Some Thoughts from MG Writers


Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing (on my other blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb) several middle grade authors about their wonderful new novels, and I decided to share some of their thoughts here…


Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the new MG historical novel Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna, which was inspired by family stories. “The topic of people escaping violence in their homeland and coming to the U.S. for safety is as prevalent today as it was back in 1913 when Petra and her family escape her village,” she said. “It’s important that we, and especially young readers, realize the importance of family stories, and how through them we can see how history repeats itself.”


Nicole D. Collier’s new MG novel, The Many Fortunes of Maya, focuses on a girl whose parents are having marital troubles. “Growing up I was a certified Daddy’s girl,” Collier said. “I definitely loved my mother, but the relationship Daddy and I shared was special. At one point in elementary school, my parents’ relationship deteriorated and they decided a trial separation was in order. It didn’t last long (two weeks), but I really missed him and was very happy when he came back home. I wanted to write a story grounded in that moment.”


Martha Freeman is the author of the new MG novel Trashed!. It centers on a boy who helps out at his family’s junk store. “For a long time I’ve been interested in people’s relationships with their stuff,” Freeman told me. “I think the urge to acquire is inherited from hunter-gatherer ancestors who had to collect or perish. That urge is doing the planet more harm than good these days, and yet our whole capitalist system is based on it. A conundrum! I think one place a person can revel guilt-free in the wonder and variety of stuff - and even satisfy that acquisitive urge - is at a ‘junk store’ like Universal Trash.”


Joan Holub’s new books include the latest in her MG Goddess Girls series, Artemis the Hero.
Holub said of the series: “Goddess Girls fans are great about suggesting which goddesses they’d like to read about, and we listen to their requests. Artemis the Hero is book 28 in the series, and we’ve got the next two books in the works. (Goddess Girls began as a four-book series, so Suzanne and I chose our four favorite goddesses--Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis--and wrote one book about each of them.)”


And Jacquetta Nammar Feldman’s new MG novel, The Puttermans Are in the House, focuses on a family in Houston during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “At the heart of it, this is a story about the change and growth that can happen during times of upheaval and adversity and how family members might rise in love and support of one another,” she told me. “Though this story revolves around a hurricane, we’ve all seen in recent times how other hard circumstances can bring us together.


--Deborah Kalb


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