For Librarians


We’ve got a surprise for you, today – an exclusive COVER REVEAL!

Are you ready to see the amazing cover?

The one that shares Kate Klise & M. Sarah Klise’s upcoming release . . . DON’T CHECK OUT THIS BOOK? It’s so MG and absolutely perfect for the story! And the story, well . . . we’ll get to that in a minute. But first, the cover.




Book Summary:

Is the sweet town of Appleton ripe for scandal?

Consider the facts:

  •        Appleton Elementary School has a new librarian named Rita B. Danjerous. (Say it fast.)
  •        Principal Noah Memree barely remembers hiring her.
  •       Ten-year-old Reid Durr is staying up way too late reading a book from Ms. Danjerous’s controversial “green dot” collection.
  •        The new school board president has mandated a student dress code that includes white gloves and bow ties available only at her shop.

Sound strange? Fret not. Appleton’s fifth-grade sleuths are following the money, embracing the punny, and determined to the get to the funniest, most rotten core of their town’s juiciest scandal. Don’t miss this seedy saga from the creators of the award-winning Three-Ring Rascals and 43 Old Cemetery Road series!

A Special Note From Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise:

“We were in elementary school in 1971 when Abbie Hoffman released Steal This Book. Back then, we were too young to appreciate Hoffman’s counterculture classic, but we wanted to tap into that same rabble-rousing vibe for our new novel, Don’t Check Out This Book!, which celebrates books and libraries, and makes the case that fearless readers are really our last best hope for democracy.”

Isn’t it all sorts of awesome?! I know, right. The book releases March 10, 2020. That seems so far off, but don’t fret because you can pre-order your copy now! Pre-Order Page | Goodreads Link

Kate Klise bio: Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise have collaborated on numerous award-winning middle-grade and picture-book projects, including the Regarding the Fountain and 43 Old Cemetery Road series. Kate lives in Norwood, Missouri. She visits more than seventy school classrooms a year. Sarah Klise lives in Berkeley, California. Visit for more information. (By the way, Klise rhymes with mice.)

M. Sarah Klise bio: Illustrator M. Sarah Klise and author Kate Klise and are sisters and collaborators. They started making books together many years ago in their bedroom in Peoria, Illinois. Kate wrote the words; Sarah drew the pictures. Their first book was about an adventure-loving little mouse that traveled around the country. That story was never published. (In fact, it ended up in the garbage can!) But the Klise sisters had so much fun making their first book, they kept writing and drawing. And now they’ve published more than twenty award-winning books for young readers, including Regarding the Fountain and Dying to Meet You. The Klise sisters no longer share a bedroom. Kate lives in Missouri and travels often to visit schools and libraries. Sarah lives in California. But the two sisters still enjoy working together, especially on their new series about a pair of circus mice. (By the way, Klise rhymes with mice.)

So, tell us what you think?


Meet The Dark Lord Clementine by Author Sarah Jean Horwitz

I love many elements of reading and writing middle grade literature, but one of my favorites is how creative and genius the titles are! And The Dark Lord Clementine is no exception.

Let me introduce you to the girl herself. *the bugle blares

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Isn’t she amazing?!!

Here’s a little more information about Clementine’s world before we meet her wonderful creator.

The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.

Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all?

Clementine is being published by Algonquin Young Readers and will meet bookshelves everywhere on October 1, 2019.

Let’s give a warm hello to the author of this wonderful book, Sarah Jean Horwitz.

It’s wonderful to have you visit us, Sarah. Now I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of this book, so I know Clementine is a strong and bold middle grade character  – loved her! – but she also has vulnerabilities that might surprise readers.

Clementine has had a very unusual and sheltered upbringing under her father, the Dark Lord Elithor. (Yes, readers, you read that correctly. He’s an Evil Overlord!)

Her upbringing is one aspect of her world that I felt very intrigued by. It drew me in.

She’s been raised with some pretty negative and unhealthy habits when it comes to interacting with others. She hasn’t learned how to trust people or foster any sort of compassion, kindness, or community. She’s been taught that she’s better than everyone else, and that the only way to survive in the world is to make people fear her. And so Clementine has a lot of privilege to acknowledge, a lot of unhealthy habits to unlearn, and a lot of healing to do as she discovers there’s a different way to be in the world.

