The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart

Hello, Dan Gemeinhart! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! It has been a long time since we celebrated books together. Matt Rockeller’s cover illustration and Mallory Grigg’s cover design for The Midnight Children is incredibly inviting! I cannot wait to booktalk it to students. I know you also love booktalking. Imagine you’re booktalking The Midnight Children to fifth graders in a school library (in person!!!). What do you share with them?

Dan Gemeinhart: Thanks, John! So great to connect again, and so great to talk about The Midnight Children! I agree…Matt and Mallory did such a beautiful job with this cover. I can’t wait to be holding the book in my hands! I am just starting to talk about this book, and I’ve got a lot to say. ☺

When Ravani Foster sees a mysterious group of children move into the empty house across the street in the middle of the night, he’s more than intrigued. Ravani is lonely, and bullied, and desperate not just to have a friend, but to be a friend. But as he gets to know a girl in the group, Virginia Deering, he begins to learn their dark secret…and the danger that they’re in. Ravani and Virginia forge an unlikely friendship and together, they share their secrets, face their fears, and learn about the power of family…whether it’s a family you’re born into, or a family you choose. So this book is about a lot of things: fireflies, and coffins, and slaughterhouses, and canoes, and sinister Hunters, and secret powers, and haunted houses, and first kisses, and capture, and escape, and hiding, and seeking, and finding. But at its heart it’s about family, and friendship, and figuring out where you belong.

Thank you for your terrific booktalk, Librarian Dan! 

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Ravani Foster is an amazing friend who just hasn’t found a friend yet. All his life he’s been an outcast, and a target, and a victim, and a loner…but Virginia teaches him that within his heart, he has everything he needs to be something else: a hero.

Mysteries are everywhere! Our friends, our neighbors, our families, and even our own hearts can hold profound mysteries. So much of life – and almost every story, including this one! – is about solving the mysteries of ourselves: who we are, who we want to be, and where we truly belong. The Midnight Children touches on all those mysteries, and more. One of the beautiful things that Ravani learns is that those mysteries can be solved, and in surprising and wonderful ways, with the help of people who believe in us.

Story is powerful. With Virginia’s help, Ravani realizes that for far too long he’s believed the story that others have told about him: that he’s weak, that he’s weird, that he’s unlovable. The stories that we tell ourselves – about who we are, about what we can or cannot do, about what we do or don’t deserve – are important, and powerful. But they are stories that we can change, if we try. I hope that with this story, readers can think about the stories they’ve told (or been told!) about themselves…and decide if they want to start telling a better one.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me how this book fits in with the others I’ve written. And I would say that in plenty of important ways, The Midnight Children is right at home with my other books. It has the same mix of adventure, emotion, cliffhangers, and feels – with plenty of high stakes and big themes and soulful relationships – that I’ve always tried to weave into my stories. I think that readers who have liked my other books will love this one, too. But in a lot of ways, it’s also very different. In style, concept, and voice, it’s an entirely new kind of storytelling for me, and one that I had an enormous amount of fun exploring. I think The Midnight Children is my funniest, scariest, saddest, most hopeful, and most magical book yet…and I can’t wait to see what readers think!

Congratulations, Dan! 

Dan Gemeinhart is a former elementary teacher-librarian and lifelong book nerd. He lives with his wife and three daughters in a small town in Washington state. He's the author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, The Honest Truth, Some Kind of Courage, Scar Island, and Good Dog. If he ever meets you, he'd love to talk about books with you.

Look for The Midnight Children on August 30, 2022.

From the author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise comes an extraordinary story about a family of runaway kids who move to a small town, and the outcast boy who finds his voice and his peoplefor fans of Katherine Applegate and Kate DiCamillo.

In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a town named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases stealthily step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street. But lonely Ravani Foster witnesses their arrival and is eager to learn everything he can about his new neighbors: What are they hiding? And where are the adults?

Yet amid this group of children, Ravani finds an unexpected friend in gutsy Virginia. But with friendship comes secrets revealed—and danger. When Ravani learns of a threat to his new friends, he must fight to keep them safe, or lose the only person who has ever understood him. Full of wonder and mystery, The Midnight Children explores what makes a family, and what it takes to find the courage to believe in yourself.


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