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Sep 17 / Michael

Cover Reveal: ON THIN ICE. After a long journey, my next middle grade novel rolls into view!

You know how, when you get a big idea, you can be cautious and excited about it all at once? Well, I began whispering (cautiously! excitedly!) about this book idea to friends all the way back in 2012. I knew there was something there, but finding it… Hoo, boy! That took umpteen drafts, four major rewrites/overhauls, two editors, and three titles. I wrote eleven books and went through all of the ups and downs as eight of them (so far!) were published. You get the idea: It was a journey!

And now, suddenly, here it is. Well, here’s the cover anyway. 🙂 I love it. This beautiful design captures the feel of the story perfectly and wraps it up in a few key plot elements and lots and lots of blue!

So good, right?! That bike plays a big role in the book. (That ice too!)

On Thin Ice comes out August 2019 from Scholastic. Here’s the official description! (There may still be some tweaks coming, so I’ll make those updates as they come in.)

Life for 12-year-old Ked Eakins isn’t easy. A rare spinal condition makes him a social outcast, the school bully is after him, and then his dad gambles away their rent money.

Though it seems like everything’s against him and he should just give up, Ked decides it’s time to take his life back. He hatches a scheme to make enough money to save their home: He’s going to rebuild a vintage minibike and sell it at a profit. But the plan is a gamble of his own, and what seemed like a good idea quickly lands him in deeper trouble. Now Ked’s really on thin ice.

Ked has his determination and creativity, and the school’s maker space provides him with a place to build. But can Ked and the other Makers save his family from going under before it’s too late?

This contemporary response to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a classic underdog tale and Michael Northrop at his gritty, gripping, unflinching best.

It is a powerful portrait of a failing factory town and the families who are being dragged down with it. Ultimately, On Thin Ice is about daring to create when your whole world is crumbling.

Exciting, right? It’s too early for bookstore or Amazon links or anything like that—but you can add it on Goodreads! Anyway, I am very excited about this one. (What has happened to all that caution?!) I can’t wait for the world to meet Ked and the gritty little town of Norton, Maine!

Apr 11 / Michael

Milestone Alert: a million books sold!

I remember sitting at a desk at Salisbury Central School as a kid and listening as our math teacher explained how much a million was—things like counting from 1 to a million would take 23 days. And I remember being completely overwhelmed, my face probably just one big NO WAY! Well, *several* years (OK, decades) later, I am overwhelmed again. I just received my latest royalty statement, and I did the math (I did occasionally pay attention in that class). It’s official, my books have now sold more than one million copies! Hooray!

I understand the concept and the number a lot better these days, but this time I am overwhelmed by gratitude (and maybe a little disbelief). So many people helped me reach this milestone, from my indomitable agent, to my editors and all the other hardworking, book-loving people working at my publisher. And outside of industry circles, I really want to thank all of the booksellers and teachers and librarians and parents, and of course the good folks at Scholastic Book Fairs and Clubs, where many of these books were sold. Most of all, though, I am grateful to all the young readers who have read and reread my books and even recommended them to their friends. You are all, well, one in a million!

Feb 5 / Michael

Super news: I’m writing a graphic novel for DC Comics!

HUGE news! My first graphic novel, DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE, will be published by DC Comics’ shiny new imprint for young readers, DC ZOOM! In the book, young fans write in to their favorite heroes, who respond with their own humorous and relatable stories of growing up, messing up, and stepping up. Holy guacamole: I get to write Superman! Wonder Woman! Green Lantern! The whole iconic crew!

Promo art for DC Zoom!

Here’s a link to the official announcement of the new imprints in The New York Times! (I’ve been in the paper of record five times now, I believe, and not once for anything criminal! Score!) My favorite part of the article is below—I’ve always wanted to be part of a Who’s Who!

I’ve been working on this project for months already and it hasn’t been easy to maintain this secret identity. I am so glad that I can finally share the news with you!

I grew up as a proud comic book nerd (making regular pilgrimages to a great comics store called My Mother Threw Mine Away in Torrington, CT), and I am still a proud comic book nerd. And now—somehow, unbelievably—I am a professional comic book nerd! The opportunity to write about these legendary characters is an honor and a thrill. And making them fun and accessible for a whole new generation of young readers is a challenge that I happily accept!

Jan 11 / Michael

Almost Famous: Check me out on KidLit TV!

I had a fantastic time talking about books, sharks, baseball, and the monster at the top of the stairs(!!!) with the inimitable Rocco Staino on KidLit TV. Check it out if you have ten minutes to spare. The interview is sure to go down in history as a major scientific breakthrough, capturing heretofore unimagined levels of dorkiness on film, and it is worth watching for the cartoon fish alone!

If you’d rather read an interview than listen to me yatter on, there is a good one up at School Library Connection, where I am the Author of the Month for January! I even talk about my old stand-up comedy days!

Dec 2 / Michael

POLARIS tour: a fantastic voyage to Illinois!

4 days…
8 schools…
9 presentations…
4,000 kids!

