Cover Reveal: Give and Take by Elly Swartz

Hello, Elly Swartz! Happy Monday! Thank you for stopping by to share Give and Take’s creative cover.

Elly Swartz: Happy Monday to you! And much thanks for having me, John! I’m so excited to share the cover of Give and Take. A huge shout-out to Cassie Gonzales of FSG/Macmillan for the cover design. I love how she captured the essence of Maggie and the heart of her story. 


I could stare at this cover all day. The objects on the cover remind me of “stuff” you would have found in my childhood desk. Please share with us the significance of a few of the items.

Elly: Each object on the cover is integral to Maggie’s story. Maggie has a hard time letting go. She believes if she gets rid of anything, the memories tied to those objects will disappear. Forever. So she holds on tight. She hoards rocks. Sticks. Straws. Gum wrappers. She fills cardboard boxes in her closet and under her bed with things. Lots and lots of things.

The gecko necklace on the cover is the object that started Maggie’s collection. It was a just-because-I-love-you present from Nana. And Maggie wore it every day until the day she walked into the kitchen wearing her favorite peace sign shirt and Nana was sitting there the way she had a hundred times before. But on this day, when Maggie walked in and said hi, Nana said nothing. Nana saw a girl with wild red hair, green eyes, and a peace sign on her shirt. But that girl wasn’t the granddaughter she’d loved forever. That girl was just a girl. Any girl. Her nana had forgotten. All of her. So on that day, Maggie took off the gecko necklace and put it in a box. Where she could never lose it. Or forget it.

The frog binkie is another object on the cover and in one of Maggie’s cardboard box. It belonged to Izzie, the silky-soft, day-old foster baby who smells like powder. The baby that Maggie’s family takes in. To love for a spec. But Maggie doesn’t love in small doses. And she doesn’t want to say goodbye. So she holds on tight to Izzie’s frog binkie. Hoping that it will save her heart from breaking into a million tiny pieces when Izzie goes to her forever family. And gets her forever name. 

Please finish these sentence starters:
Give and Take tells the story of twelve-year-old Maggie who learns that her new baby sister who smells like powder isn’t her sister for keeps. Izzie is a foster baby awaiting adoption. So in a day or a week, she’ll go to her forever family and all that sweetness will be gone.

Except for those things Maggie’s secretly saving in the cardboard boxes in her closet, under her bed, and in her locker at school. Baby socks, binkies, and a button from Bud the Bear. Rocks, sticks, and candy wrappers.

Maggie holds on tight. To her things. Her pet turtle named Bert. Her memories of Nana. And her friends.

But when Maggie has to say goodbye to Izzie, and her friend gets bumped from their all-girl trapshooting squad to make room for a boy, Maggie’s collection in the cardboard boxes grows far beyond her control. And her secret spills out like the things she saves. Maggie has been hoarding. And now she has to find the courage to let go. To Izzie. And her collection of things.

I hope Maggie learns that love sometimes means letting go. That you don’t have to hold onto people and things for their memories to stay tucked in your heart. 



Story is where we discover ourselves, our voice, and our strength. It is where we learn we are not alone.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I was able to write Maggie’s story without crying. And, the answer would be a very big no. Maggie loves so big. It hurt my heart when her heart broke into all those tiny pieces. 


Elly Swartz loves writing for kids, Twizzlers, and anything with her family. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG 2016) is about twelve-year-old Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. In her second book, SMART COOKIE (Scholastic, 2018), you meet the spunky and big-hearted Frankie. Frankie’s all about family with a dash of mischief and mystery! And then On October 15, 2019, say hello to Maggie in GIVE AND TAKE (FSG). Elly lives in Massachusetts with her family and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly, you can find her at ellyswartz.com, on Twitter @ellyswartz, on Instagram @ellyswartzbooks or on her webseries #BooksintheKitchen with Victoria J. Coe.


Look for Give and Take on October 15, 2019. 

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