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Gobbledy by @LisAnnaLangston is a Middle-Grade and YA Event pick #middlegrade #mglit #giveaway


Author: Lis Anna-Langston

Genre: Holiday Middle Grade

Book Blurb:

Ever since eleven-year-old Dexter Duckworth and his brother, Dougal, lost their mom, everything has been different. But “different” takes on a whole new meaning when, one day just before Christmas (or Kissmas, as they call it), Dexter finds a golden rock in the forest that hatches into an adorable alien. Gobbledy is smarter than he seems and is lost on planet Earth. Before long, Gobbledy takes Dexter, Dougal, and their best friend Fi on an adventure of friendship, family, and loss—one that requires them all to stay out of trouble, protect Gobbledy from a shadowy group called the Planetary Society, and prepare for their school’s Winter Extravaganza Play, where Dexter has to be a dreaded Gingerbread Man. Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.


“What do you think these things are?” she asks.

A loud wail comes from the new jar full of dirt.

Slowly, I lift the jar off the work table and unscrew the lid.

Fi and I look down at the strange bug. The little thing wails. It's not much bigger than the two crickets standing on the sidelines, staring.

Fi looks at me with a wild look in her eyes. “Does your dad know?”

I shake my head. “Absolutely not. No. Dad will just make me take him back to the forest.”

I pull the lid off. The strange little bug opens his mouth really big.

“Okay, okay,” I whisper. “I’ll feed you, but you have to be quiet.”

He closes his mouth and blinks. For a second, I think he might actually understand what I’m saying.

There's a bag of potato chips on the counter in the kitchen. I drop chips into the jar one by one, avoiding the crickets.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

“Where’s the rock?” Fi asks.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

The back door opens. Startled, Fi jerks upright abruptly, smacking her head on the slanted ceiling. I try to grab her hand as it flies past my face. Her arms flap wildly as she falls in a woozy, slow motion out into the hall.

“Fi?” I say loudly.


Fi?” I drop to the floor next to her and check her pulse, like I've seen people do in movies. “Can you hear me?”

She undoubtedly cannot. She does not move or answer.

The jar wobbles on the wooden table.

“Excuse me,” I quickly step over her limp body and grab the jar. I tighten my grip as it jerks around in my arms. Hurky-jerky, it shifts against my shirt. I hold tight and screw the lid back on.


Huh? “What are you doing home, Dougal?” I yell.

“I live here.”

“I know that, but you're early.”

“Not really. School is out. Dad asked Fran to pick me up because you got in trouble again, and he couldn't leave work twice.”


Fran walks into the hall and says, “Oh my gosh, what happened?”

I look left, then right. Up, then down. Over, then under. My eyes settle on my backpack next to my work table. I shove the jar inside quick, listening to the hurky-jerky sound of glass tapping against my notebooks. I cover the jar with my jacket and step quickly into the hall.

Fran pulls her hand to her mouth. “What happened to Fi?”

Fi is on the floor where I left her.

“She was, ummm, we were doing our science projects and then she fainted.”

“I thought you had to turn those in today?”

“We did, but mine got loose and she was ...”

I stare at her limp, oddly twisted body.

“Do you want me to perform CPR until the emergency workers arrive?” Dougal asks.

Fran rolls Fiona over on her back. “They'll be no emergency workers. I got this,” she says quietly, tapping Fi’s cheeks. “Fiona?”

Fi's eyes pop open. “Wha?”

“You passed out, girl. Are you okay?”


Fran helps Fi to her feet. She sways, woozy, reaching for the wall.

Their cat, Sir Shreds-A-Lot, scratches and howls at the back door.

“Don't let that cat in,” Dougal says. “He's been sneaking up to the attic and eating the villagers in Mom's village.”

“What's the last thing you remember?” I ask Fi.

She rubs her forehead. “Let me get an ice pack. I'll answer that in a minute.”


From my bedroom window I watch Fran walk Fi across the driveway. Cool, gray light fans out across the dark outline of branches, highlighting the occasional dry leaf still hanging on. Bats screech on their way down to the boulevard. On the other side of the glass, silvery light glints off an abandoned spider web. As soon as they turn the corner, I go for the jar.

Dougal stands in the doorway, giving me the silent-but-deadly stare. “What are you doing?”

It takes a second to manufacture a convincing lie. “Looking at a spider web.”

Dougal studies me, his brow pinched tight. He's two years younger than me, but matures in dog years. He clears his throat and announces, “We've got a family meeting tonight.”

I step away from the window.

Clunk clunk clunk.

Starting with the closet, Dougal's eyes trail around the room, stopping on my backpack. “What's that noise?”

