September is here! Fall into a new middle grade book.
♦ A Dog Called Homeless (Katherine Tegen Books) – Sarah Lean. When Cally Fisher says she sees her dead mother, no one believes her. The only other living soul who sees Cally’s mom is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mom appears. And when Cally stops talking—what’s the point if no one is listening?—how will she convince anyone that her mom is still with them or persuade her dad that the huge silver-gray dog is their last link with her?
♦ A Level Playing Field (Dear Know-It-All) (Simon Spotlight) – Rachel Wise. A middle-school star reporter has a tough time taking a stance on a story when her cowriter is also her crush. Samantha really enjoys writing for her school newspaper, particularly when she’s assigned to write with Michael Lawrence, who happens to also be her crush. She’s thrilled to work with him—but less thrilled to realize they disagree on how the article should be written. The topic is whether students should pay for extracurricular activities, such as sports, and Samantha thinks it’s a good idea. After all, baseball isn’t as important as math or language arts, she argues. But try telling that to the star pitcher on the school’s baseball team! Maybe Samantha’s headline should be Trouble in the Newsroom! All’s not fair in love and journalism in this newsworthy addition to a tween-savvy series.
♦ Almost Identical #1 (Grosset & Dunlap) – Lin Oliver. Identical twins Sammie and Charlie are starting out seventh grade at a brand-new school. As they make new friends, and join different clubs, the sisters (and once inseparable best friends) start to grow further and further apart. Told from Sammie’s point of view, this moving yet funny story will be gobbled up by middle-school girls!
♦ Almost Home (Viking Juvenile) – Joan Bauer. When twelve-year-old Sugar’s grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren’t so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar’s mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can’t control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds.
♦ Amber Brown Is Tickled Pink (Putnam Juvenile) – Paula Danziger, Bruce Coville, Elizabeth Levy. Beloved Amber Brown returns in a new book! Amber can’t wait to be Best Child when her mom and Max get married, but planning a wedding comes with lots of headaches. Amber can’t find the right dress, her dad keeps making mean cracks about Max, and Mom and Max have very different ideas about how much this wedding should cost. Her mother even suggests they go to city hall and skip the party altogether! Even though adults can be a lot of work, Amber is determined to be the best Best Child ever. She helps find the perfect location, makes her dad shape up, and, with the help of best friend Justin, gives the perfect wedding speech. Paula Danziger called Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy her best friend and her other best friend, and this close connection enabled them to lovingly capture Amber Brown’s voice, sense of humor, big-heartedness, and her fondness for puns.
♦ Audition & Subtraction (Walker) – Amy Fellner Dominy. Best friends Tatum and Lori are used to doing everything together-including a clarinet/flute duet for District Honor Band auditions. But all that changes when Michael transfers to their middle school, and into their band. Suddenly, not only is he competition for Tatum’s spot on stage, but he’s stealing Lori, too. Tatum doesn’t like change no matter its form: not with her good friend Aaron, who seems to believe her fib that they’re secretly boyfriend and girlfriend. And not with her mom either, who, to cope with a separation from her dad, is performing in community theater, of all things! Amy Fellner Dominy composes an equally heartwarming and humorous story of how holding tight to the status quo can mean missing out on the future-and how often times the best way to move forward is by going solo.
♦ A Whole Lot of Lucky (Walker) – Danette Haworth. Hailee Richardson never realized how much she hated her Salvation Army life and Goodwill accessories until the night her family wins the lottery. All of a sudden she’s no longer the only girl at school without a cell phone or a brand-new bike! And the newfound popularity that comes with being a lottery winner is just what she’s always dreamed of. But the glow of her smartphone and fancy new clothes wears off when Hailee is transferred to Magnolia Academy, a private school. All of a sudden, her best friend and parents seem shabby compared to the beautiful Magnolia moms and the popular bad-girl Nikki, who seems to want to be her friend. Now, Hailee wants nothing more than to grow up-and away-from her old life. It’ll take one very busy social networking page, a stolen first kiss, and a whole carton of eggs for Hailee to realize that not all luck is good, not all change is bad, and a best friend who’s just a call away will always be more valuable than a phone.
