‘Chomp’-ing at the Bit for the New Hiaasen

This past Tuesday night, Carl Hiaasen celebrated the release of his new middle-grade novel, Chomp (Knopf, Mar.), at an event at Anderson’s Books in Naperville, Ill., that had fans young and old coming out to meet the author. Set in the Florida Everglades, Chomp is the story of Wahoo Cray, a boy whose animal wrangler father gets, well, wrangled into helping a hapless reality TV star film an episode set in the Everglades. Hiaasen is visiting five cities on his Chomp tour (Chicago; Denver; Princeton, N.J.; New York City; and Washington, D.C.), followed by local events in his native Florida.

Dual Honors for Ruta Sepetys

Earlier this week, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, 2011), a YA novel about the forced relocation of Lithuanians during WWII, was shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal. But that’s not the only honor the author has received in recent weeks. At the recent Vilnius Book Fair in Lithuania, Sepetys was awarded a National Patriot Honor by the nation’s Ministry of Defense. While in Lithuania, Sepetys also met with prime minister Andrius Kubilius (seen here) and his cabinet. A paperback edition of Between Shades of Gray is due on April 3, and Sepetys will continue to tour for the book, both in the U.S. and abroad, during the spring.

‘Spoonfuls of Stories’ Turns 10

The Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, which has given away more than 60 million children’s books in boxes of the breakfast cereal, is marking its 10th anniversary this year, and celebrating with events across the U.S. this spring. Last week, one of the winners of the Cheerios New Author Contest, Ron Rauss, recently visited the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library in Washington, D.C. Rauss’s picture book, Can I Just Take a Nap?, which will be published by Simon & Schuster’s Paula Wiseman Books imprint in June, is currently featured inside boxes of Cheerios. This year, Cheerios plans to give away 5,000 books and $500 to 10 First Book chapters nationwide.

Signing ‘Penny’ for Penny

Throughout the month of March, author/illustrator Kevin Henkes has been on the road across the U.S. in support of his new early reader, Penny and Her Song (Greenwillow, Mar.), about a young mouse who has learned a song at school but must be patient when it comes to sharing it with her family. The book has earned four starred reviews, including one from PW. Here, Henkes signs a book for a fan (named Penny, no less!) at a recent event at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, N.C. A second Penny book, Penny and Her Doll, goes on sale in late August.

Michael Grant Heads Overseas

Author Michael Grant just wrapped up a two-week tour of Great Britain in support of his new YA novel, BZRK, published by Egmont in both the U.S. and the U.K., and Fear (HarperCollins/Tegen, Apr.), the fifth book in his Gone series. Calling BZRK “an entertaining, smart thriller,” PW’s reviewsaid that, much like in the Gone books, “Grant doesn't shy from moral compromises and brutal violence.” Here, Grant visits the Royal Crescent in Bath, England.

A Second Helping of ‘Cheesie Mack’

Writer Steve Cotler recently visited Calusa Elementary School in Miami, Fla., to discuss his middle-grade novel Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything (Random, 2011), which follows the misadventures of fifth-grader Ronald “Cheesie” Mack. The book arrives in paperback from Yearling on May 8, and a sequel, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, is due on June 26. Cotler is seen here with Calusa students. Photo: Maggie Diaz.