What is your favorite part of Clementine’s world, why, and why do you think readers will relate to it?

My favorite part of Clementine’s world is the bureaucratization of the pretty traditional, Western fairytale and epic fantasy-inspired story world. For example, there’s an official Council of Evil Overlords that gives Clementine’s father his Dark Lord designation, and there’s open acknowledgement in the book of professional classifications of Heroes, Good Witches, etc. I love playing with tropes and (gently!) poking fun at genres I enjoy, and the idea of all this administration, standardization, and red tape functioning in a fairytale setting just tickles me. I hope readers will recognize all the fantasy tropes I’m playing with and get a chuckle out of it, too.

I also hope to draw a bit of attention to the ways in which evil is firmly embedded in our own institutions, and how we sometimes take that – and the suffering of others – for granted. When the oppression and pain of others is built into a system that benefits us, just as Clementine benefits from being a Dark Lord’s daughter, it can be easy to turn a blind eye, or to accept this as just “the way things are.” But just as Clementine realizes that her status quo situation is not normal and rejects the lies she’s been taught about how the world works…so must we.

This is so important! I’m glad you touched upon it.

Favorite thing about Clementine is and why? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite thing about Clementine is that despite her isolated childhood, the emotional abuse she’s been subjected to by her father, and the terrible lessons she’s internalized over the years about her place in the world…she is still able to make room in her heart for beauty, love, and forgiveness.

See . . . love her.🖤

She has to work at it, but she gets there, and she finds out a lot about herself along the way. That takes a tremendous amount of strength. Of course, my least favorite parts of Clementine are the behaviors she learned from the Dark Lord and relies on heavily in the beginning of the book – her tendency to use bullying, intimidation and snobbery to try and get her way. Fortunately, she learns those aren’t exactly the best ways to make friends!

If you were Clementine’s sidekick what sort of things would you do? Talk about?

I’m pretty scared of heights, but just once, I’d like to hitch a ride on a broomstick. That seems like an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up. I’d probably make Clementine talk about her feelings a lot, because she’s got a lot of issues to unpack…which would probably annoy her enough to get me magically transfigured into something unfortunate!

Bahhh! So true.

One question for our reading-writers out there – The book is written from different and alternating perspectives. How did you go about organizing all the information you knew readers would need to keep reading?

I make detailed outlines before I start writing any project, so that helps. Sometimes I color-code them by point of view to keep things straight. Then as I revise, I try to read as if I’m just another reader who knows nothing about the book, and that helps me see if I’ve planted enough information in the correct order. Of course, lot of stuff still slips through the cracks, and so my great critique partners and editor will point out any slip-ups I missed.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?

I learned that my sense of humor is even darker than I realized (seriously – a few jokes got cut from the book because they were just a bit too much!) and that I tend to write about characters with chosen families. I also learned a lot about the medical consequences of getting sideswiped across the face by a unicorn horn! Yikes.

*Oh, the visuals.*

What do you hope young readers take with them from Clementine’s journey?

As cheesy as it sounds, when I think of Clementine’s journey, I think of that famous Tennyson quote, “’Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all.” It’s often quoted out of context and used to talk about romantic relationships, but the poem is actually about the death of one of Tennyson’s close friends. And I just think the sentiment from those two lines is very applicable to this book. Clementine puts her heart on the line (literally, at one point!) and takes a risk by trusting people and building new relationships. And it doesn’t 100% work out! She gets hurt, and she hurts people, and none of it is perfect. But the rich rewards of opening her heart to love are worth the possible disappointments. I hope that’s something readers remember.

Sounds perfect! Thank you for stopping by and for sharing Clementine’s wonderfully fantastical story with our Mixed-Up Files readers. 

Sarah Jean Horwitz grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairy-tale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston. Find her at

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Dear Readers, are you ready for The Dark Lord Clementine?

OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS: Interview with Robin Yardi

We’ve got a real treat for all our loyal MUF subscribers today: a peek into a brand new book: OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS. And just because we’re so cool, we got special access–an interview with author Robin Yardi, a sneak preview of her fabulous book trailer for OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS, and …. a 5-ARC giveaway! We must be doing something right! We can’t wait to see the video … but before that, we wanted to introduce you to Robin.

