Brave in the Woods Blog Tour

Brave in the Woods Spring Blog Tour

May 17-30, 2021

Read on to learn more about Tracy Holczer's latest book, Brave in the Woods. Use the Rafflecopter widget or link at the end of the post to enter to win a copy of the book and other goodies. Check back each weekday of the tour for a new post and/or a throwback post to a recent review of or article about the book.

by Tracy Holczer
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
on February 9, 2021

Middle Grade (10 and up)
ISBN 9781984813992
Also available on audiobook

About Brave in the Woods

Critically acclaimed Tracy Holczer returns with a heartrending tale about a girl descended from the Grimm brothers who sets out to break what she thinks is a family curse.

Twelve-year-old Juni is convinced her family is cursed. Long ago, her ancestors, the Grimm Brothers, offended a witch who cursed them and their descendants to suffer through their beloved fairy tales over and over again–to be at the mercy of extreme luck, both good and bad. Juni fears any good luck allotted to her family she used up just by being born, so when she wakes up in the middle of the night with the horrible feeling like antlers are growing from her head, she knows something is wrong. The next day she learns her older brother Connor has gone missing during his tour in Afghanistan. 

Her family begins grieving his loss in their own ways but Juni can’t help but believe that his disappearance means the family curse has struck again. Juni is convinced the only way to bring her brother home is to break the family curse and so she sets out on a quest to do just that. 

From Charlotte Huck honoree Tracy Holczer comes a stunning new novel about the power of stories, the enormity of grief, and the brilliancy of hope.

Praise for Brave in the Woods:

★ “This is a beautiful tale of love and grief, friendship and family, and of hope. . . Give this to readers who loved Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Kate Allen’s The Line Tender... Holczer’s use of humor, thoughtful imagery, and magical realism elements makes this a wholly unique blend of modern fairy tale, hero’s quest, and coming-of-age story. A suggested purchase for all middle grade collections.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Holczer’s clear, gentle prose allows the emotional and descriptive elements of the text to shine in this multilayered road-trip story... A thoughtful exploration of grief, family lore, and human connection.” —Kirkus Reviews
“By turns heartbreaking and humorous, this is a story that hints at the possibility of magic while remaining rooted in real-world problems and relationships. There is love and hope amid the grief and confusion, just as the Grimm tales contain both wonders and horrors in their own right. A heartfelt lesson on the power of love and the tales we tell ourselves.” —Booklist

“Holczer has crafted another heartrending story of familial loss, grief, and healing... The imagery-rich text... [and] well-developed secondary characters help readers better understand Juni and the relationships she cherishes, while supporting her journey toward accepting the truth and finally letting go.” —The Horn Book

Also by Tracy Holczer

Find out more at
Autographed copies available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA

Literacy Café Idea

I love discussing books over food, especially if the food has something to do with the book. I can't remember who came up with the term, but it's something my friend Alyson of Kid Lit Frenzy and I always  think about when we are trying to dream up ways to engage people over books. Sure, it's an easy and relatable way into thinking about and talking about any kind of culture, including literature. But especially if you love food like we do, it's much more than that. It's creative and memorable. When you read books like Tracy Holczer's Brave in the Woods, you're doing much more than moving your eyes across words on a page. You're dropped in the setting where Juni is growing up in small-town California, you're sent to the past where Anya is sharing her childhood story, you're feeling the wind whipping your hair as Juni and her friends drive down the highway in search of the things she thinks will complete her quest and bring her brother home. Then when you sit down with your friends, classmates, or even complete strangers to discuss what you thought of the book, it's so much more enjoyable to do so over some tasty treats. 

In my case, although many delicious foods were mentioned in the book (tamales anyone?) I knew my pick would be ice cream sundaes. I won't tell you what part of the book they are mentioned in, but for my post today, I am sharing my favorite sundae combos with you.

The Classic Sundae

Vanilla ice cream, coated with chocolate fudge shell, topped with chopped nuts, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry with a stem. Optional - brownie on the bottom. What is not to love about this classic?

By the way, I didn't have the right glassware to show off these beautiful desserts, so someone in my local Buy Nothing group gave me these glass goblets for sundae cups. Thanks, Marukah! I love my neighbors. Even though we live in a big city, they can make it feel like a small town, in the best ways possible. One of our neighbors even recognized Lake Almanor from the photo above--I'd never heard of it, but she grew up near there. 

Okay, sure, the Classic Sundae sounds a little boring and predictable. Of course Luca, the responsible young adult who is driving our group of tweens around on this road trip, orders this (with a side of fries). But just like Luca, the Classic won't let you down when you're in need. 

