those book order forms!

So thrilled that Scholastic bought the rights to feature my second novel, THE WONDER OF CHARLIE ANNE, in its school book clubs in the US and Canada.

 Remembering how exciting it was to see those book flyers every month...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Photo: What a wonderful time meeting young people and parents/teachers/librarians at  The Rhode Island Festival of Children's Books and Authors this weekend.  With authors Adam Gidwitz, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket and his editor Susan Rich, Avi, Sharon Creech, Kate Messner, Dan Santat , me, and Gregory Mone. Not pictured, Bill Harley,  Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Chris Van Allsburg and  Laurie Keller.
What a wonderful time meeting young people and parents/teachers/librarians at The Rhode Island Festival of Children's Books and Authors!  With authors Adam Gidwitz, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket and his editor Susan Rich, Avi, Sharon CreechKate Messner, Dan Santat , me, and Gregory Mone. Not pictured, Bill Harley, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Chris Van Allsburg and Laurie Keller.

I spoke about BEHOLDING BEE and how I found the idea for a character like BEE -- at a traveling carnival, of course!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Questions for Bee

Children's Librarian Wendy Walker of the Payette Public Library in Payette, Idaho, wrote to me asking for BEHOLDING BEE discussion questions for her young readers' book club.

 I loved thinking deeply about the novel and coming up with questions that I thought were important to the book.  I also enjoyed looking up how far Payette is from my little town of Foster, RI.  It would take 39 hours to drive the 2,679 miles.  As soon as I finish the draft for my newest novel, I will be ready to go!

Until then, here are the discussion questions for BEE.

Discussion Prompts for BEHOLDING BEE

BEHOLDING BEE is essentially a book about courage and learning to believe in yourself.  How does Bee become self-reliant and resilient?
Why does Bee spend so much time hiding behind her hair?
Why does Pauline think it will be impossible to leave the carnival and find a new home?  Why does Bee think it can be done?  Why is a home so important to Bee?
Why can’t Pauline look past the pig smell and see inside to Bobby’s heart?  Why is this easy for Bee?
Why is Bobby so important to the book?
Pauline says everyone has troubles, so Bee is not alone.  “Some folks have troubles on the outside for everyone to see, and some have troubles on the inside where they hide and fester. “But everyone has something, Bee. So you are not alone.”  But Bee responds, “I think it must be way easier to have troubles on the inside where no one can see.”  What does Bee mean by this?  Is she correct?
Why is resilience such an important theme in the book?
Why is Bee the only person who can see Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter?  Do you believe they are really present, or are they figments of Bee’s imagination?  Is there any evidence that they may, in fact, be living in the house with Bee?
Are Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift ghosts, angels or something else?
During the 1940s, “freak shows" were common on the carnival circuit.  Bee’s birthmark isolates her in many ways from regular society.  What are some examples of other characters in the book who face isolation/discrimination?
Did Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter face discrimination in their times?  What do they try and teach Bee about being strong?   
Is there something of a fairy tale in Beholding Bee?  How?
Mrs. Swift’s background as a suffragette gives her special knowledge of the things Bee needs in her life if she is to stand on her own two feet.  Explain.
Special education classes have changed since the 1940s.  Are children “set aside” today?  Why did school officials in Bee’s time think that it was important for children with special needs to be separate?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

British Bee!

I'm so excited to introduce my novel to British readers, thanks to the wonderful publisher Faber and Faber, London.

The first review of the British Bee is in!  Thank you to Luna's Little Library who named the novel one of her Top 10 Reads of 2013.

"Bee is an orphan who lives with a traveling carnival. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her cheek – though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs away to a house with gingerbread trim where two mysterious women, Mrs Swift and Mrs Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won’t enter the building themselves. And only Bee seems able to see them…

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world – if only she will let herself be a part of it.

The story is narrated by Bee, who at the beginning of the book is only 11. She’s grown up with a travelling carnival and works at the hot dog stand with Pauline, a young woman who has been Bee’s family since her parents died when Bee was 4.

The story starts with Bee’s life at the carnival. One of the things that I loved so much about Kimberly Newton Fusco's writing was that everything is so vivid. Bee is an amazing little girl that I can’t imagine anyone not loving.

When Pauline is sent to another carnival Bee has escapes in search of a home, taking her dog (Peabody) and piglet (Cordelia) with her. She finds a house “the colour of buttercups with blueberry shutters and a front porch with rocking chairs still rocking”. Inside she is welcomed by Mrs Swift and Mrs Potter, two elderly ladies.

