Cover Reveal: How to Get Away with Myrtle

We’re excited to do a cover reveal today for How to Get Away with Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce. You’ll have to scroll down to see the cover and find out about the FREE giveaways.

But first, let’s hear from Elizabeth about how she came up with the idea for the book.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—even before I knew it was a job. The inspiration for the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries series came from a slip of the tongue one groggy morning as my husband and I staggered our way through breakfast, discussing the local news. I started to say something about “premeditated murder,” but it came out “Premeditated Myrtle” instead. We looked at each other for a moment, and I declared, “That is a middle-grade mystery!” Before I was even finished with Book 1, I knew I wanted to write more. As a lifelong fan of classics like The Lady Vanishes, a mystery set on a train seemed like the natural follow-up—and of course, How to Get Away with Myrtle was the only possible title. But England is not large enough to set an entire novel-length mystery just on the train, so Myrtle and company ended up in the next logical destination for a Victorian holiday: the seaside! Research for those two settings provided the seeds for the plot, and I will admit that my editor’s loathing of Aunt Helena in Book 1 made her a necessary component of Book 2. Sending Myrtle on her ill-fated holiday was just as much fun as I’d hoped, and I can’t wait for readers to go along on the journey with her!

Isn’t that a fun title? And here’s more about the book:

How to Get Away with Myrtle

Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along.

Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside.

Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.

The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?

Elizabeth C. Bunce grew up on a steady diet of Sherlock Holmes, Trixie Belden, and Quincy, M.E., and always played the lead prosecutor in mock trial. She has never had a governess, and no one has ever accused her of being irrepressible, but a teacher did once call her “argumentative”—which was entirely untrue, and she can prove it. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and their cats. Premeditated Myrtle is her first book for middle-grade readers.

And now. . . TA-DA! *drumroll* Here’s the cover you’ve been waiting for!

Doesn’t this cover make you excited to read the book?

Elizabeth’s publisher is giving away two gift packs of both Myrtle galleys per pack: Premeditated Myrtle & How to Get Away with Myrtle. To enter, all you need to do is comment below, and we’ll pick two random commenters to receive the gift packs. Winners will be chosen June 1, 2020.

Praise for Premeditated Myrtle: 

“A joyful thing to behold. Set in Victorian England, this mystery gleefully overturns sexist norms and celebrates independent women of intellect, with Myrtle Hardcastle leading the charge.”
Booklist, starred review

“Bunce crafts a truly captivating murder mystery, throwing in a delicious mix of twists, red herrings, and relatives excluded from the family fortune. Myrtle is an entertaining protagonist, not afraid to get her hands dirty, sneak into mansions after dark to find a clue, or call out sexism of men toward her scientific interests or the racism toward her governess. The book will make readers yearn for more of Myrtle’s (mis)adventures.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A saucy, likable heroine shines in a mystery marked by clever, unexpected twists.”
Kirkus Reviews

“[A] clever and lively Victorian English village murder mystery . . . Bunce does an excellent job of making Myrtle the lead actor but gives her a strong set of (mostly female) supporters.”
The Horn Book

“In the tradition of heroines like Flavia de Luce and Harriet the Spy, Myrtle is a fine example of the Victorian scientific female—smart, inquisitive and fearless. Written with a terrific mixture of humor and suspense, Premeditated Myrtle is a perfect read for any budding detective.”
Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Her Royal Spyness series

Women In STEM (Math & Science) – Author Interview with Laurie Wallmark, and Giveaway

 Today we’re interviewing Laurie Wallmark, author of Numbers in Motion, and several other titles.



This book features the STEM topics of mathematical equations and science, and how Sophie Kowalevski became the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required original research and inspired a generation of mathematicians.

Sophie was also the first to hold a university chair in mathematics, and the first to be the editor of a major scientific journal.


  1. Tell us about Numbers in Motion and what inspired you to write the story of Sophie Kowalevski.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved math. Why? Because it’s fun! Although several of the people I’ve written about before have been talented mathematicians, they were recognized in different fields. I thought it was time to share a woman mathematician’s story with kids.


2. How did you do your research for this book? How did you organize all the information you learned about Sophie?

I researched her life through books and professional journal articles. A book that was especially helpful was written by Sophie herself, A Russian Childhood.

I use the program OneNote to organize all my research. I have a separate tab for each book, each of which includes a section for notes and for quotations. It’s very important to be able to go back to your notes and find the source for what you’ve written. In addition, I have tabs for my bibliography, a timeline of Sophie’s life, and, while I was researching and writing the book, an ever-expanding list of possible scenes to write.



3. How do you envision teachers and librarians using this book in classrooms?

The true value of picture books is that they can be used on so many levels. To start with, there is of course the text and illustrations of the story. Especially in a book like mine that takes place in another time period, there are many possibilities for discussing how the world has changed.

In addition, most nonfiction picture books, including mine, include some basic back matter such as a timeline and a bibliography. Numbers in Motion also has three more pieces of back matter. My author’s note tells how, in addition to being a mathematician, Sophie was also a writer. Next, for students (like me!) who might want to know more about Sophie’s math, I explain in more detail the problem she solved–the rotation of solid bodies. Finally, I include how Sophie Kowalevski’s name was transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet. This presents a great opportunity to discuss how people’s (possibly even some of their classmates’) names might be spelled different ways when written in our Roman alphabet.


4. Can you suggest three questions related to women in mathematics for student discussions?

  1. Why do you think we haven’t heard of as many woman mathematicians as men?
  2. Do you think woman and girls have the same natural ability in math as men and boys?
  3. Do you think there are any women working in mathematics today who have made important discoveries



5. What do you want readers to take away from Numbers in Motion?

Sophie loved math and overcame many obstacles to pursue her studies. I think the big take away from Numbers in Motion is it’s worth pursuing your dreams, even if other people say you can’t or shouldn’t.

To read more about Laurie and her work, click here.


Want to own your very own copy of Numbers In Motion? Enter our giveaway by leaving a comment below! 


You may earn extra entries by blogging/tweeting/facebooking the interview and letting us know. The winner will be announced here on April 13, 2020 and will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (US only) to receive the book.




5 Weird Facts I Learned About the Ocean by 11-year-old Grace

Welcome, eleven-year-old Grace (main character in Alice Kaltman’s new middle-grade novel, The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh). Thanks for stopping by MUF to tell us all about the ocean. And thank you to your creator, Alice Kaltman, for offering to give away a copy of your story!

Enter the giveaway below. 

The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman

5 Interesting/Fun/Weird Facts I Learned About the Ocean by Grace Minnaugh, main character in The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman

I guess you could say I, Grace Minnaugh, lead a decidedly double life. When I’m on land, I’m all girl, but when I’m fully submerged in seawater I’m all mermaid. I only discovered my mermaid self when I moved to California from Ohio, where there isn’t a puddle of seawater anywhere except maybe at aquariums, so you can imagine my surprise when I first transformed.

I learn new things about life underwater every time I take a dive. Some of these oddities are particular to me, myself, and I as a mermaid, and some are honest to goodness facts that sounds too fantastical to be true. Here are my top five ocean-y shares:


  • I breathe fish-style underwater, with magical gills that pop out from behind my ears once I’m in mermaid mode. Breathing with gills is awesome. I take sips of water through my mouth, and exhale the water through my gills. My gills dissolve the oxygen from the water (The O in the H2O), and pump it through my blood to my cells. My gills feel like little curtains flapping behind my ears. Ticklish, but not annoying. It’s a relaxing tickle, more like a scalp massage.
  • I adore dolphins. Even before I became a mermaid I thought they were the most amazing animals on the planet. Did you know that merpeople and dolphins share a very cool power, aside from being lovable and super friendly? We both navigate through the water using a technique called echolocation. We emit bio sonar waves from our foreheads that rebound off creatures and plants and tell us how far away and how big they are. This is a crucial skill to have when we’re about to encounter a hungry Great While or Tiger Shark. Usually those guys leave us alone, but when they’re particularly peckish, our flesh-eating shark friends can be a tad unpredictable. Better to use echolocation and find a hiding place to chill for a while then be a shark’s midday treat. Interesting sidebar: Dolphins have gigantic foreheads, which human scientist have decided to call melons, because, duh, they look like melons, but we merpeople have much more attractive, normal-sized foreheads.
  • Some merpeople, but not all, can swim really fast, like faster than a speedboat fast. I’m one of those lucky ones. I wish you could see me kick my monofin as rapidly as possible, while the water courses through my gills, and my hair streams behind me like a sail. I suppose you’ll have to read “The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh” to find out more about this particular mer-superpower. I can’t even describe how stupendous it feels.
  • One of my favorite sea species of all times is the sea slug. Those little creatures store up sun rays like plants and illuminate like little blobs of sunshine underwater! Sea slugs are particularly handy—if slippery— to have around when you’re fluttering through a super dark underwater cavern many meters under the surface. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly gotten lost, but for those little babies lighting my way. My all time favorite type of sea slug is the Flabellina polaris, or Tanglewing. It is covered with tendrils tipped with light, like a magical illuminated feather; beautiful, but super slimy to the touch so beware!
  • Lastly, I’m not sharing this to be a mer-Debby Downer, but rather, to alert you to something you can do to help save our oceans: One of the most spectacular living entities underwater are the many, many species of coral. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful they are—the shapes, the sizes, the awe-inspiring colors, and how important they are to the ocean ecosystem. But coral reefs are being destroyed all over the globe. It really stresses me out. One thing that kills coral is when humans use non-reef friendly sunscreen and swim with that stuff sprayed or glopped all over their bodies. These products are super bad for coral, in a variety of ways. You can read more about it here, but in the meantime, tell your parents to just buy mineral sunscreens, especially lotions containing non-nano zinc dioxide as the primary active ingredient. Everything else is poison!
Alice Kaltman, author of The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

Alice Kaltman, author of The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

About The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman 

Eleven-year-old Grace Minnaugh is not a fan of big changes. She’s miserable during her first weeks in the seaside town of La Toya, sulking like a spoiled brat. Her family embraces the California lifestyle and Grace decides to embrace the seductive beauty of the sea. One fateful morning, while taking a predawn swim, she is caught in a thunderstorm. Without the ocean skills to survive, she’s sucked below the surface, convinced she will drown. Instead, a new life begins. Gills rip open from behind her ears and her legs fuse together to form a fishtail. Grace Minnaugh is a mermaid, and a gorgeous one at that. On land, Grace is still the same walking, talking social misfit she’s always been. But in the salty sea, she’s an underwater marvel. Grace decides not to tell a soul about her flip-floppy double life, but things get complicated when Grace befriends Alfie DeCosta, a kid who’s obsessed with finding an elusive shipwreck off the coast of La Toya. Grace knows exactly where the shipwreck is. But she can’t tell Alfie about it, or can she?


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