PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

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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 […]

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 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 […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman Reviews of Amy Dixon’s Annie B., Made for TV highlight the spot-on, hilarious middle grade voice of Annie Brown’s narration. “Annie’s first-person narration is hilariously astute.” —Kirkus Review “On the last day of fifth grade, when her best friend Savannah wins every award, Annie muses, ‘the only thing I’m best […]

by Kristi Wright We’ve mentioned Cheryl B. Klein before. She’s the insightful mind behind THE MAGIC WORDS: WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. Last March our Middle Grade Lunch Break Book Club had the pleasure of spending time with Cheryl–via video chat. It’s been a few months now, but here are my top […]

craft review by Kristi Wright A few months back, while chatting with fellow authors, I proposed that when writing a mystery, it was important to keep the tension going till the bitter end about “whodunit!” I quickly realized that this isn’t a hard and fast rule—we all have beloved mysteries that reveal the identity of […]

craft review by Jen Jobart One of the reasons that Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is such an intriguing read is that its cast of engaging characters expresses common archetypes–the character roles that universally populate stories. Bertram’s novel follows twelve-year-old Emily, new to San Francisco, as she follows clues in a mysterious book that […]

craft review by Laurel Holman I’ve got four completely different drafts of my current work-in-progress, a middle grade novel. I keep trying to “fix it,” and each time I embark on a new draft I come up with new solutions that take the characters and plot in wholly new directions. Even after exploring the story […]

craft review by Laurel Holman Whether on purpose (planners) or by instinct (pansters), most published novelists have produced stories that conform to a universal story structure. Breaking down a novel into its component parts can be a tremendously valuable exercise for writers still learning the craft and those who are already masters. Save the Cat, […]