Guest Post: 7 questions for Newbery-Honor author Gennifer Choldenko


1.      Why do you write middle grade? 


I’m guessing that I write middle grade for some of the same reasons you teach 4th, 5th, 6th  & 7th grade.  I loved that time in my life.  I felt intensely alive and sure of myself when I was 9, 10, 11 and 12.  And then I hit my teens and I got lost.  The intense confusion of the teen years was exacerbated by the death of my sister and my father.  It took me years to get my equilibrium back.  Writing was a big part of finding myself again.  When I write, sixth grade me comes pouring out.   


2.      What are you most proud of in The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman?


The characters.  Something about Hank’s little sister Boo gave voice to me when I was little.  And the relationship Boo had with Hank was taken in part from my relationship with my big brother, Grey.  Also, I’m very proud of creating Lou Ann.  Lou Ann is a difficult character.  Not all bad and certainly not all good.  She was not like anyone I know and yet she feels so real to me.  The kernel of the character for Lou Ann came from what people used to say about one of my aunts.  She loved babies but didn’t like kids.  While I was working on this book, I played tennis regularly with a friend whose wife has a daycare in their home.  One day he told me that his wife preferred the little ones because once they turned 4, they had opinions.   I put those two facts together and Lou Ann popped onto the page.  I also feel quite attached to Ray Delgado because he reminded me of one of my best friends, Jerry (Tuni) Sandoval’s father, Ray Sandoval.  I loved going to the Sandoval house because I always felt welcome there.


3.      Can you suggest read-alikes for The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman? 


This book is for kids who like a gripping emotional story.  Students who loved: When Stars are Scattered, Out of My Mind, The War that Saved My life, Wish, The Night Diary, One for the Murphys, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane will be drawn to The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman.


4.      Are there any of your books which are read-alikes?


Students who respond to Moose in Al Capone Does My Shirts will really like Hank in The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman because Hank and Moose are kindred spirits, both based to some extent on my older brother.  People sometimes say of

Moose that he is too good.  And I expect to hear that about Hank as well.  My answer: “Yeah, well you’ve never met my brother.” 


Orphan Eleven is another possible read alike.



5.      What do you want kids to take away after reading your new book?


If you are a child who has been through some of the problems that touch Hank Hooperman . . . a parent or close relative with drug and/or alcohol problems.  A brush with Child Protective Services and foster care.  The fear that your family will be separated. An intense responsibility to protect your younger siblings. Then I hope your takeaway is: 1. You are not alone.  And 2. There is hope.


If you are a kid who has not experienced these things, then I hope your takeaway is: compassion.  Hank said as little as he could to the kids at school about what was happening in his life. That is pretty common.  So, be kind. You don’t know what another kid may be going through. 



6.       No kids who are bullies in this book . . . what is that all about?


A fellow writer told me she didn’t think a class without bullies was realistic.  I disagree. When I was a kid, some years there were bullies in my classes.  Other years there weren’t.  Often, I hear teachers say that each class develops its own personality.  And some are nicer than others.  Sometimes kids bring out the best in each other.  Other times not so much.  I know bullies are real.  I experienced them growing up, and I have them in many of my books.  And it could be, given how contentious our society has become, that there are more bullies today than there were when I was a kid.  But I don’t believe every group of kids has a bully in it.  And I think we should have books that role model kids being kind – not as a “teaching moment” but as the normal course of business.  


7.        What do you want teachers to know?


I want you to know that I appreciate them.  I believe it is tougher to be a teacher in 2024 than it has been in a very long time . . . maybe ever.  And I want to thank you for getting up each morning and doing all you can for our kids even when the world makes it extra hard. 

Hank Hooperman hates making mistakes. But right now, every decision feels wrong.

His mom left him in charge of his three-year-old sister and hasn’t come home. They are out of food and money, and Hank knows he needs to make a move. So, he and Boo take a bus to find the stranger listed as an emergency contact on Hanks field-trip form. Will ringing Lou Ann Adler’s doorbell be a smart decision or his worst mistake yet?

