Huzzah!

June 7th, 2018

Totally Middle SchoolI loved receiving this review for the new middle-grade anthology, Totally Middle School (Delacorte, ed. by Betsy Groban). I hope you’ll discover the wide variety of stories within this book, many of them the right length for a classroom read-aloud, and all of them engrossing for reading on your own.

“Featuring an eclectic mix of short stories from a number of beloved authors, this collection explores three topics—“Family,” “Friends and Fitting In,” and “Finding Yourself”—in a variety of formats, from poems to comic panels. Margarita Engle takes on the “dreaded/ dreadful/ deadline-looming/ first-in-my-lifetime/ Middle School/ Mixer,” while Katherine Paterson and granddaughter Jordan offer advice-laden Facetime and text exchanges between two cousins (“organize, organize, organize”). A David Wiesner comic visualizes finding one’s place in an intimidating new setting, and Linda Sue Park and Anna Dobbin’s story, told in part from a dog’s perspective, considers cross-species family life. The stories look at eras and cultural differences, as well, from Gary Schmidt’s searing story about a boy’s neighbor heading off to the Vietnam War, to Hena Khan’s present-day tale of a Pakistani immigrant connecting with her new classmates. The collection, “dedicated to middle schoolers everywhere” (“This, too, shall pass”), deals honestly and sensitively with this volatile time.” (Publishers Weekly)

Writing Stories from Real Life

March 10th, 2015

Been There, Done ThatHow do stories spring from real-life events? You can see some examples from the 20 authors (including me) who are part of this collection, Been There, Done That: Writing Stories from Real Life, which looks at the process of taking our experiences and turning them into works of engaging fiction. I had a great time writing my pieces—so much easier than a novel. Look for the book in November from Grosset & Dunlap, and let me know what you think of “Millie McGonigal.”