Hello Future Me … and Kim Ventrella!

The Stats

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (August 4, 2020)

I was hesitant to pick up this book at first because… well, Kim Ventrella came on my radar for dark-looking books like BONE HOLLOW and THE SKELETON TREE. 

The cover illustration of HELLO, FUTURE ME is bright pink with a cheery blonde girl. But, there are cryptids, fantastical elements, a creepy curio shop owner,  and an amazing Type A main character in a wacky artist/cryptid hunter family. 

Premise

When twelve-year-old, adorably Type A June tries to use amateur magic to stop her parents’ divorce, advice from her past and future selves on a second hand laptop helps her to appreciate the magic around her and create her new dream life. 

Loved

  • “The story starts with a sequin in my eyeball…” and June’s voice only gets better from there. Ventrella may have created the most nuanced and endearing uptight control freak in literary history.
  • June’s hometown of Tanglewood Crossing is a Bigfoot tourist trap, which is an amazingly cool setting. 
  • Spoiler: June is able to make peace with her parents’ divorce and even begin building a relationship with Other Man Gavin.
    • The other antagonist is reality, which would make for a brilliant discussion in a middle-school English class.

Caveat

  • Flip side of the above: June’s parents divorce because of (deep-seeded incompatibility plus) the mom meeting someone else; and Gavin is redeemed. If you strongly object to your child reading that storyline, this isn’t the book for you. 

Verdict

This book gives a “cooler and wiser version of Sardo from Are You Afraid of the Dark” vibe, with an upbeat but realistic story, and I’m here for it. 

HELLO, FUTURE ME is available now from Scholastic.

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Kim Ventrella is on my blog!

Because Kim Ventrella is awesome (or because we write for MG Minded together; I’m not sure) she granted me the fastest interview request in history! 

KK-C: What does your writing schedule look like? How did you ramp up to writing full-time?

KV: I’m super lucky when it comes to time. I’ve been writing full-time for about two years thanks to my love of budgeting and my lifelong desire to be a starving artist :P. Back in the day though, I would do all my writing in the morning before work, sometimes sitting cross-legged in a dog bed since I didn’t have a real desk. Thankfully, I managed the Children’s Department at a public library, meaning I made the schedule and could usually put myself down for a 12-9 or 11-8 shift. I used Scrivener back then, solely for the progress bar feature. It’s this little bar where you set a daily word count goal, and it changes from red, to orange, to yellow and finally to green once you’ve met your goal. I cannot overestimate how motivational I found that little bar, especially when I was racing against the clock.

KK-C: What are you working on now? 

KV: I’ve written/rewritten two books so far during the pandemic, and they are currently in the capable hands of my agent. I love to challenge myself with each new project, trying out different genres and styles. It doesn’t always work, but that’s part of the fun. Currently I’m diving into a fantasy with an elaborate magic system, large cast and all the plot threads. Definitely bigger than the worlds I usually create, so I’m excited to see where it goes.

Kim had HELLO FUTURE ME releasing this month, and THE SECRET LIFE OF SAM releasing next month. 

K-KC: Where do you get your ideas, and how do you know which have enough teeth to be a full book? 

KV: I create stories through experimentation. I’ll get 15-20K into a story, decide the direction is all wrong, then scrap it and start from scratch. And I often do that several times before I settle into the version that I’ll actually finish. Ideas for me are cheap. It’s all about finding a deep connection to the story and then figuring out a way to translate that onto paper. 

KK-C: Bonus question: What are you reading now?

KV: I’m actually reading a top secret manuscript by the amazing Tania del Rio, and it is one of those beautiful, heartfelt fantasies that immediately draws you in. Can’t wait to see it on bookshelves some day soon. Tania is also a comic artist and writer on the gorgeously illustrated WARREN THE 13TH series.

KK-C: Tania also has some Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics on her resume and OMG KIM THANK YOU for introducing me to this brilliant woman! 

KIM VENTRELLA is the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF SAM (Fall 2020, HarperCollins), HELLO, FUTURE ME (Aug. 2020, Scholastic), BONE HOLLOW and SKELETON TREE. Her works explore difficult topics with big doses of humor, whimsy and hope. Kim has held a variety of interesting jobs, including children’s librarian, scare actor, Peace Corps volunteer, French instructor and overnight staff person at a women’s shelter, but her favorite job title is author. She lives in Oklahoma City with her dog and co-writer, Hera. Find out more at https://kimventrella.com/ or follow Kim on Twitter and Instagram.

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