For my upcoming novel THE SEVENTH WISH, Bloomsbury and I decided to try something a little different to help spread the word. You know those “blurbs” you see on the covers of books, usually from famous authors? We thought it would also be cool to get some blurbs from great kid-readers for this book, so Bloomsbury sent a few dozen copies out into the world to be shared with young readers before the book’s release date. Advance copies of THE SEVENTH WISH will also be available at AASL in Ohio (find me and whisper the code word “rutabaga” if you’d like one from my secret stash) and at NCTE in Minneapolis in November (come by the Bloomsbury publishing booth on the exhibit hall floor during my signing late Saturday afternoon).
THE SEVENTH WISH is a book that uses magic to explore something many families are afraid to talk about with kids – addiction. I was floored a few years ago when a neighborhood friend told me that her beautiful, smart, joyful daughter was hooked on heroin. She got help and survived, and she is thriving now, but I still struggle to understand how it happened. And when I struggle, when something really scares me, I write. Here’s what THE SEVENTH WISH is about:
When Charlie Brennan goes ice fishing on her town’s cold winter lake, she’s hoping the perch she reels in will help pay for a fancy Irish dancing solo dress. But when Charlie’s first catch of the day offers her a wish in exchange for its freedom, her world turns upside down.
Charlie catches the fish again and again, but each time, her wishes go hilariously wrong. Just when things are finally starting to turn around, a family crisis with her older sister forces Charlie to accept the fact that some of the toughest challenges in life can’t be fixed by wishing.
Here’s how the Kid-Blurbs project works…
- Read the book. Or, if you have impatient readers, skip to #2 and read it later.
- Share the book with at least three student readers.
- Ask students who enjoyed the book to write a short “blurb” like the ones you see on book covers sometimes – a recommendation saying specifically what they loved about the book. These aren’t full reviews – just one or two-sentence recommendations about why they loved the book. On the back of this page, you’ll find a reproducible handout on writing blurbs, with mentor texts of blurbs written by authors, for other authors’ books.
- Take a photo of your Kid-Blurber with the book open in front of his or her face (to protect student privacy)
- Share the student’s blurbs and photos on your Facebook and/or Twitter feed, along with his or her first name & grade. (i.e. “Great book!” ~Emily, 6th grade reader) I’ll share and RT these posts as well, but please post on your own FB wall, rather than putting it on mine, so that your school/library community can see your student writers’ work. In order for others to re-post a student’s blurb (we hope your kids’ work will be shared far & wide!), you’ll need to share it as a PUBLIC post. You can choose that privacy setting by clicking the little icon right under your name after you post – change it from the “friends” image to the one that looks like a globe, for public posts.
- Please tag me in these posts on Facebook and @ me on Twitter (I’m @KateMessner there) so that I don’t miss thanking any kids. I’ll also try to share as many of these posts as I can, to help amplify your students’ book-talking voices. You also can use the hashtag #7thWish. If your students also wish to write longer recommendations for a classroom blog, please send me links to these, too. I’d love to share some of them!
- You can start right away – it’s fine to post student blurbs any time between now and the end of the school year. If you find that you aren’t able to take part in the Kid-Blurbs project, please try to pass your ARC on to someone who’s interested in giving it a try.
Thanks for sharing THE SEVENTH WISH with your readers! Here’s more about writing book blurbs…
Book Blurbs! How to Recommend a Great Read in a Line or Two
Sometimes, when you pick up a book at the store or library, you’ll see a blurb on its cover – a quote from a famous author recommending the title in your hands. These are quick, short endorsements of books people love and want to share with others. The more specific they are, the more powerful they can be. For example, “It’s a great book” or “This novel is interesting and exciting” are positive but don’t say much about who might like the book and why. When we get more precise with our praise, it’s a whole different story. Check out these real authors’ blurbs that do the job with specific word choice and pizzazz:
“Fiercely original and uncommonly lovely, The Witch’s Boy is equal parts enchanting and haunting. Kelly Barnhill is master of truly potent and unruly magic; luckily for readers, she chooses to use her powers for good.”
~Anne Ursu’s blurb for The Witch’s Boy
“Eighth Grade SuperZero is one of the funnier and more thoughtful books I’ve read it a long time. Reggie and his crew had me cheering for them from page one till the end of the book. Fabulous.”
~Jacqueline Woodson’s blurb for Eighth Grade SuperZero
“Here’s a story that funny and ferocious, and adventure with a heart of gold buried deep in its chest, told by one of the great unreliable narrators – unreliable in the sense that you wouldn’t want to ask him to watch your bike.”
~Adam Rex’s blurb for The Pirate Code
“When Ivy Green can’t take any more missing, when even God seems to have taken off for parts unknown (along with her Mama) redemption nevertheless appears–in the sky, the stars, a kind of cute science boy, and a whole cast of people who love her. Liz Garton Scanlon has written a great good miracle of a book. I can’t stop hugging it.”
~Kathi Appelt’s blurb for The Great Good Summer
“Reading this book is like discovering a treasure box full of rare and wonderful things. If you open it, you’ll find a brave and good-hearted girl hero, the mysterious streets of Paris, and a magical cabinet full of life itself. The writing is luminescent and absolutely compelling. It’s the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time.”
~Sarah Prineas’ blurb for Cabinet of Earths
Ready to try your hand at blurbing a book? Write a sentence (or two or three) about why you love the book and would recommend it to other readers!