♦ Buddy (Viking Juvenile) – M.H. Herlong. Tyrone “Li’l T” Roberts meets Buddy when his family’s car accidentally hits the stray dog on their way to church. Buddy turns out to be the dog Li’l T’s always wished for–until Hurricane Katrina comes to New Orleans and he must leave Buddy behind. After the storm, Li’l T and his father return home to find a community struggling to rebuild their lives–and Buddy gone. But Li’l T refuses to give up his quest to find his best friend. From the author of the BBYA Top Ten selection The Great Wide Sea comes a powerful story of hope, courage, and knowing when to let go.
♦ Button Down (Candlewick) – Anne Ylvisaker. As football fever hits Goodhue, Iowa, Ned Button steps into the lineup in a funny new adventure about a small-town family living in 1929. Ever since local boy Lester Ward got drafted by the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, Tugs Button’s scrawny cousin Ned can think of nothing but football. Sure, Lester’s younger bully of a brother is determined to keep Ned and his gang from ever getting near a real pickup game. But Ned has a few things going for him: he can catch and sometimes even throw, much to his surprise. And he’s got his eccentric grandpa Ike, who may have less get-up-and-go these days, but no shortage of down-home wisdom to pass along-like that being a football star is less about being big and more about playing as a team and honing your strategy, and that having friends and family in your corner is a bigger prize than a lucky football will ever be. From the author of The Luck of the Buttons comes another story about a sometimes hapless, always winning family that scores big points for humor and heart.
♦ Homesick (Feiwel & Friends) – Kate Klise. Benny’s parents are splitting up. His mom leaves home after a fight about a mysterious splinter that is rumored to be part of an important relic. Benny’s dad has always liked clutter, but now, he begins hoarding everything from pizza boxes to old motorcycle parts. As his house grows more cluttered and his father grows more distant, Benny tries to sort out whether he can change anything at all. Meanwhile, a local teacher enters their quiet Missouri town in America’s Most Charming Small Town contest, and the pressure is on to clean up the area, especially Benny’s ramshackle of a house, before the out-of-town guests arrive.
♦ Losing It (Amazon Children’s Publishing) – Erin Fry. Bennett Robinson loves baseball, especially watching Dodgers games with his dad while munching on burgers and fries—the perfect “game food.” Baseball even helped Bennett and his dad get over his mom’s death from cancer. But there’s no way Bennett could ever play baseball. Bennett is fat, the kind of fat that gives you belly button sweat stains and makes it tough to get off a sagging couch. But on one perfect, baseball-watching day, everything changes. Bennett’s dad is taken away on a stretcher, and Bennett doesn’t know if he will live or die. Now Bennett has to move in with know-it-all Aunt Laura. And she’s making it her personal mission to Get Bennett Healthy. Bennett knows that Aunt Laura will take over his entire life if he lets her. It’s time for Bennett to step up to the plate. Because maybe there are some things a Fat Boy can do . . . like talk to a girl, run a mile, and maybe even save his own life. Erin Fry explores the issue of obesity with heart, depth, and humor in this unforgettable debut novel.
♦ Melonhead and the Vegalicious Disaster (Delacorte) -Katy Kelly. It’s not fair! Not only is Melonhead’s new fifth-grade teacher notoriously strict and mean, his mother is making him eat more and more vegetables. So Melonhead and his pals come up with a genius idea to get out of eating his mom’s vegalicious meals, all the while convincing her that they actually love them. But the genius idea leads to totally unexpected and stinky results!
♦ One Year in Coal Harbor (Schwartz & Wade) – Polly Horvath. Readers rejoice–Primrose Squarp is back! The wise and curious heroine of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle is facing another adventure-filled year in Coal Harbor. Even though her parents, once lost at sea, are home, there’s a whole slew of problems and mysteries to keep Primrose–and eager fans–busy. There’s Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer, who may (or may not) be in love. There’s Ked, a foster child who becomes Primrose’s friend. And there’s the new development on the outskirts of town that threatens the Coal Harbor Primrose knows and treasures. Prolific and brilliant Horvath has delivered a masterful sequel to a beloved novel, sure to please old fans and gain new ones.
