Reading Middle Grade is proud to reveal the cover of Sandy Grubb’s debut middle grade novel, Just Like Click. I enjoyed chatting with Sandy about writing a superhero mystery, her initial response to her cover, and the unique setting of her debut novel. Enjoy the interview and stick around for the reveal at the end.
Interview with Author Sandy Grubb
Hi Sandy, welcome to Reading Middle Grade! We’re glad to have you with us today.
Thank you for hosting me and my new book today! I have admired what you do here for a long time, and now it’s such a privilege to be featured on your blog.
Congratulations on your debut middle grade book, Just Like Click. Could you tell us a bit about this book?
Just Like Click is a contemporary middle grade superhero adventure story for a new era. The protagonist, eleven-year-old Nick, is authentic, vulnerable, and immensely relatable as he faces challenging family and friendship problems. This book has been part of my life for about ten years, going through countless revisions.
As I developed as a writer, so this novel also transformed. I think there’s only one sentence that has survived from my very first draft. This final version with its comic book illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, invites kids of all ages to enter into Nick’s world. From the beginning, I wanted to write about a likeable boy who is more than he realizes, who must sort out what the world says about him from the truth of who he actually is.
Your book sounds like an exciting mash-up of mystery and superhero story. Have you always been drawn to both genres? Why did you choose to write about a mystery-solving superhero?
I definitely pulled the superhero theme from my own childhood love of Superman. I bought Superman comics and watched all the TV shows. My favorite episode has always been Superman’s origin story—the baby who comes to earth from Krypton and then must figure out who and what he is. That was the original Superman mystery.
The mystery in Just Like Click represents the questions we all face in life. So many times, we want to know why and how and who but can’t find the answers. There are cases in which we will never find answers, but I wanted to show how Nick draws on resources inside himself to solve the mystery about the money under his bed and try to save his dad’s job. We all have superpowers inside us—if only we can unlock them.
The setting of this story is special because it’s also where you live. What makes the Black Butte Ranch the perfect setting for Click’s story?
Black Butte Ranch is a place of remarkable natural beauty with mountains, pine forests, sparkling streams, and wildlife. It’s a place begging for adventures. Only a small number of people live at Black Butte Ranch full-time. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live there year-round, especially for kids, and so, I placed Nick and his family there, a perfect setting for the superhero adventures Nick carries out.
While kids everywhere can have friendship challenges, I think it must be especially hard to find your place among a smaller peer group, especially if that group has made up their mind about you in a way that leaves you on the outside.
Friendship is at the heart of the story. What do you hope kids learn about friendship from Click’s adventures?
Friendships can change over time. We’re constantly changing, and so are the people around us. Our best friend in second grade may not be the perfect friend for fifth grade. However, we should never underestimate the importance of friends in our lives. It’s worth being open to people we may be tempted to rule out. We just may have more in common with them than we ever imagined, as Nick discovers to his great surprise.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the cover reveal!
What’s your favorite thing about this cover? Did it live up to your expectations for your debut novel?
I love this cover! The artist, C. B. Royal, has created a beautiful work of art worthy of framing. I hope when readers see this funny, quirky boy in his red cape with his sidekick, Ratchet Raccoon, they will immediately know that the story inside promises fun and adventure.
I confess when my publisher first sent me a glimpse of the cover last spring, I panicked. The artist had rendered Nick in the classic Superman type of red trunks and blue tights. I never envisioned Nick or his superhero creation, Click, wearing red trunks. Now, with Nick in blue jeans, I couldn’t be happier with the cover. My editor has been a dream to work with.
I can’t wait to meet Click and the gang, Sandy! Thanks so much for sharing this cover with us. When can readers expect to meet Click?
Just Like Click releases on April 16, 2024. It’s available now for pre-order at most of your favorite book-buying places. Readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website at sandygrubb.com and receive timely updates. Thank you so much for sharing Just Like Click with your readers!
About the Book
About the Author
Sandy Grubb has been writing children’s stories since she was a child herself. Her debut novel, Just Like Click, won the esteemed Kraken Book Prize, recognizing finely crafted middle grade fiction. When not at home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Sandy and her family can often be found exploring nature trails and playing badminton at Black Butte Ranch, just like Click…and Nick!