Archive for Blood Mountain

BLOOD MOUNTAIN Selected to Maine Student Book Award Reading List

I’m happy to see Blood Mountain listed in the Maine Student Book Award Reading List for grades 4-8.

Lists such as this bring together recommended titles, published in 2019, for students to read and evaluate. Ultimately, the readers vote to select a winner. The reality is that every book on the list gets a tremendous boost; very simply, it helps readers find them, and for a book, that’s only everything. 

Thank you, Maine Library Association and the Maine Association of School Libraries. I’m honored and grateful. Let the reading begin! 

And note: I am available and eager for school visits!


Allen, Kate. The Line Tender.

Andrews, Ryan. This Was Our Pact.

Athaide, Tina. Orange for the Sunsets.

Bacon, Lee. The Last Human.

Barnett, Mac and Jacoby, Sarah. The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown.

Beccia, Carlyn. Monstrous.

Bragg, Georgia. Caught!: Nabbing History’s Most Wanted.

Brown, India Hill. The Forgotten Girl.

Bunker, Lisa. Zenobia July.

Craft, Jerry. New Kid.

de Fombelle, Timothee. Captain Rosalie.

Dee, Barbara. Maybe He Just Likes You.

Gemeinhart, Dan. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.

Gibbs, Stuart. Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation.

Heidicker, Christian McKay. Scary Stories for Young Foxes.

Horwitz, Sarah Jean. The Dark Lord Clementine.

Illustratus. Ghost: Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell.

Johnson, Terry Lynn. Dog Driven.

Kukkonen, Janne. Lily the Thief.

McAnulty, Stacy. The World Ends in April.

McMahon, Serah-Marie and David, Allison Matthews. Killer Style.

Munda, Rosaria. Fireborne.

Nagai, Mariko. Under the Broken Sky.

Nobel, Julia. The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane.

O’Donnell, Tom. Homerooms & Hallpasses.

Pancholy, Maulick. The Best at It.

Petro-Roy, Jen. Good Enough.

Philbrick, Rodman. Wildfire.

Poliquin, Rachel. Beastly Puzzles.

Preller, James. Blood Mountain.

Roberts, Barbara Carroll. Nikki on the Line.

Rodkey, Geoff. We’re Not From Here.

Ritter, William. Oddmire: The Changeling.

Sloan, Holly Goldberg & Wolitzer, Meg. To Night Owl From Dogfish.

Sorosiak, Carlie. I, Cosmo.

Sumner, Jamie. Roll With It.

Venkatraman, Padma. The Bridge Home.

Warga, Jasmine. Other Words for Home.

White, Kiersten. The Guinevere Deception.

Williams, Alicia D. Genesis Begins Again.

How Does a Book Survive?

I was pleased to spy my newest book, Blood Mountain, displayed with multiple copies in my local Bethlehem Public Library in Delmar, NY. I’m grateful they’ve embraced their role of supporting local writers. It’s so important for our survival.

Artists in our society struggle to earn a living and it’s getting harder than ever. People make assumptions about fame and wealth, but for the overwhelming majority of us, we’re barely clinging to our careers. 

The hardest part is the silence. Books take years and they come out and . . . the world just shrugs its shoulders. How can you make a difference? Little things. Request a book at your library. Order a copy from your local independent bookstore. Gift a copy to a favorite classroom teacher. We know they don’t have the financial resources to fill their rooms with as many books as they’d like. If you enjoyed the book, yes, please write a quick review on Amazon or GoodReads. Spread the word, suggest it to a friend. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg and simply your words makes such a difference.

Thank you, kind staff at the Bethlehem Public Library; thanks to everyone who has given this book, which I am so proud of, a chance to survive.



Random Author Photo: “Pointing at Book” File

And here we go . . .



Killer Review from SLJ for BLOOD MOUNTAIN

“A thrilling purchase

for middle grade collections;

perfect for fans of adventure novels

by Jean Craighead George,

Peg Kehret, and Gary Paulsen.”

