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What the Wind Can Tell You

Paperback, 216 pages, Middle grade fiction, Ages 8-12

ISBN: 978-1-944762-41-4

Availability:

$14.95

Available as an e-book in this format:

Amazon Kindle

About this Book:

Silver Medal Award, 2018 Moonbeam Children's Book Award, Best First Book (Chapter Book)

2018 Windows and Mirrors List (annual list of diverse titles that demonstrate strong representation of marginalized identities as well as great literary merit), New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Committee.

Isabelle is fascinated by wind. And this year, she’s determined to win the middle school science fair with her wind machine. She’s just as determined to have her brother, Julian, who has a severe form of epilepsy and uses a wheelchair, serve as her assistant. But after Julian has a grand seizure, everything changes. Isabelle is suddenly granted entry into Las Brisas, a magical world where Julian’s physical limitations disappear, and one, she discovers, that he visits every night. The more Isabelle explores Las Brisas, the more possibilities she sees––for Julian, and for herself––and the more she finds herself at odds with her parents. Debut author Sarah Marie A. Jette has told, with remarkable insight and humor, a powerful story of a family struggling to love without fear.

Reviews
News

"The characters suffer while the story soars, people grow and learn as the plot thickens with magical proportions. Jette's first novel will be cherished by middle age readers, teachers and medical professionals. What the Wind Can Tell You has a lot to say to readers of all ages; it speaks of courage, fear, possibilities, and devotion."
––Jan Hamilton, Maine Children’s and YA Book Review, Maine State Library

" A heartwarming, magical middle-grade novel, Sarah Marie A. Jette’s What the Wind Can Tell You tackles tough issues with sensitivity . . . This is a simultaneously realistic, supernatural, and touching look at the dynamics of families and disabilities. . . . This thoughtful and lively novel will delight middle-grade ages and beyond with its balance of sensory prose and meaningful topics."
Foreword Reviews

"I adored this book. It was highly original and had a fantastic authenticity that I really connected to. Readers will fall in love with the characters of Isabelle and Julian, and root for them as they triumph in both their world and the world of Las Brisas. This is Bridge to Terabithia for a new generation."
—Clarissa Hadge, Trident Booksellers and Cafe, Boston (MA) 

"What the Wind Can Tell You] was emotional and feeling, brave and unique and I completely fell in love with both Isabelle and Julian. Julian is just the sweetest, and so funny, and Isabelle is one of the bravest characters, who I think will be an excellent role model for young readers. Even though this book can be a little sad, it’s also very heartwarming and powerful."
––Kendall Chapman, The Geeky Yogi blog

"It's hopeful without being saccharine and the resolution was smart and heart-warming."
––Aimee Gerow, Briar Patch Books, Bangor (ME)

Q&A: Sarah Marie Jette

Q&A: Sarah Marie Jette

Q&A: Sarah Marie Jette first appeared in Islandport Magazine, Summer 2018.

Sarah Marie Aliberti Jette grew up in Lewiston, Maine, in a house filled with books. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she served in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, studied rehabilitation counseling, and now has what she considers the best job in the world: teaching fourth-graders. When she’s not writing, she’s crafting with her three children, sewing her own clothes, and snuggling with her cats. What the Wind Can Tell You is her first book. She now lives in Massachusetts.

What was the inspiration for What the Wind Can Tell You? Did it come in a single lightning bolt or percolate over time?


The inspiration for What the Wind Can Tell You was a single lightning bolt. It hit me as I drove home after visiting with friends. I had just held their newborn baby and spent time with the baby’s big brother. On my drive, I imagined the relationship these boys were going to have. I thought about the love between siblings and how special it is. I pulled my car over and wrote my idea down on a paper napkin.


The baby’s big brother has epilepsy, much like my character, Julian. He was diagnosed when he was a few months old. On Sunday mornings, for about two years, I babysat him. I held him, fed him, changed his diapers, soothed him through seizures, and read to him. Sometimes, therapists visited and I learned ways to help him strengthen his muscles or track objects with his eyes. His music therapists were my favorite.


I had been writing for years, but this was the first time I found a story that felt so right. I wrote furiously and completed the first draft in three months. It would be many more years of revising before my story was ready to submit to editors, but my inspiration carried me through.

As a teacher, how do you find time to write? Is there a time of day that works best for you?


Finding time to write is hard, but necessary.


When I began What the Wind Can Tell You, my son was almost one year old. I was a new mother, I was working full time, and I was tired. I wrote while he napped and, if I could stay awake, I wrote after bedtime. Over the next few years, I had two more children. Some weekends, I’d slip out to a coffee shop for an hour, or revise while riding on a bike at the YMCA (my kids were busy playing at the Child Watch).


During the school week, I can only write once my kids are in bed. I’ve tried to write after school, but it’s impossible. On weekends or during vacations, I spend the morning with my kids, usually crafting at our dining room table or playing outside. After lunch, it is quiet time. They draw, look at books, and play with Legos. If I am very lucky, my three-year-old naps. And then I get a few daylight hours to write.

Do you have any writers or books you most admire and turn to for inspiration?


I admire the writing of Michelle Cuevas. The language in her books is rich and beautiful. She deals with big issues—growing up, identity, and loss—but she is also very playful in her writing. I love reading her books out loud so I can see how my students react to her words. I am also a big fan of Jonathan Auxier. I read his book Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes to my students every year. His stories are unusual, engaging, and a lot of fun.

How does your heritage affect your writing? Why did you choose to make Isabelle and her family Mexican-American?


I spent my childhood searching for characters who looked like me in books. Fairy-tale princesses were always “fair.” The books I read described characters with blue eyes and freckles. Whenever I found a character with dark hair or brown eyes, I told myself that they were like me, though, deep inside, I knew that they weren’t. I can remember two books from my childhood that had brown-skinned girls as main characters: Corduroy and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. These are great books. I’m grateful they were a part of my childhood.


Representation matters—not token characters in the background, but complex and interesting characters from diverse backgrounds that you can fall in love with. I make an effort to fill my classroom library with diverse books. There are more than there used to be, but still not enough.


When I wrote What the Wind Can Tell You, I made Isabelle Mexican-American because I wanted to write the character I searched for as a child.

What are your writing strategies when you are stuck?


When I am stuck, I reread my writing. I read it in my head, I read it aloud. And then I need time to play around with the moment or scene, to test it out in my mind. I imagine the characters as though they are real. I think about their thoughts and situations. When I have a new idea, to move the story forward, I write the moment in a notebook before I try it out on my laptop. And when I do, I might type a few pages only to delete them. Getting some writing out—even if it will be deleted in a day—helps me get unstuck.


When I’m not writing, I read as much as I can. I read other middle-grade books for inspiration. I search for stories that are unexpected.


Following authors on Twitter has been new for me. There is so much to learn and the authors I follow have a lot of advice or insight to share. Engaging with the writing community through social media has helped me when I’ve been stuck. It makes me realize that I am not alone and that other authors have been in my shoes.

Author photo by Bridget Hogan

Lewiston native signs with Islandport Press

Lewiston native signs with Islandport Press

Islandport Press is pleased to announce that it has signed Sarah Marie A. Jette and will publish her middle grade novel, What the Wind Can Tell You, in May 2018.

At the center of Jette’s remarkable debut is seventh-grader Isabelle Perez. Isabelle is fascinated by wind, and this year, she's determined to win the middle school science fair with her wind machine. She's just as determined to have her brother, Julian, who has a severe form of epilepsy and uses a wheelchair, serve as her assistant. But after Julian has a grand seizure, everything changes. Isabelle is suddenly granted entry into Las Brisas, a magical world where Julian's physical limitations disappear. The more Isabelle explores Las Brisas, the more possibilities she sees―for Julian, and for herself―and the more she finds herself at odds with her parents. Debut author Jette tells a powerful story of a family struggling to love without fear.

“I met Sarah at a conference more than a year ago,” said Islandport Press Editorial Director Melissa Kim, “where she read the first chapter of this book at a roundtable session. Everyone at the table was just blown away. It’s one of those stories that you just don’t forget. I’m so honored to be working with her now.”

Sarah Marie Aliberti Jette grew up in Lewiston, Maine, in a house filled with books. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she served in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, studied rehabilitation counseling, and now has what she calls the best job in the world: teaching fourth-graders. She is currently a teacher at the Thompson Elementary School in Arlington, Mass. When she's not writing, she's crafting with her three children, sewing her own clothes, and snuggling with her cats. Jette lives in Belmont.

Islandport Press is a dynamic, award-winning publisher dedicated to stories rooted in the essence and sensibilities of New England. For more information, please call 207-846-3344, visit www.islandportpress.com or e-mail info@islandportpress.com.

Author photo by Bridget Hogan


Sarah Marie A. Jette

About this Author

Sarah Marie Aliberti Jette grew up in Lewiston, Maine, in a house filled with books. Like Isabelle, the main character in What the Wind Can Tell You, Jette is Mexican-American. “I made Isabelle Mexican-

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