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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!)


Recent Adventuring

It’s no secret that I love history and I love the beach (I mean, it’s right there in my bio, along with doughnuts and laughing). Last week my husband and I explored Bermuda, and I got to combine the two in one fun, relaxing, and inspiring vacation. Here’s a little of what we saw:

The town of St. George, which is the oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the Americas. (It’s also a UNESCO world heritage site.) It was founded after ships on their way to rescue the starving colonists at Jamestown (the colony that followed Roanoke) wrecked offshore. The statue of George Somers reminded me of Prospero in The Tempest–turns out Shakespeare may have been inspired by those “current events” while writing the play! The ship is the Deliverance, called the ship that “saved America” by sucessfully resupplying the colonists at Jamestown. Learning about the colonial history and relationship with American colonists reminded me a lot of Roanoke, and made me think about Summer of Lost and Found. If the Roanoke colony had survived, would it have eventually looked like this?

We also checked out the Crystal Cave, which two twelve-year-old boys discovered in 1907. They were playing cricket when their ball disappeared down an unfamiliar hole in the yard. After getting a rope and a lantern, the boys descended to find a beautiful cave with a 55-foot-deep underground lake. While they explored, the lantern went out–and they were lost in the darkness for hours. They found the rope and made it out–the rest is history. (Let this be a lesson in the bravery of middle-graders!) The stalactites and stalagmites were so cool.

And at the Royal Naval Dockyard, we checked out the Victualling Yard, where crews prepared all the food and drink needed to keep sailors well fed on their long voyages. It was kept guarded, to prevent any pilfering. It was a hot day (no surprise), so we stopped in a pub with lots of books.

And, of course, here’s the beach. I spent a lot of hours reading on it, under a peppermint-candy-looking umbrella and with lots of SPF. 

What have your adventures been this summer?

Summer scenes

I was reading a craft book recently in which Hemingway lamented how he struggled to write in summer–the hot, sleepy weather just didn’t work for him. For me, it’s the cold, dark days of winter when I feel blocked. Summer inspires me, and so far this one has been no exception. Here’s some of what I’ve been soaking up (when I haven’t been busy copyediting The Last Grand Adventure, or working away on a shiny new project):

Moonlight in Manhattan

A beautiful Madison sunset

Farmer’s market berries, part 1

Farmer’s market berries, part 2 (homemade ice cream is the best!)

Skyline views in the park

Secret gardens in the country

What does your summer look like so far?

*Want more photos of cityscapes, berries, and books? I’m now on Instagram, and I’m loving the glimpses into other readers’ and writers’ lives. 



I’m so excited to share the cover for my next middle-grade novel that I’m skipping an introduction. Here it is!



Robyn Ng illustrated it, and Laura Lyn DiSiena designed it–the same team that created the beautiful cover for Summer of Lost and Found. And again they perfectly capture the spirit and setting of my book. I love the vintage font (perfect for historical fiction) and the sunset color palette, and the way my characters, Bea and Pidge, are facing out toward the great wide world.

Before I tell you all about The Last Grand Adventure, here’s information on how you can win an ARC and find out (early!) for yourself:

Simply leave a comment on this post to enter–if you’d like an extra entry, you can sign up for my newsletter or tweet about the cover. Full instructions and links below.

About The Last Grand Adventure:

Twelve-year-old Bea finds herself on a unique road-trip with her grandmother as they search for her grandmother’s long-lost sister—the legendary Amelia Earhart—in this charming and poignant novel from the author of When Audrey Met Alice and Summer of Lost and Found.

It’s 1967 and twelve-year-old Bea is in need of some adventure. Her mother is off in San Francisco, while her father has just gotten remarried in Los Angeles. Bea has gained a younger stepsister, and she’s not thrilled about her blended family. So when her ailing grandmother, Pidge, moves to an Orange County retirement community and asks if Bea would spend a few weeks helping her get settled, Bea is happy for any excuse to get away.

