PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

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craft review by Sarah S. Davis In Part 1, we saw how Kisner shapes Brynn’s political awakening through internal conflict. Read on to find out how Kisner creates stakes that push Brynn toward change. Even Losers Have Something to Lose So what could possibly change her mind and push Brynn towards risking not just a […]

craft review by Sarah S. Davis When readers meet Brynn Harper at the beginning of Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow (2018), her life is in freefall. Dumped by Sarah, her high-achieving girlfriend, Brynn has also recently been kicked off the school paper because of poor academic progress. Meanwhile, at home, after losing her beloved older […]

interview by Kristi Wright In A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE, Lisa Moore Ramée has built a wonderful cast of characters that contribute significantly to the overall world building through their complex relationships. (See our post on the main character, Shayla.) In the interview below we asked her how she went about crafting her characters and […]

craft review by Kristi Wright A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE by Lisa Moore Ramée follows “allergic to trouble” Shayla as she navigates seventh grade, including her evolving friendships, her first crush, track and field, and her burgeoning awareness of what it means to be Black in America. After she experiences her first Black Lives Matter […]

craft review by Lindsay Lackey In Louisiana’s Way Home, two-time Newbery medalist Kate DiCamillo’s use of significant and specific detail infuses her stories with vibrancy, despite her often low word-count. In my first post in this series, I discussed how her details of setting both illuminate and foreshadow. Here, I want to look at her […]

analysis by Aimee Haburjak and Kristi Wright Do a search on elements of a good picture book and you’ll quickly find a treasure trove of lists. Here’s one by agent Tracy Marchini. And another by author Margo Finke. And yet another by author Kathryn Evans. Every author, agent, and editor who works in the children’s […]

craft review by Jesaka Long In contrast to the rich yet static symbolism of Dolly Parton’s music in Dumplin’ (see Part 1 of this post here) where Dolly’s songs guide Willow Dean throughout the story,  the main symbol in John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior evolves throughout the story, thus helping to elevate the stakes […]

craft review by Jesaka Long Using symbols in young adult fiction can create emotional connections between reader, character, and story. The symbols—which frequently represent things like character’s relationship with a specific person, or a childhood relic signifying their resistance to growing up—typically have a meaning that does not change throughout the story. However, Donald Maass […]

craft review by Becky Levine You hear this over and over again: your story hero needs to face obstacles, grow and learn, and then . . . dive into that dark cave for the sword, come out swinging, and change their world for the better. Even in a picture book. Even when your hero is […]

craft review by Jen Jobart Kids do a lot of growing up from ages 8-12. Books are meant to grow with them and inspire them along their journey. A lot of middle grade books have a protagonist whose character arc moves towards independence over the course of the book. The middle grade novel Bob is […]