About Tara Dairman

Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering world traveler. Her debut middle-grade novel, ALL FOUR STARS, will be published in 2014 by Putnam/Penguin.


Hello, readers! I’m so pleased to report a few tidbits of happy news for me and my books.

Great Hibernation coverAccolades
My newest middle-grade novel, The Great Hibernationhas just been named a best book of the year by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC). What a huge honor, and what excellent company it’s in, too.

The Great Hibernation has also been selected for this year’s Spirit of Texas Middle School Reading List! I can’t wait to get more involved with the libraries and schools in my (not-so-)new home state as young readers dive into the story. Happy reading, my fellow Texans.
memberfuse_logoSpeaking of Texas, I’ll be attending at the 2018 TXLA conference on April 3 and 4 in Dallas. You can catch me on the “What’s New With Texas Middle Grade & Young Adult Authors” panel (Tuesday, 4/3, 2:45pm) and at the Texas Author & Illustrator Speed Dating (4pm), and then I’ll be signing my Penguin Random House books at 11am on Wednesday, 4/4. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of librarians!

New additions
During the same crazy week late last year, my debut picture book deal was announced AND I had a baby. So to say that I’ve been keeping busy is kind of an understatement!


I hope that 2018 has been treating you well so far. My postings here are likely to be infrequent for a while, but you can always see what I’ve been cooking up on Instagram. And I strongly encourage you to check out #kidlitwomen on Twitter/Facebook this month, which is calling attention to the gender inequities in the world of children’s literature and working on solutions.



Cynsations guest post, and preorder winner!

20170911_094045I’m so pleased to announce that Marnie Lansdown has won the preorder contest for The Great HibernationMarnie works at Colorado Humanities, and has great plans for getting the class set of books into the hands of underserved readers in the Denver area. Thank you, Marnie, and thank you to EVERYONE who preordered from BookPeople! Your personalized copies, stuffed with stickers and bookmarks, are on their way out to you.

The winner of Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson will be chosen tonight. You can still squeeze in an entry by commenting on that post if you haven’t already!

And finally, I have a guest post up today at Cynsations, the fabulous blog of Cynthia Leitich Smith, about making connections in the writing and bookselling community after moving to a new town. A lot of the advice would also apply to debut authors. I hope that it’s helpful and interesting!


Some chances to win THE GREAT HIBERNATION

Great Hibernation cover*Quick reminder – you have one more day to win a copy of Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson right here at my blog! Such a wonderful, whimsical book–please leave a comment and enter!*

Thank you so much to all of the friends, family members, fellow authors, and booksellers who made yesterday’s publication of The Great Hibernation such a special day for me. Book birthdays are way better than real birthdays at this point! 🙂 If you spot the book out in the wild, please keep sharing pictures; if you read it and enjoy, please consider leaving a review online to recommend it to your fellow readers.

A couple of fellow author-bloggers are kind enough to be hosting giveaways of copies of The Great Hibernation on their sites, so please feel free to click over to these entries.


Signing on launch day at my local B&N

Jessica Lawson – Falling Leaflets – ebook giveaway

Laurie Ann Thompson – interview with me & hardcover giveaway
(Laurie’s interview–aside from plenty of behind-the-scenes details about the writing of Hibernation–includes my list of favorite 2017-18 middle-grade reads, so if you are looking for some book recommendations, please check it out!)

And there’s no giveaway attached, but I also have an interview up over at Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Creative Spaces blog, in case you’d like a glimpse of my new Texas workspace.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Cynsations; I’ll also announce the winner of Under the Bottle Bridge AND the winner of the BookPeople preorder contest for The Great Hibernation. And my in-person bookstore tour kicks off this Sunday!

Launch dinner

Wrapping up launch day with–of course–food!

Lots going on–no time to hibernate. 🙂 Thanks again to everyone for your support of my new book.


Great Hibernation coverWell, friends, the day is here. My fourth novel, The Great Hibernation, is out in the world. This is definitely my weirdest book, and in some ways, also my most personal. Writing it was a long journey that spanned 2013—before I was a published author at all!—until very late 2015 (two days before I gave birth to my first kiddo). The editorial process, by contrast, was a fairly short one (at least by publishing standards), from selling it to Wendy Lamb Books in early 2016 to seeing on the shelves now in 2017.

