Scholastic Fairs, new FAQ, & more!

Greetings, friends! I have a few updates that I’d love to share with you.

imgresIf you follow me on social media, then you might have noticed me celebrating an authorly milestone last week. All Four Stars has been picked  up by the Scholastic Book Fair! Gladys and her adventures will now be accessible to a whole new slew of elementary-school readers. I was a huuuge book fair fan in my own childhood, and it’s a great honor to have one of my books included now.
sos-in-czech

Also recently shared on social media: the cover for The Stars of Summer in Czech. I just love what Albatros and cover artist Eva Chupíková have done to bring Gladys (and her quest for NYC’s best hot dog) to life!

If you’ve been poking around my website, you’ve probably noticed a few changes. For one, The Great Hibernation is now featured on the Books page and the homepage, as well as in my new website header designed by the wonderful Kristin Rae.

Also, as of today I have a brand new FAQ section AND downloadable video on my About Me page, perfect for kids who are doing a book report on one of my books. (Yes, kids now regularly e-mail me asking for info they can include in their book reports. I pinch myself every time.)
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And, speaking of changes, at the end of January my family moved 1,000 miles from Colorado down to Austin, Texas. While we were brokenhearted to leave friends, family, and the mountains behind, the Austin kidlit community has been so welcoming. And actually, it’s kinda pretty  here, too. 🙂

 

Winner of THE GREAT HIBERNATION!

The Great HibernationThank you so much to everyone who helped me celebrate the cover reveal for The Great Hibernation, illustrated by Rebecca Green, and to everyone who entered my ARC giveawayThe randomly selected winner is…

**** Jennifer Doyle ****

Congrats, Jennifer, and happy reading!

The Great Hibernation will be available for preorder soon, and I’ll share links when this is possible. I’m also planning to hold launch events in Austin, New York, DC, and Colorado this fall, so keep an eye on my events page as the year progresses!

(Also, in case you missed it, Rebecca posted a sneak peek at an interior illustration from the book on her Instagram yesterday. I can’t wait until everyone gets to see all of her whimsical, wonderful work!)

Cover reveal for THE GREAT HIBERNATION!

Let’s not beat around the (thistleberry) bush. Here it is, the cover for my next middle-grade novel, The Great Hibernation, coming September 12 from Wendy Lamb Books/Random House! The illustrator is the incredible Rebecca Green.

9781524717858

Why yes, that is a sheep wearing snowshoes. And a boy in a 17th-century mariner’s costume. And a fjord, and an ice floe, and oh yeah, a bear photobombing everyone with a handful of thistleberries…

I promise, it’ll all make sense once you skate into the story–I’m only sad that nine more months need to pass before you can do so.

But wait! Maybe you don’t have to wait so long, because advance reader copies (ARCs) of the book have already been printed, and I am giving one away today! Yes, you could be the winner–and learn what that boy on the cover won his medal for before everyone else. 🙂

Leave a comment on this post to enter to win, and to earn more entries, please see the directions below.

Here’s the official summary of The Great Hibernation:

The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord 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’s 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 asleep. And no one can wake them.

The kids are left to run things, and they’re having a blast. That is, until the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force.

Jean suspects that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town. She starts to investigate, and inspires other kids to join her in a secret plan to save St. Polonius.

Courage, teamwork, and scientific smarts unlock a quirky mystery in this delightful and funny story.

ISBN 978-1-5247-1785-8 (trade)
ISBN 978-1-5247-1785-5 (library)
ISBN 978-1-5247-1787-2 (ebook)

 

And there are blurbs!

“Definitely will not induce drowsiness. Utterly original.” – Adam Rex, 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.”  – Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code

“Should I say ‘Udderly original’? No—there are no cows in it, just a ram. Utterly original.” – Adam Rex again

(I am still freaking out about these blurbs. The True Meaning of Smekday and  Book Scavenger are two of my all-time favorite books. I am so grateful to Adam and Jennifer!)

Enter to win

ONE lucky reader will win an ARC of The Great Hibernation!

Leave a comment on this post to enter, and you can earn extra entries by signing up for my e-mail newsletter and/or tweeting about the giveaway.

