Today I’m featuring my good friend Megan E. Freeman’s debut ALONE, a middle grade retelling of Island of the Blue Dolphins in verse. Alone releases tomorrow, January 12th, so get yourself to a bookstore and buy it now (I can’t wait to pick up my finished copy)! This book so accessible and beautiful—it’s sure to capture the hearts and minds of even the most reluctant readers.
Make sure you also check out Megan’s list of top ten addictions and a giveaway for ALONE or for another book if you already own ALONE by the time you win! (Yep, you read that right. Scroll down for the details…)
Alone by Megan E. Freeman
Published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin on January 12, 2021
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Retellings, Dystopian, Verse
Source: The Author
Cover Artist: Pascal Campion
My content rating: MG: Some mild violence and scary situations
When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.
With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.
As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?
I know Megan’s work well, so I was unsurprised to find that the verse in this book is utterly gorgeous–simple, understated free verse that is, at the same time, incredibly powerful. The story follows young Maddie, who is accidentally left behind when her town and the surrounding area is mysteriously and suddenly evacuated (her divorced parents each think she is with the other due to an unfortunately-timed lie). Maddie is left completely alone with only her neighbor’s trusty rottweiler George to keep her company for four years! During that time, she has to scrounge for food and water and learn to survive in a world without power or running water (especially difficult due to the extreme weather in Colorado). Plus, she’s forced to deal with wild animals, looters, and natural disasters–all on her own. Of course, the biggest challenge of all might be the unending loneliness that threatens to swallow her hope of rescue alive.
This book is a modern retelling of Island of the Blue Dolphins, and fans of that book will find that it’s faithful to the original in many significant ways. I loved seeing each and every nod to O’Dell’s classic. (I read it with a literature class that I taught at my homeschool co-op just a couple of years ago, so it was fresh in my mind. Teachers who want to pair this book with the classic will have lots of wonderful material to work with.)
This beautiful story of survival, inner strength, and hope will delight readers of all ages!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author for review purposes, and since I’m personal friends with Megan, I can’t claim to be completely impartial on this one. Still, all opinions are my own (and, of course, no other compensation was given).***
About the Author
Megan E. Freeman attended an elementary school where poets visited her classroom every week, and she has been a writer ever since. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction, and her debut middle grade novel, ALONE, will be published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Megan is also a Pushcart-nominated poet, and her poetry chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, was published by Liquid Light Press.
An award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience, Megan taught multiple subjects across the arts and humanities to students K-16. She is nationally recognized for her work leading professional development workshops for teachers and school leaders throughout Colorado and across the country. She studied theater and dramatic literature for many years, earning degrees from Occidental College and Ohio State University.
Megan is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Northern Colorado Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Columbine Poets of Colorado, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She is an Impact on Education Award winner, a fellow with the Colorado State University Writing Project, a Fund for Teachers fellow, and a member of the Colorado Poets Center. She used to live in northeast Los Angeles, central Ohio, northern Norway, and on Caribbean cruise ships. Now she lives near Boulder, Colorado.
Megan’s Top Ten Addictions
(In no particular order.)
1. Kate DiCamillo’s Facebook page
She is as wonderful on Facebook as she is in her books. Her posts are beacons of love and beauty in the chaos of the larger world.
2. Any book by Fannie Flagg
Fannie’s compassion for every character she writes and her ability to see humor and love in every situation are a balm on my heart and mind. I reread Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven in the midst of the pandemic, and it was just what the doctor ordered.
3. The texting application on my MacBook Pro
I type so much faster than I text, and when I discovered I could text from my laptop instead of with my thumbs, I became a much better correspondent.
My daughter lives in Southeast Asia, and being able to talk, text, and video chat for free on WhatsApp has been a gift. The connection always sounds like she’s right next door and I almost forget we’re 9,000 miles apart.
5. Fresh flowers in the house
A number of years ago I decided that I was going to treat myself and always have fresh flowers in the house. They became a standing to-get item on my grocery list, and they make me happy every day.
6. Watching birds at the bird feeder
I have feeders right outside my office window and it’s hypnotic. I love hearing them chatter back and forth.
7. Leaning on my husband when we watch TV
He’s better than any pillow, and warmer, too. I just love him.
8. Rooibos Earl Grey loose-leaf tea from Kucha House of Tea
I used to love Earl Grey tea every morning but now I can’t drink caffeine. I tried a lot of alternatives and this tea is a delicious substitute. Plus it has flower petals in it so it’s really pretty, too.
9. My back deck
We just moved to 2.5 acres in the Colorado countryside, and I spend a lot of time on my back deck every day. It gives me so much peace to see the mountains over the farmland during the day and to hear the coyotes and owls at night.
10. My local libraries
I actually belong to five different public libraries and I love them all. Having them closed during the pandemic shutdown was horrible. The introduction of curbside delivery might have been my happiest day of 2021.
I always love reading these top ten lists. I’m incredibly jealous that Megan lives in Colorado. Our family’s month-long trip to Denver was one of the best times in our lives, and I would move to Colorado in a minute if I could.
Because I’m so excited about Megan’s debut, I’m hosting a giveaway of the book! If the winner is in the US, you can get a signed/personalized copy, if you wish!
However, because I don’t want to discourage anyone from actually buying the book right now during release week (we all know how important release week sales are!), I’m adding in this one caveat: If you win the giveaway and you already own ALONE, I will buy you a book of your choice instead (up to an equal value with ALONE). When you win, if you just show me a receipt or a picture of you holding the book, I’ll buy you something else. Simple as that!
So, feel free to click one of those purchase buttons right now and still enter the giveaway, knowing you’ll be getting any book your heart desires if you win!
Enter to win by following the instructions on the Rafflecopter below. Open internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to you.