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WNDMG Wednesday: Author Interview with Maleeha Siddiqui

ANY WAY YOU LOOK cover

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WNDMG Wednesday: Author Interview with Maleeha Siddiqui

I’m so excited to be able to introduce you to accomplished middle grade author Maleeha Siddiqui today. Maleeha’s newest book is ANY WAY YOU LOOK (Scholastic) and it launches on May 7, 2024.

This book is a must have and a wonderful read, as I had the pleasure of reading an ARC, and Maleeha’s other novels are also favorites. Maleeha has a beautiful way of writing that is full of emotion and heart and craft!

Everyone should buy a copy for themselves and their classrooms and libraries.

Cover creds:
Cover illustration: Sara Alfageeh
Cover designer: Omou Barry
Art director: Elizabeth Parisi

About ANY WAY YOU LOOK

Description taken from online:

When boys from her community start harassing her, Ainy needs to figure out how to get them to stop—while still staying true to herself.

Dress Coded meets Amina’s Voice in this new middle grade novel by Maleeha Siddiqui.

Ainy is excited for summer! She plans on working at her mom’s clothing boutique, having adventures with her best friend, and maybe even starting to wear the hijab—just like her big sister. But when certain boys from Ainy’s Muslim community keep showing up at the store to give her unwanted attention, she goes from possibly wanting to wear the hijab someday to feeling like she needs to wear it to get the boys to leave her alone.

But wearing the hijab doesn’t do what she’d hoped: It doesn’t deflect the boys’ attention at all! If anything, they’ve found something new to harass her about. With the help of her best friend and her older sister, Ainy must channel her inner creative strength and find the confidence to stand her ground and get the respect she deserves.

This is a compulsively readable, feminist, and thought-provoking book about staying true to yourself by acclaimed author Maleeha Siddiqui.

Interview with Maleeha Siddiqui

I loved getting to talk to Maleeha about her new book and I think you will enjoy meeting her and Ainy as well.

 

SSS: What a compelling synopsis! I truthfully was so intrigued right away to read just based on the important topic alone.

What is the inspiration behind AWYL?

MS: First, thank you for having me! I’m thrilled to be bringing this important, thought-provoking story to readers. ANY WAY YOU LOOK is many things, but it’s primarily a story about sisterhood and finding the confidence to stand your ground and get the respect you deserve.

Unfortunately, the inspiration behind AWYL comes from many concerning stories that I’ve heard over the years from women and girls in my life – both Muslim and non-Muslim – about behaviors and comments they are subjected to that are too often ignored.

In 2020, I read Barbara Dee’s Maybe He Just Likes you. It was the first book I read that addressed the issue of sexual harassment for young kids and it made me realize that these themes can be in a book for young readers, and I had a lot to say on the topic. The day I started writing Ainy’s story, I had just come home from an event, and I was furious about a comment I had heard made to a young girl there. Female rage really drove this whole book for me.

SSS: That makes total sense and I know exactly what you mean!

As a Muslim American, reading this story resonated with me. It really feels authentic and honest, and yet very raw and hard to read as well! How was that experience for you writing it? Did you worry about the balance of marginalized representation with also the responsibility of calling out injustice, even in our own communities.

MS: I think I’m honest about how much I love the Muslim community, but I’m also not afraid to call out its flaws. Writing about certain topics in the book did make me nervous, and yes, balancing the marginalized representation with the responsibility of calling out injustice did stress me out at times. However, I constantly reminded myself who I was writing the book for and that no one’s experiences, or journey is one-size-fits-all. I try to show balanced opinions and characters in my books, because that’s the composition of the real world.

SSS: I love that!

How is Ainy as a character similar to you? How is she different?

MS: Ainy is not a lot like me, honestly. She’s a fashionista, and I’m not (at least, not anymore). She’s kind of messy, and I’m a neat freak. One thing Ainy and I do have in common is our passion for doing what we love. In my case, it’s writing and sharing my love for reading. For Ainy, it’s designing clothes and helping people feel beautiful.

 

SSS: The subject of hijab and dressing modestly is important in the book—can you talk more about how Ainy struggles to decide whether hijab is for her or not?

 

MS: Bodily autonomy is a big theme in AWYL. I will say this. If you’re the type of person that believes hijab, like the five daily prayers, should be done no matter how you feel or where you are in your spiritual journey, then this book is not for you. I always knew that I wanted to write a book about a young girl debating on whether she’s ready to observe hijab or not.

