Reading Middle Grade is proud to host the cover reveal of The Puttermans Are in the House by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman! I read and enjoyed Jacquetta Nammar Feldman’s debut novel earlier this year and was delighted to hear of her forthcoming sophomore novel. Jacquetta and I chatted about the story, writing about relationships, and the difference between debut novels and sophomore releases. You’ll love this cover!
Hi Jacquetta, welcome to Reading Middle Grade! Your debut novel, Wishing Upon the Same Stars was a sensitive portrayal of a friendship between two (Israeli American and Palestinian American) girls. Could you tell us about your new forthcoming title, The Puttermans Are in the House?
Hi Afoma! Thanks so much for having me here and hosting this cover reveal. I absolutely love your site! I’m so excited to tell everyone a bit about my next middle grade novel, The Puttermans Are in the House! It’s a story told through the points of view of three family members—two fraternal twins, Sammy and Matty Putterman, and their first cousin Becky Putterman—and the heart of it is about self-discovery and growing into changing relationships.
The story is set against the real-life backdrop of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey and the World Series and explores the challenges the Putterman kids face during a time of strife and uncertainty, and the ways in which they learn to support one another. It’s a story filled with misunderstandings, reconciliations, and a big dose of hopeful cheer. And of course, lots of baseball!
Again, you return to your focus on close relationships – this time between family members, not friends. What appeals to you about exploring the dynamics in these relationships?
I’m all about relationships—how they are made, unmade, and mended—and shining a light on ways that young people might find paths to better understanding and appreciation for one another.
As our world continues to change and shift and challenges us to change and shift with it, it’s so important to have people you can connect with and count on in your corner: your teammates! And, sometimes, at least in my stories, the people you least suspect are the ones who lift you up and cheer for you the most.
Debut novels are often a testing ground in many ways. How was writing this book different from your debut novel?
Wishing Upon the Same Stars is told from the point of view of Yasmeen, a young girl who shares many of the feelings I had growing up in my Palestinian family, the Nammar family. The Puttermans Are in the House was born from the life I married into as a part of my Jewish family, the Feldman family.
Neither of the books approximates either side of my family or their lives, but both books contain bits and pieces of the way I’ve felt during my life journey. In fact, I think that all the characters I’ve created in these stories, even at times my antagonists, bear some resemblance to their author!
Which of the protagonists were your favorite to write, and why?
I can’t pick—I honestly love them all! Sammy’s voice was the first one that came to me, and as readers will see, she appears on the cover and carries the bulk of the story.
At first, I thought Sammy would tell Matty and Becky’s stories as well, but her viewpoint is limited for a good bit of the novel. Within days of writing Sammy’s first words, I knew that all three Putterman kids needed their own first-person perspectives.
Matty’s voice came easily for me, as a person who has always wondered if all the parts of myself can exist in harmony together. And I’m so excited for readers to meet Becky in all her angst and self-doubt and see how she shines as her very best self.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the cover reveal of The Puttermans Are in the House!
How do you feel about this cover? And was this the original idea? How much input did you have in its creation?
I am thrilled with artist Abigail L. Dela Cruz and designer Joel Tippie’s beautiful rendering of this story and cannot wait for readers to see the full jacket!
After a brief discussion with my wonderful editor at HarperCollins, Megan Ilnitzki, we agreed that showing Sammy Putterman as she watches the Hurricane Harvey floodwaters rise in front of her house, wearing her favorite jersey and clutching her most important baseball, would be the perfect scene for the cover. I’m so grateful that I was able to give my input and I just love the result!
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
For me, the big takeaway from The Puttermans Are in the House is that cheering matters. It matters in our support of ourselves, the people we care about, and it matters for us in the evolution of who we want to be as a community. People may change, and relationships may change, but we can still grow stronger and more committed to each other. We can still be a team that cheers each other on.
Thank you so much, Jacquetta! When can readers expect The Puttermans Are in the House?
The book will publish on 1/17/2023 everywhere books are sold and can be preordered now!
Afoma, thanks so much for hosting this cover reveal and for the opportunity to tell everyone a bit about Sammy, Matty, and Becky. I can’t wait for The Puttermans Are in the House to be in the hands of middle grade readers soon!
Jacquetta Nammar Feldman is the author of Wishing Upon the Same Stars, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. When she’s not curled up with a book or typing at her computer, she can be found hiking the beautiful hills of Austin, Texas, with her husband, two labradoodles, and a Havanese. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, and she’s currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children & Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find out more at jacquettanammarfeldman.com.