Quintessence by Jess Redman - MUST READ!

Quintessence is an extraordinary story from Jess Redman about friendship, self-discovery, interconnectedness, and the inexplicable elements that make you you.

Find the Elements. Grow the Light. Save the Starling.

Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she’s told her parents that they have. She’s homesick and friendless and every day she feels less and less like herself.

But one day she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop, and through its lens, she watches a star—a star that looks like a child—fall from the sky and into her backyard. Alma knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home, and she knows that it’s up to her to save the star. And so, with the help of some unlikely new friends from Astronomy Club, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of science, a little bit of magic, and her whole self.

This title has Common Core connections.

Jess's way of curating a story that includes fantasy fragments intermixing with realistic fiction is miraculous. As much I loved her first story, I didn't imagine to fall as in love with her second like I had. As someone who struggles with panic attacks, I found myself relating to Alma so much. Jess nailed the character development - so much I can't wait to share with students. All of a sudden, mysterious encounters and coincidences all start intertwining in Alma's life - she's in the school's astronomy club and paired with a very quiet, gifted, young girl student, the most popular girl, and Dustin who is a major bully. They soon realize that they have to work together to save a star, and fast. 
This is a story that is a door - an entrance into the life of something we can only imagine in fairytales, fantasy worlds completely unknown. 
Quintessence will be for those who love fantasy, struggle with anxiety, need to be reminded that with determination, teamwork, and kindness almost anything can be achieved. 
As a teacher, this story will help you to understand anxiety, especially in young children - who we all know are now experiencing this emotion more than ever. 

Here are some friends reviews: 


Jess Redman is a therapist and author of books for young readers with FSG/Macmillan. Her first book, The Miraculous, was a Bank Street Best Children's Book of 2019, an Amazon Best Book of 2019, and was called "layered, engaging, and emotionally true" in a Kirkus starred review. Her second book, Quintessence, releases on July 28th and is filled with magic, science, and heart. Her third book, The Adventure Is Now, is scheduled for publication in May 2021. Redman currently lives in Florida with her husband, two young children, an old cat named SoulPie, and a fish named Annie. Visit her at www.jessredman.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @Jess__Red.

Q: Welcome to TWR! We are so excited to share about your
upcoming release, Quintessence, with our students! Can you
start by telling us a little bit about you? 
A: Thank you so much for having me! First, I want to say thank you to
all of the teachers out there. My husband, my father, and both of my
sisters-in-law are teachers, so I know this is a stressful time for everyone
in education. Teachers, we appreciate you!

I am a former therapist and psychology instructor.
My debut middle-grade book, THE MIRACULOUS, came out last July,
and my second, QUINTESSENCE, comes out on July 28th. I live in sunny
Florida in a little house near the beach. I have two young children, a cat,
and a fish. 
Q: Tell us a little about your upcoming book.
A: QUINTESSENCE tells the story of Alma Lucas, a 12-year-old girl
who begins having panic attacks after moving to a new town. Then one
day, Alma is given a quintescope (which is sort of like a magical telescope),
and that night she watches as a star falls right into her backyard.

To save the fallen star, Alma and three interconnected friends must find
the four classical elements—earth, air, water, and fire. When combined,
these elements will create the mysterious fifth element, quintessence,
which can send the star home. It’s a quest that will take magic, science,
and their wholes selves.

The paperback of my debut, THE MIRACULOUS, also
comes out on July 28th! I’m so excited about the paperback because I know
teachers and students will benefit from having a more affordable option
out there. 
Q: Did any of your own life experiences become a muse for
Quintessence? (Coming from someone who has multiple panic attacks
recently, I know that students are even in my 5th grade classroom -
Alma will be such a mirror character for them). 
A: A: Yes! Anxiety is the most common mental health concern
in the United States. Being a former therapist, I’ve worked with many
adolescents struggling with anxiety, and it’s an issue I care about deeply.

At a personal level, I had my first panic attack when I was nine. Even
though I had very supportive parents, I often felt overwhelmed by my anxiety
and worried that I would never be “normal.” I know I would have benefitted
so much from reading about a character like Alma, who works through what
it means to have a mental health issue and who learns, with support, how
to cope with her feelings and physical symptoms. 
Q; What makes this book a perfect fit for middle grade classrooms? 
A: QUINTESSENCE revolves around four kids who each have a unique
set of challenges. Their quest may be magical and other-wordly, but their
concerns are very down-to-earth—being new, feeling lonely, trying to fit in,
divorced parents, and sibling rivalries. While helping someone else, these
four kids are able to do together what they could not do alone, and I think
this is a powerful message for middle-grade kids.

QUINTESSENCE also explores mental health issues, specifically anxiety.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that around 32% of
adolescents will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their
lifetime. For teachers, that means nearly a third of the students in your
class are struggling with or will struggle with anxiety. I believe the
middle-grade years are the perfect time for kids to learn to identify and
express emotions, to develop positive coping skills, and to hear that help
is available whenever they may need it. I hope QUINTESSENCE can
foster important conversations about mental health and self-care. 
Q; What are some challenges you faced during your writing process? 
A: It took some time for me to fully understand what I was doing
with QUINTESSENCE. I wrote drafts where the magic was turned
way up and drafts where there was only a snicker of magic (to borrow
Natalie Lloyd’s phrase). I had chapters from the point-of-view of the
Starling at one point. I had no chapters from the point-of-view of the
ShopKeeper at another. It was a story that I had to unfold piece by piece,
but in the end, it came together in a way that felt just right.

Another challenge—always!—is time. My youngest was two while I
was writing this story, and my oldest was just starting kindergarten, so
I wrote quite a lot at night. With the kids being home full time recently
(and possibly in the future), this continues to be a challenge!
Q; What was the revision/editing process like during Quintessence
and Miraculous? 
A: Publishing has a pretty steep learning curve! Being my debut,
I wasn’t sure what to expect with THE MIRACULOUS—how much
time I would have for each phase of edits, what the expectations were,
if I could even do it!

With QUINTESSENCE, I felt more prepared. I knew the first round of
revisions—where I make significant changes to the story—would be
the hardest. I knew I would probably cry a few times and feel completely
lost. But I also knew I was up to the challenge, because I’d done it before. 
Q; What is the biggest takeaway you want kids to get from your story
and future stories (Any WIPs currently?)? 
A: My hope is that all of my books will help readers develop more
curiosity, empathy, and internal strength. I hope QUINTESSENCE
inspires kids to ask questions about the incredible universe around us.
I hope connecting with Alma’s loneliness and anxiety and watching her
reach out to the star encourages them to have empathy for others—and
for themselves. And I hope reading about how Alma’s darkness, her
Alma-less feeling, is transformed into light empowers them.

As far as future projects, my next middle-grade book comes out in
May 2021! It’s called THE ADVENTURE IS NOW, and it’s the story
of video game-loving Milton P. Greene who has to spend the summer
with his environmental researcher uncle on an electricity-free island.
While there, Milton and his new friends find a field guide full of
maybe-magical animals and clues to a treasure hidden in the heart
of the jungle.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a writer?
A: While I love connecting with readers and knowing that my
stories are touching hearts, the thing I love most about being a
writer is simply writing. I love dreaming up stories. I love figuring
out how words fit together. I love creating a whole world that
didn’t exist before. Writing is part of who I am, and it brings joy
and meaning to my life. 
Q: What else would you like us to know? 
A: Yes! Today, I’m so excited to share the Teacher’s Guide for
QUINTESSENCE! After I created a teacher’s guide for
THE MIRACULOUS, I heard from so many teachers who
appreciated having that resource, so I knew I needed to do one

The guide includes questions to consider before the story, while
reading, and after. There are also reading activities that encourage
students to dig deeper, do research, and incorporate STEM concepts.
The guide is also aligned with Common Core standards.

A fun thing for me was learning that the periodic table is first
introduced in fifth-grade. QUINTESSENCE explores the classical
and chemical elements, and I’m hearing from fifth-grade teachers
who are excited to have their class read QUINTESSENCE while learning
about those concepts.

This teaching guide, as well as the one for THE MIRACULOUS,
can be found here: https://www.jessredman.com/resources

There are also quizzes, book trailers, and other fun resources on
my website. And for any teachers who use one of my books in
their classrooms, I do offer some free virtual visits every year, so
be sure to get in touch with me!

To preorder: 

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