Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

Goodreads Giveaway!

My publisher, Kids Can Press, is doing an amazing job of getting Inside Hudson Pickle into the hands of reviewers! It is available as an ebook through NetGalley. On goodreads, they are giving away twenty-five hardcover copies of the book. Enter to win by July 1st.

Good luck and happy reviewing!!

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Real Friends

Real Friends

Author: Shannon Hale

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Publisher: First Second

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 1626727856

I don’t often review graphic novels but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them! I’m a big fan of letting children read everything and anything and I think graphic novels add to the diversity of choices in a truly great way. In addition, I don’t think graphic novels appeal only to those of lower reading ability of interest level. In fact, it’s possible that even for the most advance readers, picking up a graphic novel can challenge their brain in new and creative ways.

On to Real Friends! It is possible that I’m biased about this book because it’s set in the mid-80s and the main character, Shannon, was born in the same year as me! But really, kids of all ages will be able to relate to the ups and downs Shannon experiences as she tries to fit in with ‘the group’ while staying true to her own beliefs. Although this book focuses on friendships, it also deftly touches on other topics such as bullying, family dynamics, mental and behavioural health issues.

Shannon Hale’s portrayal of her own childhood is brave and unflinching. In an author’s note at the back, she explains where the story has been fictionalized, how the relationship with her sister has evolved since elementary school and why she felt it was important to share her experiences. I love her final message to readers:

“Friendship in younger years can be especially hard because our worlds are small. In high school and beyond, I found many supportive, lifelong friends. If you haven’t found your ‘group’ yet, hang in there. Your world will keep growing larger and wider. You deserve to have real friends, the kind who treat you well and get how amazing you are.”

The pictures compliment the story beautifully, with vibrant colours and emotional detail that drip from the page. As LeUyen Pham says in her acknowledgments, Shannon has penned a story that feels like it was ripped out of my own memories and insecurities as a child and her drawings bring those feelings alive in a compelling and engaging way.

A wonderful collaboration!

 

 

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It’s a real book!

My first copy of Inside Hudson Pickle! Photographed with my first (very unbiased) reader! So excited to get this title out of my computer and onto the shelves!

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Creative Spark!

artstarts-logoThis spring, I was the proud recipient of a Creative Spark Arts Starts in the Classroom Columbia Basin Trust Grant. With this grant, I visited four schools – Fruitvale Elementary, Glenmerry Elementary School, Webster & Rossland Summit School – and brought the Magic of Three! to eight different classes.

It was so inspiring to see students creatively applying the magic of three to their stories and asking such great questions about the writing and publishing process. Thanks to all the wonderful teachers who welcomed me into their classrooms and do such an amazing job of supporting their students learning!

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Call Me Sunflower

Call-Me-SunflowerTitle: Call Me Sunflower

Author: Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9781510711792

Sunny’s heart is in the right place – all she wants to do is to get her parents back together so she can move back to New Jersey with her mom and her sister. As she goes through each step of “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”, readers will laugh and then cringe at her attempts to re-ignite their romance.

I love that this novel features a non-conventual family, Odyssey of the Mind and an animal rights subplot. And the secret Sunny uncovers when she finds a photo that makes her question her mom’s relationship with Scott – the only dad she’s ever known – provides just the right amount of tension and intrigue.

Another heart-warming middle grade novel by my my critique partner and writing friend, Miriam Spitzer Franklin. Highly recommended!

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She Wrote A Book

It was so fun talking to Lena Anani! If you are interested in my She Wrote a Book interview, listen to the podcast here.

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Middle Grade Grows Up

As you know from my reviews of  We Are All Made of Molecules and I’ll Give You The Sun, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) books. Two of my recent works-in-progress have straddled the line between these two categories of children’s literature so I wanted to explore the line between YA and MG in more detail.

Generally speaking, MG fiction is aimed at 8 to 12-year-old readers. MG books typically feature main characters that are at the upper end of this age group and focus on family, friends, and school.

YA is generally aimed at the over 12 crowd but has an increasingly large following among adult readers. It tends to tackle more complex issues and there’s no limit on things like swearing, sex, and substance abuse. Main characters are usually 15 to 18-years-old.

So what do you do when the main character is thirteen or fourteen? This is an age that is ripe for exploration as kids are seeking more and more independence and taking on bigger and bigger challenges. What happens when you have a 12-year-old reader who’s not yet ready to be exposed to things that might be considered restricted?

You sometimes see MG split into upper and lower, with “upper middle grade titles” being marketed to 10 to 14-year-olds but this is a not an official category. I’ve been told in the past that anyone besides the most established of writers should avoid writing in this “literary black hole”.

Trouble in the Trees and Road Block were marketed toward 8 to 12-year-olds. Inside Hudson Pickle – which is longer with more complex subplots that includes the possibility  that Hudson’s uncle is using drugs – is marketed toward 9 to 12-year-olds. This could mean that my first two books were more “lower” and my third is more “upper”. Or it could just be a difference between the publishers. Inside Hudson Pickle was rejected by one publisher because it mentions drugs. Period. It was rejected by another because it wasn’t edgy enough. Luckily, Kids Can Press thought it was “just right” because it introduces young readers to the dangerous of drugs without showing any illicit use.

In an effort to avoid falling off the tightrope between YA and MG, I wrote my book Cruelty Free with a 15-year-old main character. Based on feedback that the voice was more MG, I’m re-writing it with a 13-year-old main character. My book Reasons to Tell started with a 13-year-old main character but has been described as more YA so I’m re-writing it with the main character as a 15-year-old.

It’s enough to make your head spin! And I’m not the only one getting caught in the storm.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors posted about the Blurred Line Between MG and YA with some great book recommendations and interviews with their authors. Project Mayhem also provides a list of “Gray Area” Stories: Novels for Older Middle School Readers. A similar list is available in the Publishers Weekly article, Middle Grade Books Take on Mature Topics, along with some suggestions to booksellers on where to shelve this types of titles. And Stacy Whitman shares my confusion on The state of MG vs YA when YA is so much older now from an author’s perspective that is very similar to my own.

It definitely feels like I’m walking on a tightrope writing between MG and YA and I know I’m not alone. I just hope it’s the young readers that are ultimately pulling the string.

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Kamloops here I come!

I’m excited to be heading back to Kamloops for School District 73’s Young Authors’ Conference. This year I’ll be presenting a workshop on The Magic of Three. Looking forward to meeting the other presenters and being inspired by the next generation of authors!

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More Authors for Earth Day

Here’s the article about my visit from the Rossland News:

Rossland author pays Earth Day visit to RSS 

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Authors for Earth Day 2017!

I had so much fun meeting with Mrs. Cyndi Smith’s grade 4/5 class at Rossland Summit School on Thursday! As part of my commitment to Authors for Earth Day, they voted to donate my appearance fee to the World Wildlife Fund.

Looking forward to visiting three more local schools thanks ta Creative Spark Art Starts in the Class Columbia Basin Trust Grant!

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