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GAYLE ROSENGREN GUEST POST AND COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a good read. I'm just getting back from a trip to Dallas to celebrate my mother-in-law's 80th birthday. So if I'm a bit late today in visiting your blog, that's why.

Today I'm excited to have a guest post by Gayle Rosengren and a giveaway of her MG historical COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET about the Cold War, which seems really timely with what's going on in the world.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Cold War anxieties play out in a sensitively told story set during the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s, perfect for fans of Gary Schmidt and Kristin Levine. 

Joanna can’t get over how her brother broke his promise to never leave like their dad did. Sam is thousands of miles away on a navy ship, and no matter how often he sends letters, Joanna refuses to write back. When she makes a promise, she keeps it.

But then President Kennedy comes on TV with frightening news about Soviet missiles in Cuba—and that’s where Sam’s heading. Suddenly Joanna’s worries about being home alone, building up the courage to talk to a cute boy, and not being allowed to go to the first boy-girl party in her grade don’t seem so important. Maybe sometimes there are good reasons to break a promise.

The tense timeline of the Cuban missile crisis unfolds alongside a powerful, and ultimately hopeful, story about what it means to grow up in a world full of uncertainty.
 


Now here's Gayle!

“The Power of Words”

There is a reason behind every book that’s written. For example, my first book, What the Moon Said, was essentially a love letter to my mother and grandmother, whose real-life stories were its inspiration. At the same time, it was a story providing readers with a peek into the past from the perspective of a child of immigrants who brought Old Country superstitions to their new home.
My second book, Cold War on Maplewood Street, was written for very different reasons—to make sure a significant event in history isn’t forgotten. Many adults ages 58 and younger don’t seem to know much about it. The 60-and-overs are the ones who nod when I make a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Then they quickly offer up some memory, the description of which nearly always contains references to fear.

I think the only people who weren’t afraid during that long week were simply lacking sufficient imagination to visualize what the rest of us could imagine all too well. But perhaps that’s an unfair judgment. Perhaps they were just much braver—or more fatalistic—than the rest of us.
I was twelve. Not quite a kid anymore but far from being an adult. Up to then I had, with the customary complacence of childhood, assumed that my family would always keep me safe. That warm and fuzzy cocoon was about to be shredded.

Everyone was familiar with the term Cold War. It referred to the hostile relationship between the
Soviet Union and the United States that began at the end of World War II. The two countries talked about each other more than they talked to each other. Capitalism versus Communism was the battle they waged, generally in small unstable countries ripe for revolution—with each Superpower backing a side, supplying it with weapons, hoping at the end of the fight they would gain grateful new followers.

Cuba was one such country. In fact, only ninety miles off the coast of Florida, it was of utmost interest to both the Soviets and the United States.

When President Kennedy addressed the country on the evening of October 22, 1962, to announce that the Soviets were secretly setting up nuclear missile launchers in Cuba, you could almost hear the collective gasp of people around the world. Kennedy demanded that the weapons be removed immediately. Or else. Our warships were already speeding to the region to surround the island so no more weapons could be delivered. All Soviet ships would be boarded and searched before being allowed to pass. If ships refused to stop, they would be fired on and sunk.

Thus began the week when we were closer to nuclear war than at any other time before or since. I remember feeling as if everyone was tiptoeing through the days that followed, holding their breath, always wondering if air raid sirens were about to go off.

The nuclear war we feared did not occur. As a result, it seems that everyone feels free to simply forget this event ever happened. But I think that’s all the more reason to remember it. We need to ask ourselves why?

Why didn’t the war take place? The answer is simple but vitally important to remember, so it might guide us in the future. The two leaders, Kennedy and Khrushchev, negotiated. They used words instead of weapons. Kennedy agreed to remove our nuclear launchers in Turkey in exchange for the Soviets doing the same in Cuba. This had been the Soviets’ goal all along. The concession by Kennedy was kept secret and the truth only emerged years later.

This doesn’t mean that the Soviets weren’t prepared to start a nuclear war. They were. In fact, it was later learned that a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear missiles had been submerged in the waters off our east coast. When U.S. forces wrongly identified it as an unarmed vessel, they fired depth charges around it to force it to the surface. Two of the commanders on board the submarine wanted to fire their missiles. Fortunately, a third officer refused, and since all three of them had to be in agreement in order to take such a drastic action, they did not attack.

