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Love Agnes Octopus cover

illus. by Thea Baker

Dear Friends,

Hello! If you haven't heard before about October being "Octopus Month," well, that's because Agnes, the postcard-sending giant Pacific octopus in my newest book, just invented it. (Octopuses are quite clever!)

That's right: Agnes heard about Shark Week, and decided octopuses deserve more than their allotted World Octopus Day (October 8), so we'll be celebrating all month long! You'll find octopus art and poems by fabulous artists and poets on my blog, and my Twitter feed will feature links to octopus information, including some really cool videos. I do hope you'll join the octopus fun! If YOU have an octopus poem or art, I'd love to include it! More information here.

8 Things to Know about LOVE, AGNES:

1. Agnes may not be the smartest octopus in the sea, but she is funny.
2. It's no coincidence that there's an Andrew in this book, AND the author has a son named Andrew. Both have big feelings about their siblings.
3. This book is a transformer, just like Agnes: it started as a poem... then morphed into a collection of poems... then became a postcard exchange.
4. Writing this book was, in part, a way for the author to work through grief as her father was in the last stages of cancer. (Agnes taught her that death doesn't have to be a dark topic.)
5. Just like Agnes, the author loves sending – and receiving – postcards.
6. The author fell in love with octopuses when she read THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS by Sy Montgomery. She believes the octopus is her patronus.
7. Agnes and the author are looking forward to meeting readers (and octopuses!) during The Great Southeastern Octopus tour of museums/aquariums during October/November.
8. The author is inspired by the way Agnes loves the world fiercely, with all three of her hearts.
1. Agnes may not be the smartest octopus in the sea, but she is funny.
2. It's no coincidence that there's an Andrew in this book, AND the author has a son named Andrew. Both have big feelings about their siblings.
3. This book is a transformer, just like Agnes: it started as a poem... then morphed into a collection of poems... then became a postcard exchange.
4. Writing this book was, in part, a way for the author to work through grief as her father was in the last stages of cancer. (Agnes taught her that death doesn't have to be a dark topic.)
5. Just like Agnes, the author loves sending – and receiving – postcards.
6. The author fell in love with octopuses when she read THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS by Sy Montgomery. She believes the octopus is her patronus.
7. Agnes and the author are looking forward to meeting readers (and octopuses!) during The Great Southeastern Octopus tour of museums/aquariums during October/November.
8. The author is inspired by the way Agnes loves the world fiercely, with all three of her hearts.
GREAT Southeastern octopus tour

Advance Praise for LOVE, AGNES:

by Irene Latham, Illustrations by Thea Baker
Millbrook Press/Lerner
October 1, 2018
978-1512439939

Toward the end of her short life, an octopus exchanges a series of postcards with others around her, including a boy on a pier and her newly hatched eggs. Spread by spread, a simple narrative accompanied by postcard messages provides clever introduction to the life of a giant Pacific octopus. Though Latham's story is thoroughly fantastic, both author and illustrator have been respectful to this amazing creature, describing realistic behaviors and depicting her relatively accurately, right down to the rectangular pupils of her eyes and her senescent color change. Agnes the octopus squeezes herself into a jar and later into a crevice in the rocks. As "Crabby Crab" requests, she stops eating crabs, but only because she's ready to lay her eggs. She evades a predator by ejecting a cloud of ink. She quietly tends her eggs until they hatch, and then she bids the world goodbye. She has final advice for her pen pal Andrew, too: "You can't be mad or sad when you're swimming. Try it." Backmatter offers further information about octopuses (including the correct plural) as well as solid suggestions for further reading. Baker's appealing collage, acrylic paint, and digital illustrations are full of deep-sea color and abound with interesting patterns and textures. They include other thoroughly recognizable sea dwellers. Certainly the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone. (Informational picture book. 4-7)
– Kirkus Reviews

MeetMissFancy cover

illus. by John Holyfield

Coming Soon!

See you at NCTE!

I'll be joining some amazing authors and educators to present:
1. Writing Poetry In the Wild: Using Place, Play, and Perspective to Empower Student Writers
Scheduled for: Friday, November 16, 2018 3:30-4:45 p.m.

2. Voice, Vision, and Variety: Empowering Students with Innovative Nonfiction
Scheduled for: Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

4:00 signing LOVE, AGNES at the Lerner booth

and

MEET MISS FANCY

(G.P. Putnam's Sons) coming January 8, 2019! Alabama friends: This is a great title to celebrate our state's Bicentennial! Also, please mark your calendars for a Miss Fancy-Fest to be held at Birmingham's Avondale Library, Sunday, January 13, 2019!
__
A charming and significant story set prior to the Civil Rights Movement about a boy who finds a way to challenge segregation laws. Inspired by the real-life Miss Fancy!


Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park in Birmingham, Alabama, he's over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn't give up: instead he makes a plan!

CanITouchYourHair Cover4 17 cropped

illus. by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko

Thanks to you, CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? has gone to a 4th printing!

Charles Waters and I are so grateful for the love shown to our book of poems about race, mistakes and friendship. The book, which features illustrations by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, was released this past January from Carolrhoda/Lerner, and has since popped up on some fun lists, including:

9 Best New Friendship Books for 2018

2018 Book all Young Georgians Should Read

2018 Girls of Summer Reading List

100 Progressive Books for Children

NEA 2019 Read Across America poster

Anderson's Book Shop Mock Newbery

We're especially grateful to educators who've invited us to share our book in person with readers in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, and New York. View readers' responses in poetry and art here.

What an honor to be a part of these important conversations about diversity and inclusivity!

Thanks so much for reading! Wishing you an Octopus Month filled with all the things you love best.

Love,
Irene

P.S. Wow. You read this entire newsletter! Agnes is so delighted that her skin's turning a happy shade of coral orange -- and she wants to enter you in a drawing to win an autographed copy of LOVE, AGNES! To enter, simply reply to this email and tell us 1 thing you have in common with Agnes, or with octopuses in general. **Thank you!

 
 
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