Laura Amy Schlitz

Laura Amy Schlitz, who still works as a librarian at Park School, is awaiting publication of her latest book, 'Splendors and Glooms." (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / August 6, 2012)

Editing duties in back-to-back tragedies -- a deadly train derailment and a school shooting -- have kept me from regular postings, but I did want to note a promising new book by local author Laura Amy Schlitz. Today, Candlewick Press releases "Splendors and Glooms," the latest novel from the Newbery Medal-winning author who also works as the librarian at Park School in Baltimore County.

The Baltimore Sun's Mary McCauley highlighted the new work in a recent article. Here's an excerpt: "Splendors and Glooms" is a dark fairy tale set in Victorian England that Schlitz describes as an homage to her favorite author, Charles Dickens. It tells a story of a sad little rich girl with the evocative name of Clara Wintermute who is befriended by two orphans: scrappy, nine-fingered Parsefall and the lion-hearted Lizzie Rose. As the children battle an evil puppet master named Grisini, they are alternately hindered and aided by Cassandra, a dying witch who harbors secrets of her own.

McCauley notes that "Splendors and Glooms," Schlitz's sixth novel for children, is nearly 400 pages, her longest and most structurally complex book. Its title is taken from a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley and the book took Schlitz nearly seven years to write.

Schlitz won the 2008 Newbery Medal for "Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village."