The Strawberry Dream Sundae

I actually had this two ways.

First, I had to make the basic fresh strawberry ice cream sundae on a bed of freshly cut berries. I added a scoop of strawberry-flavored frozen oat-milk dessert, a drizzle of cream, and topped it off with the reddest berry I could find. 

Next, I went all-out: a strawberry-flavored meringue base surrounded by half-cut strawberries, limited-edition strawberry Hershey's Kisses (!!!), a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with Cool Whip, a juicy red whole strawberry, and a sprinkle of crushed Biscoff cookies.

I had to stick one in the freezer to eat for "breakfast" the next day since it was too much ice cream for one sitting, and I'm not one to put food together for a photo then toss it! Waste not, want not. Normally I'd say this showstopper sundae has main-character written all over it, but we don't know what sundae Juni orders in the book. So let's just say this one's for us, fellow Reader.

The Grab Life by the Fries Sundae

I think this one is my favorite. Gabriella "Gabby" Carolina Tavares is one of Juni's two best friends, and she's got a couple of sayings: "Grab Life by the Horns" is her personal motto. Another, from her life coach dad, translates to "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." I think those are pretty good bases for the most daring and well-done treat, my childhood sundae, based on the McDonald's caramel sundae which I would dip my french fries into. 

Start with an oat cookie base, a scoop of sea salt oat-milk frozen dessert, another scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle them with dulce de leche, whipped cream, and chopped nuts or candy, or bits of maraschino cherry. I ended up adding some salty roasted pepitas. Scoop up that sweet and salty frozen mixture with piping hot french fries. You can thank me later.

The Fluffy Road Sundae

Last but not least, the most decadent of all: the Rocky Road sundae. The road was definitely rocky for our intrepid travelers in Brave in the Woods--figuratively, anyway. 

I plonked down a double-scoop of Rocky Road ice cream topped with chocolate fudge shell, marshmallow fluff, two kinds of marshmallows, a Belgian waffle butter crisp, and chopped nuts. I won't lie, I had to put a cherry on top of this one too, because visually it's just not a proper sundae without one. In the end, I couldn't even see the ice cream under all the toppings. 😅

This is Juni's other best friend, Mason's sundae in the book, and he gets it all over his shirt. Typical. I was smart and left my apron on while eating this creation.

I'm sure there are more excellent combos out there, but these were the ones that best evoked the book for me. What's your favorite sundae? Let me know in the comments!



Check out some of the songs that are mentioned in Brave in the Woods on Spotify.

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon May 17 - Kid Lit Frenzy

Tue May 18 - Instagram post by @the_readers_antidote
Throwback Post: Unleashing Readers - Review and Discussion Questions

Wed May 19 - Librarian’s Quest

Thu May 20 - Instagram post by @pasadenalovesya
Throwback Post: Teach Mentor Texts - Writing with Brave in the Woods

Fri May 21 - Read Now Sleep Later

Mon May 24 Throwback Post: Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Tue May 25 - Nite Lite Book Reviews

Wed May 26 - Instagram post by @readnowsleeplater
Throwback Post: ReadWonder - Review and Reflections

Thu May 27 - The Windy Pages - Interview with Tracy Holczer

Fri May 28 - Instagram post by @jeninthebookstore
Throwback Post: Nerdy Book Club - Guest post “On Found Objects, Creativity and Beginnings by Tracy Holczer



This giveaway is open to the US only, except where prohibited by law. The giveaway starts at 12:00 AM Pacific on 05/17/2021, and ends at 12:00 AM Pacific on 06/05/2021. By entering you are agreeing to all the rules.

The winners may not provide a PO Box as a mailing address.
One (1) winner will be chosen on 06/05/2021 to receive 1 copy of Brave in the Woods by Tracy Holczer and a $25 gift card for Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA. One (1) winner will be chosen on 06/05/2021 to receive 1 copy of Brave in the Woods by Tracy Holczer and a mystery gift pack. One (1) educator winner will be chosen to receive 2 copies of the book (must complete a special entry “Thanks, teachers and librarians!” on the Rafflecopter).

We (the blog tour hosts) are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 

One set of entries per household, please. 

If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian’s permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 

Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget.

Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email with their shipping address, otherwise we will pick a new winner.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the CAPS, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments.


  1. Those sundaes look yummy! I am really hungry for my lunch right now. This book sounds so good and I can't wait to read it too. My favorite sundae is a gooey brownie topped with French vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.


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