Claudia Mills

Claudia Mills

Some writers say that they hate to write. I love to write. I write my books early in the morning, while the rest of my family is still asleep. I get up at 5 a.m., fix myself a mug of hot chocolate or Earl Grey tea, and then curl up on the couch with my pad and pen. I still write the first draft of every book by hand, always on a white, narrow-ruled pad, and always with a black, felt-tipped, fine-point pen. Sometimes I lie there half dreaming, making notes on my pad that say things like "Help! Where is the humor??!!" or "I need more action!" Sometimes I scribble away as fast as my hand can move across the page, lost in the world of my story. I write until breakfast, or until my two boys wake up, whichever comes first. Usually I don't get much more than one page written in a day. But page by page, day by day, on the couch at dawn, I've written many books now.

I didn't always write on the couch, and I didn't always write with the same kind of pad and pen. When I was growing up in New Jersey, I wrote anywhere and everywhere  often during math class, which is why I never learned much algebra. When I finally collected all my childhood writings from my parents' house, I had a drawer full of hundreds of poems I had written before I was sixteen. There were poems scrawled on napkins, on the backs of church bulletins, and, of course, on math tests, where the answers should have been. But I have always loved the early morning best.

Now I live in Boulder, Colorado, with my husband, Richard Wahl, and my two sons, Christopher and Gregory. All my first books were about girls  show-off girls, shy girls, selfish girls, unselfish girls  but all somehow me, reflections of the girl I once was, and still am deep inside. Now I find myself writing about boys, too, inspired by the two real-life boys who share my days. When I was expecting the birth of my first child, I was stunned when the doctor told me it would be a boy: "But all my books are about girls!" "Well, now you'll have to start writing books about boys,"he told me, and his prediction came true.

I've also started writing stories about younger children, though most of my stories are set in the middle grades. I remember a poem I wrote the day before I turned ten, which began: "There is much magic in the
age / Of ten, that year as rich as gold…" Ten and eleven and twelve have certainly been magical and rich ages for me as a writer. When I go to schools, I tell the children that they could spend the rest of their lives just writing books about the things that happened to them in fifth grade.

So between 5 and 7 a.m. every day, I return to fifth grade, or sixth grade, sometimes even seventh, and, between sips of cocoa or tea, I bring that world to life again.

And I love doing it.


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by the author

Zero Tolerance

Claudia Mills
Square Fish

Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother’s lunch bag to school, including a...


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Annika Riz, Math Whiz
Franklin School Friends
Claudia Mills, illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Margaret Ferguson Books

Annika Riz loves math more than anything, so when she hears about a sudoku contest at the local public library, she is determined to win it—maybe then her...


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Kelsey Green, Reading Queen
Franklin School Friends
Claudia Mills, illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Square Fish

Kelsey Kline is the best reader in the third grade—well, maybe tied for best with know-it-all Simon Ellis. When the principal, Mr. Boone, announces a...


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Dinah Forever

Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Dinah Seabrooke is in seventh grade and distraught at learning that the sun will vaporize the earth in about 5 billion years. Nothing matters anymore-not class...


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eBook
Losers, Inc.
West Creek Middle School Series
Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ethan Winfield has never been an academic or athletic star like his older brother, Peter. But does that make him a failure? Of course not. Still, Ethan and his...


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eBook
Lizzie At Last
West Creek Middle School Series
Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The sequel to Losers, Inc. and You're a Brave Man, Julius Zimmerman As seventh grade begins, Lizzie Archer knows she can't endure another year of being...


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eBook
Perfectly Chelsea

Claudia Mills; Pictures by Jacqueline Rogers
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Chelsea learns she is perfectly human If Chelsea Garing likes anything better than school, it's church, especially when she gets the chance to shine....


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eBook
You're a Brave Man, Julius Zimmerman
West Creek Middle School Series
Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The sequel to Losers, Inc. Twelve-year-old Julius Zimmerman is the former vice president of the defunct organization Losers, Inc. Ethan Winfield, the...


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Standing Up to Mr. O.

Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Maggie McIntosh is crazy about her biology teacher and loves to impress him with her academic excellence. But when the dreaded day of the first class...


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eBook
Fractions = Trouble!

Claudia Mills; Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Square Fish

If Wilson Williams thought multiplication was difficult, he is finding fractions impossible. And when his parents hire a math tutor for him, he is sure he's...


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Being Teddy Roosevelt

Claudia Mills; Pictures by R. W. Alley
Square Fish

Riley O'Rourke is writing his report on President Teddy Roosevelt in preparation for the fourth-grade biography tea, but he has a far more important goal: to...


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How Oliver Olson Changed the World

Claudia Mills; Pictures by Heather Maione
Square Fish

Oliver Olson's teacher is always saying that one person with a big idea can change the world. But how is Oliver supposed to change the world when his parents...


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One Square Inch

Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Cooper's grandfather gives him and his little sister, Carly, deeds to square inches of land in the Yukon. Carly uses them to invent her own imaginary kingdom...


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The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish

Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Amanda MacLeish might be the only student in Mr. Abrams’s fifth-grade class who doesn’t mind doing her homework. Now that her father has left home and moved...


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Book eBook
Trading Places

Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Todd and Amy Davidson may be twins, but they’re complete opposites – Todd is organized and is the family “engineer,” while Amy is outgoing and has been dubbed...


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Makeovers by Marcia
West Creek Middle School Series
Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pretty is as pretty does Pretty, popular Marcia Faitak is not her usual self. Over the summer she gained five pounds, and when school begins, Marcia,...


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7 x 9 = Trouble!

Claudia Mills; Pictures by G. Brian Karas
Square Fish

Wilson Williams worries about passing his times-table tests Wilson has a hard time with math, especially with Mrs. Porter's timed multiplication tests. If...


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Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lesson
Gus and Grandpa
Claudia Mills; Pictures by Catherine Stock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The tenth book in Claudia Mills' beloved series For Gus, the longest half hour of the day is spent practicing the piano. Why can't he be outside, shooting...


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Alex Ryan, Stop That!
West Creek Middle School Series
Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A wise guy gets wise The school year is almost over, and Alex Ryan still has plenty of pranks to pull and jokes to tell. Then his dad attends the meeting...


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Gus and Grandpa and the Two-Wheeled Bike
Gus and Grandpa
Claudia Mills; Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Square Fish

The fifth book in the beloved Gus and Grandpa series  Gus is unimpressed when Ryan coolly stops his sleek five-speed bike with the hand brake. But he's...


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Gus and Grandpa
Gus and Grandpa
Claudia Mills; Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Sunburst Paperbacks

"This wry trio of tales features an engagingly imperfect boy and his engagingly imperfect grandfather...Accommodating beginning readers, Mills's controlled and...


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