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2009 National Book Award Finalist,
Young People's Literature

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Laini Taylor
Lips Touch: Three Times
Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.

Video from the 2009 National Book Awards Finalist Reading

Jim Di Bartolo, Illustrator


With three fantastical, richly layered tales about the terrible and wonderful power of yearning, master storyteller Laini Taylor steals the reader’s breath as deftly as the most skilled lover. Lips Touch pulses with vivid imagery yet remains economical in its world-building, its unpredictable plot-spinning, and its compassionate characterization. Taylor draws from multiple literary and historical sources to spin a wholly original and unforgettable reading enchantment that is nothing short of a tour de force.


A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging to another world entirely. These are three distinct stories but all center on the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.


Laini Taylor is the author of the Dreamdark books: Blackbringer, which Kirkus said, “belongs at the top of everyone’s fantasy must-read list,” and its sequel, Silksinger, called "series fantasy at its best" by School Library Journal. In a starred review of Lips Touch: Three Times, her first book for teens, Publishers Weekly said “Even nonfantasy lovers will find themselves absorbed by Taylor's masterful, elegant work.” She lives with her husband, Jim Di Bartolo, and their newborn daughter, Clementine Pie, in Portland, Oregon.

Jim Di Bartolo has worked as a freelance illustrator on books, comic books, and role-playing games, and has collaborated on several projects with his wife, Laini Taylor. Their latest collaboration has been their brand-new baby daughter Clementine Pie.


Laini Taylor's Website

Laini Taylor's Blog

Jim Di Bartolo's Website

Jim Di Bartolo's Blog - Jimbo Jabber

VIDEO - Book Trailer for LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor Ink Q&A - Laini Taylor


Excerpt from Lips Touch: Three Times

They went through the cemetery gate, arm in arm in their antique clothing, and it was then that the ghosts, all of a sudden and with only a flitter of grass blades for a warning, hit Kizzy like a maelstrom.

Her skirt flared and twisted itself tight to her legs as a rush of cold wind swept around her. It circled deasil, thrice, just like her grandmother’s ghost had done the day of her burial. But Kizzy felt a whole swelling of ghosts around her this time, a tide; her grandmother might have been there, but she wasn’t alone. Kizzy froze in mid-step, chilled and startled, and looked up at Jack Husk. For a second some look passed through his sly eyes, some intelligence . . . a hint of a sneer? And Kizzy almost thought he knew the sudden wind for what it was: an onslaught of ghosts. Had they swept around her only, she wondered now, or around them both? Had they included Jack Husk in their circle of protection? Or had they wound up Kizzy alone? Had that wind tried to slide between them, like a wall?

“Brrr . . .” he said, shivering slightly. To Kizzy’s dismay, he unhooked his arm from hers, but then he settled it around her shoulder, drawing her neatly against his side, and her dismay evaporated, along with any question she’d had about his awareness of rampant ghosts. “Cold wind,” he said simply.

“Mm hm,” Kizzy agreed. The velvet of his jacket was now snug against her cheek, and there was very little room to think of anything else but the feel of it, and of the way she’d caught him looking at her lips, and what that might mean.

As they walked through the cemetery, tucked together, she heard words as she used to when she came here as a child, snippets of speech as murky as gutter water draining through a clog of leaves. “The wintermen are gleaning,” said one, and another intoned “butterfly,” and “hungry.” “Stove burning,” said a flat voice, and then suddenly, a familiar voice hissed,“—knife, Sunshine—”

Kizzy’s eyes went wide and she looked around and over her shoulder, inadvertently nuzzling Jack Husk’s hand with her chin. Despite that smooth jolt of a touch, she had the wherewithal to realize she’d left her grandmother’s knife in her jeans pocket. All the years of wanting it and she’d left it behind! She wanted to ask her grandmother what she was doing here. She should be far away by now, navigating labyrinths, fending off shadows, lapping water from stalactite tips with her ghostly tongue, and answering riddles to win passage through gates made of bones. She should be singing beasts to sleep with lullabies and bribing otherworldly coyotes to smuggle her deeper into her new world. She shouldn’t be here, among these fainthearted cemetery ghosts! This eternal loitering wasn’t for Kizzy’s folk, least of all her grandmother, her strong, untemptable grandmother. Kizzy wanted to ask her — but she was warm against Jack Husk’s side and didn’t want to step away from him to whisper her question to the dead.


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