Hank is a good kid who tries really hard. But what happens when things go south, and you can’t figure it all out? When you love your mother very much, but she has problems you can’t solve? What happens when you make a mistake so huge, it disappoints everyone you love?

The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman has garnered 4 starred reviews thus far and is a Junior Library Guild selection. It is an Indie Next pick for July and August 2024 and the Amazon pick for the best children’s book so far this year.   Link to School Library Journal starred review here:


Summer Release Must Reads - Round Up


Fortune Tellers by Lisa Greenwald (May 7, Katherine Tegen Books)
MG | Timeless story | For fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and That’s So Raven


What if your fortunes really came true?


Once upon a time, Millie, Nora, and Bea were best friends who loved slumber parties, exploring their Manhattan neighborhood, and making fortune tellers with their Magic Markers. Now, in the summer before seventh grade, they haven’t spoken in over a year—thanks to a big fight, the pandemic shutting down their school, and each girl moving away for different reasons. The girls routinely check each other’s social media, but none of them can muster the courage to reach out, even if they might want to.


Then their long-ago paper fortune tellers start popping up in the most unexpected places. The fortunes carry some eerily accurate wisdom for each girl: Your future is hidden in your past. Hold on to the memories. Go back to where you started. Could this be the push the girls need to reconnect and reunite? Or is the gap between them too wide to mend?

“Greenwald sensitively captures the social dynamics of middle school, where popularity can take precedence over friendship. Tears and cheers abound in this endearing take on friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews


Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets That's So Raven in this 90s throwback!

Grace Notes by Naomi Shihab Nye (May 7, Greenwillow Books)

Poetry collection | Ages 10+ | Familial themes


With themes of family, love, kindness, empathy, grief, growing up, and resilience, these one hundred never-before-published poems by the beloved poet, speaker, and teacher Naomi Shihab Nye will resonate with a wide audience.


National Book Award Finalist and former Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye’s Grace Notes: Poems about Families celebrates family and community. This rich collection of one hundred never-before-published poems is also the poet’s most personal work to date. With poems about her own childhood and school years, her parents and grandparents, and the people who have touched and shaped her life in so many ways, this is an emotional and sparkling collection to savor, share, and read again and again.

  • Gift package–perfect for gifts for any occasion but especially Mother’s Day!
  • Naomi is a beloved author and poet, and an immensely popular and sought-after speaker both nationally and internationally.
  • Crossover appeal for kids and adults!
  • This is a tribute to her mother, who died in 2021, and explores the mother/daughter relationship.

True Love and Other Impossible Odds by Christina Li (May 14, Quill Tree Books)

YA | Sapphic | AAPI


College freshman Grace Tang never meant to rewrite the rules of love. She came to college to move on from a grief-stricken senior year and to start anew. So she follows a predictable routine: Attend class, study, go home and visit her dad every weekend. She doesn’t leave any room in her life for outliers or anomalies.


Then, Grace comes up with an algorithm for her statistics class to pair students with their perfect romantic partners. Though some people are skeptical, like Julia, Grace’s prickly coworker, Grace is confident that her program will take all the drama out of relationships. That’s why she keeps trying to make things work with her match, a guy named Jamie. But as the semester goes on and she grows closer to Julia, Grace starts to question who she’s really attracted to.


In award-winning author Christina Li’s YA debut, Grace will have to make a choice between the tidy equations she knows will protect her from heartbreak or the possibility that true love doesn’t follow any formula.

