When I was in 4th grade, my teacher, Mr. Avink, announced to the class that we would all write stories. He would choose the student with the best story to attend something called the Young Authors’ Conference—a magical-sounding place.
I was a decent student, but I was never the best at anything. And this writing contest wasn’t a new thing—all my teachers since first grade had done it too, and I had never won.
Still, I put my heart into writing about a young elephant who had some unlikely friends in the jungle. We all turned in our stories and waited.
One day, Mr. Avink called me into the hallway and closed the classroom door. I thought I was in trouble (I was a little bit loud at times, I suppose). But he looked at me and said, “Lisa, I just wanted you to know that I loved your story. And I’m sending you to the Young Authors’ Conference.”
I remember exactly where that classroom was in the hallway of what was then called Southside Christian School on Pine Ave in Holland, Michigan. And I remember exactly where I was standing. An uncontrollable smile spread across my face and excitement welled up inside. I couldn’t believe it.
Mr. Avink grinned back and told me to take a few minutes to walk down to the drinking fountain and collect myself. He was going to announce this to the class the next day and he didn’t want my clearly-not-a-poker-face to give away the secret. He went back into the classroom, and I went floating down the hallway, thinking, “I’m going to be a writer.”
A lot of obstacles got in the way of me accomplishing my 4th grade goal, from people telling teenage me that being a writer wasn’t a real job, to tons of rejection letters that led me to quit writing for ten years. But I couldn’t stay away. My first book came out a week after I turned 40.
Today, my 27th book hits the shelves. And, like in 4th grade, it’s an animal story that I poured my heart into.
Clarice the Brave is about sibling ship mice who get caught up in a mutiny. When the captain is thrown off the ship into a lifeboat, Clarice ends up stuck inside one of the crates that goes with him. Her brother, Charles Sebastian, who was chased out of the crate by a ship cat, remains on the ship. When the two vessels drift apart, the brother and sister call to each other across the waves, vowing against insurmountable odds to find each other again.
In a time when separation from family is all too common, this story brings a ray of hope. These scared yet tenacious mice navigate their worlds alone…at first. But then they build unlikely friendships along the way in their quest to fulfill their promises to each other.
I hope you enjoy this story. It’s a perfect for a read-aloud family book, or would make a great gift for ages 8 and up. You can find it at your local bookstore or online wherever books are sold. It’s available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook—and let me just mention that the audiobook is read by amazingly talented Alexa Magro, who put her heart into the recording…and this is her very first audiobook narration. I’m so proud of her and grateful for her hard work! Her audition sample made me cry, it was so beautiful.
Recently, Daniel Golden from Boswell Books in Milwaukee reviewed Clarice the Brave in the bookstore newsletter, calling it “…an epic tale of adventure and friendship that already feels like a classic! So exciting, so emotional, so many lines I want to quote – Clarice the Brave is a triumph!” I hope you feel the same.
If you want to help Clarice make a splash (oof, bad joke for a mouse at sea) you can:
–buy the book wherever books are sold, or use my Bookshop
–check out my recent newsletter for info on how to get free Clarice the Brave swag
— watch for my upcoming Clarice podcast with Reading with your Kids
–join me and fellow authors Joanne Levy and Dusti Bowling at our virtual launch event October 14
–watch my Tweens Read Festival panel and so many other great authors October 18-23–there’s something happening every day
–attend a virtual event with Margaret Peterson Haddix and me on October 26
–check out this YouTube interview with Ric’s Book Reviews
–keep an eye on my Appearances page on my website for new opportunities to connect
Thank you so much for your support over the years! My heart is overflowing with gratitude. I hope reading this book brings you as much joy as it brought me while writing it.