I could quite happily tell you about how fantastic and touching the story is but I don’t want to spoil the joy of reading it. I loved the language, the imagery, the characters and of course the names. The Daring Escape of Beatrice and Peabody is magical – enjoy!"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BEHOLDING BEE gets ALA attention!

I am thrilled that BEHOLDING BEE is one of 15 novels nominated today to the list of Notable Children's Books that will be discussed at the ALA conference in Chicago!

The ALSC committee writes that “notable is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways."

For a list of all the wonderful books nominated, visit:

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Home Run!

A lovely review can splash sun all over a rainy Friday, as this one did today!
Thank you to Sprout's Bookshelf:

"Summer is right around the corner, and that can only mean one thing - Summer Reading! If you've followed this blog for very long, you know that I was a very bookish child who has become a bookish adult with a serious soft spot for Summer Reading. It was my favorite time of year: curling up in a sunny spot with my dog and a good book, or making a pilgrimage to the bookmobile (later the library) only to emerge with a bag of books I could barely carry. I read everything that caught my fancy in those years, and many things that I never would have otherwise tried, but for the fact that I suddenly had plenty of leisure time to explore new literary worlds. Heaven, for me, is books, no question.

And today's pick is one that the young me would have devoured, and then gone right back to for a second read-through. Kimberly Newton Fusco's previous books have garnered starred reviews and awards, and no wonder, because they are just amazing. But in her latest book, Beholding Bee, a WWII-era novel, Fusco has scored a home run - a character whose voice is so indelible and unforgettable that she draws you right into her story, and you never look back.

Bee has lived with Pauline ever since her parents died when she was three, and the traveling carnival where Pauline works is the only world Bee's ever known. It's not an easy life, and it's made tougher by the presence of Bee's "diamond", a prominent birthmark that draws the attention of everyone who comes to buy hot dogs from Pauline. Bee knows her diamond makes her special, but it sometimes seems too much to bear. And then things get even tougher: Pauline takes up with a boyfriend and leaves Bee behind to manage the hot dog cart all by herself. Bee takes as much as she can stand from unpleasant carnival boss Ellis. But finally she's had enough, so Bee and her dog Peabody, plus a piglet named Cordelia take off at a run, literally. And eventually Bee finds herself at a house that looks like gingerbread, where two quirky old ladies seem to have been expecting her. It's not what Bee bargained for, but it might just be everything she needs.

Beholding Bee is a historical novel for all kinds of kids, but especially for those who know what it's like to be an outsider. As an orphan and an outcast, Bee's developed a unique perspective on the world, and that informs her every decision in a way that makes her a character you can't help but root for. She reminds me so much of other strong girls in literature: Gilly Hopkins, for one, or Hollis Woods, even a younger Dicey Tillerman. She's got heart, but she's not fragile - Bee's a girl who has taken what life dishes out to her and keeps going, because she must. I love the complexity of this character, and Fusco never takes the easy way out for Bee, which makes me love her all the more.

Older readers will likely suss out some of the more mysterious elements a little sooner, but that doesn't take away from the pure enjoyment of the story. And believe me when I tell you that Bee's voice will linger in your mind: I finished this novel over a week ago, and I can't stop replaying Bee's story, thinking about her and the other characters in this vivid, unforgettable tale. With this effort, Fusco confirms her place on my list of writers I'll continue to look out for -- and I hope the Newbery committee feels the same.

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Ages 9-12

Source: Library

Sample: "I hear one lady tell her girl I must have done something horrid to be stained all over my face like that. Or maybe my mama is the one who did something awful, or maybe my daddy, and I am the one being punished. . . . But Pauline holds me and whispers they are not right. Otherwise, why would I have a beautiful jewel on my cheek the color of a rose at dusk and they do not? / I do so like Pauline's way of looking at things."

Highly recommended"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Thank you to the Lawrence, Kansas, Public Library for this lovely review!

