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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

(MMGM) M.P. Kozlowsky, author of The Dyerville Tales {Review, Interview, Giveaway}

I'm so thrilled to have M.P. Kozlowsky stopping by the March MG Madness today! Check out our Interview, my Review, and the Giveaway below...

The Dyerville Tales
by M.P. Kozlowsky
Walden Pond Press

A young orphan searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather's book of lost fairy tales in this stunningly original coming-of-age middle-grade fantasy

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and his father in a fire when he was young, but beyond that, his life hasn't been much of a fairy tale. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was remanded to a group home, where he spun fantastical stories, dreaming of the possibility that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. But it's been a long time since the fire, a long time since Vince has told himself a story worth believing in.

That's when a letter arrives, telling Vince his grandfather has passed away. Vince cannot explain it, but he's convinced that if his father is somehow still alive, he'll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for his grandfather's small hometown of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather's journal. The journal tells a story that could not possibly be true, a story of his grandfather's young life involving witches, giants, magical books, and evil spirits. But as Vince reads on and gets closer to Dyerville, fact and fiction begin to intertwine, and Vince finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather's than he ever could have known.

M. P. Kozlowsky, the author of Juniper Berry, has crafted a powerfully imaginative novel of the spaces in life where fantasy and reality intersect, a touching story of the things we give up to recover the things we've lost.

M.P. Kozlowsky’s Juniper Berry is one of my most favorite middle-grade books, so I was super excited to dive into his The Dyerville Tales, and I’m happy to report that this fantasy tale does not disappoint!

Orphaned Vince Elgin lost his parents in a fire several years ago and receives word that is only living relative, his beloved grandfather, has died. Vince receives a book of tales belonging to his grandfather. Wild, thrilling tales full of magic, mythical creatures, and more. Tales that his grandfather claims are not only about him, but very true. Believing his father is alive, Vince runs away to attend his grandfather’s funeral, hoping to be reunited with his dad. Along the way, Vince encounters his own adventures while reading his grandfathers truly grand tales.

Wildly and profoundly imaginative, The Dyerville Tales is a gorgeous middle-grade fantasy! Kozlowsky proves once again that he is a master at spinning fantasy stories full of achingly lovely, yet captivatingly haunting whimsy, exciting adventure, and unforgettable characters.

Kozlowsky expertly weaves together Vince’s modern, coming of age situation with his grandfather’s fantastical tales, creating a story that feels both fresh and timeless. From evil witches, vicious giants, talking horses, magical weapons, golden boys, and so much more, the fantasy elements in The Dyerville Tales enthrall and excite, chill and captivate.The magical world of Vince’s grandfather’s tales is so vividly laid out and explored, with awe-inspiring imagination bursting off every page. Young readers will be easily swept away into the elder Vincent’s tales. But the younger Vince’s own adventures and misadventures, full of stowing away on a train, villainous bank robbers, and determined orphanage mistresses, is its own kind of page-turner. Vince’s story is a powerfully poignant and palpable one I felt deeply.   

Both Vincents (Vince and his grandfather) make for endearing, memorable heroes that readers will relate to and cheer for. But Kozlowsky’s excellently crafted secondary characters, from lovable Anthony; brave Orin; sweet Marie; and charming MJ, also shine and captured my heart. And of course, no grand fantasy tale is complete without its villain, and Kozlowsky gives readers an extra vile one in the Evil Witch *shudders* .

The Dyerville Tales concludes in the most breathtaking, and really only acceptable, way that left my heart humming with happines.

My Final Thoughts: M.P. Kozlowsky is such a spectacular storyteller who spins such gorgeous stories, and The Dyerville Tales is proof of that! Fantasy lovers young and old won’t be able to put this book down.


What three words best describe The Dyerville Tales?
Compelling.  Deceptive.  Illuminating.
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give The Dyerville Tales a try?
The Dyerville Tales is something different, something unlike all other middle grade novels; it is a book that pulls fantasy from reality and reality from fantasy and melds it together into a compulsive read full of giants and witches and gnomes and magic and suspense, all with sympathetic and embraceable characters that will linger in one's memories for a long time to come, characters who may even reveal something about ourselves.
Grab a copy of The Dyerville Tales and answer the following:
favorite chapter?  The Forbidden Room

favorite page?  Page 232, when Vincent learns just what kind of magic is possible in the land beyond the door on the cliff.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?  
The two ran out of the room and down the hall, only to find that the lion hadn't escaped at all.  Rather, it was threateningly circling the sleeping giant.
What inspired The Dyerville Tales? How did the story come to be?
This book would not exist were it not for my grandfather, to whom the book is dedicated.  He was a natural storyteller, a man who would gather the children of his village in Italy and tell them stories for hours on end.  He did the same thing with me and my brothers.  Luckily, I happened to record one of these sessions when I was five, maybe six years old - they are the only stories of his I remember.  I have carried that cassette with me ever since and it contains the essence for the fairy tales you read in The Dyerville Tales.  I like to believe I inherited my storytelling abilities from him and hopefully this book would do him proud.  
There are some memorable characters in The Dyerville Tales, do you have a favorite? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters end up surprising even you with the way they turned out?
My favorite character is Vince (to be clear, not Vincent, his somewhat double, who encompasses the fairy tales aspects of the book).  I feel his pain, the anguish of everything he lost and is so desperate to find.  I relate to it; I understand it deeply and such emotions carry the book to its conclusion.  The last part of this question, which character ended up surprising me, is a little more difficult.  I suppose I would have to say Anthony, Vince's best friend at the orphanage, who wasn't really in the original draft at all and who provides some comedic relief, which I had not planned as it is not really my forte.  
If you could live inside any fairytale world/story, which would you choose? What would you do there?
Wouldn't everyone want to live in Neverland, where they could play with the Lost Boys and experience endless adventures and never grow up?  Isn't that what everyone tries and fails to capture in this aging world of ours?
As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?
I believe that writing middle grade books is, perhaps, one of the most freeing experiences an author can have.  At no other age level is there such openness from the reader, such a willingness to completely lose oneself in story.  Very often, the books that influence us most are not the epic novels or the classic literature we read in high school or college or after; it is the fairy tales and magical worlds of our childhood, many times the very ones that help guide us through it.  For a writer, there is no better time or place to reach an audience than when and where they need it most.
What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine?
Always a difficult question, and rarely do I like to give a concrete answer.  I will say that The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne has one of the most emotionally rich endings of any book, middle grade or not.  There are countless great heroes and heroines in middle grade literature and I can only hope that I one day create a character that can stand among them.
Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at deflecting.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that (see above).
The last great book I read was The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq.
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Dyerville Tales, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
I'm afraid preparing cupcakes is far beyond my abilities.  I can agree, however, that they are indeed like books in that they should both be consumed in large bites and often.

M.P. Kozlowsky was a high school English teacher before becoming a writer. Juniper Berry is his first book. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

Win a finished copy of
The Dyerville Tales!
The lovely peeps at Walden Pond Press have offered up one book.
-US only
-ends 4/4
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-I am NOT responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
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Jillyn said...

I love fantasy books, as you probably know by now. This sounds like one that my nephews would love.

Laura Frondorf said...

I am sure my students will love this book!

Orchid said...

I want to read this one so badly!!! It just sounds like one of those books that'll be hard to put down.

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

What a lovely book! Definitely adding this to my TBR