middle grade readers

Readers may remember Emma Donoghue for her blockbuster novel Room, about a happy little boy growing up in horrifying conditions. Where Room was darkness pierced with light, Donoghue’s latest is pretty much all light. The Lotterys Plus One, for young readers, is about a big, boisterous, diverse family that starts with two sets of same sex couples deciding to have children. The family grows to include seven kids, and that “plus one” of the title turns out to be the addition that tips the family over the edge.

Donoghue says she got the idea for the book at a dinner party. “My hostess said to me, ‘How come there aren’t good books for middle grade that feature kids with two mothers?’ You know, ‘Write me one, Emma,’ she said. And then I thought, while I’m at it, let’s make it really big — you know, go big or go home.”

Emma Donoghue Helps Kids Deal With Dementia (And Still Has Fun) In 'The Lotterys’

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11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

So, today I read the entire second half of my new middle grade manuscript to my kids, who are of course my favorite middle grade readers. This is my first MG (unless you count PLAIN KATE – I’m never sure) and the first time I’ve had the chance to share my writing with them.  

Three things of note:

  1. they wouldn’t let me stop. 
  2. they cried.
  3. then they cheered.
  4. they say that now they hate me.

I’m pretty sure they hate me in a GOOD way.  You know, like the rest of my readers?