Book Cover Premiere: Posted

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This past summer, we featured Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, a very special novel by John David Anderson. Today, we are honored to premiere the cover for his next book, Posted!

Click the image below to see the cover art, which was illustrated by Rafael Mayani and designed by Katie Fitch. Then scroll down for a synopsis of Posted, an interview with the author, and an exclusive scene!

The Story

In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.

In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.

John David Anderson returns with the story of five friends struggling to fit in, to find themselves, and to summon the courage to say the things that need to be said.

Exclusive Scene

I push my way through the buzzing mob and freeze, heart-struck, dizzy. It takes me a minute to really get what I’m looking at.

Notes. At least a hundred of them. Pressed all over the freshly painted locker.

Some clump together, overlapping like roof shingles. Others orbit like satellites, reaching up toward the wall. They vary in color—pale blue, fluorescent pink, lime green—but most of them are yellow, like dandelions before they fluff white and wither away.

I stand motionless and read a few of them, softly enough so only I can hear. They are just words and they are not just words. I think about everything that’s happened. About Bench and Deedee and Rose. And Wolf. About all the terrible things that were said. About the things that should have been said and weren’t.

There was a war. This was where it ended.

I can’t tell you exactly when it changed, when it spiraled out of control like a kite twisting in the wind. When it stopped being something funny and clever and became something else. Maybe there was no single moment. Maybe underneath all the squares plastered on the walls and the notebooks and the windows there was the same message over and over—we just ignored it because it was easier to stomach that way. And now I’m standing here, dumbstruck.

I know what you are going to say: sticks, stones, and broken bones, but words can kick you in the gut. They wriggle underneath your skin and start to itch. They set their hooks into you and pull. Words accumulate like a cancer, and then they eat away at you until there is nothing left. And once they are let loose there really is no taking them back.

Truth is, I can’t tell you exactly when it changed. I can tell you how it started, though. And I can tell you how it ended. I will do my best to line up the dots in between.

I’ll leave it to you to draw the line.

Interview with the author

Hi, John! Can you share what inspired you to write this story?

John: It started with an image: a locker completely covered in post-it notes, hundreds of them, some apologetic, some inspirational. And I asked myself, what led to this moment? What prompted this outpouring and in this way? Instantly I knew it was a reaction to something terrible. That a war (of sorts) had been waged, and that there were casualties. From there I worked backwards until I found the four boys and one girl at the center of it all. Their relationships formed the backbone of the story. It is definitely a character-driven novel, not as much concerned about what happens as it is about how and why.

I also drew inspiration from moments of bullying that I’d heard and read about (and some I experienced first-hand growing up). That made this a somewhat difficult novel to write.

The main characters in MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY had names that really suited their personalities: Topher, Brand, and Steve. In POSTED, your main characters’ names are Frost, Deedee, Wolf, and Bench. What is your process for naming characters, and how did you come up with these particularly unique names?

John: A pianist, a poet, an athlete, an RPG addict. You can match up the passion with the nickname for fun. Nicknames are not just a way to express our identities, they are also a way to form circles, and to close the circles off from others. These are not the names the teachers use to take attendance; they are the names shared among friends, the ones who know your secrets and your dreams. The flip side to that is name-calling. And there’s plenty of that going on in the story too. It is very much a book about how difficult it can be to look past labels and easy assumptions to see the person underneath.

Which leads me to Rose (would any other name smell as sweet?), who may well be the hero of the story and who understands, perhaps better than anyone, the impact that names and labels can have. Armed with her wit and her crazy sharp sword Charlene, she is a force to be reckoned with at the Dungeons and Dragons table…but now I’m starting to give too much away.

What can fans of BIXBY expect to find in the pages of POSTED that is similar? And in what ways are the books different?

John: They are both realistic coming-of-age stories that reflect on the power of friendships and the challenges that come with standing up for yourself. Whereas the boys of BIXBY are on a gallant quest, the protagonists of POSTED have more conflicting motives and lack a clear-cut Ms. Bixby figure to guide them. Their struggles with identity and agency lead to lots of inner group conflict, and their responses are not always so noble. These kids don’t have all the answers. They aren’t always heroic. The tone of POSTED is darker, a little edgier, a little meaner at times, but there are still so many moments of humor, redemption, and hope. It’s the kind of book that I hope gets kids talking to each other, thinking about the courage it takes to say or do the right thing.

POSTED is a book about the power of words, and how they are expressed in different spaces and mediums. Do you have a message for your readers about the power of words in their own lives?

John: Oh, man. Just reading the headlines during the current presidential race I am reminded daily of the impact our words can have. The book itself has a lot to say about this, so for now I’ll just tell my young readers to never underestimate the potential punch their words carry, both positive and negative. Sometimes it’s just too easy to say something mean or hurtful; other times it seems too hard to speak up. Apologies are harder than accusations, after all. But if half a lifetime of writing and reading has taught me anything, it’s that language has the power we give it: it can break and mend, include and exclude, uplift and beat down. We get to decide. And as my awesome editor told me once, we must use this power for good.

Thanks for sharing Posted with us!

John: Thanks for the reveal, All the Wonders. You guys are the best!

Posted will be on sale from Walden Pond Press beginning May 2, 2017.




John David Anderson is the author of many books for young readers, including SidekickedThe Dungeoneers, and Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.

Comments

  1. As much as I love the super hero books Ms Bixby was my favorite but I think this one will mean even more to me. Thank you for tackling the hard subjects.

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