Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lone Star Book Blogger Tour: ANGEL THIEVES by Kathi Appelt ***GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY***


Young Adult / Magical Realism / Historical / Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Date of Publication: March 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 336

  ***Scroll down for the giveaway!***

An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief. Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.  

Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it… Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort—but it tells her help will come soon. Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed… In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.



Angel Thieves, Part One
Guest Post by Kathi Appelt

This book took me a full three years to get it to its final incarnation, and honestly, if I had another week, I’d probably tweak it again. My editor, the wondrous Caitlyn Dlouhy, basically had to rip it out of my grubby little hands. “Kathi, seriously, we have to send it to the printer NOW!” Alas!
Some history: The first draft came fast. I got it all down in about six weeks, which is something of a record for me. I’m normally a fairly slow writer. You could say that it was the proverbial shitty first draft. There was nothing lovely or magical or enchanting about it whatsoever. What it had going for it was “possibility.” And you’re probably thinking, really? Six weeks? Okay, true confessions: there were a couple of intertwined ideas that I had been mulling over for years, and in that initial burst of writing, those two ideas just kept eating at me.
The first came to me as a question—what does it look like to have the kind of faith that you would risk everything, including your life, and the life of others, for the cause of faith? Here in my part of the world, I’ve met people whose faith is so deep, their belief is so solid, that they are convinced that any harm that comes their way is part of a bigger plan, and also that Jesus or God or Allah or however you want to describe a Higher Power, will take care of you. I call these folks “sweet believers,” because that’s how I see them: sweet in their beliefs. And I mean it in a very complimentary way.
I will be the first to say that I’m not a religious person. However, I do believe that one can be a person of faith, without being tied to any particular religion. But that wasn’t what I was pondering here. Instead, I wanted to write about a girl who lived her life based upon her sweet belief in all-things-good. Moreover, what if it was her experience of her church that guided her?
The second idea came from a moment I had several years earlier. One cold, rainy day, I accompanied my 90-year old grandmother to the graveside service of her younger brother. It was a tiny gathering at the old Washington Cemetery in Houston, TX. I come from a very long line—seven generations in fact—of Houstonians, the earliest of whom arrived back when Texas a republic.
The service ended, hugs were delivered, and we got back in the car to head to her house. But as we drove through the cemetery, I noticed that something was “off.” It was so unsettling that I felt compelled to make another loop through the graveyard. What I noticed was that, without any exceptions, every angel had been decapitated. All their heads were missing.
I was haunted by it, so much in fact that I asked my husband, Ken, to drive to Houston with me to take a photo.
I even wrote a poem about it.
Now, the Washington Cemetery is old. It’s been there for a very long time. It’s likely that some of those heads were lost to lightning, or a tree fall, or a high wind. But it’s more likely that someone, maybe someone like the boy in my poem, stole them. And that led me to investigate the very lucrative black market in stolen cemetery statuary. Yes, it really is a thing.
All of this led me to ask this question: what would it be like for a boy who has a dark secret to fall for a girl who is fundamentally good? How could that possibly play out? Would there ultimately be any hope for a relationship like that? What would it look like?
From those initial questions, I created Soleil Broussard (Sweet Believer) and Cade Curtis (Angel Thief).

They form the contemporary timeline of the novel. There is another timeline that is set in pre-Civil War Houston. I want to tell you about that too, but right now, I have to feed the cats. Stay tuned.

Spiritual, succinct, and emotionally gripping. 

-- School Library Journal A heartfelt love letter to Houston that acknowledges the bad parts of its history while uplifting the good. -- BCBB Shows the best and worst sides of humanity and underscores the powerful force of the bayou, which both holds and erases secrets.  

-- Publishers Weekly Narrative strands are like tributaries that begin as separate entities but eventually merge into a single thematic connection: that love, whether lost or found, is always powerful. -- Horn Book Richly drawn and important. -- Booklist, starred review

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max ... Attacks
She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their six cats. She serves as a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.



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