Ahoy, mateys! I just returned from an amazing week in and around Plainfield, IL, where I visited eight fantastic schools for Scholastic Book Fairs. I was a little nervous about the trip since it was the first time I’d be giving my new presentation built around POLARIS. It was bittersweet to retire my old TombQuest presentation (which I gave 125+ times!) but I was excited to talk about high seas, historic ships, and one very creepy monster. Fortunately, the new presentation was a big hit (PHEW!) and the enthusiastic students from the Land of Lincoln were willing to weather even the most ARRRRRduous of pirate talk. Here are some photos from my fantastic voyage:

A sign of the times: A warm welcome on my first morning!

A sea of students: Presenting to more than a thousand kids at Heritage Grove Middle School!

After that, I clearly needed some water!

Navigation was an issue, but my student guides got me where I needed to go.

It was smooth sailing at Hadley Middle School, where I earned the rank of Captain Northrop! 


Thanks so much to Scholastic Books Fairs and all of the amazing librarians, teachers, and administrators who made this trip such a success. And of course, thanks to all the awesome students who made it such a joy!

Oct 23 / Michael

POLARIS is out now!

It’s here! The strange and scary sci-fi/horror/historical fiction mashup that began with a name that came to me in the dead of a sleepless night, POLARIS, hit shelves on Halloween! I’ve added it to my Books Page, and it’s fun to see all the nice things people have said about the book in one place. And the fantastic reviews are still rolling in! The latest is from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, which says POLARIS has “Everything a thriller reader could ask for.” I love that!

My Books Page is here, and you can pick up this scary tale wherever books are sold. I am proud of this book and so excited to finally share it with the world!

Sep 6 / Michael

Two more amazing reviews! Plus, POLARIS is a Junior Library Guild selection!


I already shared the first fantastic review for POLARIS a few posts ago. (That one was from notoriously tough Kirkus.) Now my scary sea story has received two more splashy reviews—and they’re great, too!

The first is from the September 1 issue of School Library Journal. Here are some of my favorite parts:

“This historical fiction/science fiction mash-up is filled with adventure, mystery, and horror… There are wonderful descriptions of life aboard a 19th-century sailing vessel, and each of the six children are given well-drawn personalities. VERDICT: Middle grade readers looking for an adventure on the high seas without leaving the comfort of their homes will love this swashbuckling, spine-tingling tale.”

Ah! So good, right? Swashbuckling! Spine-tingling! The next review is from Publishers Weekly. You can read the full review here, but once again my favorite part comes at the end. According to PW, POLARIS “incorporates a wealth of nautical and historical detail while making skilled use of atmosphere, tension, and a well-developed cast.” The reviewer steers clear of spoilers and calls the book “a brisk read, but one that is sure to linger after the lights have been turned out.”

I love that! This also seems like a good time to mention that neither the publisher nor the author of this book are responsible for any lost sleep caused and/or spooky chills. 🙂

One last bit of good news before I go. I just found out that POLARIS is an official Junior Library Guild selection. JLG is a fantastic organization that’s been around since 1929, and I am honored to be included.

Anyway, that’s all the news for now. Fall is in the air here in New York City, and it won’t be long until this dark, scary tale is out in the world!

Aug 28 / Michael

POLARIS preorder offer!

I’ve never really gotten much promotional “swag” for my books before, but an author friend of mine recommended a place and, well, long story short, I just got a boatload of POLARIS bookmarks and some Trapped stickers, too. If you preorder POLARIS anytime before it comes out on Halloween ’17, just let me know, and I’ll send you a signed bookmark and a Trapped sticker or three.

Just send your address and a shot of the receipt to me at michael at michaenorthrop dot net. (Or forward the confirmation message, or whatever—I’m not picky!)

The order can be from anywhere: Amazon, B&N, your local indy (always my favorite), you name it!

Aug 8 / Michael

POLARIS news: A cover quote from R.L. STINE! Plus the first, fantastic review!

POLARIS officially launches on Halloween, but I already have some BIG news to share. First, here’s the final (gorgeous!) cover. I still can’t quite believe this, but it includes an incredible (and incredibly generous) quote from an absolute legend of middle grade horror:

“This story is scary fun. Loved it!”—R.L. STINE(!!!!)
AAAAH! It gives me Goosebumps just thinking about it! 

And the second piece of news is that POLARIS got its first official review—and it’s awesome, too! Kirkus Reviews says: “The salty sailing details and the drama of keeping afloat in the face of damaging storms and winds is just as heart-pounding as the struggle for survival against the threat already onboard. An exciting blend of nautical adventure and monstrous horror.” (Click here for the full review, including an excellent, spoiler-free summary!)

I am feeling really humbled and grateful right now. A book launch is a scary thing for an other author (especially on Halloween!), but news like this definitely helps calm the jitters. (OK, some of the jitters.) More news soon!

Aug 5 / Michael

Four cartoons, heavy on animal jokes

I took a fantastic cartooning course at the School of Visual Arts this spring, but The New Yorker just rejected all of my cartoons. A clerical error, no doubt. Undaunted, I have decided to publish them here, in this slightly less exclusive venue. I hope you enjoy them!


OK, so my cartoons are a little heavy on animal jokes.

How did the New Yorker lay off this stuff???

This one has everything—baseball, formalwear, geese—but still, no dice. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be…