Today we're excited to chat with Jennifer Maschari, author of Things That Surprise You. Read on for more about Jennifer and her book, plus a giveaway!


Meet Jennifer Maschari!


Jennifer Maschari is a classroom teacher and the author of THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE and THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. She is hard at work on her next middle grade novel with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. Jennifer lives in Ohio with her husband and stinky (yet noble) English bulldogs, Oliver and Hank. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit


Meet Things That Surprise You!


Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice. 

But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.

Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?

Things That Surprise You is a beautifully layered novel about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.  



A Chat with Jennifer Maschari:

1. Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite character in the book is the main character, Emily Murphy! Emily loves to craft, spend time with her dog, Bean, and has such a big heart. She feels everything so deeply and is trying to navigate some difficult issues in her life while experiencing the regular ups and downs of growing up. I hope readers will root for her the way I do!

2. Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel came first! I’m actually pretty terrible at titling novels; for awhile, I was calling this one EMILY MURPHY (which is a good name for a main character but not a great name for a book!). THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU is actually a chapter title, and my editor thought it would also work well as the title of the book. She was right! I think it’s a perfect fit for a story that’s all about the unexpected things that happen in friend and family relationships in our lives.

3. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

There are a couple of scenes, later in the book, where Emily and a group of girls go to a movie adaptation of a book series Emily loves. Emily has literally been counting down the days till they get to go, and she is SO excited—for both the movie and to spend time with her BFF Hazel. Things don’t go as Emily hoped, though.

I’m really proud of these chapters. Emily’s disappointment and pain is palpable, and I hope the reader will feel for her (and relate to her) in these moments. I think it captures the awkwardness and transition of growing up.

4. What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love everything about the cover. Kathrin Honesta, the cover illustrator, did such a beautiful job capturing Emily’s room and her interior world. If I have to choose what detail I like best, though, I’d say Emily’s sweet dog, Bean, peeking out of the covers of Emily’s bed.

5. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?

I am so excited for KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE by Kristi Wientge and Jason Reynolds’ PATINA. An early 2018 book I’m looking forward to is A SKY FULL OF STARS by Linda Williams Jackson.

6. What’s up next for you?

I have another contemporary middle grade that I’m working on for Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. It’s still evolving, so I’m reluctant to say too much about it. It does have another really great dog in it, though! I’m also working on a chapter book idea and researching a potential picture book. I’m also a teacher so another school year is on the horizon!

7. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?

Definitely revising! I love having words and a story to actually work with and shape. It’s such a cool moment when you can actually see and feel the book getting better. My editor offers smart, wonderful notes that help me dig deep into the book to find the heart of it.

8. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

As an educator and author, I love Donors Choose! I think it’s a wonderful way to help school teachers support their students by funding various projects. These projects help get diverse books into the hands of kids, equip them with much needed technology, help provide flexible seating options, etc. I love that you can choose schools in your community or a cause that you’re especially passionate about. 


Things That Surprise You

By: Jennifer Maschari

Release Date: August 22, 2017


 One winner will receive a copy of Things That Surprise You (US only).

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
One grand prize winner will receive a Crafty Unicorn Kit!  The prize includes a fun craft kit, a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, unicorn stickers, and puzzle cards! Enter here.