Fairy tales just aren’t what they used to be—they’re better! Books like The Mostly True Story of Jack, the first book by Kelly Barnhill, turn traditional fairy tales upside down, banishing bland princesses and predictable princes in favor of memorable characters on a mission. The Mostly True Story of Jack received four starred reviews and quickly became a favorite read in classrooms across the country.
Kelly Barnhill’s new book, Iron Hearted Violet, has just come out. Read the Q&A with Kelly below and submit a comment to our blog to let us know why your students will enjoy this book, which is for grades 3-7. One lucky teacher will be randomly chosen to win an autographed copy of this soon-to-be-classic tale. Submit your comment by midnight EDT on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, to be entered into our drawing. Good luck! Update: Congratulations to Ilah, who is our winner. We’ll be posting another giveaway in the next few days, so watch our blog!
In this story, Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book—a forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being—called the Nybbas—imprisoned in its world. The story cannot be true—not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas’s triumph…or its demise. Iron Hearted Violet is about the power of stories and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom. Click here to read the first few chapters and to learn more about the book!
Princess Violet is such a distinctive, well-defined character. Did she just pop into your head one day fully formed or was she hard to pin down?
Violet sprang, fully formed, one night when I was lying in bed under a pile of my various children, telling a story. I told them about Violet and Demetrius causing havoc during an academic conference in the castle—instigating fist fights among the philosophers, tricking the theologians into embracing heresy, and so on. Alas, this scene was cut from the book, but I had a heck of a time telling the story. And Violet has been Violet ever since.
You have such a great feel for inventing words. Tell us about “Nybbas.”
The Dictionaire Infernal describes demons and spirits of various ranks—most originally gods stolen from the Babylonian pantheon and changed into something wicked. One man’s god is another man’s demon, right? The Nybbas there is a lower spirit that controls dreams and imagination, largely derided as a buffoon. In my twisted imagination, the Nybbas became both—a selfish and insidious god who preyed on storytellers and used stories to rule the world. Because stories are that powerful.
Iron Hearted Violet is not a retelling of any folk or fairy tale, but you clearly love traditional stories. Did you have any in mind when you wrote Violet?
Traditional stories dominated my childhood brain, and still do. Terry Pratchett once wrote, “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around. Stories exist independently of their players.” I absolutely think this is true. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how we interact with stories, and how stories build the frame for how we see the world. It’s a bit of an obsession. Stories, after all, are tricky.
One of the most affecting scenes in the book is the meeting between Violet and the dragon. What was the most important thing you wanted to communicate there?
Here we come to the redemptive power of the broken heart. The first time Violet meets the dragon, she is poisoned and wounded by grief—it has made a blister on her heart. The dragon, on the other hand, is poisoned by fear—it is his biggest handicap. But sometimes it is our broken-ness that binds us to other people. We break; we connect; we transcend; we become more than ourselves. And then we are whole.
What’s next for you?
Many things! I’m working on some new books, and I’ve got several school-based writing residencies scheduled for the coming academic year, which is always a good time (can you believe they pay me to write stories with a bunch of super-awesome kids? Amazing!), and lots of fall and winter camping with my own dear children. I never get a lot of downtime, but it’s worth it!
Don’t forget, you can WIN an autographed copy of Iron Hearted Violet when you submit a comment to our blog. Good luck!
50 thoughts on “Win an Autographed Book From Little Brown Books for Young Readers!”
I would love to have this book in my classroom library! I think it would help encourage my third graders to start reading higher level books.
The story sounds amazing and a great addition to our library.
I love the sound of this new book, i love to read to my kids and they love to read with me, to me and they love when i read to them. The love of reading is one i want to make sure to instill in them and growing my small library would be wonderful!
I often read to my students and ask “wh” questions to improve their auditory comprehension. This is on my must read list for the winter!
I am a school librarian and a number of our teachers do a unit on Fairy Tales and their alternatives. This could fit nicely into a Middle School unit on Fairy Tales and would make a good read aloud in conjunction with the unite. I can already visual two or three teachers who would enjoy this as a read aloud as well.
WOW – sounds like a wonderful book for both home and school! Can’t wait!!
This would be a very loved book in my family! My granddaughters would especially love it, but I know my own mother and daughter would enjoy it as well!
This sounds like a great book for students to read or for me to read to the class!
What a lovely title! The title alone would lead to an engaging dialogue about what it means to be “iron-hearted.” I’m thinking also that it would be a great springboard for our writer’s club.
Violet sound like a wonderful character with exciting adventures that many of our 4th & 5th graders be drawn to. I would love to have an autographed copy to share with my students.
Dragons and adventures are the perfect way to get the attention of the children in our classes. Nothing is more fun than the imagination and a story that takes to a place where we can not go. Looking forward to reading this story to my kids!!!
This is a book that I am eager to read.
Thanks for the sample, sounds wonderful!
I look forward to reading this book! I have just finished a long chapter book and the students are already asking what we’re going to read next. I think I’ll have to try this one!
Sounds like a wonderful addition to any library! I would love to share this with my kiddos!
