author Q&A

Author Chat :: Summer Reading :: Sarah Armstrong

Today it’s my pleasure to be joined by another fellow middlegrade reader, author Sarah Armstrong. Sarah was kind enough to chat with me about summer reading and also shared some of her favourite middlegrade books. Check out our chat below…

Hey Sarah! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today! First of all, I’d love to know what’s your favourite thing about summer?

I love heading over to Brunswick Heads beach first thing in the morning. There’s nothing like a salty swim and some sand between the toes to start the day on the right note. I love it when it’s overcast and the sea is grey, and I love it when it’s sunny and the swell is smooth and glassy. One of my other favourite things about summer is that particularly lazy, slow quality the days take on after the hectic rush towards Christmas. It’s almost as if I finally let myself take chunks of time out of the day to just lie down – in the middle of the day, gasp! – and read. Quite frankly, that’s all the middle of a summer’s day is good for up here in the sweaty subtropics. 

Do you like to plan a summer reading list? What’s on your tbr for this summer?

I don’t really plan ahead although I always give my eleven-year old books I want to read! This summer, my plan has been to make a dent in my to-be-read pile and to catch up on a couple of new releases.  A new release I’ve already read this summer is the middlegrade novel, ‘Pony‘ by RJ Palacio, which was brilliant. One from my to-be-read pile was (another middlegrade) ‘Across The Risen Sea‘ by Bren MacDibble – equally brilliant. I’ve just finished ‘Lanny’ by Max Porter which is a novel for adults – so beautiful, so poignant. I read ‘The Argonauts’ by Maggie Nelson, too – extraordinary. The summer’s not over yet – and on my middlegrade tbr pile is: ‘A Kind of Spark‘ by Elle McNicoll, ‘The Orchard Underground‘ by Mat Larkin and ‘Seven Wherewithal Way’ by Samantha-Ellen Bound. 

Do you have a particular genre or type of book you especially like to pick up over summer?

I generally read very widely but at this time of year – when I am recovering from the year that was – I tend to read middle-grade and not-too-dark fiction. Not crime, not memoirs of difficult times, not fact-driven non-fiction.  I’ll happily read all of those at other times – just not over summer, especially after two years of COVID. 

What’s your perfect summer reading situation?

On my bed, with a light breeze coming in the door, the sound of cicadas and maybe someone mowing in the far distance (far enough away not to be annoying but near enough to conjure that childhood feeling of lazy weekends). There’s a pot of ginger tea on my bedside table and I have the sure knowledge that no one will interrupt me and that I can nap if I want to. 

I love middlegrade books, and I know you’re not only also a middlegrade fan, but have your own middlegrade novel on the way in 2022! Can you please share your top 3 (or 5) middlegrade book recommendations for people to check out this summer?

Yes – my first middlegrade novel – Big Magic – is out in May! And I’m a huge fan of middlegrade books and there are so many amazing ones out there, that it’s hard to choose just a few! As you know, I really loved ‘Pony’ and ‘Across The Risen Sea’. ‘When You Reach Me’ by Rebecca Stead swept me off my feet recently – and it’s now my eleven-year old’s all-time favourite book. Recent release, ‘DragonSkin’ by Karen Foxlee is lyrical and handles tricky topics very sensitively. ‘Tiger Daughter’ by Rebecca Lim is for older middlegrade readers – and so powerful. ’Two Wolves’ by Tristan Bancks is a fast-paced, gripping story. There are more I’d like to mention but if people want to, they can check out my Instagram where I review middlegrade books each week. I feel so glad that young readers in general – and my young reader in particular – have access to so many wonderful stories. 


Big thanks to Sarah for chatting with me today! Soooo many great recs in here! Make sure you check out Sarah’s Instagram account to keep up with the latest on her new book – Big Magic, out in May – and loads more book recommendations.

xo Bron

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