Been There, Done That
Writing Stories from Real Life
edited by Mike Winchell
illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans
Grosset & Dunlap, 2015
Where do authors get their ideas? And how do they turn those ideas into stories? This anthology looks at the process of taking real-life experiences and turning them into works of engaging fiction. The collection features award-winning and bestselling middle-grade authors who provide both original fictional short stories as well as the nonfiction accounts that inspired them. I enjoyed contributing to this book which also features stories by Julia Alvarez, Margarita Engle, Dee Garretson, Nathan Hale, Matthew Kirby, Claire Legrand, Grace Lin, Kate Messner, Linda Sue Park, Adam Rex, Gary Schmidt, Alan Sitomer, Caroline Starr Rose, Heidi Stemple, Rita Williams-Garcia, Tracy Edward Wymer, Lisa Yee, and Jane Yolen.
“A collection of short works from a wide variety of young adult and juvenile fiction writers. Each piece has two parts: actual events from the author’s’ life and the story that was inspired by that event. The book is organized into six thematic chapters such as “If Only…: Dealing with Regret, Guilt, and Sadness” and “Why or Why Not?: Asking Questions About the World Around You.” (School Library Journal)
“A fine collection and a boon to writing teachers everywhere.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Winchell’s collection of tales inspired by real life features short stories from some of the most acclaimed middle-grade writers—Rita Williams-Garcia, Gary D. Schmidt, Karen Cushman, etc.—in the business. From contemporary realistic to graphic-novel style to sci-fi, the stories in this collection span the breadth of the middle-grade market while also featuring a diverse cast of characters.” (Booklist)
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Totally Middle School
Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In
Betsy Grogan, editor
Delacorte Books, August 7, 2018
From literary masterminds Lois Lowry, Gary D. Schmidt, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, Karen Cushman, Gregory Maguire, and more comes a timeless and inspirational anthology about the sometimes-challenging, always-rewarding coming-of-age years: middle school.
With eleven short stories told in text messages, emails, formal letters, stories in verse, and even a mini graphic novel, Totally Middle School tackles a range of important subjects, from peer pressure, family issues, and cultural barriers to the unexpected saving grace of music, art, friendship, and reading.
Brimming with heart and humor, these poignant stories from bestselling and award-winning authors shine a light on the moments when everything is thrilling and terrifying at the same time—in a way it will never be again.
“Confident that writers can help readers face the challenges of their middle-school years, editor Groban offers 11 short stories, most by well-known authors, including Gregory Maguire, Gary D. Schmidt, Lois Lowry, Karen Cushman, Mary Downing Hahn, Margarita Engle, Joyce Sidman, Katherine Paterson (with her granddaughter, Jordan Paterson), and Linda Sue Park (with her daughter, Anna Dobbin). David Wiesner contributes a graphic-novel-style short story in which an 11-year-old boy, feeling lost on his first day at a combined middle and high school, finds a home there: the art room. Helen Khan, a Pakistani American writer, contributes “How to Make S’mores,” an involving story in which a recently immigrated girl and her parents struggle to understand American ways when she goes on a three-day school field trip called Outdoor Ed. The overall quality of the writing is quite good, and the stories are surprisingly varied in theme, tone, and point of view. With its hallway-locker-themed jacket, this book is an inviting choice for kids entering middle school and a good way of discovering writers they might enjoy.” (Carolyn Phelan, Booklist)
“Groban brings together literary powerhouses including Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Linda Sue Park, Karen Cushman, Gary D. Schmidt, Gregory Maguire, and more. Each selection is followed by a short biography about the author, with interesting tidbits about their lives. Stories swing from heartrending to heartwarming. VERDICT: Readers will “totally” relate to the issues and perspectives presented in this well-curated collection.” (School Library Journal)
“The collection, ‘dedicated to middle schoolers everywhere’ (‘This, too, shall pass’), deals honestly and sensitively with this volatile time.” (Publishers Weekly)
“In 11 stories, Groban has compiled a collection for the 12-year-old in all of us from beloved authors such as Karen Cushman, David Wiesner, Margarita Engle, and Lois Lowry. In this ode to middle school, in all of its difficult and awkward glory, readers will get a glimpse into the adolescences of a diverse cast of characters with varying experiences, helping them see the world through someone else’s eyes.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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