LISA GRAFF: Lost In The Sun

Ooo, goody! I love new-book-release Tuesday. Today we celebrate the release of an awesome new book by Lisa Graff, Lost In the Sun. lostYoung readers, get ready to get your socks knocked off. For real. This book has lots of drama, action and plain old-fashioned good writing. It follows tTrent during his first year of middle school. Poor Trent can’t even think about all the social landmines that come with being in sixth grade, however, because he’s still grappling with a horrible accident that happened in fifth grade. During a normal game of after school hockey, Trent slaps a puck into a kid who later dies. Trent is haunted by the accident and struggles to cope with the warring emotions battling inside him. He is angry, sad and confused. It’s a great book to help you understand what it feels like to lose someone and what it means to feel responsible for something awful. A really good read.



The New York Public Library, The Brooklyn Library and the Queens Library, along with the NYC school library network, has selected President of the Whole Fifth Grade–a book totally written by yours truly–for their recommended summer reading list.

Oh, New York. Thank you so much. It’s such an honor. Now if you’re reading this in the NYC area and decide to check the website,, they may have messed up my name a little bit–called me Sherri Williams. Not to worry. It’s me, Sherri Winston, author of President of the Whole Fifth Grade and the soon-to-be released President of the Whole Sixth Grade. President Cover with Bleed_CMYK[1]Trust me. I wrote both of them with barely any help. OK, maybe a little help from a few real-life fifth graders. And people who like cupcakes because the main character, Brianna Justice, is all about baking cupcakes. And there are recipes, too. I made them up. I DID. And anyway, the New York library people totally got the name of the book right, so who cares. On behalf of me and Sherri Williams, please accept my humble thanks. I shall now take a brief delay to perform my happy dance.DSC_0188


I am now done with my dance. Please, go along with your day. And if you are in NYC or know someone there with an awesome kid in need of awesome reading material, tell them Sherri Williams, uh, Winston, says hello!

10 Minute Review: Lost In The Sun by Lisa Graff

I’ve read this book. It is awesome. If you want to be awesome, you must read this book, too.


To spread the Lisa Graff love, Penguin Young Readers is hosting a sweepstakes to give away 25 copies of LOST IN THE SUN!

To enter, tweet “Preorder #LostInTheSun @lisagraff to enter to win 25 signed copies! US only Ends 5/25” or your own language—but make sure to use the link and the hashtag.

School Library Journal will also be hosting a twitter chat with Lisa Graff on pub day, so please join for that on May 26th!

Sometimes I read professional book reviews and wonder why the heck do I bother writing about books on this little blog. Did you see the review of Lisa Graff’s Lost in the Sun in the New York Times? It is a beautiful review. I wish that I could figure out how to do such beautiful things with the words and sentence I use when writing about books.

The truth is…

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Help me give away books, and cupcakes n' stuff! You're awesome!
Help me give away books, and cupcakes n’ stuff! You’re awesome!


I’m counting on you to help make this work. When President of the Whole Sixth Grade gets released in November, I want to make a splash. Name in lights! Press conferences! Television appearances! OK, none of that’s going to happen. So help me have the next best thing. I want to travel to Detroit, Mich., my home away from home, and give away 300 books to deserving middle school kids who may have a tough time paying for brand new hard cover book. Much as I’d love to claim to have the resources of my favorite faux author, Richard Castle on ABC’s Castle, I do not. My heart is big, but my bank account, not so much.


What I need is for you to visit my campaign. Make a donation. Then follow my blogs and facebook or twitter for constant updates. With the cost of purchasing the books, traveling to Detroit, and staying for three nights so that I can visit the schools, the cost will be $7,000. I am donating my time and offering my services to schools that couldn’t ordinarily afford the $300 speaking fee for an author. (And trust me, my fee is on the low end.)


So that’s the dealio. Help me put brand spanking new books in the hands of some great kids. Growing up with books home changed my life. Now let’s see if we can do it for someone else. In advance, I love you for caring enough to help. In a few weeks, I’ll post the rewards for donations. But you can give just any ol’ time! Smooches!

My favorite book when I was little


Author Don Freeman wrote one of the most endearing books of my life. I loved this book!
Author Don Freeman wrote one of the most endearing books of my life. I loved this book!

I have memories of sitting with my mother, tucked protectively behind the crook of her legs. We’re on a sofa in our living room. The ‘70s have yet to dawn. As memories sometimes do, these appear in quick, tiny bursts—a tiny flash of recognition, before—poof—the image dissipates and fades. Flash! My mother’s smile, warm. Flash! Me absorbing the warmth of her body. Flash! The shifting intonation in her voice as she reads the story of a loveable but overlooked teddy bear waiting for just the right girl to love. Flash! My joy at discovering the artwork. As real as Diahann Caroll in Julia on TV.

She starred in televisions first show featuring working class, well-spoken, African Americans who were ordinary people. Lighthearted comedy, family.
She starred in televisions first show featuring working class, well-spoken, African Americans who were ordinary people. Lighthearted comedy, family.

Courderoy was the first book I remember that featured African American characters, a mother and daughter, who were just everyday people. Shopping. Planning. Moving. Growing. No apathy or pity; not destitute or wanton. Written and illustrated by Don Freeman, the book was published in 1968 by Viking Press. According to a site dedicated to his memory (, Freeman simply wanted to tell a story that took place while shopping and featured a character named Corduroy from a previously unpublished manuscript he’d written. I would later learn that Corduroy was first rejected by Viking Press; then it was rejected by several others before Freeman resubmitted to Viking Press and finally got the green light. Now, it has celebrated a 40-year anniversary and is still in print.

Great inspiration from a great book. Thank you, Don Freeman.