middle grade

Book News

Skeleton Tree Final Copies


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My awesome editor, Mallory Kass, recently sent me some advance final copies of Skeleton Tree!!! They are so beautiful! The cover has a unique, pearlescent finish that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The artwork by Lisa Perrin is amazing, especially the skull butterfly on the back. If you take the dust cover off, you’ll find an imprinted butterfly, complete with tiny skulls on a seafoam green background with vibrant pink text.

And there’s a big surprise on the inside as well. Skeleton Tree has a hidden flip book!

Book Raves

Braced: Book Rave


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In her seventh grade year, Rachel Brooks plans to start on her school’s soccer team, hang with her best friends and maybe get a boyfriend. She doesn’t plan to wear a hard plastic back brace twenty-three hours a day that stretches from her shoulders to her hips.

Rachel nbracedeeds the brace to prevent the curve in her spine, caused by scoliosis, from getting worse. She understands how important it is, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the brace changes everything. Wearing clothes, playing soccer, even hanging with her friends become new and daunting challenges. To make matters worse, her mother doesn’t seem to understand why she’s having such a hard time adjusting to life in the brace.

Readers will ache as Rachel confronts cruelty at school, misunderstandings at home and disappointments on the soccer field. Author Alyson Gerber has crafted an honest, realistic, funny voice that will draw readers in and keep them rooting for Rachel till the very end. Particularly poignant are the complicated relationships that Gerber draws between Rachel and her mother and Rachel and her best friends.

An important book about finding inner strength even in difficult situations.

Book Raves

The Poet’s Dog: Book Rave


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Teddy, a dog, lives in a cabin in the woods with his best friend, Sylvan, a poet. Sylvan reads him stories every night, so many stories that he learns how to talk. But, although Teddy can talk, only special people can hear him, i.e. children and poets. Teddy is happy in his cabin with Sylvan, until one day Sylvan gets sick.

A quiet tale about the healing power of friendship, The Poet’s Dog manages to be poignant, heartbreaking and heroic all in under ninety pages. This is a perfect winter read, especially for me, since my life dream is to live in a cabin in the woods with my dog and write 🙂

Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Extended Interview with Nanci Turner Steveson, Author of SWING SIDEWAYS


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This is an extended version of an interview also appearing on The Swanky Seventeens Debut Club.

Kim Ventrella (that’s me) recently got the chance to speak with fellow debut middle grade author, Nanci Turner Steveson, about her new novel, SWING SIDEWAYS, recently published by HarperCollins.COVER_SwingSideways_final-1

ABOUT THE NOVEL

SWING SIDEWAYS is a heartfelt middle grade debut in the tradition of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. Annie spends a magical summer exploring in the countryside with her new friend, California, in search of two missing ponies. But, when Annie discovers the truth behind California’s secrets, everything she’s learned about bravery, forgiveness, loss and love will be put to the test.

(more…)

Book Raves

The Imaginary: Book Rave


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Never lose your ability to see the extraordinary. That should be the tagline for A.F. Harrold‘s middle grade novel, The Imaginary (illustrated by the fabulous Emily Gravett).

Harrold tells the story of Rudger and Amanda. Amanda is a real girl with a powerful imagination. She dreams up an imaginary Friend named Rudger, and together they go on incredible adventures. True, Amanda bosses him around and sometimes hurts his feelings, but Rudger will always be her Friend, until… (more…)