9 Days To Go, Links To Events, Glass Magic, & A Draft Reading Guide for Riverland

(whoo this post got long. I put a new-to-you photo at the bottom as a reward.) 

Back in 2016, I didn’t think I could write a book like Riverland. Before that, I knew I never would. Then, in 2016 and 2017, I did (over and over again) — with the help and encouragement of many. … I rewrote it until I could tell Eleanor and Mike’s story in a way that was real and true.

In a little over a week, Riverland goes out in the world — my first middle grade novel. A portal fantasy about stories and sisterhood, surviving a violent household, magic and dreams, reality and truth, a pony made out of old towels, a beach glass and driftwood heron, and monsters.

It’s a first for me in many ways, and it was far from easy to write.  I hope that it lasts. I hope that it’s there for those who need it. I hope for everyone reading it that the adventure running through the book puts something good in the world.

So here’s an all-access-pass to what’s happening Riverland-wards in April (and a bit of May):

  • Online: A couple of people have written some really amazing things about Riverland lately. Here are some excerpts …
    • Carlos Hernandez, author of the amazing Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, writes:

      The short version is this: Riverland is going so save some kids (and adults). That’s because it uses fantasy to portray an all-too-recognizable kind of household: a place where anger rules, and kids learn to hide themselves from it.
      More than portraying: it gives power and hope. (read the rest)

    • At Geekmom, librarian Amy Weir read Riverland with her kids, aged 10 and 12, and they wrote:

      12yo: I think this is a really good book for kids my age. I really like the idea of it, the storyline and plot is good. I really like the character Pendra, who’s really nice and adventurous. But the dad is a jerk. [Mom’s note: he wanted to call the dad much worse names than “jerk,” but we compromised]
      10yo: I think it’s a good book for kids who like magic and things like that. The best characters are Pendra, Mike, and Eleanor because they have kind hearts, unlike the dad, and are very brave and adventurous. I was kinda sad at the part when the mom told the girls to go with Pendra’s family even though she wouldn’t go with them. [Mom’s note: I am leaving that minor spoiler in because it doesn’t actually reveal much of the plot, but gives an idea of her emotional investment in the story]
      Mom/Children’s Librarian: I won’t lie: this is one of those books that is hard for a parent to read. While kids feel the injustice of the emotional abuse the girls experience throughout the story, it gives them an empowering sort of rage as they root the characters on; but all my Mama instincts are screaming out to jump into the story, scoop up the characters in my arms, and make everything All Better. Perhaps you’ve experienced this phenomenon, too: you read and watched and loved all sorts of Kids in Horrible Peril stories growing up, then suddenly you became a parent and were unable to handle it anymore. I want to be clear about this so gatekeepers don’t get the wrong impression and think the abuse in the story is too intense to expose their own children to. The kids can handle it, in a story. It’s less extreme than the abuse that, say, Roald Dahl characters go through, and slightly better off than Harry Potter with the Dursleys. Kids understand it. … (read more)

    • Booklist gave Riverland a Star!:A narrative that challenges the stereotypical stories of domestic violence, this is painful and heartwarming all at once in its portrayal of two sisters creating their own magic and protecting one another. The latest from award-winning Wilde is a must-read for upper-middle-graders looking not just for a magical quest but also for lyrical writing and a beautiful story, too.”  and  Publisher’s Weekly also had lovely things to say -“Wilde skillfully blurs the lines of fantasy and reality in a haunting middle grade story of sisters connected through trauma and a shared mythology….“. As did BCCB (“Wilde concocts a heartbreakingly anxious story… The lens of house magic … allows the story to avoid a preachy tone while still accurately depicting the hurdles a child in a stifling household must face. “).
    • I’m honored to have had others say things about Riverland that are really nice. Rachel Hartman — author of Tess of the Road and Seraphina wrote, “Heartbreaking and heart-mending by turns, Riverland is the truest, deepest portrait of sisterhood and survival that I’ve read in a long time.” And Will Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets wrote, “Bright, beautiful, and incandescent magic runs right through the heart of this book. Riverland will mend so many fractured things, as only the best fantasy can.” Ellen Klages, Scott O’Dell-winning author of The Green Glass Sea wrote, “like childhood, the space between dreams and reality is both magical and perilous. Fran Wilde brings that to life with fierce tenderness.” And Kate Milford, NYT Bestselling author of Greenglass House, said, “The right book can change a life and Riverland is one of those books.”

  • Meantime: I’ve drafted a downloadable Reading and Classroom Guide. It’s just a plain PDF right now — a prettier one is on its way from my publisher! But if you’d like a reading guide to use with a reading group or class now, here it is! (Fair Warning: spoilers abound!)


If you want to read about “The Magic and Science of Glass” in Riverland, I have a post up at the fabulous SteaMG.org – Middle Grade Sci-fi Authors Alliance. More posts will be appearing at Nerdy Book Club, YAYOMG!, Barnes & Noble Kids, and The Washington Post over the course of the next few weeks.


A book like this didn’t happen overnight. There’s a LOT to talk about and it’s hard to navigate solo. I’m so grateful already to those of you who are there, reaching out, sharing your thoughts on the book, and sharing the book with others. Keep me posted if you’re near where I’ll be! I would love to see you.

a small part of the bird-hoard holding Riverland together

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