#SticksandStones by @_acoops_ tour with #guestpost and #giveaway #theffbc

Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones
by Abby Cooper
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: July 12th 2016
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, School
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Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.
Guest Post on the Research that Went Into Writing the Book:
Sometimes people think fiction writers have it easy. We get to make things up! Our imaginations are the boss of everything! The world is our oyster! And so on and so forth. And while this is definitely true to an extent, a lot of the time, inventing new things involves a lot of real research. With realistic fiction in particular, part of writing is convincing your reader that the characters, settings, and situations in your book could be real. Writing STICKS & STONES was no exception. Here are a few aspects of the book that I researched:

  1. Lingo. Just like anything else you might invent, I needed to make sure my fictional skin disorder sounded legitimate. “Cogn” is a Latin root meaning to learn, which seemed fitting since the disorder is still being researched, and main character Elyse is constantly learning about new symptoms. “Adj” is the beginning of adjective, which is the type of word that appears on my main character’s skin, and “visib” is the beginning of visible, which the words definitely are. “Itis” is a suffix that refers to inflammation. When I stuck them all together, cognadjivisibilitis, a somewhat realistic-sounding thing, was born!
  1. Directions. Do you know how to use a compass? Do you fully comprehend that if you go east to get somewhere, you have to get west to go back? (You probably do, and you should consider yourself very lucky. I am not as fortunate.) My main character gets a tad lost during a pretty pivotal scene in the book, and when I was first writing it, I honestly wasn’t quite sure how to help her. I mean, she gets really lost. But thanks to some quality time with my compass app, the Internet, and real-life adventures involving wandering around my neighborhood using said compass app, I am now a total expert. (But just to be safe, don’t ever ask me for directions.)  
  1. Sixth grade adventure trips. In the book, the sixth graders go on a trip to Minnesota to participate in a variety of fun, educational outdoor activities. I went on one of these trips when I was in sixth grade, and many schools around the country still offer them. I wanted to make sure I represented the trip accurately, so I checked in with one of my old sixth-grade teachers. She reminded me of some of our activities: building shelters out in the snow, rock-climbing, team-building exercises, and eating (a lot.) I compared with a friend whose son went on one of these trips just this year, and she confirmed that his was pretty similar. I want students to read about the trip in my book and think to themselves, “yeah, that trip sounds a lot like mine.”
Abby Cooper lives in Minnesota with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. A former teacher and school librarian, her favorite things in the world (besides writing) are getting and giving book recommendations and sharing her love of reading with others. In her spare time, she likes eating cupcakes, running along the Mississippi River, and watching a lot of bad reality TV.
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