Redwood and Ponytail


By K.A. Holt

Narrator Tessa Netting

Narrator Cassandra Morris

Formats and Prices


Audiobook Download (Unabridged)


Audiobook Download (Unabridged)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 1, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A universal story of finding a way to be comfortable in your own skin: Kate and Tam meet, and both of their worlds tip sideways. At first, Tam figures Kate is your stereotypical cheerleader; Kate sees Tam as another tall jock. And the more they keep running into each other, the more they surprise each other. Beneath Kate’s sleek ponytail and perfect façade, Tam sees a goofy, sensitive, lonely girl. And Tam’s so much more than a volleyball player, Kate realizes: She’s everything Kate wishes she could be. It’s complicated. Except it’s not. When Kate and Tam meet, they fall in like. It’s as simple as that. But not everybody sees it that way.

• A novel in verse about two girls discovering their feelings for each other in a sincere and relatable way that helps young reader connect to the storyline
• K.A. Holt is the author of Rhyme Schemer, House Arrest, Knockout, and several other books for young people. She lives in Austin, Texas

“A glowing, heartfelt addition to the middle-grade LGBTQ genre.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The free verse narration is totally accessible, flowing quick and clear, and Holt plays with form, beautifully highlighting the parallel internal journeys, often achieving something akin to a musical duet. Ultimately, this is a . . . moving story well-told.” Booklist, starred review

• A great chapter book for middle school students
• Novels for preteens and teenagers ages 10-14





We are the kids in the halls . . .




We are the kids you don’t see . . .




We are the kids watching . . .

We are everyone.




We are everywhere.




We are everything.

And what do we see?




And what do we see?




And what do we see?

A love story?




A tragedy?




A comedy?

Real life?




Will we cry?




Will we laugh?

I guess we’ll find out.




I guess we’ll find out.




I guess we’ll find out.

Our quest for normal . . .




Our search for truth . . .




Our all-knowing glances . . .

always watching her.




always watching him.




always watching you.



I dig the heel of my palm

I stare out the window

calmly pressing

the sun huge

into my chest


harder and harder


because I know it’s there

taking up the whole sky

it has to be

and it’s like


I can see inside


my chest

my heart

my heart

my heart

So why does it feel



too full


it hurts


so much


all the feelings

nothing alive

pressed into my ribs

inside me?

like my eyes to the window.

Could it be

Could it be

that my palm digs calmly

that all the feelings

because you can’t panic

are exploding

when you have no

at once, finally



my heart

my heart

my heart

Where are you?

Why are you like this?

Where could you be?

Why do this to me?

Why would you leave me here

Why aren’t you

so quiet


so empty?

Why can’t you leave me be?


What does it mean

to be a friend?

I ask this question

to my ceiling


a whisper

with no answer.


In my pocket,

a book.

Not a regular book;

a tiny book that tells my future.

I take it,

open it.

Inside, lined up in two rows,

faceless, armless

matches. Fates.

They know the way.


I miss her.

Every part of me.

Every molecule.

But this is what she wants.

So this is my gift to her.

Leaving her alone.

Going away.

My present is

zero presence.

Exactly what she wants.


The match explodes,

a burst of light

and sulfur.

I hold it to the poster

pinned to my wall.

The poster that started it all.

I understand now

why people say

flames lick

because I see the orange tongue

slide up the side,

slurping the paper,

eating its glowing snack.


smoke also licks,

leaving a mark on the ceiling

while I watch everything




Mom barges in.



The smoke alarm

bright in my ears:

Beep-beep! Beep-beep! Beep-beep!




What are you—?


Get the—!


Oh my G—!

Mom tries to push me

out out out of the room

but I don’t budge.

She runs past me,



Where’s the fire extinguisher?!

And in my chest

everything lurches,

comes alive



a new pulse

matching the alarm.

The poster burns.

I hold out my phone.

I hit record.

Flames lick, devour,

reach golden arms to the ceiling.

