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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

TCBR AWARENESS TOUR: The Crabtree Monsters by Chris Wieland - GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY!

Hi guys!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today, we've got a special stop along The Children's Book Review AWARENESS TOUR featuring a pretty intense children's story that will have kiddos racing right along with the Kat to uncover the mystery and secrets at the heart of it all. It sounds in turns thrilling, a little chilling, and something kiddos can totally get behind, so KEEP READING to catch a closer look at what's inside! After the intro, stay with us as the author shares their thoughts on Writing Divorce and Absentee Parenting into Children’s Books...a topic that hits close to home for many readers...and don't miss your chance to win!

The Crabtree Monsters
Chris Wieland
The Smart Aleck Press

About the book...
Moving from Los Angeles to tiny Crabtree, Michigan, is the last thing thirteen-year-old Kat Dylan wants to do. Crabtree’s seen better days and isn’t what you call welcoming. Worse, the move means living with her gruff Grandpa Nick, the town’s police chief, and having to look after her little brother, Alec.

And that’s before Kat and Alec find themselves in the middle of a bank holdup by the Monster Gang—four robbers in monster masks. Before the heist is over, the kids lose their cash and Alec comes within a hair of losing his life. When it is all over, Grandpa Nick goes to jail, accused of being one of the robbers himself.

Suddenly, this boring little town isn’t so boring anymore. Kat’s determined to find out who the men are behind the masks, and she’s going to need help. But exposing the robbers could have big consequences. The deeper Kat goes, the more she learns life is about making choices, including some that are a matter of life and death.



~~~   GUEST POST   ~~~

Writing Divorce and Absentee Parenting into Children’s Books author Chris Wieland

Growing up, I considered myself lucky.
I lived in a two-parent household. My dad and mom were involved. They went to soccer games and school plays. They got along and (mostly) got along with me.
Half my friends weren’t so lucky. Their parents split up. Sometimes, one parent wasn’t around. Other times, they lived out of suitcases, trekking back and forth between folks. I couldn’t help but feel like my home life was fragile, too. It felt like at any time, I could be in the same boat. 
It never happened. But now, as a grown-up who’s married with kids and who writes for middle grade readers, divorce and absentee parenting show up in my work. The heroes of my book The Crabtree Monsters, Kat and Alec Dylan, are children of divorce, and the adults in their lives are spectacularly absent. Mom’s an army nurse stationed in Afghanistan. Dad’s an LAPD Detective who can’t be reached on the phone. Kat and Alec don’t even live in the same time zone as either parent. They’re stuck in a small town in Michigan, with their grandfather who – until now – they’ve barely known. And he’s never around, either.
So why all this unreliable parenting when my experience was otherwise? Well, let’s be honest: good parents who are present, interested and focused on their kids’ development and well-being are basically the death of adventure.
I wish it weren’t so. But good parents – and I try to be one myself – make things really boring. They’re reasonable. They’re obsessed with safety. They pore over homework, plan birthday parties and vacations, and do very little the average middle grade reader (or adult reader, for that matter) finds exciting.
This has always been true. When I was a tween, was I out stopping bad guys or fighting crime? Saving the world even once? Heck, no! Why? Because sensible, dedicated parents kill any chance you have of sneaking into a bad guy’s hideout in the middle of the night, that’s why!
Good parents call the authorities when evil strikes. They keep your indoors when villains are about. 
Say you do score a parent who loves adventure and fighting evildoers.  Even that’s problematic. For one thing, you probably aren’t lucky enough to have two of those, so the push and pull between sensible and fun parent is real. Fun rarely wins.
If fun parent does win, you’re the sidekick. Adventure Dad gets credit for saving the world. At best, you make wisecracks or get captured. That’s no good, either. But it doesn’t matter because adventure parent is rare; if you’re stuck with sensible parents, probably your daily life is not the stuff of adventure novels. Think I’m wrong? Look at the literature.
Would Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn have gone on the river, fighting con men and criminals if they’d had parents who checked their homework and scheduled dentist appointments?
Would Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia have blown up the Death Star if Darth Vader had provided a comfortable home, good school and loads of emotional support?
Heck, would Harry Potter have even gone to Hogwarts? The school couldn’t keep kids from risking their lives daily! One of the teachers was a reformed criminal who’d advocated killing other wizards! 
I smell parent/teacher conference. Or lawsuit.
From a writer’s perspective, to make stories like this work, you have to get the parents out of there. They have to be absent, distracted or unreasonable, or your hero can’t – or won’t – go on their journey alone. Which they desperately need to do.
Divorce is real for at least half the children in the United States, so it’s relatable. But also – even for a kid who grows up in an intact family  – the experience of being a young reader is one where you identify with the lone protagonist.  I don’t think there’s been an adolescent who hasn’t felt at some point that they are alone; that the odds are against them; that parents and adults (even well-meaning ones) can’t help. They have to go on a journey themselves, maybe to figure out who they are or want to be. Maybe they fight bad guys, or maybe they become an artist, an athlete, or a better student. But they do it themselves.
That’s why I read adventure stories as a kid: because metaphorically, we’re all going through our own solitary quest. When you’re a kid, experiences are so raw, and stakes feel so high. Every challenge is like unmasking the criminal mastermind. Every athletic season is the build-up to destroying the Death Star. Every math test is figuring who stole Zeus’ thunderbolts. 
If you were to admit you’re safe, and competent adults have your back – even if you hated their music and their clothes – well, how epic would your quest feel?
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t take divorce seriously. For some kids, navigating a broken home IS the heroic journey. But there’s room to use it as a relatable tool to take characters where they must face their demons alone. We need them to do that. Because when we’re reading, we relate, in part because we all are the lone hero of our story.
As parents, it can be hard to read about broken families. There’s something primal about wanting to help your kid accomplish a journey and slay a metaphorical dragon or two. We want to be beside them as they grow into the heroes we know they can be. But we can’t.  In my book, I’ve tried to make it clear that Kat and Alec’s parents aren’t absent because they’re malicious – they have to be gone to keep their own lives afloat, and it’s hard for them to miss out on what their kids are going through.
It hurts to be absent from them because of divorce.
But it could be worse.  Think of all the mythic heroes whose parents are dead. 
Better to be metaphorically absent than in the ground, right?


About the author...

Chris Wieland is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is also the father of two fierce children, including a tough, smart tween who helped him find the voice of his protagonist, Kat Dylan. He lives in Southern California with his family.

For more information, visit



Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.

Four (4) winners receive:
A signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters.


Special thanks to Bianca at The Children's Book Review for the chance to bring this tour to you and to the author for the guest post. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, the publisher, this tour, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the tour for more bookish fun!


Tuesday, June 14, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Wednesday, June 15, 2022
An article by Chris Wieland

Thursday, June 16, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Friday, June 17, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Monday, June 20, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
A Growing Readers Podcast interview with Chris Wieland

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Thursday, June 23, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Friday, June 24, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Monday, June 27, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Tuesday, June 28, 2022
An Instagram Video Review

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Thursday, June 30, 2022
An interview with Chris Wieland

Friday, July 1, 2022
A book review of The Crabtree Monsters

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Sounds like a wonderful summer mystery read.

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