Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Monthly Meeting – August 2021: Author Adrianna Cuevas

Adrianna Cuevas, author of THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ and CUBA IN MY POCKET, Cover of "Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez" features a boy shining a flashlight running into the arched trees of a forest at night, followed by a deer and a fox; a silver Pura Belpre Honor sticker adorns the bottom left cornerspoke at August’s meeting about making the switch to writing middle grade books from picture books and young adult books.

Why Write Middle Grade?
1. To enjoy the ability of combining light elements with serious topics
2. To explore unlimited ideas/opportunities!

Basics to Consider:
1. Word Count:
—Picture Books:  Less than 600 words
—Middle Grade Books: 20-65k words
—Young Adult: 85-95k words
2. Who is your Audience?
— Developmental Range

Common Themes:

Advice Regarding Voice:
—For PB writers: don’t be preachy or overly focused on teaching a lesson
—For YA writers: make sure your characters still sound like kids (both with their vocabulary and what they know)

Advice Regarding Pacing:
—For PB writers: add layers to your plot; slow down some moments; alternate high drama/emotion scenes with lighter scenes
—For YA writers: make sure your plot is moving at a quicker pace; make sure your problem and the MC’s perceived solution are established early on

Adrianna’s Recommended Reading List:
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
All You Knead is Love by Tanya Guerrero
Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera
The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit
That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar
Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Keep it Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
Tight and What Lane by Torrey Maldonado
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio
The Derby Daredevils by Kit Rosewater
Root Magic by Eden Royce
Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson
Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao