Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 22, 2008

ITCH by Michelle D. Kwasney

Michelle Kwasney’s second novel, Itch, came out last month from Holt, and she recently heard the good news that it will be made into an audio book. Yay!

I met Michelle years ago – who’s counting? –in the basement of the Hatfield, MA library where for twenty some years Jane Yolen held a monthly SCBWI critique group. Since Jane left, some of us, including Michelle and I, take turns leading that open group, now at the Amherst Library, and Michelle and I have become friends. Here’s a recent picture of Michelle at the top left standing next to Jo Knowles (another friend met in that basement) and Pat Cook. From bottom left Peg Davol, Jane Buchanan, me, and Ellen Wittlinger.

ITCH is named for the main character of this novel for middle readers, a girl who loves words so much that she composes lists of favorites and uses them to create safety and justice (the novel actually begins with her thoughts on the word: unjust.) Memories of her grandfather and his sayings also inspire her. There’s music in Michelle’s language, too, that I can’t put into a synopsis. So read this book, set in the 1960’s, and you’ll get not only the language of that era but its candy, cars, and hairstyles.

Michelle recently wrote me about a friend’s tradition of bringing her lilies of the valley on her birthday. How great to be born in that fragrant season! I picked a bunch in her honor — sorry about the virtual-ness —

Happy Birthday, Michelle!



  1. Great group!!! I’m waving!

  2. Wait! I share a birthday with Michelle? How cool is that? I loved her debut novel! Looking forward to ITCH!

  3. Birthday buddies! That is very cool. And you will love ITCH!

  4. Jane Buchanan! I haven’t seen that name around for ages. She and I trained for teaching ICL together and have lost touch. She was one of the very first to read a REALLY rough draft of Hugging the Rock and pushed me to keep going.

  5. I love our small worlds, though would be better if the coffee shops were all closer. Now that you say that, I sort of remember Jane listed in your acknowledgements and wondered. Jane is a great encourager, likes her day job in a library, but doesn’t leave her with as much time as she deserves for her novel.

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