♦ Circle of Secrets(Scholastic) – Kimberley Griffiths Little. After her mother walked out on Shelby Jayne and her dad, Shelby thought she’d never speak to her mamma again. But with her dad leaving the country for work, it turns out she doesn’t have a choice: Shelby has to move back into her mamma’s house, deep in the heart of the Louisiana bayou. Her new classmates tease and torment her, so Shelby’s relieved to finally find a friend in Gwen, a mysterious girl who lives alone on the bayou. But Shelby can’t help wondering if Gwen has something to do with the puzzling messages she finds hidden in the blue bottle tree behind her house. The only person who might be able to explain is her mamma — but Shelby’s not ready to ask. Not yet. It may take a brush with something from the beyond to help Shelby see that the power to put her own ghosts to rest is within her reach.
♦ A Year Without Autumn (Candlewick) – Liz Kessler. Jenni Green’s family vacation has finally arrived! Even though she has to deal with her annoying little brother, her slightly overbearing dad, and her very pregnant mom, she gets to spend a week with her bestest friend in the world, Autumn. But twelve-year-old Jenni’s world turns upside down when she takes an old elevator to visit Autumn and discovers that everything has changed: not only is her friend in a different condo, but tragedy has struck Autumn’s family, Jenni’s mother has had her baby, and everyone is a year older. When Jenni realizes that the elevator caused her to skip a whole year, she tries to go back, but soon finds that fixing things won’t be as easy as pressing a button. How can she alter the past and keep her family and Autumn’s from falling apart? With honesty and insight, Liz Kessler explores how the bonds of family and friendship can endure through time.
♦ Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact (Razorbill) – J. Hartley. Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different – but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings! Darwen discovers an enchanting world through the old mirror hanging in his closet – a world that holds as many dangers as it does wonders. Scrobblers on motorbikes with nets big enough to fit a human boy. Gnashers with no eyes, but monstrous mouths full of teeth. Flittercrakes with bat-like bodies and the faces of men. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, Darwen becomes entangled in an adventure and a mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. They soon realize that the creatures are after something in our world – something that only human children possess.
♦ Guardian of the Green Hill (Henry Holt) -Laura L. Sullivan. Only a few weeks ago, Meg Morgan and her siblings went to England for the holidays—and found themselves in the middle of a fairy war. Now the war is over, but the battle for control of the fairies has just begun. A mysterious painter named Gwidion appears at the Rookery, ready to give the children art lessons. But his real plans are far more sinister: He means to destroy the Guardian of the Green Hill, the woman who keeps the peace between fairies and humans. Meg knows nothing of the evil artist’s plans, but she is beginning to understand that she might be the only one who can become Guardian when her great-great aunt’s time is over. Yet Meg is just a girl—surely she has plenty of time before she must decide whether she wants to take on such an enormous role.
♦ Ivy and the Meanstalk (Holiday House) – Dawn Lairamore. Having saved her kingdom from the dastardly designs of a scheming prince in Ivy’s Ever After, fourteen-year-old Princess Ivy and her dragon friend, Elridge, have little time to rest on their laurels, for Ardendale is once again being threatened. It seems that many years ago a magical harp and a hen that laid golden eggs were stolen by a youth named Jack. The rightful owner, a surly giantess who hasn’t slept a wink since the thefts, needs her harp back to cure her insomnia. Otherwise Ardendale will suffer an unspeakable fate. So Ivy and Elridge set off on another fairy-tale-inspired adventure–a quest for the magical harp that takes them across the sea, into the fiery depths of a magnificent golden kingdom, and high into the clouds to the top of a vicious man-eating meanstalk.
♦ Ranger’s Apprentice: The Lost Stories(Philomel) – John Flanagan. Inspired by questions and letters his loyal readers have sent over the years, John Flanagan offers a gift in response: a collection of “lost” tales that fill in the gaps between Ranger’s Apprentice novels. For the first time, readers can learn the truth behind how Will came to be orphaned and what his real relationship to Halt is, or watch Alyss in action as the young Araluen diplomat disguises herself and becomes the perfect spy.
♦ The Apothecary (Putnam) – Maile Meloy. It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.
♦ The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Chris Van Allsburg. An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Authors include: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.
♦ The Healing Wars: Book III: Darkfall (Balzer + Bray) – Janice Hardy. War has come. Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it. With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will. The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way. To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?
♦ The Inquisitor’s Apprentice (Harcourt) – Chris Moriarty. The day Sacha found out he could see witches was the worst day of his life . . .Being an Inquisitor is no job for a nice Jewish boy. But when the police learn that Sacha Kessler can see witches, he’s apprenticed to the department’s star Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf. Their mission is to stop magical crime. And New York at the beginning of the twentieth century is a magical melting pot where each ethnic group has its own brand of homegrown witchcraft, and magical gangs rule the streets from Hell’s Kitchen to Chinatown. Soon Sacha has teamed up with fellow apprentice Lily Astral, daughter of one of the city’s richest Wall Street Wizards—and a spoiled snob, if you ask Sacha. Their first case is to find out who’s trying to kill Thomas Edison. Edison has invented a mechanical witch detector that could unleash the worst witch-hunt in American history. Every magician in town has a motive to kill him. But as the investigation unfolds, all the clues lead back to the Lower East Side. And Sacha soon realizes that his own family could be accused of murder!
