Children’s Literature

I never liked reading when I was a kid.  Certainly not the books that were assigned in school.  When I occasionally  found something that I did enjoy (Tuck Everlasting, A Wrinkle in Time…), I had a hard time focusing on the words unless there was complete silence.  In fact, I use to read out loud with my fingers plugged in my ears so that all I could hear was my own voice.  I don’t think it was until after college that I really began to enjoy reading.  And now that I have kids it feels like all I ever do is read, but this time around I’ve fallen in love with children’s literature.   I think I pick out more books at the library than Kaia does.  I had dreams of the day when the whole family could snuggle up in the living room next to a roaring fire, each with our own books.

Until recently, though, Kaia has had absolutely no interest in reading.  She loved to be read to, but admitted that she didn’t want to mess up a word, so she just wouldn’t read it at all.  So, for her 7th birthday I decided to write her a book.  I thought if I put her into a story doing things that she loves, maybe she would want to read about it.  She did love the book, but my plan didn’t work.  She just wanted me to read it to her over and over.  (It was actually Bernadette Kelly and her Pony Tales series, Dan Greenburg’s Zack Files, and other funny chapter books, along with a little more aging, that did the trick and got her devouring books).

But, that little story has spiraled into a 11,000+ word early-middle grade book, The Summer I Grew Scales, and it is ready for publishing.  I’m very lucky to have friends who are authors and editors who have walked me through this whole process and helped clean up the manuscript, as well as many sweet 7-12 year olds who have read it and given it rave reviews! :-)  So, I’m officially looking for an agent!

What’s it about, you ask?

When ten-year-old Kaia leaves on a summer beach trip with her family, she expects to enjoy some good old fun in the sun.  Instead she gets a lesson on mermaid genetics, a date with a hungry shark, and the fate of a species in her hands.

Kaia’s loves everything about being in water:  its silky smooth feeling on her skin, the quiet weightlessness as she glides underneath, the way it carries her on its surface like a rock star at her own concert.  She can only imagine how lovely it must be to float in the vast, open ocean.  However, imagining is all she plans on doing during her summer turtle-watching trip with her family. Where there is ocean there are sharks and she will never, ever get in the water with sharks.  Not even if her life depends on it.  But, what if it were someone else’s life?

It doesn’t take long after arriving on Tor Laei Island for Kaia to realize that things are a bit different there.  The houses are in the water, the food is, well, fishy, and the people spend most of their time in the water.  Yet, none of these oddities can prepare her for the news her uncle has for her.  The turtles of Tor Laei are dying out.  They can no longer find their way to shore to lay their eggs and they need help. That help, it seems, can only come in the form of a fish.  A half-fish to be exact.  And according to Kaia’s uncle, she is just the half-fish they need!  Kaia is a mermaid.  A Halfling.

Getting over your deepest fears isn’t for the faint of heart.  With the help of her family and Tieren, the violet-eyed merboy, not only is Kaia going to have to figure out how this whole mermaid thing works, she is also going to have to get in the water.  The ocean water . . . with sharks!  Never say never, right?

I had Kaia’s birthday present printed up and an amazing friend and illustrator, Constance Lombardo, painted the cover for me.

Wish me luck!

4 thoughts on “Children’s Literature

  1. congratulations maria, this is very exciting! the cover is gorgeous!
    i wonder if kaia the mermaid is from the island i just posted about!? : )

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