Review & Interview: Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook











Amelia is excited to graduate from middle school, but she’s nervous about starting high school, especially when she finds out she won’t have her best friend, Carly, with her. In her graduation yearbook, drawings and “photos” nostalgically recap her earlier years and notebooks as Amelia figures out how to face the changes ahead.

Review: I loved this book! I loved the layout of the book, it was Amelia telling her story in a composition notebook. The story Amelia’s Graduation yearbook tells is the story about a young girl who is stressed out about starting again new a new school with new people. It really puts the young adult’s perspective out there as to new friendships, dealing with siblings, and growing up. It’s not an easy transition to make and the sketches in the book really make you live through Amelia’s emotions. This is the perfect book for those moving into a new school and those starting middle school everywhere.


Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in Los Angeles and Palo Alto, southern and northern California. I went to college at U.C. MarissaMossBerkeley, fell in love with the city and stayed there.

Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

I wrote the first Amelia’s Notebook twenty years ago. It was based on the notebook I kept when I was a kid. I loved the composition book format because it allowed me to go back and forth between words and pictures (which is how my brain works). I didn’t think I’d write another one, since it was such a weird format, but it got great reviews and sold well. Besides, Amelia had more to say and I ended up writing more than 30 books in the series. This book, Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook, is the grand finale. After 20 years, ten of them in middle school, it’s time for Amelia to move on, though I’ll definitely miss her.

How do you create your characters?

Amelia is based on me and Cleo, her older sister, is a lot like my older sister. Basically, all the people in the Amelia’s series are drawn from the friends, enemies, teachers, relatives of my childhood. But I change some details to make better stories. So did Cleo really almost run down the PE class, like Amelia says in the latest book? Did Cleo really come to school in a nightgown, saying she was Lady MacBeth? And did she really make everyone in Spanish class sick from her salsa? Yes, yes, and yes!

What inspires and what got your started in writing?

I sent my first book to publishers when I was 9. I’ve always loved telling stories and making pictures to go with them. It’s always been magical to me. You can make whatever you want to happen, happen on the page (which you can’t in real life).

Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)

I have my own studio with a door I can shut. I can’t write with music on, though I often listen some while I’m drawing. But I can basically write anywhere – in doctor’s waiting rooms, in parks, on airplanes.

How do you get your ideas for writing?

I get ideas from all kinds of random things, a newspaper article, a snippet of overheard conversation, something that happens to me. A fight with a friend can become the germ of a book. Or a building I pass on a walk. I keep a notebook with story ideas, because I always have more than I have time to develop.

What do you like to read?

I read middle-grade, YA, and adult books, but I don’t get further than ten pages or so with a lot of them. If the writer hasn’t hooked me by then, that’s it! There are too many good books out there for me to have the patience to plow through the bad ones.

What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?

Revise, revise, revise! I know people don’t like to hear it, but it’s actually freeing. Because if you know you can always revise, you can be more creative, take more chances, make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes turn out to be good things.

The other tip I have is to read your writing out loud. You can hear all the clunkers that way, the times you’re repetitive, where you drag on and need to cut. Somehow reading in your head doesn’t crystalize that the way reading out loud does.

Anything else you’d like to share?

You need a thick skin so you can listen to criticism. You don’t have to always act on it, but if a comment rankles, if it resonates, then you know you can’t ignore it and you need to fix that part. Writing is hard work, but it’s the good kind of hard where you can feel yourself growing and stretching. There’s nothing else I’d rather do! It’s still magical to me!


Purchase links, plus link to book description and Amelia video:


links to drawing, writing guides;



Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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