A large part of it stemmed from my frustration with global conversations surrounding hijab. How are enforcements and bans being imposed with little to no regard of the opinion of Muslim women who simply want their freedom? Don’t we get a say? Ainy’s struggle to decide whether hijab is for her or not closely mirrors my own from when I was young.

I don’t want to spoil the book, but I am the confident hijabi that I am today because I was given the time, space, and grace to explore my relationship with Allah (SWT) and connect with my faith on a deeper level before making the commitment. I wanted Ainy’s character arc to show all the different external and internal influences that can get in the way of that.

SSS: That definitely resonates!

Muslim books are so important (and a passion of mine!). How does having faith/deen play a role in your book?

MS: Having faith/deen plays a role in all my books, Alhumdulillah! Some more than others, but at the end of the day, my main characters are all Muslim and I like to show them existing on the page at different points in their spirituality. After all, I’ve been in all their shoes at one point or another!

The central Islamic message in AWYL is the importance of one’s relationship with their Creator and how, as Muslims, that – not the opinion of others – should be the driving force behind our choices. And Ainy’s got some big choices to make in this book!

SSS: Will there be more Ainy (or other middle grade) in the future?

MS: AWYL is it for Ainy, but I do have more middle grade books in the works for the future!

Stay tuned!

Link to preorder here.

Writing Process

 SSS: When did you start writing AWYL and was the process a long one?

MS: I conceived the initial idea for AWYL in 2020, but I started writing it–slowly–in May 2022. I finished 90% of the book from September 2022 – January 2023. Four months might sound like a long time to draft a 45K MG novel, but AWYL is by far the easiest book I have written so far.

It’s my most intentionally crafted book. I paid close attention to every plot beat, character arc, pacing, etc. I heard every character’s voice, especially Ainy’s, so clearly in my head. As a result, the story poured out of me effortlessly. I truly think it’s my best work to date, and I’m very proud of it.

SSS: As a fellow middle grade novel, I LOVE plotting, but I also feel like the characters have a mind of their own at times. Do you plot or pants your novels?

MS: I’m a hardcore plotter! I hate first drafts, so having a detailed synopsis makes it a little less painful. I do pants 5-10% of the story, though. Like you said, sometimes the characters have a mind of their own.

SSS: Any advice for fellow middle-grade authors?

MS: Read, read, read! Read middle grade books published in the last five years and explore different genres! I love reading horror and fantasy in addition to realistic fiction. And remember middle grade should be representative of today’s kids, not back when we were kids, though much of the pre-adolescent emotional experience remains universally the same!

Bonus!

SSS: Bonus question! Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to share with us?

MS: ANY WAY YOU LOOK is my third MG cotemporary and a culmination of a lot of things I’ve learned about writing craft over the years. That’s not to say I am not proud of my previous two books, BARAKAH BEATS and BHAI FOR NOW. Both are very dear to me, and it warms my heart when readers tell me reading one led them to pick up the other. Now I hear from readers that they are excited for my next book. So, while this interview is about ANY WAY YOU LOOK, I’d like to give a shoutout to BARAKAH BEATS and BHAI FOR NOW. I hope readers love Ainy as much as they’ve come to love Nimra, Ashar, and Shaheer.

 

Thank you so much Maleeha for answering my questions! I hope everyone picks up a copy of your beautiful book.

For more Muslim Middle Grade, Check out this Walter Dean Myers Honor Book here!!!

 

About Maleeha Siddiqui:

MALEEHA SIDDIQUI is an American writer of Pakistani descent who loves to tell stories for all ages about the American Muslim experience. She can’t live without caffeine, rainy days, and books with a whole lot of heart. Her previous novels, Barakah Beats and Bhai for Now, were both Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections. Barakah Beats was also an ABA Indies Introduce pick. By day, Maleeha works in the biotech industry. She grew up and continues to reside with her family in Virginia. Find her at maleehasiddiqui.com and on Instagram at @malsidink.

Website: www.maleehasiddiqui.com

Instagram: @malsidink

February New Releases

February is here, and it’s a leap year, which means you have a extra day to fill. Why not grab one of these New Releases to help you celebrate?  Realistic, Historical, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Lyric Novels, even Horror – there’s a book for every reader this month.

 

 

The Liars Society by Alyson Gerber

The Inheritance Games and One of Us is Lying for middle grade — beloved author Alyson Gerber’s new series is an unforgettable mystery featuring a secret society, a mysterious island, and dangerous family secrets.

