Cover Reveal: THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS, by Fran Wilde

Hi, Fran! Thank you for stopping by the MG Book Village to reveal the cover for your new book, THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS! Can you tell us a bit about the book?

Hi Jarrett! So happy to be here — I’m a huge fan of MG Book Village and @MGatheart!

The Ship of Stolen Words is about Sam, a fifth grader who can’t wait for summer to begin. But when his favorite get-out-of-trouble word is stolen, and then his sister’s is as well, Sam and his sometimes-best-friend Mason have to track down the thieves. Sam’s entire summer depends on getting those words back! Sam discovers that goblins are sneaking into our world and collecting overused and mis-used words when he meets Tolver, a goblin boy, and Tolver’s word-hunting pigs. This kicks off an adventure across two worlds where humans and goblins race to recover Sam’s words before goblin prospectors invade Sam’s neighborhood… using flying pig ships called word hogs.

There’s a lot of magic in this book, and I’m so excited for readers to meet Sam, Tolver, and their families (and some of the prospectors too!). 

Word hogs?! WOW. I can’t wait!

What do you hope your readers — especially the young ones — will take away from the book?

I hope they have a lot of fun with the book, and also take away the feeling that words are pretty magical!

I know that the book originally sold with a different title. How did you feel about the switch?

I love the new title a lot. The original title was focused on the first word that was stolen, and this title, which my brilliant editor Maggie Lehrman and her family came up with, really captures the adventure of the book.

You write fiction, non-fiction, essays, and poetry. What do you love about fiction in particular? Is there anything about Middle Grade fiction that you find especially exciting to write and/or read?

What I love about fiction is that imagination can take the lead. If you’d told me, when I set out to write this book, that it would end up where it did, I would have been so surprised… and that’s part of what’s so great about fiction: the more surprises, the better. 

My excitement for Middle Grade goes all the way back to reading The Phantom TollboothEarthsea, and The Westing Game as a kid — the way that wordplay and adventure mixes, and a new discovery seems to be on every page. I love reading what’s happening in Middle Grade fiction now as well — so many adventures! Some of my favorites lately include Sayantani DasGupta’s The Serpent’s Secret, Carlos Hernandez’ Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, Molly Brooks’ Sanity & Tallulah, Laurie Morrison’s Up for Air, Kate Messner’s Chirp, a series called Enginerds (you might have heard of it!), Lamar Giles’ The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, and Kate Milford’s The Thief Knot

At the same time, Middle Grade can engage both serious and silly topics, and I love that too. My debut Middle Grade – Riverland – was about a very serious topic, and used portal fantasy to allow two sisters to work out a solution to a problem they — and others — had been trying to conceal.

I couldn’t agree more. And what a great list of books! Thank you! Okay — let’s get to the cover. Were you at all involved in the creative process? If so, how so?

My main involvement with the cover development was screeching with delight. The first cover comps were among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Maggie Lehrman had asked me about what I’d like to see, and I’d given some general guidelines, but I’ve also worked with so many great cover artists over the past five years that I know they’re the masters of their craft.

Artist Shan Jiang (website) did an amazing job – the colors and the motion on the cover makes me want to jump right into the story.

All right — let’s take a look!

My word. It’s magnificent!

What did YOU think when you first saw the cover?

Honestly, my first thought was: FLYING PIGS!!!!

Hahaha! So, when can readers get their hands on THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS?

The Ship of Stolen Words comes out June 1, 2021, and Riverland comes out in paperback on May 11, 2021 — both are available for preorder at Abrams Kids and Amazon— and soon, everywhere. You can also mark it as “want to read!” at Goodreads.  And Riverland is also available for paperback preorder:

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can find me at and on instagram (along with my dog, Luna, and a lot of summer garden vegetables) at

Kickstarter Creators Photo by Bryan Derballa

Fran Wilde’s novels and short stories have been finalists for six Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, three Hugo Awards, three Locus Awards, and a Lodestar. They include her Nebula- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, and her Nebula-winning debut Middle Grade novel Riverland. Her short stories appear in Asimov’sTor.comBeneath Ceaseless SkiesShimmerNatureUncanny, and Jonathan Strahan’s 2020 Year’s Best SFF. (Bibliography.) Fran directs the Genre Fiction MFA concentration at Western Colorado University and writes nonfiction for publications including The Washington PostThe New York Times, and You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s