Category Archives: For Kids


The fox has long fascinated story-tellers. Think of Master Reynard, Br’er Fox, Japan’s magical, shapeshifting kitsune,  Aesop’s fables. The Little Prince loves and learns from a fox. We’ve got a Fox in Socks, and of course a Fantastic Mr. Fox. Often portrayed as a cunning trickster, the fox is sometimes deceitful, always smart. Eight or nine years ago, when my MG novel in progress needed an animal both elusive and beautiful, with a touch of magic about it, I knew it had to be a fox.


Here’s a sampling of some recent MG novels featuring this evocative creature:


Maybe A Fox, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGwee

From Indiebound: Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends, they d be identical twins if only they d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn’t such a faster than fast runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they’re not supposed to go anywhere near, just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that like their mother her sister is gone forever.
At the very same time, in the shadow world, a  fox is born.  She too is fast faster than fast and she senses danger. She’s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. When Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide.
Writing in alternate voices, one Jules’s, the other the fox’s, Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family’s moment of heartbreak.


Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen

From Indiebound: A beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox.

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be– with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, hoping to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

Pax is a New York Times best seller and was long-listed for the National Book Award.


Foxheart, by Claire Legrand

From Indiebound:   Orphan. Thief. Witch. Twelve-year-old Quicksilver lives  in the sleepy town of Willow-on-the-River. Her only companions are her faithful dog and partner in crime, Fox and Sly Boots, the shy boy who lets her live in his attic when it’s too cold to sleep on the rooftops. It’s a lonesome life, but Quicksilver is used to being alone. When you are alone, no one can hurt you. No one can abandon you. Then one day Quicksilver discovers that she can perform magic. Real magic. The kind that isn’t supposed to exist anymore. Magic is forbidden, but Quicksilver nevertheless wants to learn more. With real magic, she could become the greatest thief who ever lived. She could maybe even find her parents. What she does find, however, is much more complicated and surprising. . . .


The Second Life of Abigail Walker, by Frances O’Roark Dowell

From the NY Times:  Forced to escape her menacing classmate Kristen and eager to avoid her own distracted parents, who concentrate on her mainly to deliver unsubtle messages that she needs to eat less, Abby ventures into a new part of her neighborhood. There, she meets a younger boy named Anders. He lives on his grandmother’s horse farm with his father, who acts strangely — something horrible happened to him while he fought in the Iraq war, and he believes he must finish the research for a long poem about animals or he cannot get well. While spending time at the farm and learning to ride a horse is liberating for Abby, it’s even more empowering to mobilize a group of new, more intellectually oriented friends to help with the research project.

All the while a proud fox, whom Abby crosses paths with at the beginning of the novel, roams near her house. She seems to have extraordinary — perhaps even time-traveling — abilities, and has been watching and guiding Abby. Is she somehow part of the Iraq story of Anders’s dad, too? Dowell suggests as much with a poetic logic that forms a nice antidote to the novel’s all-too-realistic mean girl plot.


That MG novel I was working on all those years ago became What Happened on Fox Street.  I’d never seen a fox. While writing, I watched lots of videos to see how they moved, what they sounded like.  So light, so quick, so elegant and graceful and playful all at once.

When I finished the book, but before it had been accepted anywhere, my husband and I went on a vacation in the Adirondacks. One night, driving after dark on a wooded, winding road, he suddenly cried, “Did you see that?” Slowly he backed up.  On the side of the road sat a serene fox.  She and I gazed at each other a long moment before, with a flick of her dipped-in-cream tail,  she disappeared among the trees.


Tricia’s most recent middle grade novels are Every Single Second and Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe. 


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Emily Brontosaurus? Mark Twainceratops? Classic literature through the eyes of the dinosaurs?


The  real stories of six legendary dinosaur leaders? The  greatest presidential heroes of ancient history, including George Washingdonyx and Franklin D. Rex?


Artist biographies, each with a prehistoric twist? Leonardo da Vilociraptor, Vincent Vanaguanadon, and Frida Kahlolophus?

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Kirkus, reviewing this new series, says: “a canon-expanding gallery of great writers that will have every reader, dinophile or not, roaring…, in small, attached booklets, a hilariously condensed representative work for each….readers will come away with a fund of names, titles, and general expectations that will serve them well in future…”

To win one copy of each book, please leave a comment below!

Cover Reveal! The Long Trail Home

Today I’m honored to participate in some Cover Reveal Fun! I’m celebrating with Kiersi Burkhart and Amber J Keyser, whose new middle grade series, Quartz Creek Ranch, launches in January 2017.

It’s a bit out of the ordinary for all the first books in the series to drop at once, but I’m really excited about it! Books 1-3 in the series, are Shy Girl & Shy GuyOne Brave Summer, and At Top Speed. I got a sneak peek at the first few chapters of The Long Trail Home, the fourth book, to prepare for this cover reveal. I have to tell you,  I can’t wait to read them all.

Here’s what the publishers have to share about the series:

Every summer, the gates of Quartz Creek Ranch swing open for kids in trouble. Under the watchful eyes of lifelong ranchers Willard and Etty Bridle, these ten to twelve-year-olds put their hands—and hearts—to good use, herding cattle, tending the garden, harvesting hay, and caring for animals. Aided by two teenage horse trainers, the kids must forge a bond with their therapy horses, grow beyond the mistakes that brought them to the ranch, and face unique challenges in the rugged Colorado rangeland.

I spent many formative hours on a cattle ranch when I was a middle grade kid, and learning to coexist with working animals shaped my view of the world in some powerful ways. This volume in the series is also important because it helps young readers see themselves between the pages of a book. As Amber shared with me, this book is near and dear to her heart. “I so wanted to have a book about a Jewish girl that wasn’t about the Holocaust, and this is it!”

Also from the publishers, about The Long Trail Home, the subject of our post today:

Rivka can’t wait to get away from her family for the summer.  Since that terrible day last year, she wants no part in their Jewish community. At least at Quartz Creek Ranch, she feels worlds away from home among the Colorado scenery, goofy ranch owners, and baby animals. Other parts of Quartz Creek, however, are too familiar, including the unsettling wave of anti-immigrant threats to ranch workers. On a trip to the country, Rivka is also surprised to learn the history of Jewish pioneers in the area. When she and her defiant cabinmate, Cat, face disaster in the wild, Rivka will need to find strength deep within her to help them both get home safely.
I’ve read Amber’s work, both fiction and nonfiction, and her books are unique and wonderful reflections of this diversely talented author. I’m really looking forward to this series by Kiersi and Amber, and I hope you are, too.

And now, drumroll…

The cover! Isn’t it lovely?

I will be so happy when these books are available to share with my favorite nieces, nephews, and school libraries…

More about Kiersi and Amber:

KIERSI BURKHART grew up riding horses on the Colorado Front Range. At sixteen, she attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland and spent her young adult years in beautiful Oregon—until she discovered her sense of adventure was calling her elsewhere. Now she travels around with her best friend, a mutt named Baby, writing fiction for children of all ages. Kiersi’s website is: Find her on Twitter @kiersi.

AMBER J. KEYSER is happiest when she is in the wilderness with her family. Lucky for her, the rivers and forests of Central Oregon let her paddle, hike, ski, and ride horses right outside her front door. When she isn’t adventuring, Amber writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers and goes running with her dog, Gilda. Her website is: and you can follow her on Twitter: @amberjkeyser.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share in the fun with our readers, Amber and Kiersi!


In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, The Best of It: A Journal of Life, Love and Dying, was published in 2009.  Both her current work and upcoming middle grade stories are historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is Publisher at Homeostasis Press, and manages Gather Here: History for Young People