Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Zaria Fierce returns in the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes!

zariaprologue-360x570Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes, by Keira Gillett, (Jul. 2016, Keira Gillet Books), $14.99, ISBN: TK

Recommended for ages 10-13

Keira Gillet’s Zaria Fierce trilogy comes to a huge conclusion with the final book in her adventure, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes. Picking up where Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword left off, Zaria and her friends need to rescue the Stag King’s son, Hart, stop Koll and his fellow dragons, and save Zaria’s birth mother, Queen Helena. No pressure, Zaria.

Zaria also feels the crushing weight of these responsibilities – and the part she played in them, when tricked by the dragon, Koll – and it’s taking its toll on her. Thankfully, her friends aren’t going to let her confidence flag; they’re there for an adventure, and they’re not going to let anyone, be it a dragon that personifies fear, or a fierce water-wyvern, stop them.

That’s the great thing about the Zaria Fierce trilogy: adventure is fast, furious, and loaded with Norse mythology, but the friendship between Zaria and her group of friends is the heart that drives this story. They won’t give up on Zaria, even when she’s ready to give up on herself; in turn, she will do anything to keep her friends safe. Even fight a dragon.

There are so many wonderful moments in this book, but to start talking about them would lead to spoilers. Suffice to say that Keira Gillett takes us on a hero’s journey, in the guise of a young girl whose entire life is upended one morning as she crosses a bridge to get to school. Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes brings us to the end of one story, and a wish to return to this universe soon.

Recommended for middle grade collections where fantasy is popular. I’d book talk this with other hero’s journey tales like CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson/Magnus Chase series; they’ll have a firmer frame of reference when you present the series with these popular fantasy tales. Talk up Zaria as a strong female character who overcomes her fears and self-doubts to outwit monsters, and save herself and her friends!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Keira Gillett author visit!

Corona Library had a visitor this week: Zaria Fierce author Keira Gillett!

keira and roe

We had such a great time. Keira is awesome – personable, ready to jump in and talk, and great with the kids. My Corona kids are a little nervous when meeting someone new, but she knew just how to get them talking: she decided to raffle off a set of her books! The kids mobbed the table, and a few finally started to ask her about the books.

When it was time for our reading, I moved everyone into our meeting room so the kids doing homework could stay focused on homework and so Keira didn’t have to yell (with almost 100 kids in my children’s room after school, our library is most definitely a living organism – apologies to Dr. Ranganathan). The kids gathered ’round, and Keira read a selection from Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest; she put on different voices (that is precisely how I imagined Olaf!), she had a wonderful reading speed and volume, and her audience was rapt. No one said a word, and if you know my Corona kids, that is an accomplishment!

After the reading, I tried to give some gentle prompts to get the kids talking. They tend to be shy, and they’re still working on learning how to discuss books, so we didn’t get much, but Keira and I had a brief Q&A session, her awesome boyfriend, Neil, donated an additional set of books to our library (thank you!!), and I picked a raffle winner. We took some pictures, I gave out Zaria Fierce coloring sheets, and the kids went back to their homework and books.

It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful to Keira Gillett and Neil for coming to visit, for their support of Queens Library (did I mention that we’re the only library in Queens to have the Zaria Fierce books? You can make a request!), and I can’t wait to let you know when I hear more about the third book in the series. I got a sneak peek at some of the artwork, and all I can say is WOW.

What I’ve learned: author visits are a great way to get kids to sit for a program. They’re often shy – at least my kids are – about asking questions, though, so make sure to have some basic questions prepped for a Q&A: the writer’s inspiration, what she/he does for a living in addition to being a writer, likes, dislikes.

Raffles rock: Kids love a chance to get something for free, sure, but it’s also about that moment of recognition when the name comes out of the box/hat/whatever you have the names in. Use that raffle gathering time to promote the book, steer kids to the author to talk about the book, get them excited about the book and the reading.

Authors are amazing: The patience and generosity an author exhibits when surrounded by a bunch of kids cannot be measured. Pay it forward: have their books available, booktalk them like wild, and let the author see their event promoted in the library. Know what the book’s about, and make the author and her/his entourage feel comfortable. Next time, I need to grab some bottled water and have snacks available.

Wrap it Up: Make sure to introduce your author to your manager and assistant manager. It’s respectful to both administration and your author. And write up the experience, provide some pictures, get bragging rights out there so people know what a great program you had.

Here’s some video from Keira’s reading. Enjoy!

Posted in Fantasy, Tween Reads

An interview with author Keira Gillett!

I recently read and reviewed a new middle grade fantasy series, starring a brave female protagonist named Zaria Fierce. Author Keira Gillett brings back some older elements of Norse mythology in this series; we have dwarves, ice giants, and trolls causing trouble in Norway, and a young teen and her friends are all that stand in their way. It’s a pretty tall order for a young girl, and why do these folks keep calling her “princess”? The series is great fun and features diverse characters that will excite readers and pull them into the story.

I was lucky enough to get author Keira Gillett to answer a few questions for me. Technical librarian by day, author by night – when does she sleep?

Rosemary: Zaria is a big reader – I love that! What do you think are some of the books on her bookshelf?
Keira Gillett: I think Zaria and I would have similar bookshelves. We’d certainly would be able to swap our favorite books with each other as we both love middle grade and young adult fantasy books. Not only would Zaria have popular book series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, and Artemis Fowl on her shelves, but also classics from Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Ronald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis.
Rosemary: I loved the use of Norse mythology in your story. Did you grow up reading books about myth and legend, like Zaria?
Keira: I always liked fantasy, mythology, and folklore. I would say I probably grew up more on fairy tales and their retellings – like Ella Enchanted – the most. One of my favorite books is Half Magic by Edward Eager (and I recently found out it’s a series, who knew? Zaria would. She’s cleverer than me. I just got the rest of the books to read and I can’t wait.)
My love for Scandinavia comes from my parents hosting foreign exchange students (a set of twins) from Finland. I was very young, I think possibly turning five years old when they first came to America. At eleven, I went to Finland and met them (all grown up) and played with one of their children. It’s a beautiful country, and I can’t wait to go back and wander about Finland some more and also to explore Sweden and Norway for the first time. I hope it’s soon!
Oh, and there’s these pictures books that I loved that the twins gave my family. One was Louhi, Witch of North Farm, about a witch who skied on the sky and stole the sun and moon. Another is the Wild Christmas Reindeer about a young girl who has a hard time training Santa’s reindeer. The last one is this wonderful little Christmas story with trolls I think instead of elves. I loved reading that, and I’m going to have to call my mom to get the name of the book because I can’t seem to Google it! 
Lastly, I love the movie the Polar Bear King, which is based on the Norwegian fairy tale of White Bear, King Valemon. A similar tale is East of the Sun and West of the Moon. So as you can see, my love and fascination has been long in the making!
Rosemary: When will we get to read about more of Zaria’s adventures?
Keira: The next adventure for Zaria Fierce and her friends will be Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes. It’ll continue where Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword left off. Will Zaria fix her past mistakes? Will she stop the plans of the dragon, Koll, and Olaf, the river-troll? Will she get to use her magic powers? Join me and find out on July 1, 2016!
Make sure to head over to Keira Gillett’s author page for a great interview between Keira Gillett and audiobook narrator Michele Carpenter, and hear an excerpt from Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword. Both audiobooks can be found in their entirety on Audible. Don’t miss out!