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The Last Grand Adventure is on shelves today–hip hip hooray!

I have fond memories of the trips I took as a kid and teen, so it surprised me when, a few years ago, I unearthed my childhood travel journal and found it full of worries. From ghosts in New Orleans to grizzlies in Denali National Park, to spiders in New Mexico and seaweed on Coronado Beach. Yes, I was even afraid of seaweed.

Like me, Bea (the protagonist of The Last Grand Adventure) is more of a natural worrier than a natural adventurer. As she heads off on a planes-trains-and-automobiles journey with her strong-willed and eccentric grandmother, Pidge, Bea is constantly faced with the dilemma of whether or not to yield to her fears. Of course, there’s a pretty tantalizing reason for them to keep going, all the way to Atchison, Kansas: the promise of finding Pidge’s long-lost sister, Amelia Earhart.

Travel opened my eyes to the world beyond my quiet neighborhood, showing me about people and places different than those I had known. As Bea’s journey takes her far across the country, she also experiences that feeling of discovery. The best souvenir, though, is the unexpected bravery she finds inside herself.

At its heart, this story is about the power of both an open mind and an open road. I hope readers will enjoy riding along on Bea and Pidge’s adventure.

Thanks to everyone who helped get this book into the world, especially: my agent, Suzie Townsend, and her assistants, Sara Stricker and Cassandra Baim; and my editors, Alyson Heller and Tricia Lin, publicist, Samantha Benson, and the whole team at Aladdin.

If you’d like a signed copy of Adventure and you can’t make one of my events, you can order one from Books of Wonder–or send me an email, and I’ll pop a personalized bookplate for you in the mail.

Bon voyage!



In Case of Emergency

So you might have seen some news in Publishers Weekly:

This is why I’ve been neglecting my blog so far in 2018–I wrote another MG novel! In Case of Emergency will be in bookstores in Fall 2019. This book is a little different than the three I’ve published–it’s not a historical story. But it is a bit of an adventure, and one packed full of research (this infamous article in particular was inspiration), a fascinating setting, and kids with lots of moxie. Growing up, my favorite types of books to read were historical fiction and survival stories, like Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain. Plus The Baby-Sitters Club–which sometimes turned into survival stories (remember the super specials?). In fact, I initially pitched this idea to my agent as “Hatchet meets The Baby-Sitters Club“! I had a lot of fun writing this book, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I’m excited to work with the fantastic team at Sourcebooks again, too! Many thanks to Annie Berger for giving this book a home, to Suzie Townsend for being such a great advocate for my writing, to Cassandra Baim for all her help and encouragement–and especially to readers, who keep us all going.

The Last Grand Adventure news & events!

It’s been a busy couple of months–more on that soon! But I’m belatedly excited to share a few more snippets from trade reviews for The Last Grand Adventure:

“Informed by history, Behrens’s narrative treasures family relationships and celebrates courage.” Booklist

“Normally unadventurous twelve-year-old Bea (“I left my adventure journal empty and my worry journal full”) is a sympathetic narrator as she frets about her place in her newly blended family and her grandmother’s wavering memory. The tantalizing thread of possibility about Amelia Earhart and the letters she—or somebody—has been writing to Pidge adds alluring mystery.” BCCB

Historical fiction lovers are in for a treat with this heartfelt tale of discovery and hope. . . . This story has much to love, from the touching development of Bea and Pidge’s relationship to Bea conquering her fears and discovering the appeal of adventure. . . . VERDICT An excellent purchase for readers who enjoy a strong dose of adventure and solid character development in their historical fiction.”Darla Salva Cruz, School Library Journal

I’m blushing, SLJ! It’s always a great feeling when a reviewer seems to really get the story you were trying to tell. I’m grateful to these reviewers for their thoughtful and insightful reviews.

The Last Grand Adventure will be out next week, and it’s only fitting that I hit the road to share Bea and Pidge’s story with readers. Here are the places I’ll be in March and April:

More events for the summer are in the works: I’ll be at Bethany Beach Bookstore in June and I’m thrilled to share that I’ll be at the Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison, Kansas, this July! I’ll keep the Events page of my site updated with all the details. 

Pre-order giveaway for THE LAST GRAND ADVENTURE

The Last Grand Adventure will be out in a month, and I can’t wait!

But did you know that you can buy a copy today? Pre-ordering books is a great way to support both authors and booksellers. Author Lisa Schroeder tells all the reasons why in this helpful post, but in short:
–Pre-orders can help a bookstore decide whether to stock a book
–Pre-orders can help the author get more marketing support from a publisher
–Pre-orders can help a publisher decide whether to sign up more books from an author

Basically, readers who pre-order books are helping out all the people who make and sell books! As a thank-you, everyone who pre-orders a copy will receive The Last Grand Adventure swag:

–a signed and personalized bookplate
–stickers featuring both the beautiful cover art and the adventure map
–a bookmark
–a super shiny postcard
–bonus pieces of When Audrey Met Alice and Summer of Lost and Found swag 
How to pre-order and get your swag:

1. Order The Last Grand Adventure from the retailer of your choice. Here are links to major retailers:

If you’d like to purchase from your local indie, that is extra great! Just ask a friendly bookseller to order you a copy. In case you need it, the book’s ISBN is: 9781481496926.