And my eyes


I feel the heat.

I breathe the ash.

As a new chapter

in the story of my future





Just right.

I tell myself this

as I straighten my bow,

smooth my skirt,

tie my shoes.

You’re just right.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Bow tight.

Smile bright.

Just right.


Like a breeze

or a sneeze

you blink

and it’s over.

How does that happen?

I mean, really?

Summer is here

and then it’s gone.

Snatched away

and before you know it

it’s registration day,

new schedules,

new classes,

and I don’t hate the idea

of school back in session,

but really

does anyone

love it?


I love it!

At least I think I do.

I always have loved it,

so surely this year will be the same.

School itself is neither here nor there

but all the kids and clubs and stuff?

That’s the fun part.


It always has been.

So I’m sure it will be that way

this year, too.


Almost ready?

Born ready, Mom.


Tell that to my watch.

Mom’s smile

is a little bit sideways when we get to the car,

a troublemaker grin I recognize

from someone else’s face,

a grin I haven’t seen in a long time.


For your birthday.

She hands me an envelope,

and what?

My birthday is so far away!

I tilt my head, like a confused puppy.

Mom laughs.


Look inside.


You’ll understand.

I open the envelope

and oh my gosh,

so many tickets . . .


She laughs again.

MisDirection is playing?!



I know, honey.


I bought enough tickets for


the whole squad.


How could I not?

The whole squad invited

to a concert

on my birthday?

It’ll be amazing . . .

Mom smiles, taps her temple.


Always thinking ahead.


I should be cheer captain by then

and if I’m not,

these will seal the deal.


I make my hand into a microphone,

I sing,

Oh, baby,

Oh, baby,

Mom puts the car in reverse,

turns to look behind her,

backs out of the driveway,

eyes focused,

smile tight now,

tight as my bow.

And this smile,

the familiar one,

not the lopsided one,

the all-knowing,


Mom-smirk . . .

it makes my stomach flip

just a tiny smidge.

I keep looking at Mom,

I croon into my hand

softer this time:

Oh, baby,



Don’t break my heart in two.

Because yeah,

I’m happy about the tickets

but also?

Does everything,

even my birthday

have to be a chess move?



Are you stoked for school?

Mom. Please don’t say stoked.


Don’t be shook, baby.


I’m sure it will be very lit.

Mom. No. Never say those words.

We’re both laughing now

as the car wheezes up to


and the radio kicks in

with ridiculous bass

and that stupid song

Oh, Baby

starts up

and my ears,

they bleed.

Ahhh! No!! It’s too much!

Between you and this,

just . . .

turn it off!

Turn you off!

Mom cackles her witch laugh,

pulls to the curb at school:


Oh, baby,


oh, baby,


how I love yoooooou.


Please, baby, please,


don’t break my heart in




I jump out,

slam the car door,

laughing even though it

encourages her.


See you later!

I can still hear Mom singing

as she drives off.


Becca’s scream is so loud,

so long,

so piercing,

I’m afraid for a minute

she’s going to turn herself

inside out.




ALL of us?!



Seriously, I think she might cry.

And for some reason

her enthusiasm,

her made-for-TV freak-out,

it just,

I don’t know,

oh, baby,

oh, baby,

how I wishhhhhhhh

I’d kept the secret

a little bit longer.

Is that weird?

I don’t know.


Juggernaut-less gym


No whistles.

No squeaks.

No leaping and landing,

digging and diving.


pencils and schedules,

sighs and lines.

Registration day.

Seventh grade.

I look up at the caged bulbs,

big round bright,

they heave

fluorescent sighs

coughing out light on

one table at a time.

Find my line

A through F

whisper an apology


On Sale
Oct 1, 2019
Chronicle Books

K.A. Holt

About the Author

A. Holt is the author of Redwood & Ponytail, House Arrest, Knockout, Rhyme Schemer and several other books for young people. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Learn more about this author