I first heard about THE ART OF THE SWAP when it was featured in an email from a local bookstore, and I completely fell in love with the cover. It debuted last month, and it has a fantastic premise:
As the daughter of a caretaker for a mansion-turned-museum, twelve-year-old Hannah Jordan has spent nearly all her life steeped in the history of the Gilded Age of Newport, Rhode Island. The Elms, the mansion where her dad works (and they both live), is one of the most esteemed historical properties on famed Bellevue Avenue. Mysterious legends and priceless artifacts clutter every inch of the marble floors and golden walls, but Hannah is most drawn to the reproduction portrait of Maggie Dunlap, the twelve year-old subject of a famous painting stolen in a legendary art heist on the day of its scheduled unveiling in 1905.
Hannah dreams of how glamorous life must have been for the young oil-heiress, Maggie, at the turn of the century, but she never expects she’ll have a chance to experience it herself… until the day a mysterious mirror allows the two girls to change places in time!
In 1905, Hannah races to stop the art heist from happening—something she is convinced will allow the girls to trade back to their own eras—while in current times, Maggie gets a hilarious introduction to the modern digital age and a new perspective on women's roles in society while reveling in the best invention of all: sweatpants. So long corsets!
As the hours tick off to the recorded moment of the legendary art heist, something’s not adding up. Can the girls work together against time—and across it—to set things right... or will their temporary swap become a permanent trade?
Kris Asselin also answered a few interview questions:
THE ART OF THE SWAP is your first published Middle Grade (MG) book. What, if anything, was different in your writing process for a MG novel?
THE ART OF THE SWAP is my first published Middle Grade, but I've written several! The process isn't so different than YA for me, though it's much different from my nonfiction. I generally start with a kernel of an idea, and write a blurb...something like a query blurb...and then build from there. In this particular situation, I had the general idea of a girl who lived with a parent at a living museum. It got much bigger after brainstorming with my friend and writing partner Jen Malone. After a long car ride together, it became a time-traveling, feminist, dual POV project! Working with someone else was brilliant--having another brain to bounce ideas off of, and to share in the research and writing really made this project different from any other for me.
I'll bet, and I love how THE ART OF THE SWAP deals with changing places in time. If you found yourself in 1905, what would be the first thing you would do and why?
We picked 1905 because it really was the heyday of the gilded age in Newport, Rhode Island. If I found myself traveling through a portal back to that time and to that place, I'd love to try on a ball gown and attend one of those infamous society parties. I think it would be absolutely magical.
I'd also take a moment to look up at the stars--so fewer lights back then that I'm sure the sky was far more brilliant than today.
That sounds fantastic. I love the cover for THE ART OF THE SWAP! What, in your opinion, are the necessary elements of a book cover?
Thank you so much! We love our cover as well. We really wanted something that would appeal to both boys and girls--even though THE ART OF THE SWAP has a pretty strong feminist story arc, we think the subject appeals to readers of both genders. We didn't want the cover to be stereotypical "girly." I think it's important for a cover to tell a story--for it to be something that will make people pick it up. There are some really beautiful covers being made these days!
And yours is definitely one of my favorites. What are some of your current projects?
I'm working on a new middle grade which we're tentatively pitching as "The Ghost Whisperer" T.V. show meets "The Classy Crooks Club" by Allison Cherry -- it's about a girl whose mother works as a professional mourner, and who begins solving mysteries using her ability to talk to the recently deceased. It's still very much a work in progress, but I'm having fun with the research.
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