Karen Rivers

love, ish

Algonquin Books for Young Readers

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“It is a reflective book, but Mischa’s unique voice and way of perceiving the world are consistently absorbing, and her additional struggles with losing her best (and only) friend and coming to terms with being adopted expand it far beyond her illness. Scattered humor and scientific facts ward off sentimentality, revealing a star-bright story of love, courage, and unflagging spirit." (starred review)- Booklist, January 2017

"A worthwhile and affecting odyssey." - Kirkus, December 2016 

A rich and moving story about how one girl’s celestial-sized dreams for a future on Mars go heartbreakingly awry when an unexpected diagnosis threatens her future.

Things Mischa “Ish” Love will miss when she goes to Mars: lying on the living room floor watching TV, ice cream, her parrot Buzz Aldrin. Things Ish Love will not miss when she goes to Mars: mosquitoes, heat waves, missing her former best friend Tig.

Ish is convinced that she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to—and been rejected from—the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again (not that she’d ever admit that to anyone, least of all herself). When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have—and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the vast universe.

In this story perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and The Thing About Jellyfish, Karen Rivers has once again created an unforgettable narrator who will pull readers into her orbit and keep them riveted until the very last page. 

the girl in the well is me

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“A brilliantly revealed, sometimes even funny, exploration of courage, the will to live, and the importance of being true to oneself . . . Moving, suspenseful, and impossible to put down.”  —Kirkus Reviewsstarred review

 “I dare you to pick up this riveting novel without reading straight through to its heart-stopping conclusion. Karen Rivers has penned a dazzling voice, at once hilarious, heartbreaking, and searingly honest. The Girl in the Well Is Me is a triumph.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

 “A gripping story that doesn’t shy away from the dark places but explores them with heart, humor, and light.” —Kate Messner, author of All The Answers

“Funny, surreal, occasionally heartbreaking…a compulsively readable story.” —School Library Journal

 “This is a fascinatingly well told story that strongly reminded me of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine, but with a completely believable middle grade flavor.” —Teen Librarian Toolbox / School Library Journal

A hilarious and heart-wrenching story about a bullied girl whose search for a new beginning takes a dire wrong turn.    

Newcomer Kammie Summers has fallen into a well during a (fake) initiation into a club whose members have no intention of letting her join. Now Kammie’s trapped in the dark, growing increasingly claustrophobic, and waiting to be rescued—or possibly not.

As hours pass, the reality of Kammie’s predicament mixes with her memories of the highlights and lowlights of her life so far, including the reasons her family moved to this new town in the first place. And as she begins to run out of oxygen, Kammie starts to imagine she has company, including a French-speaking coyote and goats that just might be zombies.

Karen Rivers has created a unique narrator with an authentic, sympathetic, sharp, funny voice who tells a story perfect for fans of Flora and Ulysses, Reign Rein, and Counting by 7s. The Girl in the Well Is Me will have readers laughing and crying and laugh-crying over the course of its physically and emotionally suspenseful, utterly believable events. 

finding ruby starling

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THE PARENT TRAP comes to the digital age!

When Ruth Quayle used a special app to search for pictures of herself online, she found dozens of images of "Ruth Quayle" -- and one of "Ruby Starling."

When Ruby Starling gets a message from a Ruth Quayle proclaiming them to be long-lost twin sisters, she doesn't know what to do with it -- until another message arrives the day after, and another one. It could be a crazy stalker ... but she and this Ruth do share a birthday, and a very distinctive ear.... 

Ruth is an extroverted American girl. Ruby is a shy English one. As they investigate the truth of their birth and the circumstances of their separation, they also share lives full of friends, family, and possible romances -- and they realize they each may be the sister the other never knew she needed.

Written entirely in e-mails, letters, Tumblr entries, and movie scripts, FINDING RUBY STARLING is the funny and poignant companion to Karen Rivers's THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME.

After plugging photos of herself into FaceTrace (a fake but plausible Google-like image search), American Ruth Quayle, age 12 2/3, discovers that she might have an identical—and stylish—twin sister in England named Ruby Starling. Just imagine: “The very same set of cells! But with an accent! And good fashion sense!” Through a series of “amazeog” and “totes” expressive emails and a few letters that use conversational slang from their respective cultures, the girls explore the possibility with each other and close friends before approaching their families. While their communications voice typical preteen concerns, such as finding best friends, whether they’re ready to kiss boys and not wanting their parents to treat them like children anymore, it becomes increasingly emotional as Ruth wonders about the how and why of their situation. Adopted and given a transplant heart soon after birth, Ruth can’t help but feel unbearable anger and sadness toward a biological mother who gave her away. With the help of her “real” parents, her father’s attempts to “Buddhify [her] life,” her poetry tumblr and a newfound sister (and best friend), she finds forgiveness and an expanded circle of love. And maybe boys are kissable after all!

Totes bittersweet. (Fiction. 10-13)  - Kirkus Reviews

the encyclopedia of me

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A is for "Tink Aaron-Martin," "Aardvark," and "Amazing" in this wonderful alphabetical novel!

Tink Aaron-Martin has been grounded AGAIN after an adventure with her best friend Freddie Blue Anderson. To make the time pass, she decides to write an encyclopedia of her life from "Aa" (a kind of lava--okay, she cribbed that from the real encyclopedia) to "Zoo" (she's never been to one, but her brothers belong there).

As the alphabet unfolds, so does the story of Tink's summer: more adventures with Freddie Blue (and more experiences in being grounded); how her family was featured in a magazine about "Living with Autism," thanks to her older brother Seb--and what happened after Seb fell apart; her growing friendship, and maybe more, with Kai, a skateboarder who made her swoon (sort of). And her own sense that maybe she belongs not under "H" for "Hideous," or "I" for "Invisible," but "O" for "Okay."

Written entirely in Tink's hilarious encyclopedia entries, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME is both a witty trick and a reading treat for anyone who loves terrific middle-grade novels.

"What every girl will be reading this year!" - Meg Cabot, author of Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls

"I laughed, I cried, I cross-referenced. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME is a heart-felt and hilarious must-read." - Leslie Margolis, author of the Maggie Brooklyn mystery series and the Annabelle Unleashed novels.

"Never has the act of alphabetization been so funny and true and sweet -- THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME is totes wonderful." -- Amy Ignatow, author of The Popularity Papers

"... Tink lives up to her early claim of being an “unstoppable force of encyclopedia-writing brilliance,” providing pearls of adolescent wisdom, dazzling accounts of adventure, and one near brush with fame. Tink’s first-person narrative is vibrant and exuberantly opinionated, whether she is describing life with her hairless cat or pondering the meaning of her first kiss." - Publisher's Weekly

"Cleverly woven through the titular encyclopedia—with entries as seemingly mundane as “Apple” and “Oxen”—is the touchingly real and often humorous story of a preteen’s struggles with family, friendship and first love..." - Kirkus Reviews

"Tink (christened Isadora) is a really great character. When I saw Meg Cabot quoted on the cover, my interest in this book jumped ten-fold and I know exactly why Cabot endorsed this book. Rivers has a very appealing and boisterous writing voice that compares favorably to Meg Cabot's own peppy writing voice..." - YALibrarianTales.com

From the flap:

Aa.  A kind of lava.  (And a useful fact!)

Aaron-Martin, Tink.  That's me, aged almost thirteen, the star of this encyclopedia.  I wrote it in my spare time, during the weirdest, most wonderful summer of my life.  I had a lot of spare time due to being grounded.  (But it wasn't my fault!  At least, not totally.)

Aaron-Martin, Lex.  One of my older brothers.

Aaron-Martin, Seb.  My other brother.  They are twins but Seb has autism, and Lex doesn't.  Let's talk about this endlessly!  By which I mean, let's not.

Anderson, Freddie Blue.  My BFF, who is prettier and funnier and better than me in every way, which I don't resent at all.  Really.  Truly.  Not at all.  Nope. 

Blue-Haired Boy Who Just Moved In Next Door.  His name is Kai.  You're probably thinking, "Wow, that sounds like the noise seals make!"  And it's true.  Kai's kind of cute, I guess, if you like skateboarding, blue-haired boys next door.  (And maybe I do.)

Kissing.  There is some!  And yes, I just skipped eight letters, but I thought you might like to hear about the exciting parts. 

Want to know more?  Well, I'm not giving anything else away.  You'll just have to read the book, won't you?

waiting to dive

Carly has a pretty good life, even if she has to deal with New Dad and his two kids. She loves to dive and to spend time at her family’s cabin in the woods, especially with her best friend Montana and her new diving buddy Sam. But when Montana dives into a log and breaks her back, nothing seems simple anymore.

Silver Birch award finalist, 2002.

"Carly, 10, likes to dive, and she's very good at it, whether she's practicing at her local pool in Victoria, Canada, or diving with friends from a rock near her family's island cabin. Her candid first-person, present-tense narrative will draw middle-graders as she grumbles about her "New Dad" and her stepfamily (her Real Dad is dead), shops at the Gap, and tries to act cool. The island setting is idyllic until a catastrophe happens: her best friend, Montana, dives from the rock and breaks her back on a big sunken log. The shock of the accident in the island paradise is not sensationalized, and as Montana slowly recovers, Carly overcomes her grief and depression to dive again like a champion. She also accepts her stepdad. The diving action is exhilarating, the stepfamily dynamics are realistic, and readers will appreciate Carly's realization about "all the stuff that could happen that you can't control at all."

- Booklist

barely hanging on

It seems almost impossible, but Carly’s life has just gotten more complicated: her mother is expecting a baby, and to top it off, her dreams of Olympic diving glory are jeopardized when she develops a fear of heights — which kind of makes platform diving a little difficult. Then, when she and her friends decide to do their history project on notorious cult leader Brother XII, things get a even more interesting...

Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Award finalist, 2003.

"Karen Rivers' writing has a perfect pitch in its expression of Carly's feelings. Carly is a very genuine likable character. The tone and theme are reminiscent of novels by Sharon Creech and Kit Pearson...The Gold Diggers Club is a first rate novel for young adults."

- CM Magazine

the actual total truth

Carly doesn’t know how she’ll survive the next few months. She’s suddenly grown taller than everyone in her class — boys and girls. Her mom has just had a new baby and is paying no attention to her. She’s also just found out she’s going to have to take “Math for Tortured Losers” in summer school to make it to Grade Six. To make matters worse, a boy Carly can’t stand is assigned to be her “peer tutor.” And now, Carly is determined to find the culprit who is wounding animals near her family’s cabin. How is Carly going to survive?

"Carly's narrative voice drives this novel, and, if readers like the voice, they're going to love the book. Carly is engaging, bouncy, and believable. She narrates in the present tense and speaks directly to the reader...Girls between ages 9-12 will cruise through this quick read and ask for more."

- CM Magazine


Fun fact!

The first two books in this series were originally published by Orca Book Publishers as Waiting to Dive and The Gold Diggers Club. They looked like this: