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“The biggest leap for me in my writing life happened when I got comfortable with failure. I wrote some disastrous things in grad school. But before that, my writing had gotten stagnant because I was too anxious about getting it right all the time. Allowing myself to fail gave me the freedom to take risks and make mistakes. Those mistakes, in turn, taught me how to write the way I want to write.”

I first heard Emma read from a chapter-book-in-progress, and her voice blew me away. Emma’s writing as such attention to detail, such personality, such emotional resonance. She can write funny and serious–sometimes in the same sentence. Emma’s debut YA novel, DANGEROUS PLAY comes out August 3, and I’m so glad we get a peek into Emma’s brain and writing process. I highly recommend both DANGEROUS PLAY and Emma herself.

Birdsall establishes a strong narrative voice for her omniscient narrator in the opening pages, and then seamlessly slips from one point of view to another without losing the reader.

Through a combination of humor, culture, warmth and language, Hernandez uses voice to make his characters unforgettable and his novel hard to put down.

More important than their differences and easily distinguished voices, these sisters work together as a team. And arguably, it’s this aspect of the novel that makes it so appealing. We see their cohesiveness in the initial reminiscence of the opening, but we also see it through their interactions and their family codes and practices.

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 Anne-Marie Strohman I was probably seven or eight when I read Harriet the Spy for the first time, and decades later, my memories of the book mostly center around how much I tried to be like Harriet the writer and failed. Three details stuck with me from childhood: the rule that clothes always […]

craft review by Jen Jobart If you gave most kids the choice between unlimited books of a compelling book series and a truck full of candy, it would be a tough choice. Middle grade kids are ravenous readers, and there’s nothing better than a shelf of books that is seemingly never-ending. Usually our discussion group […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman The subtitle of The Penderwicks–A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy–describes both why readers love the book (all those characters!) and a huge challenge for the author (all those characters!). Arguably, the plot arc of this first installment in Jeanne Birdsall’s series is Jeffrey’s […]

interview by Anne-Marie Strohman We’re so pleased to welcome Amy Dixon to the blog! I met Amy a couple decades ago through friends when we both lived in San Luis Obispo, California. It’s been delightful to reconnect over the last few years through writing for children. Amy’s writing journey began with picture books, and I […]