I did a guest post for Word For Teens — consider it my contribution to the Halloween madness.
Archives for October 2010
First, what a cool name for a blog, Elephants on Trapezes! Rebecca gave Prisoners in the Palace this review . An excerpt:
I thought this book a diverting historical portrait that introduces the reader to some fascinating time periods that could otherwise have remained unknown. I know I’m much more interested in Princess (later Queen) Victoria than I was before I’d read this book. Recommended for fans of historical fiction, England, and strong women.
Thank you Rebecca. You’ve made my day!
Rarely have I met someone who lays it right out there.. Katie Bell at Sophistikatied Reviews and A Books Blog says “I usually avoid historical fiction like the plague.” But she liked Prisoners in the Palace! She says “Prisoners In The Palace is one of the best historical novels I’ve read so far. Michaela MacColl manages to mix the history of Queen Victoria with scandal and romance so gracefully that it’s impossible to get lost. The writing is gorgeous without being ostentatious; simple but powerful. And the characters, though clearly written appropriately to the 1800s, have actual personalities so it won’t just end up being “another book about that dead queen.”
This review made my day. If I have an ulterior motive when I write… it is to convert folks who think history has to be dull. Thanks Katie!
Today I volunteered with the School Volunteer Service Association of Bridgeport. They had recruited dozens of people to go into the classrooms of Bridgeport CT today to read to classes. We all had age-appropriate picture books and our task was just to go into the classroom and read.
Bridgeport is a city in Southern Connecticut. Unlike its wealthy neighbors (Westport, Easton, Fairfield etc) Bridgeport is one of the nation’s poorest cities. There are signs of urban renewal, especially around the waterfront, but the city has a reputation for crime and corruption. I know the schools are under-funded and kids are under-served. My kids, in contrast, go to a ridiculously excellent public school. I find the disparity shameful and I jumped at the chance to help in any small way I could.
I had no idea what to expect from a “magnet” school. 6 to 6 was a revelation. I walked in and the interior was colorful and well-designed, even cheerful. A charming 4th grader escorted me to the meeting in the media center, chattering all the while about how wonderful the school was. 6 to 6 is a Science, Mathematics and Technology school. Admission is based on lottery. Through special grants they have computers, smart boards and something called “probeware.” (I didn’t dare ask). They work with local museums and even NASA. When I arrived at Ms. Warren’s 6th grade class, I was ready to be amazed by these kids but a little nervous that they were more about math than literature.
I needn’t have worried. The kids were engaged and funny — they listened respectfully except when they were too eager to talk about the book we were reading (Nubs: A True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle by Brian Dennis and Kirby Larson). They were so excited to hear about my book and afterwards rushed me for autographs. I’ll definitely be going back because they were so much fun!
Here’s a picture:
Margo at the Fourth Musketeer does an interview with… me!
Publishers Weekly review:
Prisoners in the Palace
Michaela MacColl, Chronicle, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7300-0
With the tragic death of her parents, Liza Hastings’s life is upended in an instant. Gone is her money, her security, her hopes of coming out this season, and her station in life as a lady. Liza is a young woman left alone in 19th-century London, a precarious position at best. With no other options before her, Liza lands a position as a maid–at Kensington Palace–to none other than Princess Victoria, the future queen of England. In this debut, MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for–Liza’s prospects may have plummeted, but her spirits never do. And though Princess Victoria can be spoiled and distressingly unaware of how her whims can make or break someone’s livelihood, MacColl weaves enough goodness into Victoria that she never becomes a caricature. Court intrigue abounds as Victoria’s advisers scheme to usurp her power upon the king’s death, and Liza fights for Victoria’s rights as much as for her own station. Enter Will Fulton as a dashing romantic interest for Liza, and this delightful story is complete. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Whew — the launch party is done! I’ll post pictures — but I couldn’t capture the day any better than Jennifer Donovan a talented local journalist. I admit it helped that her daughter had a great time in the bouncy castle…. but I do think a good time was had by all!