Here’s a sample tweet you can use:

Cover reveal & #giveaway: Win an ARC of #TheGreatHibernation, @TaraDairman‘s Fall ’17 @randomhousekids comic gem! http://bit.ly/2iG8wlH

Let me know in your comment if you’ve signed up for the newsletter (either now or in the past) and/or tweeted so I can give you credit. This giveaway is open to domestic and international entries. I’ll announce a winner one week from today, on Wednesday, January 18.

And feel free to share this cover however you like. The Great Hibernation should be available for preorder very soon from all booksellers!

 

 

How to get signed books for the holidays

all-three-coversGreetings, friends. As the holiday season approaches, I am once again teaming up with Boulder Book Store to make it easy for you to order signed and personalized copies of my All Four Stars books! Personalizing is free of charge.

To order, go to the Boulder Book Store website and choose the books you want. When you reach the checkout page, all the way at the bottom will be a field called “Order comments.” Just write in that field which book(s) you would like personalized, and to whom. Boulder Book Store will contact me, and I’ll pop into the store and personalize the books for you before they ship!

You can also reach the store by phone to place an order at 303-447-2074.

Signed books make great gifts, and I’m always happy to partner with this wonderful independent bookstore to provide them. Read deliciously this holiday season!

 

#FCSDay and The Food Side of Things

ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverPeople who’ve read my novel All Four Stars and its sequels often ask me how I became a writer. Sometimes they also want to know where my book ideas come from. (Ha, if only I knew! I’d go back and grab a few more.)

But recently, a friend asked a different question: How did I get interested in “the food side of things”? Cooking, and eating adventurously, play a huge role in my books—and I bet a lot of readers assume that (like my foodie heroine, Gladys), I’ve been passionate about food since childhood. But they’d be wrong about that.

I don’t talk about my “foodie awakening” as much as I should. But here goes. Though I wasn’t like Gladys as a kid, my parents were in some ways like her parents. They weren’t cooks. They didn’t own any cookbooks, or clip recipes from magazines. And neither of them had been taught to cook when they were younger. It was a skill that had, between generations, slipped out of use in our family.

Stars of SummerAs a result, the kitchen was like a foreign country to them—and a kind of scary one. Sharp knives could cut you! The stove burned! They didn’t have experience using these tools, so they only saw the dangers. The microwave seemed safe enough, so they cooked pretty much anything they could in it (and some things that you probably shouldn’t). And when our freezer ran low on microwaveable meals, we ate cereal or got takeout.

So perhaps not surprisingly, I was not an adventurous eater when I was a kid. (I was a lot more like Parm in my books than like Gladys!) I hadn’t been exposed to a wide range of good-tasting food, so I didn’t like much of it. Finally, in high school, I started trying new cuisines, thanks to a club advisor who made it his mission to blow our minds with Indian, Ethiopian, Malaysian, and Japanese food.

STARS SO SWEET by Tara DairmanBut it wasn’t until much later—when I was a college student, on the verge of living on my own—that I took a hard look at my future as an eater. I could go the way of my parents, relying on frozen-meal companies and fast-food joints to feed me for the rest of my life, or I could roll up my sleeves and learn how to cook.

I bought a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, asked for a food processor for my birthday, and never looked back.

Those first days of cooking, on break from school at my parents’ house, were slow and a little painful—especially when I’d promised everyone dinner at 7, only to get it on the table at 9. But with practice, I grew more confident, and the results grew more delicious. My parents may not have cooked much for me, but they let me cook for them, and soon we were sitting around the table together, enjoying a homemade meal. I had turned a pile of raw ingredients into something nourishing for the people I loved—and I was truly shocked at how powerful that made me feel.

So, that’s my story about “the food side of things.” I kept enjoying new cuisines and making food for others. I finally got brave enough to attempt my dream of writing a novel, and I wanted to make my newfound passion for food a part of it. When I got the idea to write about a young girl whose parents ban her from the kitchen after a cooking mishap—a girl whose dream is to become a restaurant critic—I knew I’d struck gold.

When I meet readers today, some tell me that my books have nudged them to try a recipe out for themselves. It’s not often that we fiction writers get to hear about our stories affecting people’s real lives. But knowing that Gladys’s foodie adventures have inspired kids to develop a skill that I know will serve them—and others around them—for the rest of their days…well, I can’t help but weep salty little tears of happiness.

