Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway ~ Violets Are Blue (Barbara Dee)
Welcome to the Violets Are Blue Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee on October 12th, blogs across the web will be featuring exclusive guest posts from Barbara as well as 5 chances to win a signed copy all week long!
The Silent W
by Barbara Dee
Sometimes kids ask what’s my favorite chapter, or scene, in a book I’ve written, and I have a hard time answering. But if the question comes up about Violets Are Blue, I know exactly which scene I’ll pick.
It’s a small, quiet scene at the beginning of the story. After Dad has left to move in with Vanessa, and Renata (aka Rennie, or Ren) has done something to get herself ostracized by her classmates, Mom announces her plan to move the two of them to a new town.
At first Renata is horrified by this news, because her life has been all too full of big changes lately. “How many more could there be?” she wonders. But she realizes her opinion of Mom’s plan doesn’t matter: “I knew she wasn’t asking for permission. And anyway, she didn’t need it. She could do whatever she wanted. Both my parents could. Both my parents did.”
Like many twelve year olds, Renata struggles with the feeling that she has no control over her world. Immediately, though, she realizes that there’s one choice she can make, a small change that shows who she “really was, deep inside.”
Later that evening, she squishes next to Mom on the sofa and announces that as long as they’re moving to a new town, it’s the perfect opportunity to change her name—to Wren.
At first Mom is baffled. “Sweetheart, what sense does it make to add a silent letter? Wren sounds exactly the same as Ren.” Wren replies that she never felt like a ‘Renata Lewis,’ explaining that wrens are “tiny little songbirds, but they’re fierce.”
Mom becomes sad, because Renata is a name she loves, a name she’d picked out with Dad. Wren tells her she just wants to pick a name for herself. “That’s not how names work,” Mom protests. Although immediately she adds: “But change can be important. I get that. I do.”
As Wren throws her arms around her mother, Mom kisses her hair and calls her Wren, “pronouncing the silent W.” It’s a moment of validation, and connection, with Mom totally supporting Wren, understanding that this is about her daughter’s identity, and agency, and not about her own preferences.
Mom is a complex character struggling with an addiction to opioids. She can be moody, difficult, self-involved and unreliable. But because she genuinely loves her daughter, she never forgets to pronounce the silent W—and whatever else Wren is feeling towards her mom over the course of the story, she never stops being grateful for that.
“Barbara Dee has done it AGAIN! She tackles tough topics with such great care. She is to middle schoolers today what Judy Blume was to me in the 80’s. I give Violets Are Blue ALL the stars and thumbs up.”
– Amanda Jones, 2021 School Library Journal Co-Librarian of the Year
“[F]requently poignant… With flawed, realistic characters and dynamics, this reconciliatory novel is a believable balm for young people at the mercy of adult choices and scenarios.”
– Publishers Weekly
From the author of the acclaimed My Life in the Fish Tank and Maybe He Just Likes You comes a moving and relatable middle grade novel about secrets, family, and the power of forgiveness.
Twelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, Wren can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.
So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of Wicked.
Only, Wren’s mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up.
After all the progress she’s made, can Wren start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?
Learn how to create the mermaid makeup effect from the cover!:
Barbara Dee is the author of twelve middle grade novels published by Simon & Schuster, including Violets Are Blue, My Life in the Fish Tank, Maybe He Just Likes You, Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed. Her books have earned several starred reviews, have been shortlisted for many state book awards, and have been named to best-of lists including the The Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books, the ALA Notable Children’s Books, the ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, the NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, and the ALA Rainbow List Top Ten. Barbara lives with her family, including a naughty cat named Luna and a sweet rescue hound named Ripley, in Westchester County, New York.
- One (1) winner will receive a hardcover of Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee with a SIGNED bookplate
- US/Can only
- Ends 11:59pm ET on 10/24
- Enter using the Rafflecopter above
- Check out the other stops along the tour for more chances to win!
Blog Tour Schedule: