Make Way for Doodling: A Conversation Between Laura Shovan and Jarrett Lerner

A year or so ago, I noticed something curious: my friend, Laura Shovan — author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and the forthcoming A Place at the Table, with Saadia Faruqi — all of a sudden began posting pictures of doodles. And not just any doodles. These were robot doodles.

As an avid doodler, as someone who believes that everyone — yes, even you — both CAN and SHOULD draw, and as a lover of all things robot, I was interested and excited. There were stretches where Laura posted a new bot doodle every single day, often with nothing more than a caption that read: “Your daily robot.” And I loved that. Because it was ours. Laura was sharing with us. Not just her doodles, but this other side of her creative self — a side that, reading her books, you might not have ever suspected was there.

I’ve long been an admirer of Laura’s writing, but over the past year, I’ve become an admirer or her enthusiasm for exploring her creativity in its many forms, and an admirer of her bravery in so openly sharing that exploration with us. I thought it would be fun to sit down with Laura and chat about all this. What follows is our conversation.

~ Jarrett

. . .

Jarrett: Before we get to the bots, let’s just talk doodles. Have you always drawn? Were the margins of your childhood notebooks doodle-filled? Or is this something you started doing later on in life? If so, what brought that first doodle about? Why did you keep on doing it?

Laura: Thanks for the kind words, Jarrett! I’ve been looking forward to talking robots and doodles with you!

My mom is an artist. Oils and watercolors are her favorite media. I have clear childhood memories of her doodling whenever she talked on the phone. These were classic doodles — swirls and geometric shapes. That was fascinating to me! My mom could draw anything, but when her mind was busy with a conversation, she made abstract designs.

One of Laura’s mother’s handmade birthday cards.

Jarrett: I love that! I’ve gotten in trouble before, when on the phone, for scratching away at a pad. People assume I’m not listening to them, when in fact, doodling often helps me listen better.

Laura: Same here! At writing conferences — especially during the keynote speeches —  I’m either doodling or knitting, which helps me pay attention.

Until recently, most of my doodles were abstract too, with the occasional attempt at a person or a bug. (I do not have my mom’s artistic training.) But then I met one of my favorite children’s poets, Calef Brown, author/illustrator of Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks. We did a presentation on school visits together at my local SCBWI conference. Calef drew a funky, man-faced snail to show us that anyone can draw a snail. Well, I went home and tried, but my snails were all awkward hipsters with goatees. It wasn’t until I started drawing robots that doodling became a daily practice.

Laura calls this one “Albert Einsnail.”

Jarrett: I’m a big fan of Calef’s work! It’s fun and silly in all the right ways, and very engaging and inviting. Also, he did several covers for Daniel Pinkwater’s novels, and he’s one of my all-time favorite novelists.

But back to your doodling. When deciding to do this daily doodling, how and why did you pick robots?

Laura: Someone asked me this a few months ago and I think I’ve figured it out. You can draw a 2-dimensional robot, and it still looks like a robot. I don’t have to do shading, perspective, or any of the other art skills that aren’t in my toolbox. But robots also leave a ton of room for creativity. I have a robotic roller derby team, a catbot, and the Bride of C-3PO.

The doodles figure themselves out as I draw them – there’s almost never a plan. I start with a shape, which leads to another shape, and an idea for the robot forms from there. That’s how catbot got its power source. I drew a screen on its chest, then thought a fish tank would be funny in that spot, and finally had an aha moment: A catbot would be powered by electric eels.

Jarrett: That’s one of my favorite things about loose, unplanned doodling — the way it can help you embrace “mistakes,” the way you let an “accident” dictate and see where a stray line goes just for the sake of seeing. It’s a good reminder that sometimes, when creating, you’ve got to shut your brain off (or at least turn its volume down) and get out of your own way.

Laura: You’re reminding me of Barney Salzberg’s wonderful book, Beautiful Oops. I love Barney’s way of seeing the world. He can take a photograph of a wall, find a shape in it, and it becomes a creature or person peeking into our world. (Check out Barney’s Instagram page, where he posts these photo/doodles.)

Jarrett: Yes! I’m a big fan of Barney, too. And mentioning him reminds me of Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her doodling. She is just a relentlessly creative human being. Her social media feeds are full of her finding/making art in the most unexpected places — using coffee stains, corn husks, or a workbench full of tools.

Laura: I love Debbie’s broken crayon doodles!

Jarrett: Yes! Some of my favorite!

I wonder, does doodling have any effect on the rest of your creative life? Does it do anything for you — as a person, as a writer, etc.?

Laura: Yes! It turns out, I need a creative outlet other than writing, something that is intentionally a hobby, rather than a job with deadlines and sales numbers. I also bake bread and knit – making things with my hands uses a different part of my brain than writing. They all help feed the creative well.

There are so many benefits to a daily creative practice. For the past several years, I’ve run a month-long community poetry project. Each February, we have a theme. The members come up with a daily writing prompt on that theme. We write a poem a day and share it to a group page that same day. Everyone knows these are first drafts, that we’re all going to have hits and misses during the course of the month, so all comments are positive and encouraging.

The daily poems are like the robot doodles. Posting them whether they are good, bad, silly, or awkward is important to me because it quiets the inner critic that so many professional creatives struggle with. The robot doodles constantly remind me that play is an important part of making art.

Posting [my doodles] whether they are good, bad, silly, or awkward is important to me because it quiets the inner critic that so many professional creatives struggle with.”

Laura Shovan

Jarrett: Play is EVERYTHING for me. When I fail to approach my work with a playful spirit, I not only find less joy and fulfillment in creating it, but also the quality plummets. It took about a decade, but I finally discovered that that is the space I do my best creating from.

Laura: Now, some questions for you, Jarrett! What is your artistic training?

Jarrett: None, essentially! I took art classes in school growing up, first because everyone took art in elementary school (which I think should still be happening in every school!), and then because I chose it as an elective in middle school and high school. I picked some things up from those classes, but mostly, it was just a time in my busy, often-stressful academic day to play and create and quiet my brain and whatever thoughts and worries and anxieties were zipping through it. The art room was always a sanctuary to me. My breathing slowed and blood pressure dropped the instant I stepped into the room.

Besides that, it’s just been practicing, both drawing and — importantly — looking my whole life. I used to, and still do, copy like crazy. If I see an illustration I like, I stare at it, and stare at it. I try to soak up all the details. I think about how, exactly, it was made. Then I’ll try and recreate it myself. Some of the best learning of my life has happened through that simple process.

Laura: That habit of looking overlaps with the practice of poetry. Poets observe the world and reflect it back through language and imagery. 

What’s your creative process like when you’re developing a doodle-character?

Jarrett: I like to make a mess, and I like to mess up. After years and years and years of definitely not understanding this, I finally get that I need to do something wrong, creatively, before I can even begin to figure out how to do it “right.” So I set out to make “bad” art, because I know it’s the first step in a longer process.

I also like to work BIG, and use BIG tools. I love grease pencils (often sold as “China markers”) and thick crayons and markers. I also love using the same sorts of products I used as a kid — it helps me get into that playful frame of mind that I need to be in. So I’ve got lots of “cheap” (I call them “affordable”) Crayola sets, and the even more affordable off-brand art sets.

Laura: I’m laughing because I went through a period when I was doodling and drawing with crayons for exactly that reason. Something about crayons says “play.” 

What do you do when you’re disappointed in your doodle – when the outcome doesn’t match the idea (or ideal) in your mind?

Jarrett: This is an interesting question. I’m fascinated by disappointment, especially when it comes to disappointment around one’s creativity. I think about this a lot — and think about how to address and limit it — when it comes to working with kids.

I think about and approach “doodling” and “illustrating” differently. When doodling, there is usually no real goal in mind. Because of that, it’s hard to be disappointed. It just is. When it comes to illustrating, I definitely approach a piece of paper (or blank screen) with more of a vision, a goal. I never reach it on the first try, and there can be a little bit of frustration and disappointment tied to that. But typically, it’s only a little bit, and I think that’s because I genuinely enjoy the process, and I believe in and trust that process. So even if it takes me a thousand tries to get a drawing right, even if it takes me two weeks to figure out exactly how to accomplish what I want to accomplish in a single image, I know I’m learning throughout all that effort, I know I’m getting better and better as I make more mistakes and fall short, again and again.

Laura: You just made a case for illustrating as a metaphor for life, Jarrett.

Jarrett: Ha! I guess I did!

Thank you so much for chatting with my, Laura. This was really great. I hope we’ve inspired some non-doodlers to consider going out there and making some marks!

Cover Reveal: THE WONDER OF WILDFLOWERS, by Anna Staniszewski

Hello, Anna! Welcome to the MG Book Village, and thank you so much for hosting your cover reveal here. We’re very excited! Before we get to all of that, though, would you care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Thanks so much for having me! I’m the author of over a dozen books for young readers, including the tween novels The Dirt Diary and Secondhand Wishes; the picture books Power Down, Little Robot and Dogosaurus Rex; and the forthcoming Once Upon a Fairy Tale chapter book series. I write a lot of different kinds of stories, but I think what they all have in common is a sense of humor and a touch of magic.

Now, can you tell us about the new book — THE WONDER OF WILDFLOWERS?

10-year-old Mira is an immigrant in a country that’s nearly closed itself off from the rest of the world in order to protect its most precious nature resource: a magical substance called Amber that makes people stronger and healthier and smarter. As Mira struggles to find her place in a community that shuns outsiders, she must decide how far she’s willing to go to fit in.

The book is a bit of a departure from your previous novels, correct? Would you care to talk about that, and what led you to write this particular book?

My family moved from Poland to the US when I was five, so—like many immigrants—I had to quickly learn a new language and figure out how to assimilate into a new culture.  I suspect this is why the thread of not fitting in is a common one in many of my books, but for a long time, I shied away from writing about my own experiences. I thought: “There are so many great immigrant stories out there. What do I have to add?” Then one day, I started to wonder what would happen if I sprinkled a touch of magic into my own story, and that turned out to be my “in” into writing this more personal novel. By setting the book in a slightly fantastical version of our world, I was able to tell a tale inspired by my emotional experiences of being an immigrant but focused on Mira’s unique struggles.

Okay — let’s get to the cover. Were you involved in the process at all?

My editor, Krista Vitola, and I talked about ways to convey a sense of magic through the cover, since that element of the story is only hinted at in the title. In our conversation, I mentioned a couple of book covers that I thought successfully highlighted that kind of magical feeling, including Savvy by Ingrid Law. My editor passed that info along to the art director, Chloe Foglia, and I was so excited to see that she and the illustrator, Julie McLaughlin, really took that inspiration to heart and ran with it.  

What did you think when you first saw the art?

I immediately fell in love with it. It’s so visually stunning and creates such a perfect blend of magic and mystery. I love that one of the Amber wells is front and center on the cover, since that’s such a huge part of the story, and that we get to see a hint of something brewing in the town in the background. The cover illustration exactly captures the feelings I was hoping to convey in the novel!

All right — let’s see it!

WOW! It’s FANTASTIC! I love all the movement of the rounded shapes and curves, and the hint of drama and even menace with the lightning bolts, dark clouds, and shadowy houses. When can readers get their hands on THE WONDER OF WILDFLOWERS, and where can they learn more about you and your work?

The Wonder of Wildflowers will be releasing in Spring 2020 from Simon & Schuster. In the meantime, I have a few other projects in the works. Readers can check them out at

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives south of Boston with her family and teaches courses on writing and children’s literature at Simmons College. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of several tween novels, including The Dirt Diary and Once Upon a Cruise, and the picture books Power Down, Little Robot and Dogosaurus Rex.

STEM Tuesday Spin Off: Let it Rain STEM!

StemLogo-SpinOff (1)Welcome to the latest addition of STEM Tuesday Spin Off, the every-other-month post that connects STEM to everyday objects, mundane happenings, and other regular stuff in the lives of middle-grade readers.

(Check out past STEM Tuesday spins on potato chips, school lunch, and social studies. )

Our aim is to provoke a “Huh, who knew?” reaction by revealing the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) principles behind the under-the-radar objects and events in kids’ lives. The hotlinked books suggested and embedded resource links provided endeavor to build an understanding of the world and its workings.

The STEM-related “spin-off” concepts invite readers to look closer, imagine, and think deeper about all we encounter, experience, and take for granted in our daily lives. Like? 

~ A Rainy Day ~

“It’s just a rainy day,” is what we say to our restless young dog who wants to go outside and play—but not in the rain. What does a rainy day make a kid think about? Cancelled sports practices and games? Wearing new puddle boots? Indoor recess? Getting out of mowing the lawn?

Rain is more than something to avoid when wanting to stay dry or a topic to complain about it. Let’s put a STEM spin on it.


Rain is precipitation, which means weather! By the middle grades most students have learned about clouds and weather basics. Why not tempt them to dig deeper into the complexities of the atmosphere with books about storms–really bad storms.

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown is a great graphic nonfiction book.

Chasing the Storm: Tornadoes, Meteorology, and Weather Watching by Ron Miller is an exciting read, too.

There are a number of Scientist in the Field series books about natural disasters, including Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code by Amy Cherrix and The Tornado Scientist: Seeing Inside Severe Storms by Mary Kay Carson (me!)

As far as online sources about weather, precipitation, and storms goes… The National Weather Service: Weather Science content for Kids and Teens links to Jetstream, NWS’s online weather school, the severe storms lab, the young meteorologist’s program, and advice on staying storm safe.


Tracking rain, gathering rain, and keeping rain out has inspired lots of technological breakthrough. Explore some!

  • Gore-tex. For anyone (else) old enough to remember backpacking in the rain before Gore-tex, it’s not an invention to be taken for granted. Find out how Robert Gore did it and the tech behind a breathable waterproof fabric that stops incoming water.
  • Radar. RAdio Detection And Ranging has been around long enough that it’s a single word! Like many technologies, the necessity that mothered this invention was war. The Scottish physicist Robert Alexander Watson-Watt wanted a way to help airmen avoid storms. The Royal Air Force soon realized the blips on the screen showed up for enemy aircraft, too. Today’s weather radar does a lot more. How Does Weather Radar Work?
  • Green screens. What’s a TV weather forecast without a meteorologist pointing at a map that’s not really there!  How does a green screen do that?


Human beings have long attempted to mitigate and control rain at both its extremes–flood and drought. This has become even more urgent as our climate changes, bringing about more of both extremes.

Rising Seas: Flooding, Climate Change and Our New World by Keltie Thomas takes a look at what will happen and the engineering challenges ahead.

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate by Jennifer Swanson presents research into how our planet’s thermostat can be reset. And while hurricanes are “natural” disasters, flooding is very often a result of engineering deficits or the failure of water control (dams, levees, etc.) systems.

An issue dealt with in Hurricane Harvey: Disaster in Texas and Beyond by Rebecca Felix. Houston is prone to floods not just because of geography, but history and the way it’s been developed and built.


If you think about it, knowing whether it’s going to rain (or not!) is all about math. What does a “20% chance of showers” really mean?  According to the National Weather Service, the Probability of Precipitation” (PoP) describes the chance of precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) occurring at any point in the given area. Forecasters calculate this with the equation:  PoP = C x A  with A representing area and C a measure of confidence that precipitation will happen somewhere within the forecast area.

The United States Yearly Average PrecipitationMap Rainfall Color KeyStatistics is another math realm that connects to a rainy day. A region’s average annual precipitation is based on data collected over decades. Statistics are important for tracking weather trends that indicate climatic shifts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. government agency that includes the National Weather Service, has an entire data center of Statistical Weather and Climate Information. Students can look up this month’s average rainfall and compare it to the Average Annual Precipitation in the county they live in.

Who knew how interesting a rainy day could be! Those drops of water falling from the sky are connected to an atmosphere that supports life, including people inventing ways to stay dry, others tracking how much rain fallen, and  some predicting when it will stop. Speaking of which, the dog needs a walk before it starts raining again. Go STEM!


Mary Kay Carson is a STEM Tuesday blogger, Hands-On Books blogger, and author of more than sixty nonfiction books for young readers, including six in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Scientists in the Field series. @marykaycarson

MG at Heart Book Club’s June Pick: THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING, by Cory Leonardo

This month, the Middle Grade at Heart team is excited to feature Cory Leonardo’s funny, emotional, one-of-a-kind debut, The Simple Art of Flying!


Here’s a bit about the book:

Perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan, this irresistible debut novel combines plucky humor and a whole lot of heart in a story about the true meaning of family.

Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…

Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.

In between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

Kirkus Reviews called the novel “delightfully quirky,” and we couldn’t agree more. We hope you’ll join us this month in reading this fabulous book and getting to know Alastair, Fritz, Bertie, and a whole lot of other hilarious pets.

Our newsletter about the book will go out on June 17th and our Twitter chat will be June 25th at 8pm EST, with the hashtag #mgbookclub. And in the meantime, we have a special treat for you: a fun quiz inspired by the lovable animals in the novel.

Take this quiz to find out which kind of pet in The Simple Art of Flying is most like you, and Tweet us @mgatheart to let us know what result you get!

Cover Reveal: PIXIE PUSHES ON, by Tamara Bundy

I am thrilled tell you that I got to work with the legendary Nancy Paulsen again for my next middle grade novel. That novel, Pixie Pushes On, publishes on January 14, 2020, and tells the story of a young girl in the 1940’s and the bittersweet lessons she learns from farm life as well as life without her sister who is hospitalized with polio.

But don’t think for a minute it’s all doom and gloom. I’ll leave that explanation up to these phenomenal authors who were kind enough to read my novel and give me a blurb:

“Pixie is full of heart! A laugh-out-loud book that also wades into poignant life lessons. A must read!” — Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of Fish in a Tree.

“Pixie has bad luck–and is bad luck if you ask her. But she also has grit and gumption, so when her bad luck doesn’t let go, she opens her eyes and her heart wider. Her world changes when she changes how she looks at her world. I loved Pixie and her story — a story filled with humor, hope, and everyday heroes.” — Lynn Plourde, author of Maxi’s Secrets.

My head is still spinning at being on the receiving end of those amazing comments from two writers I respect and adore.

Writing Pixie Pushes On was so special to me. You see, my mom and dad both grew up on farms and would tell me stories about their childhoods. From my perspective as a city-kid, I was amazed at these tales. But it wasn’t until I was writing this story that I sat down and asked them detailed questions I never thought to ask before about the logistics and particulars of their lives during that time. This coincided with my dad being in the hospital and I swear I could see both him and my mom grow visibly younger while recounting the long-lost days of their childhoods. It was such a gift to us all. And now that my dad has since passed away, those days, those memories are more precious than ever.

And today, I am so happy to share with you the beautiful cover for Pixie Pushes On. It warms my heart. The illustrator, Matt Saunders, captured so beautifully the nostalgia of the novel. I hope you agree. Thank you, MG Book Village, for hosting my reveal — and thanks for all you do for the writing/reading community.

I can’t wait for everyone to meet Pixie. I hope she means as much to you as she means to me. In the meanwhile, I’ll tell you what I always tell my students during a school visit — if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent, great-grand parent — or any older person in your life — ask them about their childhood — and listen — really listen, before it’s too late. I promise you won’t regret it.


A young girl learns bittersweet life lessons on the family farm after her sister gets polio, in this poignant and funny novel set in the heartland in the 1940s.

Pixie’s defenses are up, and it’s no wonder. She’s been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it’s not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements–and giving her classmates nicknames like “Rotten Ricky” and “Big-Mouth Berta”–hasn’t won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident–a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding–and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she’s not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she’s finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

Wading Into Twitterverse

Out of Place Cover.jpg

As a debut author, I have been encouraged to engage on Twitter. And so I’ve tried. Or rather, I’ve thought a great deal about trying.