"A perfect book

Looking for that perfect book, one you can’t put down? Now add carnival life, ghosts, a dog, a pig and an amazing young girl named Bee. Now you have the making of such a book. Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco is that title. Beatrice, known as Bee, is an orphan living in a traveling carnival show. She and her caretaker, Pauline, live in the back of one of the trucks. Bee was born with a large, diamond shaped birthmark on her face which she tries to hide with her hair. Bee is also the object of cruel remarks and actions by both children and adults. All the while, Bee is helped through these horrible events by a kind, older woman in an orange, floppy hat. The interesting thing is, only Bee and her dog, Peabody, can see this woman. When Pauline is assigned to a new carnival the owner is setting up, Bee is left on her own. When the time comes for her to escape, she and Peabody rescue a lovely, little pig named Cordelia. The three set off on an amazing journey. This book is truly a page turner. With chilling moments throughout, two worlds come together. This book is one for an older reader, grades 5 & up, in my opinion. I loved this book. Beholding Bee truly left me wanting more. I hope you’ll feel the same. "

Friday, March 29, 2013


Thank you for this lovely review from Sarah Rachel Egelman
at KidsReads!

"Ever since Bee’s parents died when she was quite young, she has lived with the traveling carnival, sleeping in the back of a truck and serving hot dogs to those who stare at her and mock her. The birthmark, covering much of one side of her face, may be a “diamond” to Bee but to others it is an ugly curse and an excuse for cruelty. Bee’s only protector is Pauline, another carnival employee, who was entrusted with Bee’s care. Bee and Pauline, young and lacking resources, dream of a home of their own, far from the mean ways of their boss Ellis and those who would hurt Bee because of how she looks. When Pauline leaves the carnival, and leaves Bee behind, Bee sets off in search of the home she longs for and maybe even a family who will love her as she is.

BEHOLDING BEE is a compelling and tender examination of identity and belonging by Kimberly Newton Fusco. It is also an enigmatic novel that packs an emotional wallop but remains ever hopeful.

"Set against the bleak landscape of World War II America, BEHOLDING BEE is an amazing and tender story with fascinating characters and a few wonderful twists and turns."

Though Pauline is devoted to Bee --- watching out for her, teaching her, loving her --- the pull of romance is too strong for Pauline to resist. In her mid-twenties, and never having had a boyfriend, she is charmed by Arthur, the flirtatious newcomer to the carnival. And, even though it breaks Bee’s heart (not to mention that of Bobby, the shy pig keeper who is quietly in love with Pauline) and leaves her vulnerable, Ellis sends Pauline away with Arthur. With Pauline’s departure, Bee comes to rely on the stray dog, Peabody, she has adopted and Bobby, who, in the weeks before he himself leaves the carnival looking for work, teaches her how to run fast. Running fast, Bobby believes, may save Bee from danger.

But the running that Bee does is both away from danger and toward security. After she leaves the carnival (with Peabody and also a piglet named Cordelia,) Bee finds her way to the curious house of Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift. Mrs. Potter is a kindly old woman who had been appearing to Bee for years, but who no one else could ever see. Mrs. Swift is a slightly more stern old woman who, along with Mrs. Potter, seems to have been expecting Bee to arrive at their doorstep. Living with Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift is strange, but Bee feels safe and happy. She enrolls in school, where she has to face a new set of challenges, finds new friends and meets new enemies. Life with Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift is almost magical, bittersweet and full of emotional surprises. Still, Bee never gives up hope for a reunion with Pauline and creating with her the life they had always wished for.

Set against the bleak landscape of World War II America, BEHOLDING BEE is an amazing and tender story with fascinating characters and a few wonderful twists and turns. There is much heartbreak and loss in these pages but it is realistically optimistic. This is a delightful novel with a good balance of tension and whimsy. Its exploration of family, friendship and self is set in a beautiful tale following a powerful and unique protagonist.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 25, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Thank you to to our northern RI newspaper for this lovely article on me and BEHOLDING BEE!

'Beholding Bee' is local author's third young adult novel
By ARLINE A. FLEMING, Valley Breeze & Observer Correspondent

FOSTER - Her public voice is soft and sweet, a little shy, somewhat poetic.

But on the written page, the voices created by Foster resident Kimberly Newton Fusco shout out with resiliency and tenaciousness, strong little literary characters, young but memorable.

There's nothing soft about these girls, especially the one who takes flight in Fusco's latest novel for young people, "Beholding Bee," which will be launched on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Foster's Tyler Free Library, 81A Moosup Valley Rd. at 1:30 p.m.

"It's my favorite library in the whole world," explained the long-time town resident and award-winning writer who launched her previous books, "Tending to Grace" and "The Wonder of Charlie Anne," there, a place she often brought her own children for story hours.