Think of it: One man’s refusal was all that prevented a nuclear war from starting. Yet most people who have heard of the Missile Crisis think of it as a kind of false alarm. Insignificant. Because the war didn’t happen.

The lesson we can learn from this is that war is never inevitable. Words can be more powerful than bullets or missiles, whether they are written in notes secretly sent from one world leader to another or are spoken out loud, like that Soviet Navy commander’s insistent “Nyet!”

Cold War on Maplewood Street emphasizes the power of words and the importance of good communication. Its twelve-year-old protagonist, Joanna, discovers this truth in the days that follow President Kennedy’s announcement. She recognizes it in her own life, where she’s been punishing her adored older brother Sam by not writing to him because he left home to join the Navy. Now she may never see him again! And she also witnesses the importance of communication in the interactions of her best friend Pamela Waterman’s family. Mrs. Waterman doesn’t speak up, and the results are devastating.

Most fears are manageable. But some can be overwhelming. Today, with our kindergarteners practicing lockdown drills in schools—huddling in storage rooms with their teacher and classmates, hiding from possible intruders bearing automatic weapons—I think it’s more important than ever to make sure our children know it’s okay to feel fear, and that talking about it with a trusted adult will help.

That is the reason I wrote Cold War on Maplewood Street. To share this two- pronged message with readers: that communication is key to every good relationship, and that it’s okay to be afraid; it’s how you deal with it that counts.

During my school visits, I tell students to speak up when they’re very troubled or afraid. And if no one seems to be listening, I tell them to speak louder.

As the grown-ups in their lives, let’s be ready to listen.

Thanks for sharing about your book, Gayle. You can find Gayle at:

Twitter: GayleRosengren@twitter.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gayle.rosengren

Gayle's publisher, Penguin Random House, generously offered a copy of COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET for a giveaway.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through October 31stIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger and you can find the other middle grade bloggers today on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by Christina Farley and a giveaway of her new YA BRAZEN and the other two books in her series.

The following Monday I have an interview with Laura Resau and a giveaway of her MG multicultural THE LIGHTENING QUEEN.

The Monday after that I'll have a guest post by debut author Ryan Dalton and a giveaway of his YA science fiction mystery THE YEAR OF LIGHTENING.

Hope to see you on Monday!

60 comments:

  1. Gayle, congratulations on your new book! I love historicals that highlight important events like this. It's a great way to educate a younger generation (and us older ones too!). Wishing you much success!

    Natalie, thanks so much for the intro to Gayle. I hope your trip to Dallas was a good one. Hope you and your readers have a great week!

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen, for all your good wishes!

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  2. I learned so much already by reading the background Gayle provided for her book. Such an interesting time in our history and one that will now have a reason for young and old to not forget. I have this on my list of books to read this year. Thanks for the opportunity to win my own copy.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Greg. And good luck in the drawing!

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  3. What an incredibly interesting topic - and so important for MG readers. Can't wait to read - and Tweet about - COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET!

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  4. A very interesting and tense moment in history. And as I enjoy historical novels, this is one I'm sure I'd like. I was 12 also, but I just wasn't paying attention. I was being a kid and had very little idea about what was going on in the world at large. I'm sure my parents were well aware of the tensions and I think it's to their credit that I didn't sense any nervousness or unease on their part. They keep me and my sister feeling quite safe and secure during that time.

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    1. Here's your chance to experience what you missed all those years ago, Bish. I hope you enjoy COLD WAR.

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  5. A very interesting and tense moment in history. And as I enjoy historical novels, this is one I'm sure I'd like. I was 12 also, but I just wasn't paying attention. I was being a kid and had very little idea about what was going on in the world at large. I'm sure my parents were well aware of the tensions and I think it's to their credit that I didn't sense any nervousness or unease on their part. They keep me and my sister feeling quite safe and secure during that time.

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  6. That was a freaky time. Congrats to Gayle!

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  7. Congratulations to Gayle! It's frightening how close to war it had been, but yes, the power of words. Well written post.

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    1. Thanks, Christine. I appreciate your comments very much.

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  8. There are a number of stories of close calls during the Cold War. I'd like to buy that third Russian officer a beer some time.