An incredible roster of author praise includes:

“A reminder that love and joy can be found in the most unexpected places, and that there is no pain or tragedy that precludes us from finding our way to the happy ending.” —Sonora Reyes, National Book Award finalist and bestselling author of The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School


"Every now and then you read a book that you know will stay with you for a long time. True Love and Other Impossible Odds is one of those books. Honest, raw, and breathtakingly real." —Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick, New York Times bestselling authors of She Gets the Girl 


"The blueprint for contemporary coming-of-age. True Love and Other Impossible Odds navigates the complex, beautiful time of burgeoning adulthood, where imperfect understandings of love inspire the greatest plunge toward growth."  —Chloe Gong, #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights

The Only Light Left Burning by Erik J. Brown (May 28, Balzer + Bray)

YA | Postapocalyptic | For fans of Heartstopper and They Both Die at the End


After a long and treacherous journey south, Andrew and Jamie have finally found safety in the Florida Keys. But they soon learn that safety doesn't always mean happily ever after.

Settling into life in the Islamorada colony with other survivors of the bug, Andrew believes they've finally found themselves a home, even a family. But anxious Jamie is less comfortable in their new community and is eager to return north to keep the promise they made to their friend Henri—to bring her to the colony and reunite her with her daughter. Besides, would it really be so bad to find someplace just for the two of them?


When a hurricane and a shocking betrayal force them to leave the colony in search of new shelter, it brings their tensions to a head—and puts them in the path of some old enemies. Andrew and Jamie must set aside their differences to survive once more and find a new home. But what if "home" means different things to each of them?

*An LGBTQ Reads Most Anticipated Pick!

  • A SEQUEL FULL OF WIT AND HUMOR: Though the premise is harrowing, this story is smart, absorbing, and funny. Readers can't help but be charmed by Andrew and Jamie’s banter even as they root for them to survive, and the compulsive readability of the first book has made Erik a breakout debut, appealing to fans of Adam Silvera and Alex London.
  • BESTSELLING COMPS: This series is best described as What If It's Us meets the apocalypse—two teen boys find unexpected romance after a deadly pathogen wipes out most of the world population—and Jamie and Andrew’s sweet, banter-y chemistry calls to mind a teen version of Patrick and David from Schitt’s Creek.
  • HOPING FOR A HAPPILY EVER AFTER: In All That's Left in the World, readers fell head over heels for Andrew's wry humor and Jamie's gentle heart and affinity for made-for-TV romances. But while the two found safety—and each other—now they must face new dangers...including tension in their growing relationship. Readers will be on the edges of their seats wondering if Jamie and Andrew will finally find their happily ever after. Perfect for fans of Heartstopper!
  • AN AUTHOR ON THE RISE: Erik J. Brown's debut, All That's Left in the World, earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, a spot on the Waterstones Children's Book Prize shortlist, and an incredibly enthusiastic—and growing!—readership.

One Killer Problem by Justine Pucella Winans (June 4, HarperTeen)

Campy YA | Mystery/thriller | For fans of Only Murders in the Building


When Gianna “Gigi” Ricci lands in detention again, she doesn’t expect the glorified study hall to be her alibi.


But when she and her friends receive a mysterious email directing them to her favorite teacher, Mr. Ford’s room, they find him lying in a pool of blood. But calling the math teacher’s death an accident doesn’t add up, and Gigi needs all the help she can get to find the truth. Luckily, she’s friends with her high school’s “mystery club,” and so with her best friend, Sean, and longtime crush, Mari, Gigi sets out to solve a murder. But it turns out, murderers are extremely unwilling to be caught, and the deeper Gigi gets in this mystery, the more dangerous things become. Between fending off a murderer, continual flare-ups of her IBS, and her archnemesis turning flirtatious . . . making it out of junior year is going to be one killer problem.


With a wry, hilarious voice and a main character who is the walking definition of a disaster bi, this book is an ode to cozy mysteries, queer found families, and fighting for the people you love, no matter what. 