A mother of four children ages 15 to 25, Fusco and her husband, Steven, came to the area after their oldest son was born, she said, finding "a warm and generous community" in Foster, and a place not far from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette where she was an award-winning reporter and editor. After more than 15 years of writing on deadlines, and with the family increasing in number, she decided to give herself a chance at writing from home.

A devoted reader, she returned to her book roots, producing a successful first novel in "Tending to Grace," published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, which earned her awards and a place in the publishing world. Her second, "The Wonder of Charlie Anne," continued with that same type of success, and her third has been released this week with early recognition, too. It will also be published by Faber and Faber, London, "making it an international book," she notes.

While the accolades are abundant, Fusco is quick to point out that "Beholding Bee" was many years in the making, and the inspiration actually goes back to her early days as a reporter when she covered a traveling carnival in Bristol. The idea simmered, as did the planning, writing and publishing tasks, which added up to four years.

"I'm really precise and I take a lot of time with every single word," she explained.

A personal writing habit sometimes includes writing poetry about the character's feelings and "then I rewrite it into prose. I love poetry and that helps me get into the character. I get so deeply into their emotions."

Fusco not only allows poetry to transmit her into the character, but she says she also sets up her computer margins so that the page mimics a newspaper column as she creates. "It's how I write."

She also makes a habit of finding a photo that resembles in her mind the character she is creating. She produces one of what Bee might have looked like if she stepped off the pages of the book.

Bee is an orphan. The time period is 1942. And she lives in the back of a tractor trailer with Pauline, her unofficial guardian. Bee also has a birthmark on her face that she spends a good amount of time attempting to hide. When Pauline leaves to work for another carnival, Bee runs away to create a new life - one that turns out to be quite imaginative and includes women in history.

BookPage, a monthly book review distributed to some 450,000 readers, describes Fusco's writing in "Beholding Bee" as being "lyrical prose (which) enhances the magic of the story as we are drawn into Bee's unconventional world and her touching transformation."

"With an arrestingly original voice, this book stays with you long after reading. Anyone who has ever felt lonely will find a friend in Bee," notes Faber and Faber, London.

While Bee is a fighter, so is the girl in Fusco's first novel, "Tending to Grace," where young Cornelia tends to remain quiet rather than announce her stuttering to all the world. She has something of Fusco in her. As a child, Fusco was "a young person who stuttered, and writing gave me a chance to express myself.

"I am drawn to characters like Cornelia who put on bigger boots and keep going," Fusco writes on her website, .

Kristen M. Chin, director of the Libraries of Foster, describes Fusco as being "generous with her time and knowledge." Recalling an earlier book launch at the local library, Chin said it was "standing-room only.

"In addition to being Foster's most celebrated author, she is also much loved and respected by everyone who knows her, and she is widely known."

Fusco earned her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York, and her bachelor's degree from Roger Williams University, Bristol. While at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, she won a second prize in the 1992 National Awards for Education Reporting, and in 1988, a first prize for investigative reporting for her series "Poverty and Education in Worcester."

Living in Foster, notes Fusco, inspires her to write. The sounds of nearby animals and the plentiful woods for walking help clear her head to think. From the family's "new" old house, Fusco creates literary people comfortable around animals, which is no surprise given the sheep that roam her own front yard and her childhood in Upton, Mass., where Fusco said the family kept chickens and a pig. She was also able to walk to her own great-grandmother's house most days for a visit.

"We were very close," she recalled of Dorcas Brewster Newton, and Fusco dedicated "Beholding Bee" to her.

The little girl who spent days with her great-grandmother has grown up to become a celebrated writer, which also means she must make public appearances, give talks, and lectures.

"That's something I really grew into. I enjoy it now. I really love talking to kids," she said.

Fusco said she is almost finished with the first draft of another book, one which includes a strong friendship with a boy. Her sons have asked her about creating boy characters, and she smiles, saying, "It's not easy to jump the fence."

Though she has devoted four years to the development of "Beholding Bee," Fusco says that while it is a big adjustment being that patient in seeing the outcome, "I love this more than anything I've ever done. It really feels like a dream come true.

"I'm very determined. I've always been tenacious. That part of me is in all my characters, too."

So what does she hope "Beholding Bee" does for the readers who step into its magical world?  "I hope they get it. I hope they see how much I love language. It's just so joyful to write," she said.