An example: I recently learned that two advanced reader copies of my debut novel OUT OF PLACE had not reached their intended destinations. This represented almost one quarter of my personal supply of ARCs, books so precious to me that I cried when I first held them. The despair I felt when I imagined those books in a dumpster at some remote UPS facility brought to mind the time I lost months of frozen breast milk due to a freezer that died in the middle of the night. Ha! I thought. That’s rather witty. An appropriate comparison between the angst of a debut author and the angst of a new mother. I could tweet that.

But should I? Who wants to envision months of spoiled breast milk? And isn’t the comparison between birthing a book and birthing a baby rather tired? Then again, why shouldn’t mothers talk about breast milk and how hard we work to produce it? Staying quiet about these struggles just perpetuates a cycle that needs to be broken, right?

At the end of this mental torture, I did not do two things: I did not write the tweet and I did not write a word of my work-in-progress. Zero likes and zero new sentences.

I’ve been on Twitter long enough to know that other authors do not share my posting anxiety. I envy their number of followers and the opportunities for engagement that those numbers bring. I will never be one of those people. And here’s why I hope it’s okay: because my particular form of angst makes me a strong middle grade novelist. I am an almost forty-year old woman with three daughters who are the ages of most of my characters, and yet I am also the eleven-year old girl who was barked at in the hallways of a new school because the popular girls thought I looked like a dog. I look in the mirror and critique my reflection. I write a Tweet and I worry that it will be misinterpreted.

The main character in OUT OF PLACE, a twelve-year old girl named Cove, shares my bullying experience and my self-consciousness, but a lot of my characters do not. Many of them are spicier and braver than I could ever be. But they are all written by a woman who obsesses over every sentence she writes. And my characters, and the readers they are meant to reach, are better off because of that.

Bad reviews will come my way. Some of them will likely be Tweeted right at me, probably in the snarky tones of the mean girls that I love to write. My hope is that I’ll lick my wounds and keep on writing. For years, the bullying I endured detracted from my experiences. I never joined a school sports team. I rarely spoke up in class.

Now? Now I see it as a gift. I get to write about it. Just not on Twitter.

Jennifer Blecher Author Photo - Credit Nina Subin.jpg
Photo by Nina Subin.

Jennifer Ende Blecher is the author of OUT OF PLACE, a middle grade novel to be published by Greenwillow/Harper Collins in 2019. She lives outside of Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, three daughters, and a dog named Winnie.   You can find her online at, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.




Out of Place by Jennifer Blecher

Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First.

Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible.

But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes.

Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo.

Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City.

Praise for Out of Place

“A tender-hearted debut that navigates the emotional waters of wanting to stay young and grow up, all at the same time.” – Jodi Kendall, critically-acclaimed author of THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY and DOG DAYS IN THE CITY

“Cove may feel out of place, but she’ll quickly find her place in readers’ hearts. Her voice glows like a Menemsha sunset in Jennifer Blecher’s moving debut.”- Julie Berry, author of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

“OUT OF PLACE is sensitively observed and deeply felt, yet also light on its feet. Some of its components seem, at first, peculiarly shaped, but this I promise you: They are all part of Jennifer Blecher’s grand design. By the end, all the loose pieces come together beautifully, seamlessly, surprisingly, as if threaded with magic.”- Jack Cheng, author of the acclaimed See You in the Cosmos

“Blecher’s debut is a sensitive and compassionate tribute to every child who has ever felt like a misfit. . . .vibrant and memorable. Cove is an emotionally intelligent heroine who successfully names and processes her feelings. A beautiful story about learning to speak up and taking risks.”- School Library Journal

“[A] thought-provoking tale of childhood isolation and powerlessness experienced in a socially networked world . . . this recommended read should spark lively discussion; a good bet for an intergenerational book club. ”- Kirkus Reviews

“Blecher has created a sweet and realistically vulnerable character who longs to feel validated and respected. . . . This is a tender, uncomplicated coming-of-age story that illustrates how hard it can be to fit in at any age.”- Publishers Weekly