When you start writing a novel, you often have no idea if or when it will ever reach readers. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated this story entering the world in the midst of the political and natural strife so many of us are now facing. And in a way, it feels weird to be celebrating something joyous like a new book release when so much around us feels like it’s falling apart.

But at the same time, if we let all joy be swallowed up by darkness, the darkness wins. That’s something that I refused to let happen to my characters in The Great Hibernation—even though a series of sinister, stressful things happen to them over the course of the book, those challenges never quite destroy their creative spirits. In fact, they inspire my main character, Jean Huddy, to grow braver and louder than she ever thought she could be.

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Jean Huddy, in Rebecca Green‘s beautiful illustration, taking on the patriarchy of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord

So perhaps the fictional town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord (my quirky setting for The Great Hibernation) will, for a few hours, serve as a refuge for readers who need it. Perhaps the humor in the story will help them forget their troubles for a bit. And then, when the time comes for them to stand up and take the next steps in their fight—for justice, for recovery, for whatever their own challenge is—perhaps my characters’ journey will lend them a little extra strength, too.

Happy reading, and stay awake.


Need a copy of The Great Hibernation? Just hop into your car, truck, or snowplow and head to…

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 BookPeople (signed copies)Your local independent bookstore * Penguin Random House * Powell’s * BAM * B&N * Amazon *  Indigo (Canada)Book Depository (International)


Need to find me over the next month? 

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Meet me at one of my booktore events (NYC; Westchester; Boston; Arlington/DC;  Boulder, CO; Austin, TX)…snowshoes, hopefully, not required


Want to know more about The Great Hibernation?

What would happen if every grown-up in town fell asleep and the kids were left in charge? A great pick for fans of A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff and Greenglass House by Kate Milford, or any reader seeking a quirky mystery with a big helping of silliness.
The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founders fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well.

A few hours later, all the adults fall into a sleep from which they cannot be woken, and the kids are left to run things. At first, they have a blast. But then the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force, and pretty soon Jean begins to suspect that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town.

Courage, teamwork, and scientific smarts unlock an unusual mystery in this delightful and funny story about one girl who inspires the kids around her to join together to save their home.


Want to read some nice things people have said about The Great Hibernation?

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Memorably humorous…Lighthearted enough to entice readers with the silly premise and whimsical illustrations sprinkled throughout, this middle grade book nonetheless explores some rather important political ideas about individuality and the need for a balance of powers in governance. A strong selection for most middle grade shelves.

“Quirky without being over-the-top, Dairman’s novel is a funny, wintry romp that explores just what might happen if kids were in charge.”

“[A] whimsical mystery…The fast-paced plot belies the sleepy small-town setting, and it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters who genuinely love their village and their families, whatever their quirks, instead of yearning to escape them.”

“Definitely will not induce drowsiness. Utterly original.”
author of The True Meaning of Smekday and the Cold Cereal Saga

“Imagine Lord of the Flies as a comedy set in snowy terrain and you have The Great Hibernation: a hilarious, whip-smart page-turner you don’t want to miss.”
New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code


Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson—Recipe & Book Giveaway!

under-the-bottle-bridge-9781481448420_hrI’m so pleased today to welcome Jessica Lawson, middle-grade author extraordinaire (and good friend), to my blog. Jessica is the author of the much-acclaimed books The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, Nooks & Crannies, Waiting for Augusta, and now Under the Bottle Bridgewhich was just published this week (all with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers).

Later this month, we will be celebrating our book launches together in both NYC and Virginia (more details here). But today, Jessica is sharing a recipe inspired by her new book, and giving away a copy!



Of Hearth Milk & Home—Recipe & Book Giveaway!

My good friend Tara (owner of this blog!) is a foodie. You might be able to tell from her Gladys Gatsby series, or from this Wizarding World of Harry Potter post, or from the creative foods in her most recent book, The Great Hibernation (out next week!). When I wanted to buy a cookbook for my husband’s birthday recently, Tara was the one I asked.