And one more "hope" from this local author about her books, which are on school reading lists nationwide:

"I hope that they make a difference in a child's life somewhere."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


The Crazy Bookworm, a Canadian reviewer and bookseller, wrote this lovely review on the day BEHOLDING BEE makes her way into the world.  Thank you so much!

"When you think about it, though, isn't it better to believe in a kiss so soft you cannot hear it or see who is giving it to you? You are special when you think like this" - Bee

"I simply do not know where to begin. I am warning you now this is going to be more of a love letter than a review. Beholding Bee was one of the most beautiful, most magical books I have ever read!

Kimberly Newton Fusco's writing was superb. Utterly flawless. Her lyrical flow made the words bounce off the page, and play a stunning and vibrant film in my mind. I have never had a book come to life quite like this. The author's world building was crafted so beautifully. I love how she separated the book into 3 parts. It really broke down Bee's transformation perfectly.

The characters, oh gosh, those characters! Bee is the main character and what a character she is. She is so strong and mature at 12 years old. She is so precious, I absolutely fell in love with her. Bee will forever be in my heart. There were qualities of Bee that I saw in myself, and there are certain experiences we share; It was a pleasure to be able to relate with her. Don't think that Bee is the only spirited character, oh no! The author penned a vivacious secondary cast. Everyone has their spot and plays their part. Lots of stories are told and by the end, your heart will be swelling!

This book tackles it all; World War II, bullying, family matters and self discovery. Bee's world will unfold right in front of your very eyes. I am so happy I had the pleasure of reading this novel.

Magical, enchanting, and simply wonderful."

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Thank you to book reviewer Joanne Fritz for this wonderful review of BEHOLDING BEE.  Ms. Fritz, a former bookseller in Pennsylvania, writes the blog, MY BRAIN ON BOOKS.  Her review ran on the Random House - Random Acts of Reading - site.

"Historical fiction with a beguiling touch of fantasy, Beholding Bee takes place in New England in 1942. The traveling carnival is the only life eleven-year-old Bee (short for Beatrice) has ever known. Her parents were circus people who died in a truck accident when she was four. Ever since then, she’s been looked after by Pauline, who loves her, teaches her to read, and tries to protect her. They sell hotdogs and popcorn at the carnival. But the owner thinks Bee is old enough to start earning her keep by sitting in the look-see booth, where people would pay good money to gawk at the diamond-shape birthmark covering nearly half of her face.

Then Pauline is forced to go to Poughkeepsie and help set up a permanent carnival, and Bee’s only other friend, Bobby, leaves the traveling show to work in a factory building bomber engines. Bee takes her scruffy stray dog, Peabody, and Bobby’s runt of a pig, Cordelia, and runs away.

But Bee’s never completely alone, because the lady in the floppy orange hat, a lady only Bee can see, is always there when Bee needs her the most. When Bee finds the lady with the orange hat on the porch of a wonderful old house, she knows she’s home. Will a normal life, with school and friends, be possible for Bee now? Or will her diamond-shaped birthmark, or questions about her guardians, prevent her from finding happiness?

A luminous novel about standing up for yourself, finding your inner strength, and discovering the gems within. Bee’s a feisty character, who stomps around in worn-out work boots and overalls, but she’s also terribly vulnerable, and often holds her long hair tight over her face. Reading this, I got inside Bee’s head completely. This is one of those quiet books I’m so fond of (like the author’s previous novels, Tending to Grace and The Wonder of Charlie Anne), although there’s plenty of conflict for young Bee. Short chapters (some only a page or two) keep the pace moving along briskly, and the first-person present-tense narration gives the story immediacy.

The prose is so beautiful it’s poetic, making the novel highly quotable. Confronting two bullies who want to stare at her birthmark, Bee says they “stand grinning, as close to us as dug graves.” After her first day of school, where Bee endures humiliation, she comes home and cries in bed. “…whatever grit I had inside me is gone. I am soft as petals.” And when she learns more about her real family, and especially about all the women who came before her, she says, “I feel their bones gathering within me, knitting their strength to my insides.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Children's Pick

Beholding Bee earns Top Children's Pick for February from BookPage!

Here's the review:

"We all know that there is magic in the world—and it is not the spells-and-wands kind of magic you find in most fantasy books. Real magic is created by love and conjured up by need. In Kimberly Newton Fusco’s enthralling Beholding Bee, there is an abundance of real magic. And it’s a good thing, because Bee needs all the help the world can give her.

