Today is book launch day for author and fellow writing group member Karen Day (TALL TALES / Wendy Lamb Books). Like the first novel, her second (NO CREAM PUFFS / Wendy Lamb Books), features an unforgettable twelve-year-old protagonist growing up in the Midwest. While the stories are quite different, a fan of Meg in TALL TALES (a Texas Bluebonnet book) is sure to enjoy befriending Madison, the down-to-earth hero of NO CREAM PUFFS. Karen's on the Fire Escape today to answer a couple of quick questions about NO CREAM PUFFS, a book about baseball that's also a universal tale about leaving girlhood to join a circle of strong women -- a circle that surprisingly includes a girl's own sometimes bewildering, often irritating mother.

Q. NO CREAM PUFFS is set in 1980, yet a Kirkus reviewer (who raved about the book) recently said that "this fine sports story is fresh and relevant." How do you think a twelve-year-old reader in 2008 will relate to Madison's story?

Girls today have so many sporting opportunities and they may find the hoopla surrounding Madison's debut in an all-boys' baseball league surprising. But there is much more to Madison’s story. I use baseball as a way to address timeless issues – how awful it can feel when your friends are ready to move on and you aren’t; how girls often worry that “beating” boys will make boys not like them anymore. This is essentially a story about a mother and daughter and how difficult it can be to listen to that “voice” inside. These are the same issues girls face today!

Q. Tell us about the title. What does it signify?

When I was growing up in Indiana and playing baseball we sometimes threw easy pitches that we called “cream puffs.” You know, they were pitches that allowed the batter to belt the ball to the fence! During practice Madison throws one of these pitches to the cute boy she likes. Her catcher, Brett, has a fit and tells her, “no cream puffs!” I like this as a title because it addresses one of the prominent themes in the book. Do you throw a cream puff to a boy because you want him to like you? Or do you try to strike him out?

Thanks, Karen, and congratulations on another wonderful story about girl power.