But it turns out, her grandmother isn’t interested in settling in. What she really wants is to hop a train back to Atchison, Kansas—where she thinks she’ll be reunited with her long-missing sister: Amelia Earhart. And she wants Bea to be her sidekick on this secret trip.

At first, Bea thinks her grandmother’s plan is a little crazy. But Pidge has thirty years of letters written in “Meelie’s” unmistakable voice, all promising to reunite. This might be the adventure Bea needs . . .

With letters in hand, Bea and Pidge set off on their quest to find Amelia. But getting halfway across the country proves to be more of an adventure than either of them bargained for. And their search for Amelia leads to some surprising truths about their family—and each other.

Early Praise

“I loved traveling alongside Bea and her grandmother Pidge on their grand adventure. Bea learns to embrace courage and sisterly devotion as they draw ever closer to finding Pidge’s missing sister, Amelia Earhart. The mystery kept me thinking–and hoping–long after I finished reading!”
Caroline Starr Rose, author of Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine
“Soaring with the thrill of possibility, The Last Grand Adventure delivers an intimate tale of navigating rough pockets in life’s airspace, chasing dreams, and discovering that the greatest journeys are filled with mystery, risk, setbacks, laughter, and a whole lot of heart.” —Jessica Lawson, author of Waiting for Augusta
“Hooray for The Last Grand Adventure, an irresistible blend of historical fact and adventure-filled fiction! Behrens sweeps the reader up with this charming mystery about Amelia Earhart’s whereabouts and the unbreakable bond between sisters. Traveling with Twelve-year-old Bea and her rule-breaking, free spirited grandmother Pidge across America in 1967 was the perfect way to explore timeless lessons about following  dreams, taking risks, persevering, and the unshakable strength of family ties.” —Nikki Loftin, author of Wish Girl

The Details

Coming from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin on March 20, 2018

Historical fiction for ages 8+

ISBN: 9781481496926

Preorder from:

Barnes & Noble
or your local bookstore (the ISBN is 9781481496926)

And you can add The Last Grand Adventure to your shelves on Goodreads.

ARC Giveaway Instructions (the long version):

To enter to win an ARC, simply leave a comment on this post. Don’t worry if it doesn’t appear right away–my site requires approval for all comments. If you’d like an extra entry, you can sign up for my newsletter or tweet about this cover reveal. Make sure to let me know in your comment if you did one or both of those! This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada, and will end on Wednesday, June 28. I’ll announce the winner, chosen randomly, on Thursday, June 29. Good luck, and thanks for entering!

Update: Congrats to Kaitlin Hundscheid, who won the ARC–I’ll send you an email shortly. And thanks, all, for the cover love!

The Reading Season

Summer is my favorite reading season.* Both in terms of the places you can read (beach, pool, park, hammock, tent, etc.) and the tradition of reading for pleasure. Deep in winter, I start a list of the books I’d like to read once it’s warm and sunny and slower-paced.

Here are some of the titles I’m looking forward to savoring this summer:


Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine

Orphan Island

The Rocks


Do Not Become Alarmed

What’s on your reading list?

*For more on why, I blogged about my summers of book love at the Nerdy Book Club site.

SUMMER is here (at least in paperback)

It might be a little chilly and gloomy this week, but Summer is finally here–at least in paperback.


It was a real treat to come home from a great day at #nErDcampNJ last Saturday and find a package with some early copies inside. It’s the same gorgeous art by Robyn Ng and lovely design by Laura Lyn DiSiena, but there is a surprise inside . . .


A teaser for my next middle-grade novel, The Last Grand Adventure (which is coming in March 2018 from Simon & Schuster).

I was a huge paperback reader as a kid–and still as an adult. Hardcover editions are beautiful, but they are not so easy to put in a bike basket or a beach bag, or to lug on the subway. I’m excited to think of Nell and Ambrose heading off to camps and swim clubs and cabins in the next few months.

And finally, I have winners to announce for the Educator Giveaway! Jennifer Pickrell and Kristy Guerriero won the reading-group sets. You should have received an email from me, and I’ll get those books and guides to you ASAP. Thanks to all who entered!