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Work Samples

Our Story Begins intro.pdf

"Our story begins with a box in a basement...."

The introduction to OUR STORY BEGINS

PDF icon Our Story Begins intro.pdf

The Length of a String

"All my life I've shared with you...."

The prologue to THE LENGTH OF A STRING, a part-contemporary, part-historical novel for readers ages 9-13.

PDF icon The Length of a String

nikhil and the geek retreat excerpt for baker.pdf

"Nikhil had the webpage about the retreat open in one tab and the definition of 'retreat' open in another...."

Chapter 1 of NIKHIL AND THE GEEK RETREAT, a novella for readers ages 8-12.

PDF icon nikhil and the geek retreat excerpt for baker.pdf


About Elissa Brent

Baltimore City

Elissa Brent Weissman's picture
Elissa Brent Weissman is an award-winning author of novels for young readers. Best known for the popular Nerd Camp series, she and her books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, NPR’s “Here and Now,” and more. Named one of CBS Baltimore’s Best Authors in Maryland, Elissa lives in Baltimore City, where she teaches creative writing to children, college students, and adults. Learn more at ... more

Our Story Begins

Our Story Begins: Children's Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids

I edited this anthology, which brings together 25 of today's most beloved children's authors and illustrators to share never-before-seen writing and artwork that they created when they were children themselves. When the idea for such a book occurred to me, I couldn't believe that it hadn't occurred to anyone else before, and I knew that I had to turn it into a reality. Making it happen required three years of hard work and countless emails and contract negotiations. But it also brought me many moments of discovery and joy, and the book turned out better than I could have ever anticipated. It will be published July 4, 2017, by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and I can't wait until readers have a chance to discover it for themselves.

The Length of a String

My newest novel is for readers ages 10-14 and is titled The Length of a String. My first 5 novels are contemporary school stories with lots of humor. The Length of a String is that as well--but the modern story is interspersed with historical fiction that's more serious in content and theme.

It tells the story of Imani, a girl who's working up the nerve to ask her adoptive parents for an emotionally-laden Bat Mitzvah gift: permission to search for her birth parents. While wrestling with her guilt, Imani discovers a diary her adoptive great-grandmother, Anna, kept she moved across the ocean—alone, at age twelve—to escape the Holocaust. Anna’s story moves from World War II Luxembourg to 1941 Brooklyn, and it’s drawn heavily from my own grandparents’ stories about growing up in 1940s New York. The historical fiction is framed and complemented by Imani’s present-day journey to finding her place in her Jewish family.

It was a challenge for me to write something so far outside my comfort zone. I spent a lot of time revising this book, making sure Imani's and Anna's stories were as strong as they coul be, and that they complement each other in meaningful ways. Since part of the story is written from the point of view of a character of a different race, I had multiple sensitivity readers provide feedback and help make Imani's experience as authentic as possible. The Length of a String was published by Dial/Penguin in May 2018, and it was named one of the best Jewish children's books of the year by Tablet Magazine.

Here is the prologue, which is the beginning of Anna's diary--written as letters to the twin sister she had to leave behind--and the first chapter, which introduces Imani in 2014.

Nikhil and the Geek Retreat

In April of 2016, over 36,000 elementary schoolers in Florida voted for their favorite book to win the Sunshine State Young Reader Award. My book Nerd Camp was the runner up.

This exciting honor allowed me to visit with lots of young readers in Florida throughout the year. I visited them at their schools, at book festivals, and via Skype. One of their main requests: More Nerd Camp!

I'd already written a published a sequel, Nerd Camp 2.0, and I happy to write a third. The problem is that it takes about a year for me to write a novel, and then at least another 2 years for it to be published with a traditional publisher. By that time, all these energetic fans would most likely have forgotten about Nerd Camp--and many of would have aged out of my target demographic.

The answer I came up with was to continue the series with a series of shorter books--novellas that I could write and publish quickly. As an extra bonus, they'd be quick to read; perfect for reluctant readers and kids still building their reading stamina. Since underwear plays a big role in Nerd Camp 2.0, I decided to call these bite-size books "Nerd Camp Briefs."

The first one centers around Nikhil, a cautious but loveable camper who, if Nerd Camp were a movie, would win an Oscar for best supporting role. His story is an 88-page book called Nikhil and the Geek Retreat, and you can read the first chapter here.

Amanda and the Battle of the Brainiacs

My second Nerd Camp Brief focuses on Amanda Wisznewski, a character with a unique worldview and tons of personality. It was a lot of fun to write from her point of view.

Amanda is going to be a contestant on television’s hottest new game show for kids, Battle of the Brainiacs. The competition will be fierce, especially because the opposing team will be led by Gabe, her soul mate from Nerd Camp. Determined to win, Amanda fills her team with the smartest girls she knows: Jenny, her best friend from camp, and Ty, the cool new girl from school.

But not everything goes according to plan. Jenny’s too busy to prepare, their practice session goes horribly awry, and Ty is so mysteriously aloof, Amanda doesn’t know if she can count on her to even show up the day of the battle.

Ready or not, it’s lights, camera, action—girls versus boys on live TV. Which team will be Best of the Brainiacs?

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