An incredible roster of author praise includes:

One Killer Problem is a fun, endearing, and delightfully quirky murder mystery, with a sleuth whose hilarious voice leaps off the page and fantastic IBS representation that will make kids living with chronic stomach pain feel SEEN.” — Diana Urban, award-winning author of All Your Twisted Secrets

“Punny, thrilling, and oh so charming, One Killer Problem weaves suspense and queer feels into a heart-pounding, laugh-out-loud mystery that proves why Justine Pucella Winans is a must-read name for all queer YA fans.” — Emery Lee, award-winning author of Meet Cute Diary

“Voicey and immersive, this witty, fast-paced YA mystery was a one-sitting read. With its cast of lovable, well-rounded characters and emotionally charged mystery, it kept the pages turning long into the night.” — Wendy Heard, author of She's too Pretty to Burn and We'll Never Tell

“This book slays—an emotionally complex and queer cast, an edgy murder, and loads of campy banter. Winans has once again cunningly crafted a laugh-out-loud mystery.” — Page Powars, author of The Borrow a Boyfriend Club

“My lawyers will be in touch with Justine Pucella Winans for the damages caused by this book. My abs hurt from laughing, my throat hurts from screaming, and my heart hurts from melting. None of this is okay. Five stars.” — Sonora Reyes, National Book Award Finalist and bestselling author of The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School

Keep It Like a Secret - Book Blog Tour!


As someone who did NOT grow up with siblings, but has two kiddos, this was very eye opening in how important those relationships truly are. I have always assumed just because my husband has a sister and I see how strong their bond is. With kids though, giving them that time to build that relationship is so important, and we saw that with Morgan and Claire. 
This story is definite Ms. Bixby's Last Day vibes if you know what I'm saying.. the emotion was heavy and relatable. The hardest part would be justifying Claire's behavior, but those of us who have been teenagers, most of us know what it is to rebel. Claire's character arc is a great study in the classroom to truly analyze the depth of her emotions, but also how Morgan, being 12, reacts. 
Overall, it would be a great addition to any middle grade classroom, even a book study to dive in to Morgan and Claire and even their mother's behavior, how the setting affects their behaviors, and the overall plot development. 
Bring some tissues. Anderson always knows how to get in your feelings and write for kids. 

About Keep It Like a Secret by John David Anderson


From the first moment Morgan can remember, Claire has always been there. Big sister and little brother. Cat and Mouse. They’ve always understood each other, saved each other, seen each other. And they stuck to their own personal code, unwritten but understood, that siblings were inseparable, that they had each other’s backs, no matter what.


At least, they used to.


Somewhere along the line, things between them shifted. Claire started fighting more with Mom, storming out of the house, spending more and more time away, and Morgan felt his sister and best friend slipping away. Now he spends nearly every night sitting awake in his room, waiting for the sound of her key in the lock.


It’s a sound he hasn’t heard in nearly a week, ever since her and Mom’s worst fight ever. So when Claire finally calls and tells Morgan she wants to spend the day together, just the two of them, he knows this might be his only chance—not just to convince her to come home, but to remind her how good things used to be, and could be again.


But Claire has her own plan for the day. One that will mean that, no matter what happens, things between them are going to change forever.

About the Author


John David Anderson is the author of more than a dozen beloved and bestselling books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, One Last Shot, Stowaway, Riley’s Ghost, and many more. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his ever-patient wife and two ornery cats, MJ and Parker, in Indianapolis, IN. You can visit him online at


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Harriet Tells the Truth Blog Tour!

Click to purchase! 


HARRIET TELLS THE TRUTH marks the third and final title in the funny and heartwarming middle grade series by Elana K. Arnold that began with JUST HARRIETand continued with HARRIET SPIESWith this title, readers will return once more to world of Marble Island and its quirky cast of characters. 


Here is a description of HARRIET TELLS THE TRUTH.


There are some things you should know about Harriet Wermer:

  • She used to lie a lot, but not anymore.
  • Seriously, she only tells the truth now.
  • Even though she hadn’t wanted to come to Marble Island in the first place, now she

doesn’t want to leave.


It’s the truth. With her mom and new baby brother home from the hospital, it’s almost

time for Harriet to pack up and head home from Marble Island and all the friends she’s made.

But Harriet doesn’t have time to think about that—not when she discovers that Moneypenny,

her Nanu’s adorable basset hound, has been poisoned!