♦ The Jewel of the Kalderash: The Kronos Chronicles: Book III (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)) – Marie Rutkoski. Upon arriving in the Romany homeland to deliver the Mercator Globes, Petra Kronos, Tomik, and Neel formulate a plan to save Petra’s father, who has been transformed into a Gray Man. But when a long-held secret is revealed, Neel finds himself bound to his country. The friends are quickly swept up in an epic battle for power. Thrones are at stake. Spies are afoot. Murder is common. Worst of all, Prince Rodolfo is close to becoming emperor, and ruling half of Europe. How much is Petra willing to sacrifice to defend the people she loves? Her search for answers will take her to castles and cities, through mountains, and even underwater as she tests her strength and gambles her life.
♦ The Orphan of Awkward Falls (Chronicle) – Keith Graves. When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can t help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house s strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is on the loose after making a dramatic escape, and there is only one thing on his mind…revenge. Unfortunately for Josephine and Thaddeus, he s headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before it s too late? With a penchant for spooky details, surprising twists, and haunting illustrations, Keith Graves delivers a suspenseful and engaging first novel.
♦ The Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds (Book III) (Knopf) – Susannah Appelbaum. Back in the Kingdom of Caux after her journey to its sisterland, Ivy wakes up in a dismal orphanage alongside her friend Rue. Accompanied by a strange woman named Lumpen—who looks suspiciously like a scarecrow—the girls make their way back to Templar to plan a massive battle against the Tasters Guild, where Vidal Verjouce is making ink out of the deadly Scourge Bracken weed. Rocamadour grows darker and more dangerous with every drop. With an army of scarecrows, a legion of birds, and her friends and uncle by her side, it’s up to Ivy—the true “Shepherd of Weeds”—to wage war against the Guild, defeat her own father, and restore order to the plant world. Susannah Appelbaum’s imagination soars in this stunning and utterly satisfying final volume of the Poisons of Caux trilogy.
♦ The White Assassin (Nightshade Chronicles, Book 2) (Holiday House) – Hilary Wagner. Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band liberated the Catacombs from Billycan’s vicious control and established the democratic Nightshade City. A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade, but it is a false one. Billycan, the White Assassin, has been found deep in the southern swamps, where he now rules a horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his council set out to thwart Billycan’s plans. When a shocking secret is revealed everything changes. The fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper’s only son depend on Juniper’s decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this sequel to Nightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.
♦ Zombie Mommy (Pals in Peril Tales) (Beach Lane Books) – M.T. Anderson. Our intrepid heroes are home from their Delaware crime-stopping excitement, only to discover that Lily’s mom has become possessed by a menacing zombie who wants to take over the world! (Or, at least, the world of stage and screen.) Thank goodness Lily’s friends Katie, Jasper, and foxy Blue-Hen-State monk Drgnan Pghlik are around—accompanied by Jasper’s Astounding High-Pressure Holy Water Extruder Gun, of course—to help save the day. But not before some truly scary things happen, things involving stuff like killer tarantulas, web-footed teen vampire boys, bad weather (it’s a horror novel, remember?), and, well…the rest is just too terrifying for words!
♦ Body of Water (Feiwel & Friends) – Sarah Dooley. Twelve-year-old Ember’s trailer home has been burned in a fire set most likely by her best friend, a boy whose father believes Ember’s family are witches. Yes, Ember’s mom reads Tarot cards as a business. Ember’s friend set the fire to warn the family before his dad did something worse to them. The friend never intended to do so much damage. Now the family is homeless, and living in a campground. They have no money. Ember’s beloved dog is missing. School is going to start, and Ember and her sister have no clean clothes, no notebooks. The only place Ember feels at peace is floating in the middle of the lake at the campground. She has to make a fresh start. Can she?
♦ Fake Me a Match(Aladdin) – Lauren Barnholdt. Avery LaDuke is bummed when her (former) BFF, Sophie Burns, dumps her for the popular crowd. But now that her mom is getting remarried, Avery’s hoping her new stepsister, Blake, will fill the role of best pal. So imagine her shock when Blake befriends Sophie instead! At least Avery can focus on leading the eighth-grade charity project—which turns out to involve an online matchmaking service. She’s skeptical about online love, but Avery sees an opportunity to get Blake back on her side: She’ll tamper with the program and have Blake matched with Sam, the most popular boy in school! Except something goes seriously wrong, and it’s Avery who ends up being matched with Sam. Not only is the class adviser suspicious, but Avery discovers that she kinda sorta likes Sam…and he likes her back. Torn between her crush and her new stepsister/best friend, Avery is left wondering: Is there any possible way she can keep them both?
♦ Flyaway(The Chicken House) – Lucy Christopher. If they saved the swan together, could she then save her friend? In a heartbeat, in a wingbeat, it happens. Isla’s father falls. They’re racing across the fields, following the swans flying in to winter at the lake like they do every year, when something goes wrong. And before she can even catch her breath, they’re in the back of an ambulance, she’s holding his hand. At the hospital, upset and scared, Isla meets Harry. Unlike the boys at school, he doesn’t laugh when she tells him about her love of birds. He listens. But what is he doing there? As Isla struggles with her father’s frailty and the new feelings she has for Harry, she’s determined to help the only way she knows how. Outside the hospital windows, Isla watches a lone whooper swan struggling to fly. If only she could save the lost bird, would that somehow heal her dad, and cure Harry, and make everything good again?
♦ Home for the Holidays (Mother Daughter Book Club) (Simon & Schuster) – Heather Vogel Frederick. The girls of the Mother-Daughter book club are up to a variety of holiday-themed antics—and nothing is going quite as planned. Megan and Becca have boy trouble on their families’ joint Christmas cruise, while Cassidy and her family find a college-viewing trip to California has them second-guessing which state to call home. And poor Emma and Jess end up snowed in overnight in New Hampshire after an unexpected blizzard hits! Considering that the book club has just read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a creepy New England inn is not the ideal place to be stranded. Between fights, ghosts, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas?
♦ My Life as a Stuntboy(Henry Hold) – Janet Tashjian, Jake Tashjian. Derek Fallon gets the opportunity of a lifetime—to be a stunt boy in a major movie featuring a pretty teen starlet. After accepting the job he learns that he is the star’s stunt double and must wear a wig! His friends are never going to let him live this down. If that weren’t his only problem, his parents are threatening to give away his pet monkey, and his best friend just posted an embarrassing video of him on Youtube. Can life get any worse? Still the irrepressible Derek takes it all in stride and even manages to save the day.
♦ My Name Is Mina (Delacorte) – David Almond. Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon’s silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible and her imagination is set free. A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.
♦ Rumors from the Boys’ Room: A Blogtastic! Novel (Delacorte) – Rose Cooper. These days the lives of middle schoolers seems to take place as much online as off. In this male counterpart of her Gossip from the Girls’ Room, Rose Cooper takes us inside the blogosphere as preteen boys and girls find their way in a place where shared secrets and posted rumors can change almost everything in just a click. (Taken from GoodReads).
♦ Seriously, Norman! (Michael di Capua Books) – Chris Raschka. This story is about Norman and about how he grows and learns stuff. Uses his imagination. Observes things. Like his dad, who is so devoted to . . . money! Like how his dad is mixed up with weird creeps of the underworld. All over the world! Why, why are grown-ups so insane? That’s exactly the question that Norman, Anna and Emma (the twins), and I, Leonard, try to answer. And with the help of Norman’s new tutor, Balthazar Birdsong (also fairly nuts).
♦ An Elephant in the Garden (Feiwel & Friends) – Michael Morpurgo. Lizzie and Karl’s mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don’t run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead. When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family. As Michael Morpurgo writes in an author’s note, An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical truths, and by his admiration for elephants, “the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures.” Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.
♦ The Lily Pond(Delacorte) – Annika Thor. A year after Stephie Steiner and her younger sister, Nellie, left Nazi-occupied Vienna, Stephie has finally adapted to life on the rugged Swedish island where she now lives. But more change awaits Stephie: her foster parents have allowed her to enroll in school on the mainland, in Goteberg. Stephie is eager to go. Not only will she be pursuing her studies, she’ll be living in a cultured city again—under the same roof as Sven, the son of the lodgers who rented her foster parents’ cottage for the summer.
Five years her senior, Sven dazzles Stephie with his charm, his talk of equality, and his anti-Hitler sentiments. Stephie can’t help herself—she’s falling in love. As she navigates a sea of new emotions, she also grapples with what it means to be beholden to others, with her constant worry about what her parents are enduring back in Vienna, and with the menacing spread of Nazi ideology, even in Sweden. In these troubled times, her true friends, Stephie discovers, are the ones she least expected.
♦ Around the World (Candlewick) – Matt Phelan. As the nineteenth century wound down, a public inspired by the novel Around the World in Eighty Days clamored for intrepid adventure. The challenge of circumnavigating the globe as no one ever had before—a feat assuring fame if not fortune—attracted the fearless in droves. Three hardy spirits stayed the course: In 1884, former miner Thomas Stevens made the journey on a bicycle, the kind with a big front wheel. In 1889, pioneer reporter Nellie Bly embarked on a global race against time that assumed the heights of spectacle, ushering in the age of the American celebrity. And in 1895, retired sea captain Joshua Slocum quietly set sail on a thirty-six-foot sloop, braving pirates and treacherous seas to become the ? rst person to sail around the world alone. With cinematic pacing and deft, expressive art, acclaimed graphic novelist Matt Phelan weaves a trio of epic journeys into a single bold tale of three visionaries who set their sights on nothing short of the world.