Middle Grade Ninja is available on Soundcloud, Stitcher, itunes, Podbean, Podblaster, RadioPublic, blubrry, Listen Notes, Google Play, and many other fine locations.
Paula Chase and I chat about her novels SO DONE and DOUGH BOYS and what makes them upper middle grade instead of young adult. She discusses founding The Brown Bookshelf with Varian Johnson, the importance of representation in literature, and how we should focus less on Black pain and more on Black joy. We also talk about her writing practices as a committed pantser, how she fell backward into being an author, writing in the voice of teenagers, refusing to “just shut up” on social media, meeting Flavor Flav at a Waffle House, an actual ghost story, and so much more.
Dough Boys is a memorably vivid story about the complex friendship between two African American boys whose lives are heading down very different paths. For fans of Jason Reynolds’s Ghost and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger.
Deontae “Simp” Wright has big plans for his future. Plans that involve basketball, his best friend, Rollie, and making enough money to get his mom and four younger brothers out of the Cove, their low-income housing project.
Long term, this means the NBA. Short term, it means being a dough boy—getting paid to play lookout and eventually moving up the rungs of the neighborhood drug operation with Rollie as his partner.
Roland “Rollie” Matthews used to love playing basketball. He loved the rhythm of the game, how he came up with his best drumbeats after running up and down the court. But playing with the elite team comes with extra, illegal responsibilities, and Rollie isn't sure he's down for that life. The new talented-and-gifted program, where Rollie has a chance to audition for a real-life go-go band, seems like the perfect excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?
Paula Chase explores universal themes of friendship and budding romance, while also exploring complex issues that affect many young teens. Full of basketball, friendship, and daily life in a housing project, this universal story is perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds’s Track series, Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Ghost Boys, and Chris Crutcher.