Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zero Tolerance

Human babies can't come two weeks apart, but book babies can. Today is the birth day of my middle grade novel Zero Tolerance, following on the heels of Kelsey Green, Reading Queen, which made her way into the world earlier in the month.

This book is a departure for me in that it's more plot-driven than a lot of my books (although of course I hope that compelling characters are themselves driving the plot). Seventh grader Sierra Shepard is a star student and active member of her school's elite Leadership Club. But when she brings her mother's lunch to school one day by mistake - a lunch that contains a paring knife to cut an apple - she finds herself facing mandatory expulsion under her school's inflexible "zero tolerance" policies for possession of weapons, even though she turns the knife in to the school office the minute she finds it.

This is the only one of my books where I wrote through to the end without knowing what was going to happen. Would Sierra really be expelled? If she's allowed to stay, would she even want to?

Here's a first review from School Library Journal:

As a member of the Leadership Club and an honor student at Longwood Middle School, Sierra Shepard helped create the banner announcing its creed: “Rules Respect Responsibility Reliability.” The school has established an ironclad zero-tolerance policy on weapons, but when Sierra accidentally takes her mother’s lunch bag to school, she finds it contains a paring knife. A loyal rule-follower, the seventh grader turns the knife in to the office, assuming that her spotless record will exempt her from the consequences of breaking a rule. That is not the case. Sierra begins a weeklong in-school suspension during which she questions her assumptions about following rules, her classmates, her parents, and school administrators. Sierra also reexamines her feelings about Luke Bishop, the school “bad boy” who is more complex and interesting than she thought. Sierra is a realistic and appealing character whose experiences will resonate with readers who enjoy stories about school and friends. This compelling novel could also spark a discussion about the slippery nature of rules and how they are enforced. . . . Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

And here is an amazing picture posed by reader Madelyn Y.:

 This might quite possibly be the most adorable picture in the history of the world!


  1. I bought the Boulder Book Store's last copy today, so they need to re-up. You'll have to sign it for me someday soon.

  2. By the way, there are twins on Quinn's class who were born almost a month apart. One was premature & after she was born they were about to stop the labor so the second could get those valuable extra weeks.