Weatherby is a fish out of water. When she lands a scholarship to the prestigious Boston School, she’s excited to be in the same world as her dad, whom she’s never met, and make real friends. But Weatherby has a secret she’ll risk everything to protect, one that could destroy her new life.

Every member of Jack’s wealthy and privileged family has made their mark at the Boston School. Everyone, that is, except for Jack, who is entirely mediocre. He’s desperate to prove his worth to his influential father. But Jack has a secret of his own . . . one with the power to ruin everything.

When the money for their school trip to a private island–exclusive to Boston students–is stolen, Jack and Weatherby are invited to play a high-stakes game and solve the mystery of the missing money. If they win, they’ll be selected to join the oldest, most powerful secret society in the world–and they’ll be Boston royalty forever. If they lose . . . well, they better not lose.

Beloved author Alyson Gerber crafts an unforgettable mystery that asks–are some secrets and lies impossible to overcome?

 

 

Lost Kites and Other Treasures by Cathy Carr 

Cathy Carr’s Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a moving and heartfelt middle-grade novel about mental illness, the transformative power of art, and the ever-changing complications and joys of family life.

“Sincere and funny . . . leaves readers with a sense of hope.” Sara Zarr, author of A Song Called Home

“Will be treasured by readers everywhere.” –Megan E. Freeman, award-winning author of Alone

Twelve-year-old Franny Petroski never lets anyone know how often she thinks of the charismatic, troubled mom who left her years ago–any more than she talks about the unaccountable things Mom did while she was still in the picture. Life with Nana is safe and secure, and Franny’s innovative art projects fill in any lonesome times.

But when Nana has an accident and Franny’s estranged uncle comes home to help out for a while, some long-guarded family secrets come to light. Franny has to use all of her courage, as well as all of her creativity, to come to terms with the discoveries she makes about her mother–and herself.

 

 

 

 

The School for Invisible Boys by Shaun David Hutchinson

What would you do if no one could see you? In this surreal adventure, a boy who is used to being overlooked literally becomes invisible, only to realize there may be far more dangerous threats in his school than bullies.

Sixth grade takes a turn for the weird when Hector Griggs discovers he has the ability to turn invisible. Sure, ever since Hector’s former best friend Blake started bullying him, he’s been feeling like he just wants to disappear…but he never thought he actually would. And then, Hector meets another invisible boy, Orson Wellington, who has an ominous warning: “I’m stuck here. Stuck like this. It’s been years. The gelim’s hunting me and it’ll get you, too.”

It turns out, there is more than meets the eye at St. Lawrence’s Catholic School for Boys, and if Hector is going to save Orson–and himself–from the terrifying creature preying on students’ loneliness and fear, he’ll need to look deeper. With the help of a mysterious new classmate, Sam, can Hector unravel the mysteries haunting his school, and discover that sometimes it takes disappearing to really be seen?

 

 

 

 

Waverider: A Graphic Novel (Amulet #9) by Kazu Kibuishi

The highly anticipated, thrilling conclusion to Kazu Kibuishi’s #1 New York Times bestselling series!

After her confrontation with Ikol, Emily finally understands the stone’s power and what she must do to defend Alledia from the shadows. As she travels to Typhon to help her mom and Navin, Prince Trellis returns to the Kingdom of the Elves to save his countrymen — and confront the fraud who has seized power in the absence of a king. The threat of darkness follows all Stonekeepers closely, and it will take the strength of both new friends and old foes to conquer it… and survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the Worst Friend in the World by Anne Rellihan

Can Lou Bennett keep a secret? She’ll do just about anything to prove herself to her new friend–and the best friend she betrayed–in this debut novel that is a modern-day Harriet the Spy with high emotional stakes.

It’s the thirty-fourth day of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Missouri, and eleven-year-old Lou wishes she could rewind time.

Lou wants to go back to the ninth day of sixth grade–the day before she fought with her best friend Francie and said the terrible, horrible things she can’t unsay. Or better yet, she would go back to fifth grade when Francie was still the Old Francie.

Then the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a mysterious note. It says she was kidnapped. (!) If Lou can help Cece, maybe she can prove she’s not the world’s worst friend.

But as observant Lou uncovers the complicated truth about Cece’s family, she starts to panic. Can she help Cece without hurting her? Or will Lou end up losing another friend instead?

