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RUBY IN THE SKY

When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to Vermont, Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She doesn’t want kids at school asking about her missing father or discovering that her mother has been arrested. But keeping to herself isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee in her class, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house. No one in town understands Abigail — people whisper about her, about her boarded-up house and the terrible secrets she must be hiding.

As Mom’s trial draws near and Abigail faces eviction, Ruby is forced to make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves. Ruby’s story is about the walls we hide behind and the magic that can happen when we are brave enough to break free.

Ruby in the Sky has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award for Middle Grade Fiction (2016), the PEN-New England, Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015), and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the spring NE-SCBWI annual conference (2016). It will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan February 5, 2019.

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A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

At a time when everything in her small town of Seaside, Rhode Island, seems like it’s changing, eleven-year-old Izzy Vitale wants things to stay the same. She wants her dad to start acting like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan, she wants her mom to move back to the marina where they live, but most of all, she wants best friends – Piper and Zelda (dubbed the Sea Star Posse by their kindergarten teacher) – to stay best friends as they begin sixth grade at the regional middle school.

 

Then, Izzy’s father invites his former Army interpreter from Afghanistan and his whole family – including eleven-year-old Sitara — to move into the upstairs apartment at the marina. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food. She does know that her constant presence has become like a rogue wave disrupting the normally easy flow of the Sea Star Posse. But as Izzy gets to know Sitara, she can’t help but admire her self-confidence and pride in her Muslim faith. Little by little, Izzy begins to realize there exists a world much larger than her safe but insulated harbor in Seaside.

When hate messages start showing up at the girls school and at the marina, Izzy and Sitara team up to discover the source of the vandalism. But what Izzy ultimately learns, will force her to make a choice:  remain silent and betray Sitara or speak up for what she knows is right – even if it means losing the Sea Star Posse forever.

 

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS is about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.

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THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PETRA CZECH

 

prague-charles-bridge_2416_600x450The year is 1989 and twelve-year old Petra dreams of having a real family, one that doesn’t consist of the group of crusty, old, Czech immigrants who gather daily in Uncle Vojtech’s barbershop to relive the past. So, when Petra finds a mysterious address written on the back of a cryptic message about “diamonds and cut glass,” inside the marionette her mother gave her before she died, she sends a letter to that address in Czechoslovakia. But, unbeknownst to Petra, this action has set in motion a series of events that will change the course of history and transport her to a world vastly different from her sheltered life above Vojtech’s barbershop.

Now, on the Communists’ radar, Petra is led to believe that everything Vojtech has told her about her family and her identity is a lie. For the first time, she hears stories that her mother, who died in prison, a traitor to the Czech government, kidnapped Petra when she was four years old and sent her to the U.S. without her father’s knowledge. Her father, Zdenek Vyborny, insists he has been searching for her all these years. Believing she will finally find the family she has dreamed of and the home where she truly belongs, she returns to her estranged homeland.

But Prague, is not what she thought it would be. Petra’s father, an interpreter girl and boy runningfor the Communist government, has much business to attend to and abandons her to his assistant, “John Lennon,” a Romani boy, who wears pink sunglasses and has his own plan for escape. As Petra tries to decide whether she can trust John Lennon, or even her father, her dream of belonging to a real family slowly begins to unravel.

But Petra’s father isn’t the only person who has been looking for her. The Secret Police have a great interest in finding a pair of blue diamonds that went missing from Prague around the same time Petra did and she feels their watchful eyes everywhere.

Then Petra’s father suddenly disappears, and she is left to depend on John Lennon. As the two search for her family, Petra begins to uncover the truth about her parents. Now, for the first time on her own, she must learn to distinguish the difference between what is real and what is pretend – what is diamond and what is cut glass. Only then, can she find her way home.

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