Seeking only SERIOUSLY FUNNY middle-grade.

Keywords are: heart, smart, funny, Voice, Character, Place. (show-don’t-tell doesn’t hurt, either)

Smart humor with heart, if we haven’t been clear. Please leave all scatalogical humor and any references to “bums” at home.

If your middle-grade novel speaks to the heart of universal themes and keeps readers laughing while ringing a deep emotional chord, we’d love to see it!

Please send only one (1) submission per Open Coop period.

For TV-watchers, think NEW GIRL and BROOKLYN 99 for age 9+ crowd!

We’d love to hear from humans of all types.

Open Coop Closes on August 1, 2020, so please take your time and send your most polished work at the link below:


But you’ll want to check the do’s and don’ts before hitting send. Thanks!

Thanks to

What we’re pecking for when the doors open:

  • Smart and funny and moving MG fiction
  • Fantastic Voice
  • Characters that we care about
  • Tons of atmosphere
  • Pacey, action-packed plots with heart
  • Rich writing
  • Dialogue that sings
  • Smart humor
  • Graphic novels: Would be thrilled to see a graphic novel dummy for a middle-grade story. 

Double Yolks, a.k.a. Big Positives:

  • A really funny, yet poignant, illustrated/graphic novel for girls (but not a comic book)
  • An original and surprising friendship story
  • A big family MG story 
  • Atmospheric writing
  • Setting as character
  • Writing that makes us laugh and cry (and sweat) and laugh again
  • Good spelling and grammar and paying attention to formatting
  • Gorgeous use of simile and metaphor
  • Poetic writing (not to be confused with poetry)

Rotten Eggs, a.k.a. What We Don’t Want to See:

  • Fowl stories
  • Fowl puns
  • Fowl jokes
  • Scatalogical humor
  • One-note payoffs
  • Didactic, message-y, or knock-you-over-the-head issue stories
  • Poetry
  • Rhyme
  • Historical fiction
  • Heavy subjects with no levity
  • Novels in verse
  • Derivative work that makes us say, “Where did I read this before?”
  • Stories without a beginning, middle, end
  • Horror, gore, or gratuitous violence
  • Traditional fables, folklore, or fairytales
  • High-fantasy
  • Academic writing and projects specifically for educational or institutional markets
  • Stories that drift / “mood pieces”
  • Self-indulgent narrative that waxes on and loses the reader
  • Picture books 
  • YA

Books That Feather Our Nest:

…or books we wished we’d represented but are thrilled exist.

To help you get a feel for Hen&ink, in addition to our own books, here is an ever-growing selection of old and new favorite titles (for all ages and not at all alphabetically),

Nearly everything by…

E.L. Konigsberg
Lloyd Alexander
Paul Zindel
Terry Pratchett
Neil Gaiman
Erin Entrada Kelly

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Baby Mouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Mathew Holm
A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss
If You Find This by Matthew Baker
Chasing Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart 
The Tragical Tale of Birdie Bloom by Temre Beltz
The Miraculous by Jess Redman
The Unexpected Find by Toby Ibbotson
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
The Extincts by Veronica Cossanteli 
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
A Girl Named Digit by Annabelle Monaghan
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
Legend by Marie Lu
Lost It by Kristen Tracy
Mr. and Mrs. Bojo Jones by Ann Head
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Book of Blood & Shadow by Robin Wasserman
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines
The Half-life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Undead by Kristy McKay
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
My Fair Godmother by Jannette Rallison
Six Days by Philip Webb
Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt
Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Story of Ferdinand by Robert Lawson
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Penguin & Pinecone by Salina Yoon