True Colors by Abby Cooper

Happy, happy Friday! I'm thrilled Abby Cooper stopped by to finish my sentences. We discussed Oriol Vidal, toxic positivity, Serenity, revision, and more. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Abby! 

Oriol Vidal’s cover illustration and Barbara Grzeslo's cover design for True Colors is amazing! I am so grateful for illustrators like Oriol who so skillfully and thoughtfully bring made-up people and places to life. I think this cover is so beautiful and am thrilled to share it with you today.

True Colors tells the story 
of living in a culture of toxic positivity. When writing this book, I often found myself reflecting on the first few months of the pandemic. It felt like everywhere I turned, people were making sourdough, getting TikTok famous, etc., but I didn’t feel like attempting any of that. (Okay, I did make a few TikToks, but mostly for my own entertainment). Mainly I just felt sad and scared, and then I felt guilty for feeling that way when so many people were worse off. Eventually, I realized that judging yourself for feeling a certain way or telling yourself that certain feelings are wrong or bad does nothing to actually help. In fact, it usually only makes things worse.

And this isn’t limited to the pandemic, either. From the way things appear on social media to telling teachers to “remember their why” (and then not paying them enough/treating them badly/etc.), to the other platitudes constantly being spoken/shared/printed on t-shirts, toxic positivity is EVERYWHERE. I want kids (and grown-ups) to know that we don’t have to fall for this. Certainly, there are healthy and not-so-healthy ways to respond to and cope with our feelings, but the feelings themselves? Valid. So valid. Once more, for the folks in the back: YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID! This is something Mackenzie comes to terms with in TRUE COLORS. I hope her journey will encourage readers to do the same.

(Okay, I’m done now. Can you tell I’m kinda passionate about this topic?!)

Serenity, Minnesota, is the imaginary place I go to in my head when the real world feels too overwhelming. In Serenity, everyone is kind, helpful, and compassionate. Also, there are unlimited bouncy houses and chocolate fountains. What more do you need? Of course, as Mackenzie comes to discover, no place is perfect.

Story is life-saving. Stories validate feelings and experiences, and all stories belong on our library shelves.

John Schu, you should have asked me  how many times I’ve revised this book. Answer = SO. MANY. TIMES, and More than any book I’ve written so far. But I’m so glad I wrote each and every draft, because with each one, the story blossomed and evolved in new, different, and important ways. Each draft helped get me get to the story I truly wanted – no, NEEDED – to tell. I’m in the process of developing some fun activities for school visits this year that will help students identify what they’re passionate about and what they truly need to say. I can’t wait to work with kids again! Please reach out through my website,, if you’d like to connect virtually or in-person. Can’t wait to meet you!

Congratulations, Abby! 

Abby Cooper is the author of three middle-grade novels: Friend or Fiction, Sticks & Stones, and Bubbles, all of which incorporate a speculative element into a contemporary setting. A former school librarian and educator, Abby lives in Minnesota with her husband and son. Visit

True Colors releases on May 7, 2024. Pre-order a copy today


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