Write This Down

Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year

How I Came to Write This Book

Because of my “other life” as a philosophy professor, writing and teaching about ethical theory and applied ethics, I love to think about hard moral questions that people face in their everyday lives. And because I’m an author, I’ve given a lot of thought to hard moral questions authors face as well. How can we write honestly in a way that will engage our readers if we don’t draw on life experiences? But our life experiences are tied up with the life experiences of friends and family members. How can I write about my life without writing about their lives as well? So I decided to give this ethical dilemma to a seventh grade writer, Autumn Granger. The love poem Autumn writes for her classmate-crush, Cameron, is taken almost word-for-word from a love poem I wrote for my own classmate-crush in seventh grade. And the workshop Autumn attends, where agents critique first pages of submitted manuscripts on the spot –with devastating candor – is identical to one I attended myself here in Colorado. Autumn is so much like the aspiring writer I once was – and even like the adult writer I am now.

Published: 2016

Write This Down


There are two things that seventh-grader Autumn wants: to become a published writer and for her older brother, Hunter, to go back to being “the best brother in the world.” Ever since starting 10th grade and joining a band, he’s been mean to both Autumn and their parents, who worry about his grades and attitude. When Hunter makes fun of Autumn’s poem about her crush in front of his musician friends, he goes too far. Autumn vents her feelings by writing an essay about how Hunter has changed for the worse and entering it in a contest. When it wins first prize, she must decide whether to accept the award and humiliate her brother when the essay is published, or spare Hunter and give up her chance to see her writing in print. In a believable slice-of-life story, Mills (the Nora Notebooks series) writes eloquently of sibling rivalry, dreams turned sour, hard choices, and the insecurities that come with entering adolescence. Readers, especially younger siblings and budding writers, will easily identify with Autumn’s plights.
– Publishers Weekly

Twelve-year-old Autumn Granger lives in a world of words. An aspiring author, she always has a pen in hand, waiting for inspiration to strike. Her current muse is the long-haired, free-spirited Cameron, who is back from a year abroad. She fills the pages of her journal with odes dedicated to him. If only Autumn could control people in her life as easily as she manipulates her characters. Since the start of 10th grade, Autumn’s older brother, Hunter, has been increasingly mean-spirited and spends all his time with his new bandmates. Autumn would have been content to enjoy posthumous success like her idol Emily Dickinson, but after Hunter mocks her private love poems in front of Cameron’s brother, she’s determined to prove her worth. Getting published will validate her writing and show the world that she has a unique voice and is not just another lovestruck tween. With the first middle school dance rapidly approaching, Autumn submits her work to The New Yorker and the Denver Post, hoping to impress Cameron. Mills does a good job of showing the turbulence of being a preteen. The central focus of the novel is the sibling relationship. Classic helicopter parents, Autumn’s mom and dad praise her good grades and chastise Hunter’s poor ones, which builds resentment. Autumn often describes feeling uncomfortable at being treated like Gallant to her brother’s Goofus. The girl’s pain and confusion over being pushed away by an older sibling are honest and relatable. VERDICT Realistic situations and a nuanced protagonist make this a recommended purchase.
– School Library Journal

In this mainly lighthearted and highly readable novel, Mills creates a warm, convincing portrait of an apprentice author.
– Horn Book