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  9. One person stood between us and a nuclear war. That is a very scary thought.

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    1. And so many people today have no idea how close we came. That's why I had to write this story.

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  10. I don't think most people realized how close we were to a nuclear war at that time. This is a remarkable time for a story. Congrats to Gayle for writing one.

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  11. Oh goodness, I remember being so disturbed/scared when I studied the Cold War in depth in high school. Just thinking that we could come that close to utter chaos is rather eye-opening. Thanks for writing this book! And thanks for the giveaway!

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  12. Sounds like an interesting book, with schools (ours included) focusing on reading more historical/nonfiction books, it seems this would fit in splendidly. Congrats to Gayle on its release.

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    1. Thank you very much, Brenda. I'm hoping it does well in schools, as I believe its messages of speaking up and using words instead of weapons are both important ones for young readers to talk and think about.

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  13. Good thing we didn't blow up that sub, either.
    They negotiated rather than fought. What a novel concept.

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    1. A novel concept indeed. Let's hope the next generation does better than ours at learning it.

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  14. This is a period about which little has been written for young readers. How wonderful that you have written such a book. It sounds terrific. Thanks for the background. I will be looking for it.

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  15. Sounds like a great book - and I love your advice to kids about speaking up - so important!!

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    1. Thank you, Jemi. I really push that message during my school visits.

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  16. Enjoyed your guest post, Gayle. And thanks, Natalie. That's great advice to kids to speak up when they're troubled or afraid, and speak louder if no one seems to be listening.

    I was quite young during the Cuban Missile Crisis so I have only the vaguest memories of my parents being upset about something.

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    1. Thank you, Joanne. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post.

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  17. MG historical? Now that is something you don't see every day. I like it! :)

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  18. Wow, looks powerful. Congratulations, Gayle on your second book baby.

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  19. What a great message! I love middle grade and historical fiction. Thanks for the post and giveaway! I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/656480021318496256

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    1. Thank you, Daniella! I hope you'll enjoy my book. :)

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  20. This sounds fascinating. I can't wait to read it.

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    1. Thanks very much. I appreciate your support!

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  21. I absolutely loved this novel and feel it's an important addition to have in all MG libraries and classrooms. This is not a topic I've ever seen in historical fiction for middle graders, and Gayle does an exceptional job of telling the story in a way that today's kids can easily identify with. Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I don't know why I'm listed as "Unknown" but I wrote that—Liza Wiemer. :)

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  22. This sounds like such a great book! I know the climate with Russia in the 80s had a huge impact on why I chose to study Russian. I'm glad there are books like this coming out. Congrats--and thanks for an informative post!

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  23. Congrats on your new book, Gayle! Good to meet you. :)

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    1. Thanks, David. I appreciate your support. Great to "meet" you too!

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  24. I cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been living through that time period. Then again, we live with the threat of war now...

    Natalie, I hope the b-day celebrations were epic and included CHEESE. =)

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  25. What a beautiful cover for your book, Gayle! Congrats!

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    1. Thank you! I've been very lucky with my covers (twice now). Glad you like it too.
      ;-)

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  26. Fascinating topic. Mostly I remember arraid drills. Congrats to Gayle!

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  27. I love your themes, Gayle, especially that words are powerful! Thank you for sharing both the background of your novel and your novel! I love the cover and the way you described it.

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    1. Thank you very much, Tyrean. I appreciate your comments and support!

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  28. This book sounds terrific! Congratulations to Gayle.

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  29. Happy belated birthday to your mother-in-law! And congrats to Gayle on her release, it sounds like an amazing book.

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  30. Wow, this sounds like a powerful book. I knew nothing about the Cuba crisis. It was before my time and it was never been covered in school (at least not where I live).

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    1. I hope you get an opportunity to read it and that it lives up to your expectations, Stina.

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  31. You've eloquently expressed how a young girl experiences a world event - the difficulty she has in grasping her place in the Cold War. Should I even tell you I've been working for 8 years on a graphic novel about a Cold War Starfighter pilot's daughter whose loyalty to him is deeply conflicted when she discovers he's been training to drop nuclear bombs? I'm thrilled for you that you got your story out there! Of course I want to read it asap.

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  33. This sounds like an interesting read. Touching and powerful.
    GFC: Holly Letson

    bookaholicholly at gmail dot com

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