Harriet suspects the culprit is one of the guests staying at Nanu’s bed-and-breakfast, and she

and her best friend, Clarence, are once again on the case. But when someone else falls ill,

Harriet’s going to have to sleuth harder, spy sneakier, and be willing to see that sometimes

the truth is more complicated than it seems.



Elana K. Arnold is the award-winning author of many books for children and teens including Just Harriet, Harriet Spies, The House that Wasn’t There, Sydney Taylor Book Award winner The Blood Years, Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls are Made Of, and the Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. She is a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program, and lives in Long Beach, CA, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at




Dung (pronounced Dzung) Ho was born and raised in Hue citadel, Vietnam, where she studied graphic design at the Arts University. She is the New York Times-bestselling illustrator of many

books for children, including Joanna Ho’s Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Laura Ruby’s Me and Ms. Too. She finds inspiration in nature: the beauty of plants, flowers, and leaves. She also

loves to draw interesting characters with unique personalities. She now lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. When she’s not drawing, she loves spending time cooking (eating), watching movies,

and tending her plants. Visit her at follow her on Instagram @dunghanhho.




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"I am a sucker for shorter middle grade chapter books. There's something about that transition period for kids that is so beautiful to watch. What I have specifically loved about Harriet is that it's a series and kids can continue the journey and fall in love with the idea of being immersed into another place, which Elana makes so easy with Harriet. When I was younger, I grew up playing "detective" in our little neighborhood. It was one of those neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone (including all of their business) and because I was always playing outside, I could explore the whole neighborhood and eyes were watching me all the time to keep me safe. I made up stories' day in and day out with random trash I would find, new people at a house, new cars, new landscaping - all of the things I turned into a crime I needed to solve. When I read Harriet I am immediately transported back to being 8/9 years old and being Harriet. It's funny because I also remember exaggerating my stories, and lying. Much like Harriet has been in trouble of before. Harriet allows students to use their imagination. To read someone else using their imagination. It's so lost on so many kids anymore, and I love that there are stories out there showcasing how important it is to use your brain and be imaginative. Harriet is a character that will stay with students long after they leave her world. We all could use a little Harriet within us." 

Not Quite a Ghost - Anne Ursu Book Tour



  • paranormal
  • spooky
  • medical misdiagnosis
  • family dynamics
  • friendship
  • relatable 

 As a read aloud you could deep dive into the evolution of Violet from start to finish. Analyze the plot development. Make deep inferences of theme and deeper meaning. Connections for students either personal, life, or another story they might be able to reference. Highly recommend for middle grade AND middle school. 



The house seemed to sit apart from the others on Katydid Street, silent and alone, like it didn’t fit among them. For Violet Hart — whose family is about to move into the house on Katydid Street — very little felt like it fit anymore. Like their old home, suddenly too small since her mother remarried and the new baby arrived. Or Violet’s group of friends, which, since they started middle school, isn’t enough for Violet’s best friend, Paige. Everything seemed to be changing at once. But sometimes, Violet tells herself, change is okay. 


That is, until Violet sees her new room. The attic bedroom in their new house is shadowy, creaky, and wrapped in old yellow wallpaper covered with a faded tangle of twisting vines and sickly flowers. And then, after moving in, Violet falls ill — and does not get better. As days turn into weeks without any improvement, her family growing more confused and her friends wondering if she’s really sick at all, she finds herself spending more time alone in the room with the yellow wallpaper, the shadows moving in the corners, wrapping themselves around her at night.


And soon, Violet starts to suspect that she might not be alone in the room at all.



Anne Ursu is the author of acclaimed novels The Troubled Girls of Dragomir AcademyThe Lost GirlBreadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, among others. Her work has been selected as a National Book Award nominee, a Kirkus Prize finalist, and as a best book of the year by Parents MagazinePublishers Weekly,, and School Library Journal. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an unruly herd of cats. Find Anne online at




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