skip to main content

Teaching Tools for Families and Educators

Dear Friends,
Thanks for visiting this site. I’m honored that you are considering my stories, and one of the thrills of my life is knowing that my books are used for anywhere, anytime learning around the world.

We all know the power of a good story, we know how it can change a life, teach a lesson, dig a tunnel, overturn a table, energize a challenged reader, inspire a young person, and challenge society.

People ask, how do you write for kids, how do you get into that mindset? It’s a simple answer — I remember. What it was like, what I loved, what scared me, what I longed for, what I couldn’t understand, what gave me hope, what broke my heart, what was written across my heart forever. I suppose we writers write the stories we need to tell ourselves — at least those are the best of the books we create. I’m excited to be again working with Dr. Amy Bender, Nancy Kalush, and Dr. Melissa Leisner, three marvelous middle grade educators who know my work well — they are sharing new ways to teach my stories.

Thanks to all of you who care so much, who are striving to empower children during these difficult days.

Warmest wishes,


Best Foot Forward

In this companion novel to Rules of the Road, Jenna Boller and Mrs. Gladstone have returned to Chicago after their sixweek road trip to Texas to deal with merging two very different shoe corporations, Gladstones which has always emphasized quality and Shoe Warehouse which offers cheaper prices and poor workmanship. In addition, Mrs. Gladstone has given Tanner Cobb, a young man recently released from jail, a job and has assigned Jenna to be his manager.

As the shoes become shoddier and both store managers and the public become disgruntled , Jenna must uncover the truth behind the merger and help Mrs. Gladstone save the reputation of Gladstone Shoes.

Download Guide of Best Foot Forward


Every Breedlove is a lawyer or soon will be, except Ivy Breedlove, who wants to be a historian, and her supposedly crazy Aunt Josephine who disappeared years ago. When Ivy’s great aunt Tib’s eyesight begins to fail, the responsibility of researching and writing the family history falls on Ivy, a task that she relishes.

After learning that her Aunt Josephine is still alive, Ivy wants to find her. With Aunt Tib’s encouragement, Ivy overcomes her father’s objections to make the trip. Relying on the expert skills of a wilderness guide named Mountain Mama, Ivy is led to Josephine’s log cabin in a remote area of the Adirondacks where she meets and gets to know her aunt while interviewing her for the family history.

During a snow storm, a tree crashes through the cabin roof, seriously injuring Josephine. Ivy must undertake an arduous journey through the wilderness, using a sled to pull her aunt to safety.

Download Guide of Backwater

Hope Was Here

Hope and her aunt Addie have had to move again, leaving the Blue Box Diner in Brooklyn behind when Gleason Beal steals their money and their dream of owning their own restaurant. Now, they work at the Welcome Stairways, a diner in Mulhoney, Wisconsin where Addie is the cook and Hope is a waitress Hope expects America’s Dairyland to be “basic bovine boredom,” but instead she enters into a world of politics as G.T. Stoop, her new boss who has leukemia, declares that he is running for mayor. Hope sees political corruption up close and learns the power that teenagers have when they band together behind a good cause. She also meets Braverman, an extremely cute grill man as G.T. becomes the father she has wanted all her life.

Download Guide of Hope Was Here

Stand Tall

Sam Benton has always been the tallest student in his class. In fourth grade, Jeremy Liggins began calling him Tree, the nickname stuck, and now that is what everyone calls him. Because of his height, Tree has endured much teasing from classmates. But the worst part is that coaches, players, classmates, and his family all equate height with athletic prowess, which in Tree’s case is not true.

But seventh grade is the hardest. His physical strength is needed to help his grandfather, Leo, whose right leg has been amputated below the knee, and his emotional strength is sorely tried by his parents’ divorce and the declining health of his beloved dog Bradley.

Through this minefield of deep hurts, Tree is guided by Leo, who teaches him to concentrate more on what he has than on what he has not, and when their town needs heroes in the spring, Tree and Leo are ready.

Download Guide of Stand Tall


Banesville, located in the heart of the apple-growing area of upstate New York, is no longer the idyllic small town it once was. There are rumors of ghosts being seen, of an abandoned house being haunted, and of people dying in suspicious ways. The townsfolk are beginning to live in fear. All of this is inflamed by the unscrupulous editor of the local newspaper. Hildy Biddle and the staff of the high school newspaper, The Core, must unveil the corruption that has infiltrated their town before it’s too late.

Download Guide of Peeled


Seventeen-year-old A.J. McCreary is facing all kinds of problems: taking a picture for the cover of the Valentine edition of the school paper; being dateless for the upcoming King of Hearts Dance; and fighting with her dad about her desire to become a photographer. The worst thing for A.J., though, is her many unfortunate dating decisions, and now she is enamored with Peter Terris, who not only is a star athlete and beyond gorgeous, but also deeply involved with the beautiful Julia Hart. When Jonathan, a cupid, visits A.J., offering help in one area of her life, she chooses romance, much against his advice, and orders him to shoot an arrow into Peter’s heart, thus making him love her. A.J. quickly learns that the Peter isn’t the man she imagined he would be, so she desperately cries out for Jonathan, hoping he will reappear and undo the spell that has made her life miserable.

Download Guide of Thwonk


Ten-year-old Mickey Vernon dreams of becoming the Youth Tournament Champion at Vernon’s Pool Hall in Cruckston, New Jersey. But before that can happen, Mickey must overcome his inability to focus, the taunts of his archrival, the bully BuckPender, and a newly sprained left hand. Luckily he has help. His best friend Arlen Pepper teaches him the geometry of pool, and Joseph Alvarez, who learned to play pool from Mickey’s father, wants to coach him.

Download Guide of Sticks


Sixteen-year-old Ellie Morgan has two dreams — winning the blue ribbon at the Rock River Pumpkin Weigh-In and Harvest Fair for the biggest pumpkin in Iowa, and losing twenty pounds. Growing giant pumpkins, though, is a time-consuming passion, and her father thinks it is interfering with school and side tracking the rest of her life.
Ellie is supported by her grandmother, Nana, from whom she inherited the love of agriculture; her cousin Richard; Wes, a handsome new student and sweet corn farmer; and eventually her father. All are present when her giant pumpkin, Max, is loaded on the scale.

Download Guide of Squashed