Local Books Make Great Gifts: The Disasters by M.K. England, Girls Who Write by Karen Zvarych, and Adventures in Dinglewood by Helen L. Williamson

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The Disasters by M.K. England

If you have a child or young adult on your holiday gift list, you’re in luck! Three local authors have recently published a story collection for children and two outstanding young adult novels that you can get hot off the press just in time for the holidays—one of them even signed by the author! All three books are available at Over the Moon Bookstore in Piedmont Place or on Amazon.

Mark your calendar now for the Book Launch party of The Disasters, a YA sci-fi adventure by Crozet’s own young adult librarian, M.K. England. Bring your family to the Crozet Library Tuesday, December 18, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to enjoy spacey snacks and swag, a photo booth, and a discussion and Q&A with the author led by Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of Reign of the Fallen (2018). 

M.K. England.

In England’s debut novel published by Harper Teen, Star Wars meets Ender’s Game as four rejects from moon-based Ellis Station Space Academy—“the Fail Class of 2194”—barely escape a violent academy takeover and are forced to crash land on the distant space colony of al-Rihla. Nax, Case, Rion, and Zee are pursued as outlaws as they attempt to notify Earth of the coup and save the world. 

While this diverse band of misfits may be seen as “disasters” to some (including themselves), the reader recognizes them as the true heroes they become. With fast-paced action, high-stakes danger, and wise-cracking humor, this wild cosmic thrill ride will appeal to fans of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. England’s second book is in the works, with a tentative release date of January 2020. The party will be fun for grades 5+, with the book recommended for ages 14+. A book signing will follow, with book sales by Crozet’s own Over the Moon Bookstore. 

Registration is requested but not required, either at the library or online at www.jmrl.org/pr-teens.htm#/?i=8.

Girls Who Write by Karen Zvarych

Girls Who Write by Karen Zvarych, a Crozet resident and a teacher at Free Union Country School, is a complex YA novel dealing with peer pressure, rebellion, the need to belong, first love, false friendship, teenage manipulation, and when to out a friend who is in trouble. 

Desperately needing to belong to a peer group, 13-year-old aspiring writer Sarah joins the Write Hers club led by manipulative Felicity. Bullied into more and more cruel and high-risk behaviors, Sarah slowly begins to realize they are not as glamorous as they seem. Her new friendship with the troubled Jake, a loner who spends most of his time in an abandoned house, helps her to figure out her true character—that of a caring friend who isn’t comfortable hurting others. When he runs away, she must decide whether to let on what she knows. With skillful pacing, a satisfying ending, and an unusually positive image of parents, Zvarych’s realistic and sensitive portrayal of the trials of middle school might well be called “Mean Girls Who Write.” “It is like playing Truth or Dare with people who have no shame and without the option of Truth,” Sarah laments. “It is not a game, it is social torture.” Girls Who Write is available at Amazon.com and is in the J-MRL catalog.

Adventures in Dinglewood by Helen L. Williamson.

Adventures in Dinglewood by Helen L. Williamson, illustrated by Nancy Taylor Atkins, is a collection of five gentle short stories set in the friendly forest of Dinglewood, reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame with a dose of magic thrown in. 

Big-hearted mice Henrietta and Jasper have heart-warming adventures with the help of Ratticus and his magic potions, pens, and foodstuffs. In “The Wood Fairy,” they are joined by Esmerelda, the baby elephant who was left behind by a travelling circus, to rescue a young fairy who can no longer fly because her wings froze when she flew too far from home in winter. 

In “Ratticus’ Astonishing Pepper Pot Pepper,” they join Bertie the Beaver to remove a huge boulder that has trapped a water nymph inside an underwater cave. Williamson shows children that the only limit to what they can do is their imaginations. Atkins’ lovely, charming illustrations bring the text to life.  

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