The Final Cut by Denis Markell

Hello, Denis Markell! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read! Thank you for stopping by to share Louie Chin’s cover illustration and Michelle Cunningham’s cover design for The Final Cut

Imagine you’re booktalking The Final Cut to 6th graders. What do you share with them?

Denis Markell: So, picture this: You’re in a student film class, and you know that at the end of the semester there’s a competition with an award for the best film of the year, which of course you’d love to win.

To complicate things, your film teacher puts you with two kids you barely know:

One is Priti Sharma, the coolest, smartest girl in the class, who you and every other boy is crushing on...

...and the other is this really weird kid named Theo who is totally paranoid about privacy and is convinced that someone will want to steal your idea.

Now, imagine trying to come up with an idea that all three of you agree is great.

And then...maybe the paranoid kid turns out to be right, and someone is trying to sabotage your project?

The question is...who?

I mean, there are other questions, too... like when will Lexie, the annoying girl you’ve hung out with since you were kids stop butting in (she’s not even in the class!)?

That’s what Alex has to figure out in The Final Cut. And those are the four kids you see on the cover of the book!

Thank you for providing an A+ booktalk! 


Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Filmmaking is something this generation’s kids are probably more comfortable with than anyone before them. Between TikTok, YouTube, Instagram stories, and the other platforms for creating ‘content’ they’ve been telling stories ‘on film’ ever since they got their first phone. Choosing the right angles for the perfect selfie, making sure the lighting is perfect before you upload that picture of your burrito...that’s all great training for sitting down and telling a story using film as your medium! But as Alex and his friends find out, what story you choose to tell is important too!


Seventh grade is often a kind of mixed-up year. Some of you are brand new teens, others are still twelve. Some feel like rushing to be as grown up as possible, and others want to stay a kid for a little while longer. Friendships sometimes fray in seventh grade, but... sometimes... you surprise yourself when you discover that the kid you always had a problem with is actually kinda cool!

Alex is convinced seventh grade is the year he’ll finally become one of the ‘cool kids.’ But let’s just say you can’t always get what you want.

Just like Alex wanted to get into the Video Game Design class, but instead was put in the Student Film class. And it turned out (after a lot of weirdness and frustration with his creative partners) to have been the best thing that could have happened to him!


John Schu, you should have asked me if any kids from my other books pop up in The Final Cut. If you’ve read my stuff you already know I love to do this, bringing characters back either as side characters or just as fun cameos. Basically, all my books exist in the same world (my son calls it “The Markell Extended Universe”) where Saint Anselm’s is the local private school and the kids in The Ghost In Apartment 2R go to the public school in same neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.

I went all in with The Final Cut, with Alex’s classmates being the kids from The Game Masters Of Garden Place as well as Isabel Archer from Click Here To Start playing a part in a friendship drama subplot. However, the ghost from The Ghost In Apartment 2R does not come back! You’ll have to read that book to find out what happened to her!


Denis Markell has written three other novels for kids—the puzzle-packed mystery Click Here to Start, the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired adventure The Game Masters of Garden Place, and the kid-friendly horror story The Ghost in Apartment 2R. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, illustrator Melissa Iwai, and his son, Jamie.


Look for The Final Cut on April 26, 2022. 

An hilarious coming-of-age story about home, friendship, and learning that sometimes the most exciting adventures happen behind-the-scenes.

Alex Davis is convinced that seventh grade is going to be his year. After spending all summer at skate camp, he knows he’ll finally be seen as one of the “cool kids”…until he’s mistakenly put in the wrong elective. Now, instead of taking a popular video games class with his friends, he’s stuck in Filmmaking with hipster teacher Pablo and a group of eccentric classmates.

But when it’s announced that their films will be entered in the school’s annual Golden Reel competition, Alex becomes determined to claim first prize and salvage his seventh-grade year.

With the help of his longtime crush, his best friend, and a peculiar new student, Alex sets out to make a masterpiece. Soon he discovers that someone is trying to sabotage his film and finds himself embroiled in a mystery—one that leads him and his crew to conniving classmates, traitorous teachers, and even corrupt city politicians!

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