Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Review In!

Review copies have been sent out for my forthcoming middle-grade novel Zero Tolerance (pub date June 18), and so I'm on tenterhooks waiting for any response from the universe to this novel that is so dear to my heart. I haven't yet heard anything from Booklist, School Library Journal, or Kirkus, but I did get the very first review yesterday, from Ms. Hirt's fifth-grade class at  Tzouanakis Intermediate School. 

I have been spending one sweet morning a month with this class as a writer-in-residence, doing some writing exercises with them occasionally or just talking with these enormously bright and motivated students about the writing life. When I showed them the cover and shared a bit of the storyline with them last December, they gratified my author's heart enormously by protesting that they couldn't possibly wait till June to read it. So I left my one advanced reading copy with Ms. Hirt to use for a classroom read aloud. I told them that they were the first children in the entire world to be reading the book.

When I came to the class yesterday for my monthly visit, they had just one chapter left, and I was privileged to be the one to read it to them. And then I asked them for their review. "Suspenseful and amazing," they decided.  Hooray!

Now, I mentioned that these children are enormously bright and motivated. Example: when I told them about a plot point from an earlier draft that didn't make it into the final version of the book, where Sierra sends a fake love letter purporting to be from one character to another, one boy asked, "Was that inspired by what happens to Malvolio in Twelfth Night?"  I kid you not!  One girl asked how the whole trajectory of Sierra's story would have been different if one crucial incident hadn't occurred, and the class leaped into lively discussion in reply. They offered both serious and humorous ideas for a sequel.

So, I don't need to wait any longer for pronouncements from Publishers Weekly or Horn Book.  Ms. Hirt's class has spoken!  "Suspenseful and amazing."  Yes! 


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