Author Guest Post!: “Tween to Teen–The Case of the Missing Category” by Elizabeth Foster, author of Esme’s Wish


Esme’s Wish
Author: Elizabeth Foster
Published October 30th, 2017 by Odyssey Books

About the Book: When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.


“I loved Esme’s determination and I loved the unbreakable bond between mother and child. Esme’s Wish overflows with creativity, imagination and originality.” – Kait’s Bookshelf.

“A fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song

About the Author: Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to her own children reminded her how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters.  Elizabeth lives in Sydney, Australia, where she can often be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee. Find her on facebook @elizabethfosterauthor or on Instagram @elizabethfoster_ Find out more about Esme’s Wish, including teachers’ notes, on her website

Author Guest Post: 

“Tweens to teens – the case of the missing category”

There has never been a better time to be a bookworm. Reading is in, geek is chic, and publishers are pumping out YA blockbuster after YA blockbuster. However, some eager young readers have been left in the dust.

Over the past few months, librarians and teachers have lamented to me a lack of titles appropriate for 10 to 14-year-olds. YA is skewing older and older – over half of YA readers are adults, according to several polls – and middle grade (MG) novels are strictly aimed at readers 8-12. So what about those readers who slip between the cracks? A recent Publishing & Weekly article pointed out that the 10-14 category used to exist, but does no longer. I believe this is a huge disservice to the ‘tween’ set: those who want something meatier than a chapter book, but aren’t ready for the violence, sex, and edgy themes of older YA.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for authors to find a publisher for titles aimed at this age group, because such novels don’t fit so neatly on the ‘YA’ and ‘MG’ shelves in a bookstore. I recently went through this struggle myself when seeking publication for my debut novel, Esme’s Wish.

Esme’s Wish, a fantasy/mystery for 10 to 14-year-olds, is the first in a trilogy, and edges into darker material as the protagonist ages – so it didn’t feel right to market the series as MG. But it is quite different from the older YA fare. There is no romance, at least in the first book, and minimal violence.

Esme Silver, the novel’s protagonist, still has some catching-up to do developmentally, due to the loss of her mother at the age of eight. After years of being vilified by her community, she’s still learning about friendship, loyalty, and trust. She still loves and longs for her missing mother. YA protagonists have typically already navigated the pains of separating from their parents, but how does one accomplish such a monumental developmental task when that figure is missing from one’s life?

Ultimately, I am glad I stayed true to my intentions. Teen girls up to the age of 14 or 15 have read the novel and loved it, particularly enjoying the focus on friendship and family, as well as the world-building and mystery aspects. The story has had a positive response from preteens, too. In fact, I just received an email from a primary school librarian telling me that one of her book club readers included it in her top ten (just below Wonder!) To help things along, I have decided to market the Esme series as ‘MG-to-YA’, after seeing books similar to mine tagged this way on Goodreads. Hopefully this will catch on, and help better delineate this category for publishers, authors and readers.

I remember my own kids at the cusp of adolescence – excited about the challenges of adulthood but stepping ahead with trepidation, one step forward, one step back. At the grand age of eleven or twelve, they were already reminiscing about their ‘childhood’ with fondness and nostalgia. More fiction for this rather forgotten age group can help ease the passage we, as adults, have already been through ourselves – and survived!

Esme’s Wish was published by Odyssey Books in late 2017. Its sequel, Esme’s Gift, is due out in early 2019.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your post and sharing Esme with us!


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