♦ Pie in the Sky (Knopf) – Jane Smiley. Abby Lovitt doesn’t realize how unprepared she is when she takes her beloved horse, True Blue, to a clinic led by the most famous equestrian anyone knows. The biggest surprise, though, is that Sophia, the girl who never makes a mistake, suddenly makes so many that she stops riding. Who will ride her horse? Abby’s dad seems to think it will be Abby. Pie in the Sky is the most expensive horse Abby has ever ridden. But he is proud and irritable, and he takes Abby’s attention away from the continuing mystery that is True Blue. And then there’s high school—Abby finds new friends, but also new challenges, and a larger world that sometimes seems strange and intimidating. She begins to wonder if there is another way to look at horses, people, and life itself.
♦ Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School (Roaring Brook Press) – Kim Baker. This is the story of THE LEAGUE OF PICKLEMAKERS. Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling homeroom with ball-pit balls. Frank: who figured out that an official club, say a pickle-making club, could receive funding from the PTA. Oliver: Who once convinced half of the class that his real parents had found him and he was going to live in a submarine. Bean: Who wasn’t exactly invited, but her parents own a costume shop, which comes in handy if you want to dress up like a giant squirrel and try to scare people at the zoo. TOGETHER, they are an unstoppable prank-pulling force, and Fountain Point Middle School will never be the same.
♦ Shadow (Feiwel & Friends)- Michael Morpurgo. Author of War Horse, and bestselling storyteller Michael Morpurgo touched our hearts with this beautiful story of a boy, his lost dog, and the lengths he would go to be reunited. This timely story of battle-scarred Afghanistan delivers a masterful portrait of war, love, and friendship. With the horrors of war bearing down on them, Aman and his mother are barely surviving in an Afghan cave, and staying there any longer will end horribly. The only comfort Aman has is Shadow, the loyal spaniel that shows up from places unknown, it seems, just when Aman needs him most. Aman, his mother, and Shadow finally leave the destroyed cave in hopes of escaping to England, but are held at a checkpoint, and Shadow runs away after being shot at by the police. Aman and his mother escape–without Shadow. Aman is heart-broken. Just as they are getting settled as free citizens in England, they are imprisoned in a camp with locked doors and a barbed wire fence. Their only hope is Aman’s classmate Matt, his grandpa, and the dream of finding his lost dog. After all, you never lose your shadow.
♦ Stars and Sparks on Stage (Clubhouse Mysteries) (Aladdin) – Sharon M. Draper (Author), Jesse Joshua Watson (Illustrator). The Clubhouse kids compete for a big prize—and make some creative moves—in this repackaged and talent-filled tale from bestselling author Sharon Draper. Ziggy, Jerome, Rashawn, and Rico are sure they’re going to win the upcoming school talent show. And the best part? First prize is $200! With great singing and showmanship, the boys are already envisioning all the new upgrades they’ll give their clubhouse when they win the prize money. But they didn’t count on a little girl with a big, big voice, who just might have what it takes to overcome the Clubhouse kids—and who also needs the money much more than the boys do. Can everyone come out a winner in this contest?
♦ Stories from New York #3 (Forever Four) (Grosset & Dunlap) – Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. They wanted to give every girl a voice. They had no idea they’d make so much noise. Paulina, Miko, Tally, and Ivy are headed to the Big Apple! The four girls will shadow real reporters at City Nation magazine over their Thanksgiving break, and report on all their events for the next issue of 4Girls. There’s excitement, glamour, and plenty to see in New York in just three days.
