Eleven-year-old Kaden has managed to stay under the radar for most of his life. With the exception of Kubla, a pet crow, Kaden doesn't have any friends his own age and he's okay with that. After all, friends can ask inconvenient questions. Questions like Why do you live with your grandmother and where is your father? Questions Kaden doesn't want to answer. Apart from school and a few trips to town, Kaden and Gram keep to themselves, living a simple life at their cabins outside the small community of Promise. But now Kaden's life is getting a lot more complicated. He's starting middle school, which brings its own set of problems for a boy who doesn't fit in. And then he learns that his father, a man he has never known, is getting out of prison and moving to Promise. After years of being the outsider at school, Kaden is given a chance to come out of his shell when Yo-Yo, a new boy, moves to the area and offers friendship. But can Kaden trust him? Will Yo-Yo be a real friend after he learns about Kaden's father? The true meaning of friendship, love, responsibility, and loyalty is explored in this novel for middle-grade readers.

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$16.99 $16.99
$8.99 $8.99
$28.99 $28.99
Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 5
Dewey FIC
Lexile 700L
ATOS Reading Level 4.6
Guided Reading Level T
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585369140), Paperback (9781585369157), PDF (9781634704175), Hosted ebook (9781634704311)
Copyright 2015
Number of Pages 368
Dimensions 5.5 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5

Booklist - Promise

The town of Promise is a tight-knit one, but 11-year-old Kaden has always been on the outside, with only a half-tame raven for a friend. He and his strict grandmother live simply just outside the town limits and keep to themselves, barely acknowledging their old family shame: Kaden’s father has been in jail for theft most of the boy’s life. When he is released from prison and returns to Promise, Kaden’s father turns his son’s life upside down. In this first novel, Young navigates important questions of morality and family carefully, if a bit heavy-handedly. Kaden’s father is never sufficiently developed enough to really have an impact, and some of the grandmother’s eccentricities are confusing. However, side characters add life to the story—most notably Kaden’s boisterous new pal, Yo-Yo, and his even-keeled neighbor Emmett. A bold look at the little-discussed subject of the prison system and the stigma that surrounds the families of the incarcerated.

Author: Judy Young

Judy Young remembers writing a poem for her grandmother when she was about ten. Her grandmother encouraged her to keep writing, and Judy did! Judy is the author of over two dozen children’s picture books and novels, including, Promise, The Wild World of Buck Bray series and the Digger and Daisy series. Judy’s books are used extensively in the public schools and have received numerous awards and honors. One of her most cherished is hearing LeVar Burton read A Pet for Miss Wright for Reading Rainbow Storytime Video to celebrate National Reading Month. Another, was watching as R is for Rhyme, A Poetry Alphabet was performed by the University of Utah’s Creative Dance Program.

Judy received her MA in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Tulsa and formerly worked in the public schools for 20 years. Now, a frequent speaker at schools, children’s lit fests and professional educational conferences nationwide, Judy’s firsthand experience in the schools makes her programs not only entertaining, but directly related to school curriculum.

Judy resides in the mountains near Mink Creek, Idaho, with her husband, Ross, a professional artist, who illustrated two of Judy’s books. In her spare time, Judy enjoys hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, and gallivanting around the country in “Arlo,” the Young’s traveling studio. Read more about Judy, her books and author visits to schools at

Author/Illustrator biography