My latest publication, Under the Bottle Bridge, is not a foodie book. It is an autumn book—a “change of seasons” book. Still, when I think autumn, I get very nostalgic for two things: 1) the beginning of a new school year and 2) autumn comfort foods—stews and cornbread and pumpkin dishes and apples and spices. And also hearth milk.

What’s hearth milk, you ask? I created hearth milk for the book. It began as a simple line of fiction. My main character, Minna Treat, lives in an old stone house (with a large stone hearth). It’s a home that she loves. It’s a home that circumstances might cause her to soon leave. I found myself wondering what generations of Treats might keep bubbling in the cast-iron pot on nights that were cold in temperature, or cold in spirit, or both. I decided that while Minna is a woodcraft legacy (eight generations!), her family would also have a legacy of making a special drink:

Hearth milk was for special occasions. We’d fill a hanging cast-iron pot with extra-creamy, straight-from-the-cow farm milk and heat it slowly with brown sugar, vanilla, a pat of butter, nutmeg, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick.

Minna describes hearth milk as being “better than hot chocolate. Having hearth milk was like drinking a warm bed and a soft story.”

Over months of drafts and revisions, I read the ingredients line describing this fictional drink over and over. Eventually, I came to my senses and thought…Hmm. That sounds pretty good. I should try that. So I did. And it was tasty.

The recipe is below. Leave a comment letting me know your favorite autumn treat for a chance to win a hardcover of Under the Bottle Bridge. Winner will be chosen on September 14.


*Minna Treat’s Hearth Milk

2 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)

1 stick cinnamon

8 whole cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla


Directions: Combine milk & cream in a saucepan on the stovetop on medium-high heat. I heat mine at 7 (out of 10). Add all other ingredients and stir on a regular basis to avoid a film forming at the bottom of the pan (or a “skin” on the top).

Within six to eight minutes, the milk should begin to simmer. At this point, turn on low for five minutes to let spices soak in. Continue to stir now and then.

Remove whole cloves with a spoon. Remove pan from stovetop and ladle into mugs. Serve with a spoon and—optionally—a thin pat of butter on top that will melt into the milk. Person who gets the cinnamon stick gets to make a wish.

Makes 6 servings, each ½ cup.

*You can substitute almond/soy milk for milk/cream if lactose-intolerant. We tried it with almond milk and my 8YO said thumbs up, 4YO said thumbs down. You can decide for yourself 😊


About Under the Bottle Bridge:

In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York’s annual AutumnFest, twelve-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village’s 300-year-old bridges, she can’t help but wonder who’s leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly…could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she’s been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.


Giveaway: SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK by Ellen Wittlinger!

511xSpTjNgLUpdate, 8.25.17: Congratulations, Daria! You’ve won the ARC of Saturdays with Hitchcock. Thanks to all who entered, and please do check it out when it hits the shelves in October!


Hello, friends. As excited as I am about The Great Hibernation hitting the shelves next month, I am just as pumped about the slew of other fantastic middle-grade books that are coming readers’ way this fall.

And Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger (October 10, Charlesbridge) is at the top of my list. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy and I absolutely fell in love with it. You can read my review below, and I’m not kidding when I say that it’s probably my favorite MG read so far this year. I’m thrilled to have an advance copy to give away–I hope you’ll enter to win it!

Here’s a little more about the book:

Twelve-year-old movie-loving Maisie is in need of a distraction from her current romantic dilemma when her Uncle Walt comes to stay with her family after being hurt on the set of the movie he’s filming in Hollywood.

Maisie’s best friend, Cyrus, has been hanging out a lot with Gary Hackett, whose last-name sounds to Maisie like a cat barfing up a hairball. When it seems as if Hackett might like Maisie romantically, she’s none too pleased, and Cyrus is even less impressed.

Uncle Walt has a way of pointing Maisie in the right direction, and Maisie’s love of movies also keeps her centered. Heading to the local independent theater on Saturdays to see old movies helps Maisie stay grounded as she struggles with growing up, family tensions, a grandma who seems to be losing her memory, and a love triangle she never expected.

