Friend Friday

All I have to do is think of Elly Swartz and I smile. She is one of those people who radiates joy. And hopefulness. And I love her even though she likes Twizzlers, when anyone knows red licorice is way, way better. Her latest book is sure to expand even the Scroogiest of hearts. And you can win a signed copy by entering here. Thank you, Elly, for your generosity and thank you for writing Give and Take (FSG).

Elly Swartz

Give and Take ~ A Look Behind the Story

What this book is about

In GIVE AND TAKE, Twelve-year-old Maggie knows her new baby sister who smells like powder isn’t her sister for keeps. Izzie is a foster baby awaiting adoption. So in a day or a week, she’ll go to her forever family and all that sweetness will be gone. Except for those things Maggie’s secretly saving in the cardboard boxes in her closet and under her bed. Baby socks, binkies, and a button from Bud the Bear. Rocks, sticks, and candy wrappers. Maggie holds on tight. To her things. Her pet turtle. Her memories of Nana. And her friends. But when Maggie has to say goodbye to Izzie, and her friend gets bumped from their all-girl trapshooting squad to make room for a boy, Maggie’s hoarding grows far beyond her control and she learns that sometimes love means letting go.

What this book is really about

Loving big. Deeply. Wholly. Loving because that’s the best gift we have to give. Not to be remembered. Just because we can.

What this book is also about

Accepting ourselves – all of ourselves. When we think about who we are, we often define ourselves the way the world sees us. We allow others to determine our strengths and highlight our weaknesses. We allow them to put us in a pocket. Maggie’s story pushes past those definitions and looks inward. Who are we? Really? What layers make up the person we are. The great. The good. And the maybe not so good. Accepting all of them and knowing that no one layer/trait/moment defines us. Together they blend to make us the wonderful unique and extraordinary individuals we are.

How writing this story was equal parts wonderful and hard

This book flowed out of my heart. By the time I sat down to write (and there were lots of prewriting exercises I did to get to know Maggie), I felt like I really knew her. So putting Maggie’s story on the page was in some ways easy. I knew what she wanted. And maybe more importantly, I knew what she needed. But then came the hard part. To write from that place of true authenticity, I couldn’t just know Maggie. I had to be Maggie. I had to feel what she was feeling. The joy. The love. The hurt. The sadness. The anger. I had to go to that dark place where she went. And live there awhile. That was the hard part. For me to emotionally connect with her, I needed to get into her head space. To feel what she felt. And when her heart was dark or scary or filled with mounds of anxiety, that was hard. But that’s the point, right? Sometimes feeling big is scary. Sometimes it is hard. And we need to get through. Move past. Embrace. Learn. Let go. So, my feeling is, let’s do it together. On the page. You, me, and Maggie. We are always better together.

Give and Take by Elly Swartz

Give and Take Playlist on Spotify – Maggie’s uses music to navigate her anxiety and heal her heart. I put the songs she listens to in the story on Spotify.

Me reading Chapter 1 of Give and Take

Elly Swartz loves writing for kids, Twizzlers, and anything with her family. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG 2016) is about 12-year-old Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. In her second book, SMART COOKIE (Scholastic, 2018), you meet the spunky and big-hearted Frankie. Frankie’s all about family with a dash of mischief and mystery! Then on 10/15/19, say hello to Maggie in GIVE AND TAKE (FSG). With the help of a foster baby named Izzie and Bert the turtle, Maggie learns that sometimes love means letting go. Elly lives in Massachusetts with her family and beagle. You can find her at, on Twitter @ellyswartz, on Instagram @ellyswartzbooks or on her webseries #BooksintheKitchen with author Victoria J. Coe.

Curriculum Guide and Journaling activity