An ordinary trip to the mailbox is transformed when a purple envelope greets me (mixed in with the junk mail and black and white of monthly bills). A sticker on the back of the envelope reveals the contents. My errands can wait!
I sit in the car and tear open the envelope. This treasure was requested from the author by my son. He met Aubrey Hartman in college. He sent me a link to an interview she did with Mr. Schu on his blog Watch.Read.Connect. I call my son back with terrible news. The novel is slated for publication on May 2, 2023.
I ask my son to see if he can obtain an ARC (advance reader's copy) of the book. And the purple envelope is evidence of his success. I pull the book out of the envelope. It is wrapped in gold twine with a handwritten note from the author.
I carefully peel the sticker (a perfect facsimile of the book cover) from the envelope and press it to the back of the handwritten note. I have a bookmark that will make me smile each time I move it to a new spot in the book.
I eagerly turn to Chapter 1:
"Far away but not long ago, there was a girl and a house.
The girl? Well, she was nothing special.
But the house . . . was magic."
And I am immediately drawn into the story of Penelope Woodlock aka Poppy, a lion named Sampson, a terrifying water nymph, and the magical Lark-Hayes Manor.
The author's bio on the back flap reveals that Aubrey Hartman, like Poppy, "believes in the kind of magic that's made up of powerful words and characters who curl up in your heart and stay and stay and stay." Welcome to a book that provides that perfect kind of magic!
You may want to place your pre-order now (and be on the lookout at NCTE for an ARC). Order one for yourself and the middle grade readers in your life who will be entranced by the adventures and perils faced by Poppy and Sampson amidst the once-grand Lark-Hayes Manor.