What a wonderful story for those who never feel a part of ‘the group’. Standing on the outside because of parts you can’t change is difficult at best. The magic of friendship makes it bearable. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.
My class would love the interesting words and the imaginative story. ( You can never go wrong with a dragon!)
I am looking forward to reading this book. It is definitely a book to put on my reading list. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.
Describing a character is so important for the children I work for. They struggle to visualize what the author has to say. Thank you for writing in such a descriptive manner. I am looking forward to sharing the first chapter with my students. Maybe I can entice them to finish the book!
This sounds great! Always looking for some good recommendations for books to buy with my limited budget.
I am a collector of fairy tales, and can’t wait to sink my teeth into the rest of this one!! Pick me!!
This sounds like a wonderful book to hook those reluctant readers! Adventure, mystery, and dragons? Bring it on!
This sounds like a great book. I can not wait until it comes out.
I absolutely love the whole idea of “Iron Hearted Violet”! What a fantastic story; very well written indeed. It is one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. I’ve recently read the sample I downloaded from facebook to my students and what I got was “Ms Djemal, that was great. When are we going to read more of Iron Hearted Violet? Ms Djemal, are we going to do lots of responses about the book?” etc., etc. I’m looking forward to also sharing the story with my own children.Love it, love it, love it!
I’ve never heard of these books. I think my class would love them. They sound exciting.
I am always looking for ways to engage my resource students, all boys, to read something exciting and full of imagination.
I look forward to reading your new book!
This sound like an engaging story for the intended age group–will possibly grab all of J.K.Rowling’s readers and more! As a literacy instructional coach for grades 6-12, I’m thinking that both of these novels would make for wonderful reading for both boys and girls! What I’m planning on doing is requesting 30 copies of each text from my county BOE, then making two classroom reading sets, each with 15 copies of The Mostly True Story of Jack & 15 copies of Iron Hearted Violet for teachers to check out. This way, the boys will be reading one about a male and the girls will read about a female, then they can compare/contrast these texts by the same author in a literature circle/author study/ fairy tale expectations discussion.
I am excited about these books. I know my class will be interested to read them!
I am impressed with where your story began. I wish you much luck and know my class would benefit from owning your book.
As a librarian, there are so many great books out there but to have this one introduced like this with so much description makes me want to plow in and read it myself so I can do a book talk on it!
This story is so engaging and since my students struggle with reading, this story will surely motivate them to read! My class would really benefit from a copy of your book! Please choose us!
This would be a great book to add to our library. Susan
Interested in this story. My class could benefit from this book for our conversation cafe discussion.
As an ESL teacher I need to keep on reading new stories to share to my students. it is a joy to now have access to new books through the internet. i hope I can have a copy of Iron Hearted Violet…i even love the title already since my youngest daughter loves the violet color….we can read the book together!
Can’t wait to read the entire book. It sounds great.
Wonderful text material to entice reluctant readers. Thank you. Imaginations turned on!
While I do not currently have a classroom I have a niece and nephew who are avid readers and story listeners who would adore your enchanting story. They live in Seattle where it rains a lot so stories give them wings to fly beyond their weather restrictions. Fallon is also a published author and your signed copy would inspire her to continue on. Thank you for considering them in your genero
Loved the first chapter preview. My 5th grade students will LOVE this new addition.
While my students are not quite at this comprehension level, I do identify with the character of Violet. She reminds me of a four-year old niece who is an avid story listener and creator of many imaginary friends. This would be a wonderful gift for her future readings.
I would love to have your book “hot off the press.” I’m the school librarian at Folger Elementary in Anne Arundel County, Maryland and I have many enthusiastic readers. I have two fifth graders, a girl and a boy, who request a recommendation every week. They are both wonderful young people and your book sounds like something they would really enjoy. A signed copy would delight both of them and be such a special treat. I often give these students books I haven’t had time to enter in the library collection just so they don’t have to wait to get something I know will excite them. Thanks for considering our Folger library to receive this wonderful offer.
Thjs books looks like a great read! I’d love to share it with my school-agers!
I am a special education teacher in Whitfield County Georgia. This year I am teaching 4th and 5th graders English Language Art and most of the time it’s almost impossible to find books that with capture them and have them eager to come to class. From what I have read so far of your book, I think it would be perfect!!
From what I’ve seen of this book so far, I think it would be a great fit for several of my 5th graders!
I also am teaching special education. I think my fourth grade reading group would really enjoy this. I have been looking for a chapter book to read aloud to them that we could also use for studying story elements. I think I just found what I’ve been looking for!
This sounds like just the book to get my reluctant 4th and 5th grade nearly-non-readers interested in reading. Can’t wait to get it.
I teach fourth grade and am always on the lookout for another good read aloud book. This one seems perfect!
This book would be great for my students that are reading above level (i teach 3rd grade)! This may also help those kids that haven’t found THE book to finally find it! I’m really excited!!!
Sounds like a wonderful book! My students love fairy tales, so they would love it! Maybe it could be a good read-aloud? Thanks for the opportunity!
I am teaching how to know when you reach the expository position in text and my kids love picture books. This would be a great book to read aloud to them and then anchor chart character traits and sequence main ideas to help them better understand for longer chapter books.