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Playing by Heart

Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the 'second sister' means she'll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia's only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father's quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes that her success could threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister's very life.


Playing by Heart is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time--one a mathematician, the other a composer. At its core, the novel is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father's goals. This award-winning clean historical romance is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

To read more about the novel, click here.





Rosa, Sola

Rosa, Sola, which was inspired by events from Carmela's own childhood, was originally published by Candlewick Press in hardback only. The book is now available in paperback and ebook formats, and the new edition includes a "Discussion Questions" section for classroom use. The paperback can be ordered from most booksellers, including your favorite independent bookstore. The Kindle version is available from Amazon, and the Nook version is at BN.com

To read more about the novel, including review excerpts, click here. The page also includes links to information about Italian-American culture.


To read an excerpt from Chapter 1, click here.

For a list of discussion questions, click here.



Poetry and Other Published Works

Most Recent Poetry Publications

Carmela's most recently published poems include:

  • four poems in Wild: An Anthology of Poetry edited by Alyssa Myers and released by Hey Hey Books on November 7, 2023. All the poems in this collection are inspired by nature, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to organizations that support wildlife 
  • two math-based poems published in the STEM edition of Tyger Tyger Magazine, an acclaimed British online magazine for children ages 7-11. Tyger Tyger's editor also created a Teaching Resource to go with Carmela's poems. All the poems and Teaching Resources in the issue can be read online by following the links on the Tyger Tyger website here 
  • two poems in the Christmas-Winter 2024 edition of Parables: Catholic Stories for Childrenfor ages 6-12

Read more about these publications on this page.


Poem "Sidekicks" in Anthology: What Is a Friend?

Carmela's poem, "Sidekicks," is one of 41 ekphrastic poems included in What Is a Friend? edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong and released by Pomelo Books. The book was named a Children's Book Council "Hot Off the Press" Selection for October 2022. As with the Pomelo Books "Things We ..." series, 100% of the profits from sales of What Is a Friend? will be donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund (IBBY.org).  


Read more about the anthology and Carmela's poem on this page.



Poem "Amazed" in Anthology: Things We Feel

Carmela's poem, "Amazed," opens the book Things We Feel, a collection of alphabet poems about emotions, created by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong and released by Pomelo Books in July, 2022. As with other books in this series 100% of the profits from sales of Things We Feel will be donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund (IBBY.org).  


Read more about the anthology and Carmela's poem on this page.


Poem in Imperfect II Anthology

Carmela has a poem in Imperfect II Poems about Perspective: An Anthology for Middle Schoolers edited by Tabatha Yeatts (History House Publishers, April 2022.) The anthology features 80 poems by more than 50 poets from around the world.


Read more about the anthology and Carmela's poem on this page


Three Poems in 10.10 Anthology

Carmela has three poems in the 10.10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways edited by Bridget Magee and featuring the work of poets from around the world.


Read more about the anthology and Carmela's poems on this page



Two Articles in the 2018 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market

Carmela has two articles in the 2018 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market edited by Chris Freese (Writer's Digest Books): "Working with Small Presses" and an interview with bestselling author Carolyn Crimi. Click the title link above for more information.


Short Story: "Big Z, Cammi, and Me"

Carmela's story "Big Z, Cammi, and Me" is a short story about Josh, a sixth-grader and avid baseball fan. The story can be found in I Fooled You: Ten Stories of Tricks, Jokes, and Swicheroos, a middle-grade anthology edited by Johanna Hurwitz and published by Candlewick Press.

To read more about this story and the anthology as a whole, click here.


Poems in Earlier Anthologies

Carmela's earliest published poems for children include "At the Chicago Marathon" in And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer (Friesen Press, 2012) and "Questions: A Poem in Two Voices" in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk High School, 101 Stories of Life, Love, and Learning for Older Teens edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Amy Newmark, & Madeline Clapps (Chicken Soup for the Soul, 2008).

To learn more see this page.