MUF: Congratulations on Owl’s Outstanding Donuts! Like you, I’m passionate about the environment, animals, and writing. I totally identified with your main character, Mattie. As a kid, I was always waiting for birds to speak to me when no one else was around. And having an owl’s perspective on human behavior was delightful!

Did you have a mission when you started out writing this book?

RY: Yes, but maybe not exactly in the way that you mean! My first mission when writing a book is always to create a story that I think a kid will enjoy reading.

  • Will they think it’s funny?
  • Will it be exciting?

And since this is a mystery, I wondered will my story stump kid readers in a satisfying way?

Not Just a Mystery

But the deeper things that are important to me, my internal missions, always show up in my stories too. I don’t have to consciously work to make that happen. So I’m always writing about the dynamics of friendships and siblings in ways that I think will help kid readers. I feed my characters delicious food, whether it’s tamales or donuts, and surround them with helpful grownups, because that’s what I craved as a kid reader. And I’m always writing about the natural world in ways that foster wonder and engagement, because it’s been one of the greatest joys of my life!

While drafting this book about an environmental crime committed near the Big Sur River, I was teaching school groups at our local natural history museum in what we call The Backyard. Kids would come and learn about the creek that runs through the museum property, test the water quality, meet our resident snakes, all while listening to our orphaned great horned owl hoot in the background.

It would make sense if I had set out to write OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS seeing the connections between my budding story and my everyday mission of teaching kids about the environment and the natural world, but I honestly didn’t! A good story comes first and the mission just sneaks in.

Protecting the Environment

MUF: What can middle graders do to help protect the environment?

RY: An easy way for kids to be engaged environmentalists is by taking command of household recycling. Rinse it, sort it, and take it out! I also notice (in my house and in others) that kids can be an important voice of conscience. A new generation means new habits and new awareness. Mom, did you remember the tote bags? Dad, let’s use the water bottle instead! Um, should that go down the drain? Kids can and will speak up!

MUF: Can you tell us about an unusual wildlife encounter you’ve had?

RY: Well, my family recently lived with a bat for about a month! We sleep with the upstairs windows open and it was coming into the house, flying downstairs, and roosting on a grate in a powder room (the closest thing to a cave in our home). Finally, we called our local wildlife rescue organization and they sent someone to remove the bat. Apparently it’s not a good idea for humans to live with bats. At all. BUT IT WAS SO CUTE.

This summer I’ve also been enjoying watching a local mule deer tiptoe into our backyard to drink from our fountain… with three little fawns coming along with her. I’m not sure if they are all hers—that would be triplets—but I’ve loved watching them grow out of their spots over the summer.

Coping With Loss in Middle-Grade

MUF: Your main character, Mattie, is grieving over her mother’s death. You’ve included several elements in your book that might help with loss. What do you hope young readers who might be hurting will take away from this book?

I’ve given Mattie room to grieve and struggle and I think that gives readers the same opportunity. The book starts in a place where Mattie isn’t up to doing all the things she wants to do and that’s okay. It’s okay for things to feel hard.

Young readers need to read stories that acknowledge the parts of their lives that are hard—all the way from new school anxieties, to fighting with your best friend, to losing a family member—and those stories can show the reader a way to move forward. In OWL’S, Mattie learns to move forward in life surrounded by loving and helpful adults, great food, good friends, and the beauty of the natural world.

Young readers may not have all of those things all of the time. Not everyone can have a friendly mystery-solving owl in their backyard, but any kid can have Alfred and Big Sur and the redwoods and donuts when they read my book!

MUF: Thank you so much, Robin.

And Now …. the Video Reveal!

And now, without further ado, let’s take a sneak peek into your video trailer, a behind-the-scenes tour of one of Robin’s favorite places:


But that’s not all.. Robin is also offering a giveaway. FIVE lucky winners will receive an ARC of OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS … so don’t delay …. enter the Rafflecopter below, and good luck!


Kirkus Reviews told readers, “Doughn’t miss this earnest tale.” Booklist called the book “quiet but quirky story about friendship, family, and of course, donuts.”

Rafflecopter Giveaway – 5-ARCS of OWLS OUTSTANDING DONUTS

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