Orphaned at the age of 4 by carnival folk parents, Bee is raised by a teenager, Pauline, who helps her run the hot dog stand. The carnival’s owner decided to keep Bee because he hopes to use her as a “freak show” attraction when she gets older.

In the 1940s when this story takes place, being born with a large diamond-shaped birthmark on your face can make you an object of fear, ridicule and fascination. Bee spends most of the early parts of this story trying to keep her hair pulled down over one side of her face. Only Pauline and a strange old lady in a floppy hat—a lady only Bee can see—give her comfort. When Pauline leaves to work at another carnival, Bee is on her own and more scared than ever. With a stray dog and a piglet as her companions, Bee finds the strength to run away to the nearest town, and, miraculously, finds the house where the old lady lives.

Here the magic truly begins as Bee makes a home for herself. She follows the guidance of the ghostly lady and another “aunt” as she learns to cook and shop and go to school. As all the pieces come apart and then come together again, Bee finds her voice and the strength of self to show the world who she really is. Fusco’s lyrical prose enhances the magic of the story as we are drawn into Bee’s unconventional world and her touching transformation."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Next Big Thing

Thanks to my friend, the award-winning poet, Lisa C. Taylor, I have been invited to participate in an online literary blog called MY NEXT BIG THING.

The blog is a series of questions about my work-in-progress (or not-yet published writing.) Many national and international writers have participated in this. It gives readers a glimpse into the working life of a writer. Part of the fun is tagging someone else. It is with great delight that I will be tagging three other writers at the end of this post.

MY NEXT BIG THING is my novel about Bee, an 11-year-old orphan who escapes the travelling carnival where she lives with her scruffy dog, Peabody.  She cannot, however, escape the taunts about the diamond-shaped birthmark on her cheek until, with help from two very old friends - whom only she can see – Bee discovers that the real jewel is within herself.

What is the working title of your book? BEHOLDING BEE.

Where did the idea come from for the book? I was a journalist for many years after graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. One day I was sent out to write a story about a traveling carnival. I found a little girl who lived and worked for the carnival and slept in the back of a tractor-trailer and I wrote a feature about her. I thought that one day I would write a novel about a girl like that.

What genre does your book fall under? Literary fiction for young people.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I think I’ll ask my daughters who they think would make a good BEE!

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? A tender novel about finding your voice and your place in the world.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took me about a year to write the first draft. My editor then asked for two revisions and then a few smaller changes before it went to copy editing. It’s a long process:  from first paragraph to finished book took almost four years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My British publisher says the novel is for literary young readers who loved Anne of Green Gables. So, there’s definitely something of a strong and feisty character in BEE.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was a young person who stuttered and I have always been interested in people who are set aside by society for one reason or another. But what really interests me is what do they do with that? Do they put on bigger boots and keep going? Or do they flop? Bee is definitely someone who puts on bigger boots.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? I think the book is about five things:

1. The strength of the human spirit

2. Overcoming adversity with resilience and heart.

3. The pain of isolation, and the realization that whatever our life may become is up to us for the choosing.

4. The healing power of community.

5. The strength of women throughout history -- and how those women can be an inspiration to girls today.

When and how will it be published? BEHOLDING BEE will be published on Feb. 12 by Knopf and by Faber and Faber, London, this summer. The British edition will be titled THE DARING ESCAPE OF BEATRICE AND PEABODY and will feature a different cover.

It is my honor to tag and introduce you to three people - two writers for young people and one for adults: Linda Crotta Brennan, Laurie Smith Murphy and Dell Smith.

Linda Crotta Brennan is the award-winning author of over a dozen books for young people including The Black Regiment of the American Revolution and Marshmallow Kisses, which was chosen as one of Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story will be out in Spring 2013. She is an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Laurie Smith Murphy, a third-grade public school teacher, is the author of a completed novel, Melody's Song, and a picture book, Daddy Dance. Her work-in-progress is the middle grade novel, Fairy Girl. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for many years, and a former Regional Advisor for the Southern New England chapter, she is currently searching for an agent and publisher. She blogs about her two passions: writing and teaching at

Dell Smith is a novelist and short story writer whose writing has appeared in Fiction, J Journal, Hacks (10 year Grub Street Anthology), and the Grub Street Free Press. He is a founding writer of the group writing blog Beyond the Margins His story, Younger Things, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.