My books.

To order any of my titles ask your local bookseller, or order from Peachtree Publishing or Amazon.

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Crossing Jordan: My first published book began with a knock on my door and a young girl telling me, “Guess what Miss Adrian? We’re gonna have to move soon ’cause there are getting to be too many black people in this neighborhood.” When I failed to change her mind about her family’s prejudice I began to write Crossing JordanIn real life the family left the neighborhood. In my story the white family builds a fence, but that doesn’t stop Cass and Jemmie, the twelve-year-old girls divided by that fence, from becoming a running team of two, Chocolate Milk, and finding a way to bring their families together. That book was published in 2000, and I am finally hopeful that we will overcome our fence-building ways, our distrust, our bigotry, and our unkindness.
Awards & Honors: Voya Top Shelf citation, 2000; American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, 2001, Notable Books for a Global Society from The International Reading Association, 2001; Children’s Literature Choice List, 2001; Florida selection for National Book Festival, 2003; Premio Selezione Bancarellino, 2006, (for the Italian translation).
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Anna Casey’s Place in the World: The neighborhood in Crossing Jordan is my own, so it wasn’t hard to return to it for my second novel, which turned out to be the second book in the collection that would become the neighborhood novels. Anna Casey’s parents were killed in a car wreck and she’s been passed around her family until, as she says, “I ran out of relatives.” She is now in foster care. In Anna’s back pack is a rock collected at each of the places she’s lived. Her hope? That one day she will pick up her last rock, that one day she will find her place in the world.
Awards & Honors: Young Adult Top Forty, Pennsylvania School Library Assoc., 2001; Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education, 2003; Carol D. Reiser Award for Inspiring Future Volunteers, Metro Award for inspiring Future Volunteers, 2003
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My Brother’s Hero: I couldn’t resist using one of my own experiences in the writing of my second novelI spent six years living aboard a boat in the Florida Keys. For this story I brought Ben and his pestiferous little brother Cody, both characters in the previous two books, down to the Keys to live aboard an uncle’s boat with their parents while on vacation. Living aboard the sailboat docked behind their boat is a biologist and his daughter, Mica, who shows up Ben when it comes to fishing, diving, and bragging–calling into question his position as his brother’s hero. Lots of adventure in this book–even a night spent lost at sea.
Honors & Awards:Recommended Holiday Reading List, Just Read Florida! 2003; Sunshine State Young Readers Award nominee, 2006-2007.
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The Sorta Sisters: Mica was such a dominant character in My Brother’s Hero I had to strike a bargain with her; if you let Ben tell his story I’ll give you a book of your own–and she agreed. I almost lived up to my end of the bargain with The Sorta SistersMica and Anna Casey alternate chapters. Both girls are lonely, and both love the natural world. Having heard from Ben about Anna, Mica sends a note to Anna and their friendship-via-letter begins. Each letter includes something from the natural world, carefully packaged, like resurrection ferns from Anna in north Florida (Mica resurrects them in the shower), and a flamingo tongue shell from the blue waters of the Keys sent by Mica. My years spent as an illustrator for the Baltimore Zoo came in handy as I drew each of the objects the girls exchanged.
Honors & Awards: Children’s Literature Gold Medal Winner, Florida Book Award, 2007; Society of School Librarians Intl. Book Awards honor book, 2008; Green Earth Award, honor book 2008; Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List, NYSRA, 2009; Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List, Kansas National Education Association, 2008; Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominee, University of Georgia, 2009-2010.
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The Big Nothing: Like Mica, Justin Riggs, Ben’s sidekick and best friend, is a recurring character who caught my attention, but where Mica made herself known with spectacular dives off the mast of her sailboat, what I noticed about Justin was his dilapidated sneakers, sneakers held together with massive amounts of tape. What was up with that? I figured it out as soon as the first scene of his book, The Big Nothing, began to unfold: Justin’s parents are fighting–they always fight–and Justin is sitting on the front steps trying not to hear them. Justin sees himself as less than all his friends: short, chunky, a kid with a crazy family–he’s nothing special–until he discovers his own super-power. Justin is a natural musician. It just takes an old piano and someone to notice…
Honors & Awards: Young Adult Top Forty, Pennsylvania School Librarian Assoc., 2005; For Teens, By Teens: Teens Recommended Reading List, Just Read Florida! 2011; Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee, Assoc. for Indiana Media Educators, 2006-2007.
