From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Hello, Janae Marks! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! It was such a pleasure and honor to meet you recently in Springfield, Massachusetts. Thank you for dropping by to share the lovely cover for From The Desk of Zoe Washington. Please tell us about the significance of the items (cupcake, headphones, envelope, etc.) featured on the cover.

Janae Marks: It was so wonderful to meet you recently, Mr. Schu! Thank you so much for having me here.

I am in love with Mirelle Ortega’s beautiful illustration on the cover, and Laura Mock’s design. All of the objects on and around Zoe’s desk give you a glimpse of who Zoe is and what she experiences in the book. The cookbook and cupcake represent her love for baking. She bakes a lot of sweet treats throughout the story. The envelope and stamps are for the letters Zoe exchanges with her incarcerated father. As for the headphones, I don’t want to give too much away, but Zoe ends up listening to some pretty fun music in the book!

What are three things we should know about Zoe Washington?

1. Zoe’s favorite pizza toppings are pineapple and pepperoni. She calls it “Hawaiian-ish” pizza.

2. She has a close relationship with her grandmother, who plays an important part in the story.

3. Zoe can be very stubborn! While it’s not always a good thing, this trait ends up benefiting her as she solves a mystery.

Click here to listen to an interview with Janae. 

What planted the seed for From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Janae Marks: I’ve been a fan of true crime podcasts and documentaries ever since the first season of the mega-hit podcast Serial aired, as well as the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. Both of these programs feature incarcerated men who may not have actually committed their crimes. I started thinking about how wrongful convictions affect families and wondered: what would it be like to be the child of someone in that position? I dove into research and the idea for From the Desk of Zoe Washington grew from there! 

What’s on your desk right now?

Janae Marks: My two favorite beverages (iced coffee and water), a notebook, and a lit candle. On the shelf right under my desk is a pile of books! 

Click here to read the full feature. 

Please finish these sentence starters:

I hope From the Desk of Zoe Washington entertains and inspires young readers and adults alike. In the book, Zoe both pursues her dream of baking and stands up for what she believes is right. I hope readers come away from this book wanting to do the same.

School librarians are amazing human beings who deserve all of the praise in the world! I’m looking forward to visiting schools and meeting more librarians once the book is available.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what From the Desk of Zoe Washington is about! Here’s the description:

Dear Marcus...

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write next. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? The truth is somewhere out there, and Zoe is determined to uncover it. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from her mom and stepdad. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship, and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. It’s been Zoe’s dream to become a star baker, and she can’t afford to mess anything up. Her best friend and neighbor Trevor would’ve been her confidante through all this, but Zoe’s not speaking to him anymore. She’ll have to figure this out alone.

With bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. This captivating novel by debut author Janae Marks follows one courageous girl as she questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right, even in the face of great opposition.

Thank you, Mr. Schu, for helping me celebrate my cover reveal!

Thank you, Janae! Congratulations! 

Photo Credit: Jerri Graham 
Janae Marks is an award-winning children's book author living in Connecticut. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Writing for Children and Young Adults from The New School. She is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is her debut novel.

Look for From the Desk of Zoe Washington on January 14, 2020. 


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