My own review on GoodReads:

Saturdays with HitchcockSaturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK is probably my favorite MG read of 2017, and I’m kind of desperate for everyone else to check it out. Maisie is just the sort of heroine I adore–one with a strong, specific passion (in this case, movies); loyalty to her friends and family; and, most importantly, the ability to recognize when a bad first impression of someone merits reconsideration. On every page, I relished watching her interact with this book’s stellar and complex supporting cast as she worked her way through a variety of personal and family challenges.

All of which may make this book sound a little dry or serious, when really, it’s not. And I think that’s Ellen Wittlinger’s biggest accomplishment. There are plenty of books out there that deal with the types of issues that SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK tackles–dementia, family money issues, burgeoning crushes, and questions about sexuality–but few that do it with such a light touch and in such a compulsively readable way. So many different types of readers would connect strongly with this story, and I’m really excited for it to find its way in the world.

Giveaway Alert!

I’m so inspired to get the word out about this one that I’m giving away my advance copy (ARC) to one lucky reader–just leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. You can also earn an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway.

Here’s a sample tweet you can use:

Win an ARC of @EllenWittlinger’s brilliant MG novel SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK (10.10.17, @charlesbridge): http://bit.ly/2ijSl1Q #giveaway

Let me know in your comment if you’ve tweeted so I can give you credit. This giveaway is USA only. I’ll announce a winner this Friday, August 25.

Good luck!

Preorder contest & tour dates for THE GREAT HIBERNATION!

Great Hibernation coverIt’s hard to believe that my fourth novel, The Great Hibernationwill be on bookshelves next month! I’m so excited for readers to meet Jean, Isara, Rambo the sheep, and the rest of the gang tasked with saving the tiny town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord from a mysterious hibernation…and some dastardly political moves, too.

Are you hoping to score a signed copy? And maybe some neat Hibernation swag? You’re in luck! You can either come see me in person on my fall tour, OR preorder a signed, personalized book through my local indie bookstore, BookPeople (and be entered to win an awesome grand prize). Details below!

The Great Hibernation fall book tour

Books of Wonder – New York, NY
Sunday, September 17, 4 pm
Middle-grade panel and launch party! (with Jessica Lawson, Tracey Baptiste,  & Alison Cherry)

The Voracious Reader  – Larchmont, NY
Monday, September 18, 6:30 pm
Science & magic! A middle grade event with Sarah Albee, & Corey Ann Haydu

Trident Booksellers & Cafe
Boston, MA
Tuesday, September 19, 6:30 pm
Super middle-grade panel! (with Debbi Michiko Florence, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Jen Malone, & Katie Slivensky, moderated by Dana Alison Levy)

One More Page Books
 – Arlington, VA
Saturday, September 23, 3pm
Kidlit panel! (with Tracey Baptiste, Caroline Carlson, & Jessica Lawson, moderated by Madelyn Rosenberg)

Boulder Book Store – Boulder, CO
Tuesday, September 26, 6:30 pm
Middle-grade book launch party! (with Jeannie Mobley & Melanie Crowder)

BookPeople – Austin, TX
Sunday, October 8, 2 pm
A Triple Launch Party! (with Christina Soontornvat & Jeannie Mobley)


Preorder campaign!

Can’t make it to one of my events? Never fear–I’m teaming up with BookPeople for an awesome preorder campaign! Just follow the instructions on this page and you can order as many signed, personalized copies as you like; all will come with an exclusive Great Hibernation bookmark and sticker. And as an added bonus, anyone who preorders from BookPeople will be entered to win this amazing Grand Prize Pack!

-Spike, the stuffed narwhal (a key character in The Great Hibernation)61dp4WwNJYL._SL1500_

-A free 30-minute Skype visit with the author, during which you can ask me anything about my books (great for classrooms, book clubs, or just one-on-one chatting!)


-A book club or classroom set of hardcovers of The Great Hibernation!


Good luck, and hope to see you and/or sign books for you this fall!