Dear Student by Elly Swartz

Hello, Elly Swartz! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read! Thank you for stopping by to share Dear Student’s cover! Please take us on a tour of Simini Blocker’s cover illustration and Katrina Domkoehler’s cover design.

Elly Swartz: Hi, John, and a huge thanks for having me back on Watch. Connect. Read. Revealing my covers with you has become a very special tradition. One I’m so grateful to continue with DEAR STUDENT.

So, now onto the cover tour!

Simini and Katrina did an amazing job capturing the heart and essence of DEAR STUDENT through their cover art. Every image on the cover is an integral part of Autumn’s story. So for readers, the story becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt. When will you meet the guinea pig named Spud? The pregnant python they call Snow White? Why are there whoopie pies, postcards, and lilacs? And what does the K.A.T. sticker on Autumn’s computer stand for? All of these things impact Autumn’s heart and journey and are revealed as her story unfolds.

Scenario: I know you love visiting schools. Imagine you’re booktalking Dear Student to 6th graders. What do you share with them? 

Elly Swartz: You’re right. I love love love visiting schools – virtually and in person. Kids amaze me. Their heart and honesty. I love it all!

DEAR STUDENT is about Autumn, a girl with social anxiety and a pet guinea pig named Spud, who becomes the secret voice of her middle school’s advice column.

Like the amazing kid activists today, Autumn doesn’t just find her voice, but with the help of Fearless Fred—the part of each one of us that fear can’t boss around—Autumn is brave enough to own it. And use it! She realizes that she can make a difference.

But sharing her voice anonymously through the advice column gets complicated when her heart is divided between 2 friends who want very different things. And when the advice she gives unknowingly puts her smack in the middle of those friends and the things they want, she worries.

Does she have the courage to trust her voice and follow her heart, even when it's divided? Can she keep her identity a secret? And what happens to those friendships if she can’t?

Oh, and this story is also filled with lots of animals and delicious whoopie pies (recipes included, allergy friendly ones, too!)

I love this story, John, and can’t wait for readers to meet Autumn.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Autumn was inspired by so many of the readers I’ve had the privilege of meeting at schools, bookstores, and coffee shops. Through conversations we’ve had, and the letters and emails they’ve shared with me. The kids with social anxiety. The ones who’d rather eat anywhere but the school cafeteria. The kids struggling to find their voice.

Like these kids, Autumn learns she has something worth sharing. And that she’s going to be okay. Not because she’s brave like her friend Logan who’s been advocating for things since she wanted a later bedtime in second grade or her dad who’s king of seizing the day. But because she’s brave like her.

Courage can look many ways. Quiet, tender hearts included. And sometimes the most fearless thing you can do is just be yourself.

One thing I love about DEAR STUDENT is the friendship between Autumn and Prisha. While Prisha has moved away, her impact on Autumn’s heart is felt no matter the distance. She reminds Autumn to just be herself. That she is special. And will always be enough. No matter if kids agree with the opinions she shares or not. I want readers to know they, like Autumn, will always be enough. Just the way they are.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the fun pre-order campaign we are doing for DEAR STUDENT!!

You can get special signed copies! If you pre-order DEAR STUDENT from Eight Cousins, Wellesley Books, or The Brain Lair, your book will be signed and you'll receive a limited-edition bookmark.

There’s more! 3 grand prizes! If you pre-order from Eight Cousins, Wellesley Books, The Brain Lair, or anywhere books are sold, and send proof of purchase to, you'll be entered to win one of the three prizes below. Winners randomly chosen on 2/15/22. Woohoo!

** Happy Prize. A signed Brave Like Me poster

** Dear Prize. Handwritten letters to you, your bookclub, your group of friends (up to 20), or your class from me in the style of Dear Student.

** Virtual Prize. A free 30 minute virtual Q & A with me.

Thank you, Elly!

Elly Swartz grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania. She studied psychology at Boston University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Elly lives in Massachusetts and is happily married with two grown sons, a beagle named Lucy, and a pup named Baxter Bean. Finding Perfect, called “a clear, moving portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder” by Publishers Weekly, was her debut novel. She is also the author of Smart Cookie and Give and Take, novels for middle grade readers.

Look for Dear Student on February 15, 2022. 


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