2. Email me before March 20, 2018 with the following info: Name, mailing address, instructions on how to personalize your bookplate, and proof-of-purchase (e.g., screenshot of an order confirmation or receipt, or forward the order in your email). Feel free to delete or blur any personal info, but I promise I will not use or save any info you send me.

Also let me know if you’d like to be added to my mailing list. I send out a newsletter about 4 times a year, and I will never share your email.

3. That’s it! I will email you to confirm once I’ve put your pre-order swag in the mail.

Thank you for your support, and happy reading!

2017 in Books

Every year, I keep a reading log in my planner–and on Goodreads, mainly because that way I can easily collect images of the covers and get a tabulation of my pages read (and other fun stats) at the end of the year, such as:

Fewer pages than in previous years, which surprised me–until I remembered that this is the first year I haven’t had a commute in a long time. Public transportation is a great opportunity to read a book! Here are the titles that I enjoyed in 2017:

(Look at those covers. Can you tell that I’m drawn to stories that involve the sea?)

By my count, 30 adult fiction titles, 17 MG, 4 YA, and 7 nonfiction–I traded some YA for nonfiction apparently. 

In 2018, I’m going to try to stay away from reading goals and challenges–other than to make sure I’m reading books by and about people whose life experiences are different than mine and that I’m supporting authors from marginalized communities. So I guess you could say my goal for the new reading year is to focus on the books and the pleasure of time spent reading. 🙂


THE LAST GRAND ADVENTURE’s first trade review

Last week, The Last Grand Adventure got its first trade review! Which is always a nerve-racking moment for an author–after so many hours spent crafting a story, it’s time to see it through a reader’s fresh eyes. To my delight, Kirkus loved it, calling Bea and Pidge’s story “a quirky, heart-rending journey” that’s “infused with warmth and brightly developed characters and locales.” My favorite part? That they called its end “a heartbreakingly surprising . . . conclusion.” Surprising and heartbreaking are two adjectives I love to read, so it’s a treat to have a critic apply them to my book.

You can read the full review on Kirkus‘s website here.




This past Saturday was #nErDcampLI, the annual literacy “unconference” for teachers, librarians, educators, and authors. And it was so much fun!

I woke up at 5:20 a.m. to make my train. I was not aware that it is still dark out at that hour, but the sunrise I watched from the LIRR made the early hour not just worthwhile but gorgeous.

I like that my book is reflected in the window. Always reading!

There were so many great sessions led by educators and teachers. I participated in two–a workshop on getting your students writing with the fabulous Lauren Magaziner, and a big Q&A with a bunch of MG authors. I also got a chance to see Booki Vivat‘s fantastic art in action.

New profile pic?

And the author meet-and-greet was a great chance to connect with readers and share the book love.

Authors in the Boyd School’s Publishing Center–of course! (Photo from the amazing Kristen Picone)

The whole day was inspiring, educational–and super fun. Huge thanks to all the volunteers who make this day happen. Can’t wait for next year!

Booki, Lauren, and me

This weekend: nErDcampLI!

Three sleeps till nErDcampLI! This “unconference” is always so much fun, and it’s filled with literacy ideas and discussion–and #booklove. The workshops and keynotes start at 8:00, and the author meet and greet runs from 2:00-3:30. Check out all the amazing authors and illustrators who will be there–and stop by and say hi if you’d like a signed copy of When Audrey Met Alice or Summer of Lost and Found!

ARCs! And some other stuff

Time flies when you’re having fun–I can’t believe summer is over, and September almost is, too. It was a busy month:

The new Books of Wonder opened! I love both stores, but it’s so exciting to have a children’s bookstore (and its awesome events) uptown.

Of course I visited Nell and Ambrose when I stopped by to check out the new space.

Meanwhile, at the downtown location, I went to a fabulous panel with Tara Dairman, Jessica Lawson, Alison Cherry, and Tracey Baptiste. Lots of author friends were there–we even had a mini reunion of our 2014 debut author group. Here we are: Jessica Lawson, Tara Dairman, Lauren Magaziner, me, and Michelle Schusterman. We all have new MG releases in either 2017 or 2018!

Speaking of new releases, I got a delightful surprise from the UPS man one morning: ARCs (advance reader copies) of The Last Grand Adventure!

Aren’t they pretty? It’s so exciting to finally see this story in book form. 

Now it’s back to work on some new projects, and starting to think of fun ways to share The Last Grand Adventure with readers. 

What have you been up to lately?

Ants and Grasshoppers

Usually, I’m an ant. I like having to-do lists and schedules, deadlines and goals, and I’m at my happiest when I’m working as much as playing, or maybe even a little more.

But not in August. As the fable goes, there’s a time for work and a time for play, and August is the time for play. The days are still long, most emails are met with out-of-office replies, and the late-summer heat is so perfect for strolling. Or lounging. Or swimming. Or reading. Or ice-cream-cone-licking. But not for typing. (I once had a wooden desk chair and an apartment without air-conditioning, and while I was stuck at my computer revising a book during a heat wave, I hydroplaned off my seat. True story.)

I feel a little guilty being a grasshopper right now. I’m looking forward to being an ant again, in just a few weeks. But for now, I’m going to embrace the season of play. I’ll be “making music” till Labor Day. After all, what a writer needs most is rich experiences, so in my own way I’m storing up food for winter.

(To see my grasshopper days, find me on Instagram!)