Anchored by an outstanding voice and a page-turning mystery, this remarkable debut novel honors the powerful middle school friendships that can both break and heal a tender eleven-year-old heart. Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and My Jasper June.

 

 

Mihi Ever After: Off the Rails by Tae Keller (Author) and Geraldine Rodríguez (Illustrator)

Mihi and her friends are heading back to the Rainbow Realm–and this time, they have to save the princess.

Mihi, Reese, and Savannah thought their fairy tale realm adventures were over. But just as they were getting ready to go home, they learn that their first friend in the realm, Princess Pat, has disappeared on a quest of her own. Pat is traveling around the fairy world trying to gather enough magic to save the Rainbow Realm, but the journey is too dangerous, and Mihi, Reese, and Savannah are the only ones that can save her.

But as the girls chase after Princess Pat, they meet creatures and learn stories they’ve never heard of before, from cultures all over the world. And slowly, they realize Princess Pat might be the problem. Can they save the fairy tale world from their friend’s destructive quest?

 

 

 

 

 

Across So Many Seas by Ruth Behar

Spanning over 500 years, Pura Belpré Award winner Ruth Behar’s epic novel tells the stories of four girls from different generations of a Jewish family, many of them forced to leave their country and start a new life.

In 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, Benvenida and her family are banished from Spain for being Jewish, and must flee the country or be killed. They journey by foot and by sea, eventually settling in Istanbul.

Over four centuries later, in 1923, shortly after the Turkish war of independence, Reina’s father disowns her for a small act of disobedience. He ships her away to live with an aunt in Cuba, to be wed in an arranged marriage when she turns fifteen.

In 1961, Reina’s daughter, Alegra, is proud to be a brigadista, teaching literacy in the countryside for Fidel Castro. But soon Castro’s crackdowns force her to flee to Miami all alone, leaving her parents behind.

Finally, in 2003, Alegra’s daughter, Paloma, is fascinated by all the journeys that had to happen before she could be born. A keeper of memories, she’s thrilled by the opportunity to learn more about her heritage on a family trip to Spain, where she makes a momentous discovery.

Though many years and many seas separate these girls, they are united by a love of music and poetry, a desire to belong and to matter, a passion for learning, and their longing for a home where all are welcome. And each is lucky to stand on the shoulders of their courageous ancestors.

 

 

The Happy Shop by Brittany Long Olsen

Eleven-year-old Darcy thinks she’s found the answer to her problems when she discovers a store selling happy feelings. But is happiness really the only emotion people need? A heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel debut for fans of Inside Out and Pilu of the Woods about understanding the value in all feelings.

Welcome to the Happy Shop!

Eleven-year-old Darcy just moved to a new country. She’s feeling lost and misses her friends back home. That’s when she stumbles upon a shop full of mysterious glowing jars labeled with things like “Picking up the last sweater on the rack and it’s on sale” and “Having the perfect weather on your wedding day.” Much to Darcy’s surprise-this store sells happy feelings.

After Darcy accidentally breaks one of the irreplaceable jars, she must make it up to the shopkeepers, Frida and Flora, by doing chores around the store, and is soon tasked with collecting happy feelings. But she learns that the magical business is anything but magical. With fewer customers than ever, Frida and Flora might have to close their doors. Can Darcy think of an idea to save the Happy Shop? What if they sold more than just happy felings?

From debut writer and illustrator Brittany Long Olsen comes The Happy Shop, a heartfelt story about helping those you love and understanding your feelings.

 

 

Bumps in the Night by Amalie Howard 

The creepy middle grade debut from USA Today bestselling author Amalie Howard in which a girl stays with her grandmother in Trinidad for the summer and discovers that she comes from a long line of powerful witches.

Darika “Rika” Lovelace is in trouble. The kind of trouble that sends her to her grandmother’s estate in Trinidad for the whole summer. But something about the island feels…different. As soon as she steps off the plane, strange things start happening!

Rika meets a group of kids called Minders, who seem to have elemental powers. Even worse, she can sense jumbies lurking in the shadows. Needless to say, she wants a ticket home. But when the Minders let slip that her long-lost mom is in danger, she knows she can’t leave.

Thrust into a magical adventure involving bloodcurdling monsters, a supernatural silk cotton tree, and an endless maze, Rika must defeat the fearsome jumbie king to save her family and new friends. But unless she learns to believe in herself, she’ll never beat him or escape his twisted maze.

