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.