Children's Writing, Joyce Moyer Hostetter, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Middle Grade Books, Shannon Hitchcock, Shannon Wiersbitzky, Writing

A Visit from Shannon Wiersbitzky

Thought for the Day:
“Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.”  
~ Paul Theroux ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Getting the details right is so important. HERE are some good resources and tips from Marianne Knowles at Writers’ Rumpus to help you out. 

Janice Hardy always has important posts. This is no exception. HERE she talks about three words that will kill your manuscript. 
Stasia Ward Kehoe has a helpful post HERE on Adventures in YA Publishing. It is Four Essential Elements for your First Five Pages. 
My daughter Maggie and I are on a cross-country trip and in Colorado visiting family right now, so the lovely and talented Shannon Wiersbitzky, author extraordinaire, is sitting in for me for two weeks. Take it away, Shannon!

#MGGetsReal

Shannon Wiersbitzky
Hello to all The Write Stuff readers! I’m thrilled to be here both this week and next while Rosi is on holiday. I feel like Mom has left for the weekend and now its my job to ensure that everyone behaves and nothing gets broken. 

I want you to think about a book. A specific book. You probably read it when you were a child. The very first one that shook you to the core or stopped you in your tracks. 

Why did it move you? 

My guess is that it did one of these things: 
  • you found yourself (at last!) in one of the characters, it spoke to your reality
  • it discussed a topic you’d never seen in a book
  • it opened your eyes to something that you’d never thought about before
  • it dealt with a topic that was considered taboo for kids

For me, that book was Z FOR ZACHARIAH by Robert C. O’Brien. I remember a teacher in elementary school reading it aloud. And I remember sitting spellbound on the carpet. It was a story about nuclear war and a young girl who believes she may be the last person alive. 

Over the years, I’ve tried to piece together why the story was so powerful to me. When I was a little girl, US and Russian relations were often high tension. The possibility of nuclear war was discussed on the news. I certainly would have seen it and been aware of the topic. Perhaps my parents expressed worry in their own conversations. 

The thing is, I don’t ever remember anyone actually talking about what it might mean for me. But the book did. And in the story, that meant real situations of life and death. 

As adults, we sometimes shy away from introducing kids to books like this. I’m not sure why. We want children to hold onto their innocence I suppose. To live in the world of happily ever after, even as they’re coping with much tougher topics in school, in their families, their communities, or even trying to make sense of what they see on television. 



Kids live in a complicated world. And they aren’t ignorant of that fact. Yes, give them magic and fantasy, but also give them more. Kids need books that deal with a wide variety of “real” subjects. Which is why myself and four other authors have started a movement. #MGGetsReal aims to highlight books for middle graders that deal with these tough topics. 

My own book, WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER, deals with Alzheimer’s.  
After her adopted grandpa, Old Red, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, thirteen year old Delia takes it upon herself to save his memories, and includes the entire town in the process.

The other books being highlighted in #MGGetsReal include:

JUST A DROP OF WATER by Kerry O’Malley Cerra
A tale of two boys; one Christian, one Muslim, and how their friendship is tested in the wake of September 11.

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw
The story of Yuriko’s life–a 12 year old girl–during the last year of WWII in Hiroshima. A family secret is revealed right before her world ignites and becomes a shadow of what it had been.

RUBY LEE AND ME by Shannon Hitchcock
Sarah Beth’s new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek is the first African American teacher at their all-white school. But she just may be the exact person to help Sarah answer all her questions. 

COMFORT by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
When Ann Fay returns home from the polio hospital, she assumes life will get back to normal. But Daddy is different since the war and everything is falling apart. 

We invite you to join us. 
On any social media using #MGGetsReal

Share with teachers and librarians you know. Read. Write Reviews. And speak up! Share books that you believe fit our mission. 

We look forward to connecting with you! 

P. S. from Rosi — If you are not familiar with Shannon’s wonderful books, I reviewed them HERE and HERE.

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