Gennifer Choldenko author photo

I have been an avid fan of Gennifer Choldenko and her books for quite some time, and was honored to feature Dogtown (co-written with Katherine Applegate), Orphan Eleven, and Chasing Secrets. Her newest middle grade book, THE TENTH MISTAKE OF HANK HOOPERMAN comes out today, June 11, 2024.


When eleven-year-old Hank’s mom doesn’t come home, he takes care of his toddler sister, Boo, like he always does. But it’s been a week now. They are out of food and mom has never stayed away this long… Hank knows he needs help, so he and Boo seek out the stranger listed as their emergency contact.

But asking for help has consequences. It means social workers, and a new school, and having to answer questions about his mom that he’s been trying to keep secret. And if they can’t find his mom soon, Hank and Boo may end up in different foster homes–he could lose everything.

Gennifer Choldenko has written a heart-wrenching, healing, and ultimately hopeful story about how complicated family can be. About how you can love someone, even when you can’t rely on them. And about the transformative power of second chances.


In our last interview, you said, “…for me tenacity meant working to develop my skill set. And it meant being patient with the process. And it meant not giving up even when it looked like I was never going to make it.” What would you say to authors who are currently in this position, and was there anything else in addition to tenacity that helped you keep going?

I understand how powerful the desire to be published is. How you can feel like no one will take you seriously as a writer unless you can say you are an author. And how that fact can weigh you down. And make no mistake it is very difficult to get published. But if you are a writer deep in the marrow of your bones you will keep at it, because you can’t not write. In the end, I don’t get up in the morning to be published. I get up in the morning to write. Writing helps me make sense of the world in a way nothing else ever has. Allow your writing to feed your inner self. And when you are done with a manuscript, hand it to someone who will give you a good critique. While they are critiquing, start working on your next book.


Exactly. I’m finding this to be true as well. THE TENTH MISTAKE OF HANK HOOPERMAN offers a look into what it’s like for kids who don’t have reliable parents. What do you hope readers glean from Hank and Boo’s story?

First, I hope readers feel deeply bonded and completely invested in Hank and Boo and I hope they will be enthralled by the story. If I haven’t created a compelling story, no one will care what the theme is. Theme is what readers realize when they read THE TENTH MISTAKE OF HANK HOOPERMAN. And I think that varies by reader. Theme is rarely what I start with or even what I think about while I’m writing. It is only after I finish my first or second or third draft that I begin to understand what the story is trying to tell me.


It’s true; theme will lie flat without a compelling story to give it life. Similarly with the window-dressing of a compelling premise and/or world-building. THE TENTH MISTAKE OF HANK HOOPERMAN has also been named as a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Congratulations! Where were you when you heard this news?

Generally, I keep careful track of JLG. I figure out what the window of when I might get news from them might be. And then I bite my nails, pace, eat things I shouldn’t, and check my email obsessively. For me JLG is like seeing a seal on my morning walk. It is a harbinger of a happy book launch.

But to answer your question, this year has been so busy with deadlines flying by, I forgot to plan when the window might be. I forgot to count the days. I forgot to worry. And then when JLG popped into my mind, I knew it was too late to get good news from them. So, I was in the process of talking myself down from the ledge. It’s okay. It will be fine. The book will be okay without JLG. And then the news popped up in my email with a red exclamation point because they needed my answer immediately so they could piggyback on the print run. It was late . . . but it happened. And I went berserk. It felt like I’d seen a bob of seals on my walk.


Wonderful! The sequel to the book you wrote with Katherine Applegate, MOUSE AND HIS DOG, A Dogtown book is set to come out in September 2024. Is there anything you can tell us about it yet?

Originally the second Dogtown book, a companion book to Dogtown, was about Buster, a dog who had a cameo in Dogtown. But once the writing began Katherine and I realized that Buster wasn’t the right character to tell his story. So we began fiddling around with other narrators. Soon Mouse grabbed the microphone. Yep, Mouse wanted to tell Buster’s story. I have always wanted to write a book from the point of view of a mouse, so getting to write this book with Katherine was an absolute hoot.





For more about Gennifer Choldenko and her books, go to

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *