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




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.


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!

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!



#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, and follow the #FCSDay and #healthyfamselfie hashtags on social media.


And a one, and a two, and a one, two, THREE!

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Exciting news to share this morning: There will be a THIRD Gladys Gatsby book, coming out in 2016! Here’s the announcement from my agency.

I’m so excited that the foodie adventures of Ms. Gatsby and her friends will be continuing, and that I’ll get to work with my wonderful editor Shauna Rossano and her team at Putnam on another project.

2016 is a ways off, but All Four Stars is out now, and The Stars of Summer is coming your way very soon, on May 5! You can find order/preorder links for both books here, and I’ll be updating my events page soon with details about launch parties in Colorado, New York, and hopefully a couple of other east coast cities.

Meanwhile, feel free to whip up some bluebarb crumble today to celebrate Gladys’s new lease on life. She’d definitely approve! 🙂

Interview with Colorado author Kita Murdock!

Colorado is for writersHey, check it out: the Colorado is for Writers interview series is back!

Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome Kita Murdock to the blog!

Kita’s middle-grade novel, Future Flash, was published this summer by Sky Pony Press. Read on to learn more about the book and about Kita!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Kita Murdock

I’m a transplant and glad to be here! I grew up in Vermont and my husband and I met in the mountains in Ecuador. We knew we wanted to raise our kids in a small mountain town, but the trick was finding one where my husband could continue his career in technology. Five years ago, we moved here from Los Angeles so he could start a business. For us, Boulder offers the perfect balance of a great outdoor lifestyle, a close-knit community, wonderful public schools and a thriving tech industry.

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

FutureFlashFuture Flash (Sky Pony Press, June 2014) is the story of a girl named Laney who has what she calls “future flashes”—visions of the future that she sees when she makes physical contact with another person. When a new kid, Lyle, moves to her small town, Laney dreads meeting him – she almost always gets a future flash when first meeting someone new, and the flashes aren’t always good. Unfortunately her meeting with Lyle isn’t just bad; it’s painful. Engulfed in flames, Lyle’s future flash is the worst Laney’s ever experienced. But is there anything Laney can do to change the future? And will she be able to save Lyle from a fiery death without becoming a victim herself?

I was inspired to write this book in part because of all of the fires that have occurred in the Foothills since we moved to Colorado. The story takes place in the fictitious town of Thornville, but is set in Colorado.

Also, as a teacher, I wanted my book to be fast paced to entice reluctant readers and it seems that future flashes and fires make for fast-paced reading! My favorite review was from a student this week saying that Future Flash is the first book she’s ever read that she couldn’t put down. Comments like that make the whole writing thing worthwhile!

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Kita's writing spaceI am happy writing anywhere as long as it’s quiet and I have a cup of tea next to my computer and my cat, Pip, on my lap. Usually I write at the kitchen table so unfortunately the view is often dirty dishes!

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Can I have two best things? 🙂 [Tara: Of course!]

One is the access to incredible running trails. When I’m stuck with writing, I pull on my running shoes and five minutes later I’m on a dirt trail heading into the mountains, passing coyotes and mule deer as I run. I’ve written most of my books in my head on the Goat Trail or the trail around Wonderland Lake. Then I come back to my computer and type as fast as I can so I don’t forget the ideas I had on the trail!

The other is that I had no clue when I moved here that there was such a wonderful and supportive group of middle grade writers in this area! I am inspired by all of them! I met Claudia Mills when she spoke at a book club for my daughter and I’ll never forget her talking about how she does all of her writing early in the morning. I think of her when I need some extra motivation to find time for writing while teaching and raising three girls.

I couldn’t agree more, Kita–about our fabulous trails, and about the inspiring community of writers around us! Thanks for doing this interview, and I can’t wait to read Future Flash.

Interview with Colorado author Renee Collins!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome young adult author Renee Collins to the blog!

Renee’s debut YA novel, Relic, was published by Entangled Teen in 2013. Welcome, Renee!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Renee CollinsI’m a transplant. We moved here for my husband’s job four years ago and I think we’re here to stay.

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Relic, by Renee CollinsMy debut novel, RELIC, came out this last August with Entangled Teen. It’s a YA fantasy set in Old West Colorado. The red rock cliff near my house actually helped inspire the setting in the book. It’s a world where miners don’t dig for gold, but instead the magical relics of ancient fantasy creatures like the dragon, mermaid, and unicorn. Maggie Davis loses her family in a terrible, magic-created fire, and she has to relocate to the tough town of Burning Mesa in the hopes of finding out who’s responsible.

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I live in Western Colorado, less than 5 miles from the Colorado National Monument. I can see the red rock cliffs from my bedroom window! The view is truly beautiful, and part of the reason we picked this area to live.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

I love doing outdoorsy things to get my creative juices flowing. Mountain biking and hiking always helps to clear my head and stir my imagination. And there’s no better place to hike or mountain bike than Colorado, in my opinion.

I’ve heard that about the mountain biking here (though I’m too chicken to try it myself). Thanks so much, Renee–Relic sounds amazing, and like the perfect Colorado-set read!

Interview with Colorado author Emily Hainsworth!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome young adult author Emily Hainsworth to the blog!

Emily’s debut YA novel, Through to You, was published in 2012 by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins and is a totally compulsive read. Let’s get to know Emily!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Emily Hainsworth Transplant! But I’ve lived here longer than where I grew up (Central NY)–does that win me points?

I was drawn to Colorado by a boy. It was the mid-90s, it was an online relationship, I was a teenager and (at the time) it was scandalous. 😉 I had secretly always wanted to live in Colorado, so I took off with the first guy I met from this glorious state (I suppose the happily ever after is that he’s still stuck with me–I mean we’re happily married–more than a decade later).

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Through to You by Emily HainsworthTHROUGH TO YOU is the story of 17-year-old Camden Pike, who has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. He’d give anything to have just one more glimpse of her. But when Cam visits the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees an apparition. Her name is Nina, and she’s a girl from a parallel world. When Cam follows her there and makes an unbelievable discovery, it’s as if all his wildest dreams have come true. But things are very different in this other world. Nina is hiding a secret, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with the truth, he’s forced to make a choice that will change his life forever.

I’m currently working on a second YA novel, TAKE THE FALL, which is a contemporary murder mystery. While there’s no sci-fi element this time, the story is similarly dark and emotional and should appeal to readers who enjoyed my first book. The title could still change, but the book should be available in 2015!

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

View From Emily's writing spaceEvery one of my books has been written (at least in part) on an old black couch in my living room. It’s one of the first pieces of furniture my husband and I ever bought, and while it isn’t terribly attractive, it’s the most comfortable place I have found to write. Of course, a couple other members of my household think it’s pretty great too (if you can’t tell from the picture, that’s our cat, Dagny, squeezed in on top of our standard poodle, Basil), so we might end up needing a bigger couch because right now it’s a little cramped for leg room.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

The best thing about being a writer in Colorado is being able to get outside throughout the year. I know that doesn’t sound very conducive to writing, but I’m someone who needs to get out and think before putting words on a page. I’m not a big fan of freezing my butt off on the ski slopes, but I LOVE the 50-degree winter days in Denver. Those temperatures were unfathomable when I was growing up in Central New York, and they’re perfect for replenishing the writing well. If I’m stuck on a particular scene or character, I get outside where I can think better. It’s not something you can do every day throughout the winter, but the sunshine and mild temperatures are something I try never to take for granted. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I adore those 50-degree days, too! Thanks so much, Emily, and good luck with TAKE THE FALL–I’m looking forward to it!