 

 

 

The Partition Project by Saadia Faruqi

In this engaging and moving middle grade novel, Saadia Faruqi writes about a contemporary Pakistani American girl whose passion for journalism starts a conversation about her grandmother’s experience of the Partition of India and Pakistan–and the bond that the two form as she helps Dadi tell her story.

When her grandmother comes off the airplane in Houston from Pakistan, Mahnoor knows that having Dadi move in is going to disrupt everything about her life. She doesn’t have time to be Dadi’s unofficial babysitter–her journalism teacher has announced that their big assignment will be to film a documentary, which feels more like storytelling than what Maha would call “journalism.”

As Dadi starts to settle into life in Houston and Maha scrambles for a subject for her documentary, the two of them start talking. About Dadi’s childhood in northern India–and about the Partition that forced her to leave her home and relocate to the newly created Pakistan.

As details of Dadi’s life are revealed, Dadi’s personal story feels a lot more like the breaking news that Maha loves so much. And before she knows it, she has the subject of her documentary.

 

 

 

 

King Bro! by  Jenny Jägerfeld (Author) and  B. J. Woodstein (Translator)

A touching and humorous middle grade novel about transgender friendship and the right to be who you are.

It’s summertime for eleven-year-old Marcus goes with his mother to a new city, where she’ll be working for the summer. Marcus is looking forward to it because he knows he can be himself there–the person he really is.

Within the first day of arriving, Marcus meets Mikkel, a neighborhood boy who looks totally dangerous with his aggressive and energetic appearance, and with his body full of tattoos. It turns out the tattoos are made by Mikkel’s brother and are actually in Indian ink, but still. Mikkel challenges Marcus in a number of skateboard tricks (both are addictive skateboarders), and after a crash where Mikkel helps Marcus, they become best friends. Blood brothers–bros!–something that means you’ll do anything for each other and always tell the truth.

But Marcus is struggling with a specific issue. Should he tell Mikkel this special thing, something that effects Marcus’ whole life? Marcus was at birth assigned a female gender, although Marcus has always known he is a boy. It is just the others around him who have a hard time understanding, including his friends at school, his grandma, and his father.

King Bro! is an emotional, poignant look at knowing who you are, but struggle with knowing how you’ll be accepted for being your true self.

 

See anything you like? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Interview with Shaun David Hutchinson, author of The School for Invisible Boys

Today we’re welcoming author Shaun David Hutchinson to Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. Shaun’s latest book, The School For Invisible Boys, is out in February 2024 from Labyrinth Road (a Penguin Random House imprint).

Shaun is the author of YA novels including Howl, A Complicated Love Story Set in Space, and Before We Disappear, as well as a memoir, Brave Face. Shaun stopped by to talk about the most helpful writing advice he’s ever received, the difference between writing YA and MG, and why it’s so important to support local bookstores, libraries, teachers, and librarians.

The School For Invisible Boys book cover

Mixed-Up Files: Tell us about The School For Invisible Boys and the inspiration behind the idea. What sparked this story?

Shaun David Hutchinson: The School For Invisible Boys is an idea that’s been banging around my brain for well over a decade. I wanted to write a story that explored different concepts of masculinity. As a society, we often trap boys within a narrow definition of what constitutes appropriate masculinity, but there are a lot of boys who don’t fit into those boxes. And when they don’t fit in, they’re shamed and often bullied for it, much like Hector is.

The School For Invisible Boys is a bit autobiographical. I didn’t go to an all-boy’s school, but my mom did get remarried and I did wind up at the same Catholic school in fifth grade where my stepdad sent his sons. As a quiet boy who preferred reading to sports, I struggled to fit in at school and with my new family, all of which informed the story. The major difference between me and Hector is that I only felt invisible.

I was also inspired by the books I grew up loving. Weird books like A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle, fantasy like The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, and adventure books like The Dark Secret of Weatherend by John Bellairs. I think the fingerprints of the books I grew up loving are all over The School For Invisible Boys.

MUF: You have written quite a bit in the YA space. Can you talk about your experience writing this middle grade book and what is different in your approach to this age group vs. a slightly older reader? Was there ever a time you considered making The School for Invisible Boys YA or was it always intended as a MG?