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Some Kind of Magic is the last book in the neighborhood series. For Ben, Cass, Jemmie, and Justin the summer between middle school and high school promises to be boring–especially for Ben who has to babysit his kid brother, Cody, but then Cody finds the hat of a long-missing uncle on a high shelf in the closet, a hat he claims gives him “powers.” The older kids just play along until the “magic hat” begins to make things happen for all of them.
Honors & Awards:Parent’s Choice Fun Stuff Award, Parent’s Choice Foundation, 2015.
Sister Spider Knows All: There is a flea market we sometimes go to on weekends and I noticed that often, behind the folding tables, pitching the things for sale and making change, were kids. And I wondered, what would it be like to be a school kid during the week and an important contributor to your family’s economy on the weekends? Thisis the story of Rox, who lives with her grandmother and a grown cousin, works weekends to keep her family afloat…and wonders about the absent mother no one will talk about. Her journey to figuring out what happened to her mother begins when she finds a dusty diary.
Honors and Awards: Parent’s Choice Award, Scholastic Book Club, 2003; Young Adult Top 40, Pennsylvania’s School Librarian’s Assoc., 2003; Best of 2003 Young Readers, the Washington Post.
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Sister Spider Knows All: There is a flea market we sometimes go to on weekends and I noticed that often, behind the folding tables, pitching the things for sale and making change, were kids. And I wondered, what would it be like to be a school kid during the week and an important contributor to your family’s economy on the weekends? Thisis the story of Rox, who lives with her grandmother and a grown cousin, works weekends to keep her family afloat…and wonders about the absent mother no one will talk about. Her journey to figuring out what happened to her mother begins when she finds a dusty diary.
Honors and Awards: Parent’s Choice Award, Scholastic Book Club, 2003; Young Adult Top 40, Pennsylvania’s School Librarian’s Assoc., 2003; Best of 2003 Young Readers, the Washington Post.
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local gang, the Tarantulas, a gang led by Rapp Robinson (I got permission to use the name when I signed a book for a kid by that name). Socko and his buddy, Damien, have just finished the last day of school and are trying to figure out how to stay below Rapp’s radar, when Socko’s mother tells him they are moving. A grandfather he’s never met is buying them a house in trade for keeping him out of a nursing home, and so they move to a partially built housing development, Moon Ridge Estates, where they are the only residents until the builder’s family moves in and Socko meets Livvy. Together they have to rescue Damien from the gang Socko left behind, and then thwart Rapp who comes after them when they do the same for Rapp’s girlfriend, Junebug–there’s a great chase scene at the end!
Honors and Awards: Social Justice Literacy Award, International Reading Assoc., 2013; Florida Book Awards, Silver Medal, 2012; Kansas City Reading Circle Recommended Reading List, Kansas National Education Assoc., 2013.
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The Real Question is my first and only published young adult novel. Fisher Brown takes a scary, life-changing detour, as he strays from his college-bound, straight-A trajectory. Prodded by a note from his guidance-counselor-father that advises him to consider “the real question,” a tip which is supposed to help Fisher discern what is being asked on tests, Fisher takes it a step further. What is the real question in life? To answer that question he hits the road with a drifter named Lonnie for what is supposed to be a weekend long adventure–but isn’t.
Honors & Awards: Young Adult Gold Medal Winner, Florida Book Awards, 2006; Volunteer State Book Awards, Tennessee Assoc. of School Librarians, 2009-2010; Just Read Florida! Summer Recommended Reading List, 2009-2011.