I'm about to say I don't hear anything when —

Clunk clunk clunk.

He points. “It's in your backpack.”

“It's a pack of Mexican Jumping Beans I bought today.”

Dougal tilts his head sideways like he always does when he doesn't believe me. “Can I see them?”

“I thought you wanted to talk about the meeting,” I blurt out.

He patiently lays his hand on the dresser and taps with his index finger. “Mexican Jumping Beans first.”

Clank clank clunk.

My eyes jerk to the backpack.

Clank clank clunk.

The sound is louder, more insistent.

Clunk clunk clunk.

I walk over to my closet and pretend to look for something. Anything.

Dougal clears his throat.

I ignore him.

More throat clearing.

I have a pretty good idea how stubborn he can be. More than that, I’m worried he'll tell Dad. I can't afford any more trouble. Whatever is in that jar could send me into Code Red.

“What?” I hiss, glancing back over my shoulder.

He points. “You're stalling. I'm giving you one chance to tell me what you're hiding.”

“Or what?”

“Or I'm calling the Humane Society and telling them you're endangering the lives of Mexican Jumping Beans by keeping them trapped in a backpack.”

“They're not trapped.”

“Prove it.”

I huff. “Why won't you drop the beans?”

“Because I know you. Anything worth hiding is worth seeing.”

Okay. He's got me there.

Clunk clunk clunk.

Dougal looks back at me. “If you haven't unzipped that backpack in ten seconds then I'm doing it. One. Two…”

“Okay. Okay.” I stomp over.

He stops counting and stares at me instead.

I can do this. I place my hand on the zipper and jerk it to the side. The jar is exactly where I left it. Air holes poked in the top look like prehistoric code. Lamplight glimmers off the metal.

Clunk clunk clunk.

Dougal reaches down, but I snatch it up quick.

I pause, listening. “Close the door and lock it,” I whisper. My normally uncooperative little brother runs over, closes the door without a sound, and flips the lock. My eyes squeeze shut for a second. I carefully set the jar on the floor. It wobbles. Dougal walks over and kneels down. I sit down on the floor and unscrew the lid. Sucking in a huge breath, I lean over and look inside. Two glowing eyes stare back at me. Dougal gasps and falls backwards on his heels. The glowing eyes are attached to a small, furry body that's grown to the size of a silver dollar. A strange little bug. The little furry thing opens his mouth and shrieks. I put the lid back on. A low wail emerges from the jar.

“What is that thing?” Dougal whispers.

I shrug. “I don't know exactly, but he's getting bigger. I picked up a rock in the forest. I think he must have been stuck to it and I didn't notice.”

“That’s definitely not a bug,” he says, matter-of-factly. “I spent all last summer studying insects, and that's not one of them.”

“It has to be a bug,” I insist.

The thing wails again.

I look down into the jar, suddenly realizing its empty. “He ATE my crickets! My last two crickets.”

Dougal crinkles his nose, “Eww.”

Everything inside the jar is gone, including the dirt. The bug opens his mouth wide and yowls.

“I think it's hungry,” Dougal observes.

“It ate my grade.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

“This charming alien-in-the-attic story boasts engaging characters, witty storytelling, and a furry little beast that will eat anything, all wrapped up in a warm holiday package.”


“Hugely entertaining as well as emotionally moving.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“The Wonder Years meets A Christmas Story meets E.T. in this magical novel with dialogue that snaps, crackles, and pops, and a narrative that skips, jumps, and hops from one delightful surprise after the other. Young adults and old adults alike will love the adventures that await inside these pages.”

―Cathy Smith Bowers, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina, and South Carolina Authors’ Hall of Fame Inductee

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $20 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card

Open Internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or CA account to win.

Runs September 6 – September 14, 2022.

Winner will be drawn on September 15, 2022.

Author Biography:

Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a Creative and Performing Arts School from middle school until graduation and went on to study Literature at Webster University. Her two novels, Gobbledy and Tupelo Honey have won the Parents’ Choice Gold, Moonbeam Book Award, Independent Press Award, Benjamin Franklin Book Award and NYC Big Book Awards. Twice nominated for the Pushcart award and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, William Faulkner Fiction Contest and Thomas Wolfe Fiction Award, her work has been published in The Literary Review, Emerson Review, The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals. She draws badly, sings loudly, loves ketchup, starry skies & stories with happy aliens.

You can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air.

Social Media Links:


Barbara Bettis
Sep 09, 2022

This sounds absolutely delightful. Thanks for sharing it!


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Sep 09, 2022

Thank you, Lis, for sharing your book in our Middle Grade and Young Adult Bookish Event!

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