A. S. King

Middle Grade & Young Adult Novelist
Printz Award and LA Times Book Prize
Travels from: Philadelphia, PA

“Both her life and novels stand as great examples of strong women excelling in life.” James Blasingame, ASU, AZ, Past-President

A.S. King has been called “One of the best Y.A. writers working today” by the New York Times Book Review and in 2022 received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. King is the author of highly-acclaimed novels including 2021’s SW/TCH, 2020 Michael L. Printz Award winner and LA Times Book Prize finalist DIG, 2016’s Still Life with Tornado, 2015’s surrealist I Crawl Through It, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Reality Boy, the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz among others. She also writes Middle Grade fiction as Amy Sarig King.

In her forthcoming Attack of the Black Rectangles, Amy takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write. When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he’s outraged. Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story. But who? Even though his unreliable dad tells him to not get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship… but her response doesn’t take them seriously. So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself. Mac’s about to see the power of letting them out.

She is a faculty member of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and spends many months of the year traveling the country speaking to high school and university students, educators, and humans who care about the mental health of young people. After more than a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania.

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Attack of the Black Rectangles

Scholastic Press |
Middle Grade

Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write.

 

When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he’s outraged.

Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.

But who?

Even though his unreliable dad tells him to not get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship… but her response doesn’t take them seriously.

So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself.

Mac’s about to see the power of letting them out.

In Attack of the Black Rectangles, acclaimed author Amy Sarig King shows all the ways truth can be hard… but still worth fighting for.

Switch

Dutton Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

A surreal and timely novel about the effects of isolation and what it means to be connected to the world from the Printz Award-winning author of Dig.

Time has stopped. It’s been June 23, 2020 for nearly a year as far as anyone can tell. Frantic adults demand teenagers focus on finding practical solutions to the worldwide crisis. Not everyone is on board though. Javelin-throwing prodigy Truda Becker is pretty sure her “Solution Time” class won’t solve the world’s problems, but she does have a few ideas what might. Truda lives in a house with a switch that no one ever touches, a switch her father protects every day by nailing it into hundreds of progressively larger boxes. But Truda’s got a crow bar, and one way or another, she’s going to see what happens when she flips the switch.

Dig

Dutton Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Medal

★“King’s narrative concerns are racism, patriarchy, colonialism, white privilege, and the ingrained systems that perpetuate them. . . . [Dig] will speak profoundly to a generation of young people who are waking up to the societal sins of the past and working toward a more equitable future.”—Horn Book, starred review

“I’ve never understood white people who can’t admit they’re white. I mean, white isn’t just a color. And maybe that’s the problem for them. White is a passport. It’s a ticket.”

Five estranged cousins are lost in a maze of their family’s tangled secrets. Their grandparents, former potato farmers Gottfried and Marla Hemmings, managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now they sit atop a million-dollar bank account—wealth they’ve refused to pass on to their adult children or their five teenage grandchildren. “Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says.

But for the Hemmings cousins, “thriving” feels a lot like slowly dying of a poison they started taking the moment they were born. As the rot beneath the surface of the Hemmings’ white suburban respectability destroys the family from within, the cousins find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

With her inimitable surrealism, award winner A.S. King exposes how a toxic culture of polite white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can dig its way out.

Still Life with Tornado

Dutton Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

A heartbreaking and mindbending story of a talented teenage artist’s awakening to the brokenness of her family from critically acclaimed award-winner A.S. King.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
 
Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.

“Read this book, whatever your age. You may find it’s the exact shape and size of the hole in your heart.”—The New York Times 

“Surreal and thought-provoking.”—People Magazine

★ ”A deeply moving, frank, and compassionate exploration of trauma and resilience, filled to the brim with incisive, grounded wisdom.” —Booklist, starred review

★ ”King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

★”[King] blurs reality, truth, violence, emotion, creativity, and art in a show of respect for YA readers.”—Horn Book Magazine, starred review

★ “King’s brilliance, artistry, and originality as an author shine through in this thought-provoking work. […] An unforgettable experience.” SLJ, starred review

I Crawl Through It

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience–and find the way out.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last–a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities–but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions–and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do anything to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

Reality Boy

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” struggling to break free of his anger.

Gerald Faust started feeling angry even before his mother invited a reality TV crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth–which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle–and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they’re all just waiting for him to snap. And he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that…until he chooses to create possibilities for himself that he never knew he deserved.

Ask the Passengers

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions…like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people she imagines flying over her at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

 

Everybody Sees the Ants

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Young Adult

Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King’s smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you–and taking a stand against it.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Ember |
Young Adult

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

The Dust of 100 Dogs

Flux |
Young Adult

A Spring 2009 Children’s Indie Next List Pick for Teens

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

Intellectual Freedom

It doesn’t have to be Banned Books Week to get Amy into your classroom / library to talk to students about their freedom to read, banned books, why it’s important to VOTE, why intellectual freedom matters, and how to work inside your community to protect it.

How a Can of Succotash (and Three English Teachers) Made Me a Writer

A 40-60 minute high-energy assembly, classroom, or library program. Amy asks students to consider their past experiences, including trauma, and explains how they can shape their future and learn from mistakes rather than be defined by them. This is the popular “Who packs your suitcase?” presentation that has helped tens of thousands of students take control of who they allow in their decision-making space. Recommended for grades 8-12.

MIDDLE & ELEMENTARY SCHOOL VISITS

2017 saw the publication of Amy’s first Middle Grade novel, Me and Marvin Gardens. “In her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King reveals a boy-meets-animal story unlike any other, about a friendship that could actually save the world, and a kid finding the courage to share it.” 2019 saw publication of The Year We Fell From Space, a novel about stars, divorce, and resilience. Called “The most important piece of literature to read this year.”  2022 will see Amy’s third Middle Grade novel–an exploration of intellectual freedom well beyond book banning. School presentation subject matter: Friendships, feelings, nature, stars, pollution, history, intellectual freedom, and plenty of Q&A for curious readers.

LIFE OF AN AUTHOR

Exciting Students & Writers Through Career Conversation – A one to two hour long discussion and Q&A about the life of a published author and publishing business. For writer’s groups and conferences, consider ‘Finding Your Writer’s Middle Finger: An examination of persistence, voice, and breaking traditional writing rules’ based on Amy’s popular blog series.

KEYNOTES, LECTURES, AND CONFERENCE EVENTS

Engaging Keynotes, Educational Panels, and Lectures  – Amy is an experienced speaker, panelist, and workshop leader. She has spoken at national events including the National Book Festival, American Library Association’s Annual Conference, National Council of Teachers of English, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, many state library and ELA educator conferences, and literary festivals around the world. She also speaks to larger organizations in the field of mental health and runs professional development for teachers and other professionals. She is known as a passionate, personal speaker who weaves her life experience into lectures that explore the wider implications of art, the artist’s life, and who we are truly serving with our work.

A.S. King, “Dig” (with Nic Stone)

A.S. King in conversation with Martha Brockenbrough — Switch

Author A.S. King shares the one thing she wishes she knew when she was a teen

A.S. King’s Upcoming Events

A.S. King’s Blog

Educator Resources

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Michael L. Printz Award winner
Los Angeles Times Book Prize
A Spring 2017 Kid’s Indie Next List selection
Washington Post Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
A Texas Bluebonnet Master List selection

Media clips

Publisher Weekly | A.S. King ‘Digs’ In

Publisher Weekly | Questioning ‘Reality’: A.S. King

Media Kit

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where you can download author photos and cover images.

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