PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

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JOIN US IN EXPLORING OTHERS' CRAFT AND BUILDING OUR OWN

A list of the books we read in 2022 for our in-person middle grade book group for middle grade authors.

From the All is Lost moment, right before Act 3 starts, to the Climax, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy has followed each beat from Save the Cat, drawing readers in and compelling them to turn the page. But even after a stellar climax, the story isn’t done. There’s the opportunity to make the ending fully satisfying. Here’s how Ursu does it.

The book I’m working on needs an ending. I know it, and I don’t know what to do about it, because I don’t know how to write one. So I decided to see how Anne Ursu did it in her masterful The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy. In this series of blog posts, I’ll share what I’ve learned with you.

Isabella Kung’s debut author-illustrator picture book NO FUZZBALL! is a masterclass in how to use dramatic irony to tell a laugh-out-loud comedic story using a well orchestrated combination of words and images. 

I think in order to capture the essence of a person, an environment, or even an emotion, a creator must observe and try to learn all its nuances.

It can be argued that Skyler Schrempp’s debut novel, Three Strike Summer, is about baseball. Or poverty. Or migrants. Or summer. Or families trying their best to get by. Or unions. Or friendship. Or finding joy even in the hardships of life. And it is. It’s about all of these things, but my favorite part of the story is the story of sisters. Of Gloria and Jessamyn. Schrempp gives voice to a frustrating, loving, complicated relationship that grows, changes, and strengthens throughout the story.

Skyler Schrempp: “I once read that George R. R. Martin talks about writers as “architects” or “gardeners”. Architects plan everything out before building and gardeners plant a bunch of things and see what grows well. I guess I see myself as more of a gardener than a panster! Pantser implies you’re really winging it, but I feel very intentional when I write…and it’s slow…like gardening.”

In order to get early readers on board, Tim had to draw readers in from the very first page and show them what to expect from the book. His 38-word, two-spread introduction to the book is a master establishing shot that covers not just setting, but all the elements readers need to be pulled into a story.

Tim McCanna: “Trusting your intuition has to be earned by running into a lot of roadblocks and successfully finding your way through them. That’s true for any kind of writing.”

In the spirit of Hazel’s focus on people, I want to examine how Hawes establishes such a large cast of memorable characters. In both the opening and in introducing new characters throughout the book, Hawes uses voice, descriptions, and mood to establish characters quickly.