What “Dining In” looks like for me these days

Saturday, December 3, is #FCSDay, when tens of thousands of people commit to “dining in” with family and friends. To celebrate, the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)—with support from my publisher, Penguin—will be giving away several sets of the All Four Stars trilogy to participants as prizes. To learn more and sign up to “Dine In,” visit aafcs.org/FCSDay, and follow the #FCSDay and #healthyfamselfie hashtags on social media.

 

Recipe: Soto ayam, the world’s best chicken soup!

It’s fall (or just about), and I have my first cold of the season. 😦

But all is not awfulness, because at least I have an excuse to make my favorite chicken soup–which, since 2011, has been soto ayam. (Sorry, matzo ball!) With its super-flavorful, coconut-milk-thickened broth filled with chicken, rice noodles, and crunchy sprouts and scallions, it’s not just the only chicken-noodle soup I’ve ever really gotten excited about; it’s one of the best dishes, period, that I tried during my world travels.

Soto ayam, Labuan, Java

Soto ayam in Labuan, western Java

 

The way I make this soup at home is in the style of the little roadside stall in Labuan (western Java) where I first tried it. Apparently, soto ayam varies by region in Indonesia, so when I returned to the states and wanted to learn how to make it, I had to sift through many different recipes. After a few rounds of experimentation, though, I finally developed this master recipe, which is very true to my memory of the soup I had in Java. It’s a bit of a project, but completely worth the effort, in my opinion. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Soto ayam

Soto ayam made at home

Soto ayam recipe
serves 4

Broth ingredients:
1-2 bone-in chicken thighs (depending on how much meat you like in your soup)
2 lemongrass stalks (or 1.5 TBSP lemongrass powder)
1 tsp salt
6 cups water

Spice paste ingredients:
8 almonds
3 garlic cloves
1-2 TBSP chopped fresh ginger (or one knob of ginger, peeled)
1 small onion (or 2 shallots)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 TBSP coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small dried chili
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp brown sugar
juice of one lime
1-2 TBSP neutral oil or coconut milk

Additional ingredients:
2 TBSP neutral oil
1 can coconut milk (or 1.5 cups)
reserved chicken broth
reserved shredded chicken
1 bunch bean sprouts, rinsed
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
7-8 oz thin rice noodles

Directions:

1) Combine broth ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes, partially covered. Remove chicken thighs and set aside to cool. Discard lemongrass stalks (if used). Reserve broth to use later in the recipe.

2) Combine spice paste ingredients in a food processor. Process for about 5 minutes, or until a thick paste has formed.

3) Once chicken thighs are cool, remove the meat from the bones and shred it. Discard the bones.

4) Heat 2 TBSP oil in your large pot on medium-high heat, and add spice paste. Fry spice paste for 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Add coconut milk, reserved chicken broth, and shredded chicken; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook 5 more minutes. Add spring onions and cook 1 minute. Turn off heat.

5) Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook rice noodles according to package directions. When ready, drain, rinse with cold water, and mix in a little oil to keep noodles from clumping.

6) To serve: divide rice noodles among four bowls and ladle soup over them, making sure to get a good mix of solids and broth. Serve with a spoon and either chopsticks or a fork. Enjoy!

(Note: In Indonesia, this soup would be served with a bowl of white rice on the side–but for me, the rice noodles are starch enough so I don’t bother. It might also be served with fried shallots sprinkled on top, which are delicious. I’m just too lazy to make them most of the time.)

 

Creative Spaces!

SWEET blog button2Final blog tour stop!

Yes, the Stars So Sweet blog tour is wrapping up, and today I’m at Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s blog, showing everyone where the writing magic (and, um, laundry) happens in my Creative Spaces interview.

This is also your last chance to win a full set of the All Four Stars series!

(Also, if you haven’t read Jennifer’s NY Times-bestselling MG novel Book Scavenger, what are you waiting for??)

Though the virtual tour is ending, my real-life tour rolls on–I’ll be in Cedarhurst, NY today, Larchmont, NY tomorrow, and Colorado next week! Check out my events page for the details.