Gr 4-6–A simple family hike unexpectedly becomes a six-day struggle for survival for two children and their dog. Carter, 11, his sister Grace, 13, and their dog Sitka become separated from their father, who lags behind and suffers a heart attack at the trailhead. The siblings’ situation becomes dire when they realize they’re lost and Grace cannot walk after being severely injured in a fall. Carter sets out on his own to seek help, leaving Grace and Sitka in the forest. Preller, best known for his “Jigsaw Jones” series, ratchets up the urgency, crafting additional threats that shadow the separated children, including a cougar on the prowl and a mysterious mountain man. The result is a page-turning adventure, skillfully using alternating points of view to give readers a direct line to each character’s heartbeat. Readers walk in characters’ footsteps thanks to the vividly realized setting. While both children experience an epiphany regarding their place in the natural world, it’s the strong supporting characters who round out the novel. D.E.C. Ranger Makayla provides fascinating survival facts and mountain man John embodies the novel’s themes of non-materialism and finding oneself. Occasionally graphic, consistently suspenseful, this title will make a lasting impression with an emotionally stirring and complex conclusion. VERDICT A thrilling purchase for middle grade collections; perfect for fans of adventure novels by Jean Craighead George, Peg Kehret, and Gary Paulsen.

The Wood Wide Web: About Those “Talking” Trees In BLOOD MOUNTAIN

“The boy half hears below consciousness
the sounds of the trees —
those feral, nighttime communications
of the wood makers,
the carbon eaters,
the sunseekers,
the water gulpers.”


Blood Mountain, p. 104

There’s a short video, under two minutes, that’s been shared around the internet lately, largely because it was featured on The Kids Should See This website. Produced by BBC News, the video is titled “How trees secretly talk to each other.”

I’m glad to see this tree conversation shared in an easy-to-digest format. A quick clip we can watch and pass along to friends and family and Facebook weirdos. I’m moved by the scientific reality of an underground social network of fungi that shares and communicates and feels and interconnects.

Of course, anyone who’s read The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien was a tree man! Treebeard at Isengard!) or even watched “The Wizard of Oz” knows that artists have long imagined trees as being dynamic, living forces of nature — with more to them than meets the eye. In the past these “magical” trees have been in the domain of fantasy, so I was eager to reclaim the accuracy of that fact-based perception in a book that was realistic fiction.

The past few years I’ve increased my love affair with trees, mostly by learning more about them. Reading books, yes. And a lot of long walks: looking, noticing, seeing the details I’d missed before.

One book was particularly important, though there were others that informed and inspired my writing, too. Here’s some that fed me . . .



In The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, I first encountered the phrase “the wood wide web.” This book, by the way, surely inspired aspects of The Overstory by Richard Powers, which stands as one of my favorite novels of the past decade. I knowingly borrowed Wohlleben’s phrase in my middle-grade adventure novel, Blood Mountain. But I hope, on a deeper level, the book expresses some of that tree-perception and otherness-appreciation throughout. Those magnificent creatures that — or who? — live amongst us.

Here’s a bit from Chapter 32, pages 103-104. To set this up: Carter is alone, lost and hungry, suffering from early stages of hypothermia, collapsed beneath a weeping willow after wandering through a lowland bog. Things are teetering on the edge . . .

That night, the trees of the forest began talking.

Carter overhears their murmuring.

Of course, he knows little of trees and nothing of their primordial tongue. To his ears it is only wind through moonlit, shimmering leaves. He doesn’t comprehend that roots intermingle, that electrical impulses pass from root tip to root tip, tree to tree, in a vast unfathomable social network of interconnected forest. How all trees of the forest are one tree continuous. A community, an underground wood-wide web. Carter hears the moan of a heavy branch, the groan of another, and the sporadic signals of tree parts dropped to the ground: sticks, stems, detritus falling all around him, delivering messages in a complex code. If these sounds were translated into words from the human world, Carter still could not grasp their meaning, as foreign to him as the tongue of a lost tribe. No boy can talk to trees.

Time is different for trees and rocks and the human species. Trees live for decades, centuries: generations pass through in a continuous ecosystem through the ages. Trees have existed on the planet since long before the first hominids walked upright, and trees will remain long after humankind is wiped off the earth’s surface. A smudge on a windowpane. The great trees persist, and wait, and watch, and whisper. 

Alone and cold and closing in on hypothermia in the wild unknown, the boy half hears below consciousness the sounds of the trees — those feral, nighttime communications of the wood makers, the carbon eaters, the sunseekers, the water gulpers. From the beginning, roots have turned toward the things they desired: water, nutrient-rich soil, a firmer grip. Beneath Carter, below the understory, the roots of the forest send out messages to one another. 

The trees are talking about the boy.

It is time.

Long limbs reach toward him.