SDH: In my head, The School For Invisible Boys has always been a middle grade book, which is probably why it took me so long to write! Writing for a middle grade audience proved to be a significant challenge for me. In a lot of ways, it felt like having to learn to write all over again. I was very lucky to be able to work with my long-time editor in the YA space, Liesa Abrams, at her new imprint Labyrinth Road. Liesa has oodles of experience with MG as well as YA, and so she was able to guide me through some of the more difficult challenges. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to do it without her.

More specifically, I think writing for a middle grade audience necessitated a gentler approach than I’m used to. For example, in the book, Hector is called a certain slur when he asks his best friend to be his boyfriend. I made the choice not to use the word because, even though I could have made the case that it was appropriate to use in the situation, I remember what it was like to be that age, and I think a child seeing that word written out in print might cause them to internalize it in a way that would negate the message the story conveys. I try not to shy away from exploring some of the harsher truths of life in my books, and I didn’t definitely didn’t shy away here, but I definitely approached those topics a little more gently.

I also focused a on the external conflicts in Hector’s life rather than dwelling on his internal conflicts to keep the pace brisk. There was a bit less navel gazing than you might find in my YA, a bit more focus on how the characters fit in with the rest of the world.

Author, Shaun David Hutchinson

MUF: What sort of writing routine do you have?

SDH: I generally wake up around 5am and write for a couple of hours before I sign-on to work my day job. I’ll write during lunch if I’m in the zone. I might write a bit more during the weekends. I do my best writing in those early hours before the demands of the day have crept into my brain. I try to write every day, though I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. I have ADHD, so routines and schedules are very important to me. Other than that, my process is kind of chaotic. I don’t outline. Thankfully, I’m a fast drafter, so I can make a few mistakes and backtrack without losing a significant amount of time. I’ve learned a lot about craft over the years, but at the end of the day, I usually just follow my gut, even when it leads me places I didn’t expect to go.

MUF: Have you read any new middle grade lately you’d recommend?

SDH: I haven’t been able to read a lot of recent MG—I spent most of 2022 writing and revising The School For Invisible Boys and most of 2023 writing and revising the sequel, and I try not to read anything that might influence me while I’m drafting—but recent books I’ve read and loved have been We Belong by Cookie Hiponia, Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow, What Stays Buried by Suzanne Young, and The Probability of Everything by Sarah Everett.

MUF: Has anyone ever given you writing advice that was helpful?

SDH: My very first editor, Anica Rissi, told me to trust my readers. At the time, I only applied it to the book I was working on, but as I continued writing and growing as a writer, her advice became this little voice in the back of my head whenever I began to doubt that readers would understand or care about what I was trying to say. Trust your readers, her voice would whisper when I wondered if I was writing the right book or if writing was even worth it.

There are a lot of “rules” when it comes to craft, and I think some of them are useful, some are not, and most can be broken, but learning to trust my readers has been the one piece of advice that has always serve me well. The books I write may not reach everyone, but that’s okay. As long as they reach the readers who need them.

MUF: There is concerning uptick in book bans across the U.S. Is there anything you think readers, writers, and people interested in books can do to support more – not less – books in the hands of kids?

SDH: Personally, I think the most important thing people can do is pay attention to what’s happening locally. Support your local teachers and librarians. Show up for school board meetings. These bans are being carried out by a small group of very vocal people. The vast majority of people in our country don’t support book bans, but the book banners are well organized, and so their voices seem much louder than they actually are. We have to show up locally in order to counter them.

I think the other thing we can do is simply continue supporting authors and books you love. Put them into the hands of kids who need them. We didn’t always have money for toys or video games or vacations when I was growing up, but my mom always made sure I had access to all the books I could ever need or want. Support local bookstores, support libraries, support teachers and librarians. Always.

MUF: What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? (Or do you work on a few ideas at once?)

SDH: Well, I just turned in a companion book to The School For Invisible Boys that’s called A Home For Unusual Monsters and follows the character Sam from the first book as she spends the summer searching for a list that might contain the locations of monsters living in secret among us. I’m also working slowly on another young adult book that I refer to as my “gentle apocalypse” story, and I’ve started tinkering with the idea for a third MG book that continues Hector’s and Sam’s adventures.

Want to learn more about Shaun? His website is shaundavidhutchinson.com or find him on Twitter and Instagram.

ABOUT THE SCHOOL FOR INVISIBLE BOYS
What would you do if no one could see you? In this surreal adventure, a boy who is used to being overlooked literally becomes invisible, only to realize there may be far more dangerous threats in his school than bullies.

Order your copy at Bookshop or from your local bookstore, or borrow a copy from your library.