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Just Maria
Just Maria

Just Maria



140 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $15.95 (US $15.95) (CA $20.95)

Publication Date: January 2022

ISBN 9781646030828

Rights: WOR

Regal House Publishing (Jan 2022)
Fitzroy Books

Price: $15.95


Just Maria is the story of Maria Romero, a blind sixth-grader who is trying her hardest to be normal. Not amazing. Not inspiring. Not helpless. Not weird. Just normal. Normal is hard enough with her white cane, glass eyes, and bumpy books, but Maria's task is complicated by her neighbor and classmate JJ Munson, an asthmatic overweight oddball known in the halls of Marble City Middle as a double-dork paste-eater. When JJ draws Maria into his latest hare-brained scheme—a series of public challenges to prove their worth as gumshoes for his Twinnoggin Detective Agency—she fears she's lost her last chance to go unnoticed. When a young girl goes missing on the streets of Marble City, Maria's new-found confidence is tested in ways she never anticipated. Use your cane and your brain, and figure it out . . . Aimed at middle-grade readers, Just Maria explores difference and disability without resorting to the saccharine and engages universal themes about the price of popularity and the meaning of independence.


"At the heart of Jay Hardwig's Just Maria is the wickedly funny Maria Romero, a blind, 12-year-old heroine who is both exceptional . . . and normal. While physically challenged to navigate crowded school halls and busy streets, she must also find her way through the usual emotional labyrinth of popularity, friendships, and independence. Visually impaired readers will, for once, see themselves at the center of a story. Sighted readers will be treated to a vivid portrayal of how a blind kid sees the world. Most importantly, though, Hardwig's nuanced, witty novel celebrates how all of us, sighted or not, must look inward to see true friendship, character, and courage. After putting this book down I felt as if I could accomplish anything." —Allan Wolf, Author of The Watch that Ends the Night and The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep  

"As a blind child, I really enjoyed this book because it spreads information about blind people and what they do. I also loved the characters and the plot. I thought it was very suspenseful. A great read for the sighted or blind. I would highly recommend it." —Layla Hildenbrand, age 10, two-time National Braille Challenge Finalist  

"As the parent of a blind child, I absolutely adored reading Just Maria. Blindness is not a tragedy and does not limit one's ability. Jay Hardwig brilliantly gave us a character that proves such. Maria is like any other child who makes some bad decisions, struggles with friendships, and ultimately proves her independence despite being blind. I highly recommend this book to all readers…tweens, teens, adults, blind or sighted." —Stacey Hildenbrand, Layla's mom and a certified Teacher for the Visually Impaired

 "Starred Review Just Maria is a loving novel about living with disabilities." —Ashley Holstrom, Foreword Reviews

Author Biography

Jay Hardwig is a certified teacher for the visually impaired who has worked with children with blindness and low vision for more than twenty years. He currently works for the nonprofit IFB Solutions, where he directs summer camps and school-year opportunities for children with vision loss. When not taking blind kids ziplining, he reads, writes, and plays barrelhouse piano with his friends and family in Asheville, North Carolina.