♦ The Creature From the seventh Grade: Boy or Beast (CREATURE FROM THE 7th GRADE) (Viking Juvenile) – Bob Balaban. From award-winning actor-writer-producer-director Bob Balaban comes a hilarious new series, perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If popularity were a score between one and ten, Charlie Drinkwater would be a zero. He’s nerdy and unathletic, and to top it all off, he’s suddenly morphed into a giant mutant sea creature sometime between first-period science class and third-period English. Now Charlie’s two best friends are treating him like a science project, there’s a petition to get him kicked out of school, the cool kids are recruiting him for their clique, and for some reason his parents are acting like everything is perfectly normal. What’s a slimy, scaly, seventh-grade creature to do?
♦ True Legend (Philomel) – Mike Lupica. There’s a reason teammates call him “True.” Because for basketball phenom Drew Robinson, there is nothing more true than his talent on the court. It’s the kind that comes along once in a generation and is loaded with perks–and with problems. Before long, True buys in to his own hype, much to the chagrin of his mother, who wants to keep her boy’s head grounded–and suddenly trouble has a way of finding him. That is, until a washed-up former playground legend steps back onto the court and takes True under his wing. In this age of street agents promising riches to kids barely out of elementary school and college programs being taken down because of recruiting violations, True Legend is a resonant and inspiring novel in the Lupica tradition.
♦ Two-Faced #2 (Almost Identical) (Grosset & Dunlap) – Lin Oliver. When Charlie compromises her values to help one of the popular girls cheat on a test, Sammie is inadvertantly pulled into the mess. Written from Charlie’s point of view, this story will let readers experience the lengths that wanting to be popular in middle school can take you to, the conflict it can cause, and the tough moral stands a girl sometimes has to take.
♦ Unstoppable (HarperCollins) – Tim Green. On the field or off, it takes all you’ve got to be a winner. If anyone understands the phrase “tough luck,” it’s Harrison. As a foster kid in a cruel home, he knows his dream of one day playing for the NFL is a long shot. Then Harrison’s luck seems to change. He is brought into a new home with kind, loving parents—his new dad is even a football coach. Harrison’s big build and his incredible determination quickly make him a star running back on the junior high school team. In no time, he’s practically unstoppable. But Harrison’s good luck can’t last forever. In his most dramatic and hard-hitting story yet, former NFL defensive end Tim Green writes about what it takes to be a winner, even when it seems like fate has dealt an impossible hand. Inspired by interviews with real-life cancer survivors and insider sports experience, this unforgettable story shows a brave boy who learns what it truly means to be unstoppable.
♦ Fourmile (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Watt Key. Twelve-year-old Foster knows in his gut that Dax Ganey, the man dating his widowed mother, is a bad seed. Then a mysterious stranger arrives at their Alabama farm, a former Army Ranger in Iraq rambling across the country, and Foster believes he has found an ally against Dax. The stranger proves a fascinating mentor, full of wisdom and secrets. And Dax soon has reason to resent not just him and Foster but also Foster’s mother. A spurned Dax will be a dangerous enemy, but Foster is increasingly aware that the stranger is just as dangerous, if not more so.
♦ Malcolm at Midnight (Houghton Mifflin) -W. H. Beck. When Malcolm the rat arrives as the pet at McKenna School, he revels in the attention. He also meets the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that keeps the nutters (kids) safe. There’s just one problem…rats have a terrible reputation! So when the Academy’s iguana leader is kidnapped, Malcolm must prove his innocence—and that even rats can be good guys. Illustrated by Brian Lies of Bats at the Beach, this engaging middle-grade novel will have readers rooting for Malcolm as they try to solve the mystery alongside him.
♦ Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave (Houghton Mifflin Books) – Deron R. Hicks. Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford has a serious mystery on her hands. Will she discover the link between her family’s literary legacy and Shakespeare’s tomb before it’s too late? Antique paintings, secret passages, locked mausoleums, a four-hundred-year-old treasure, and a cast of quirky (and some ignoble) characters all add up to a fun original adventure. Readers will revel in a whirlwind journey through literary time and space in real-world locales from Mont St. Michel to Stratford-Upon-Avon to Central Park!
♦ Shatterproof (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers, Book 4) (Scholastic) – Roland Smith. The fourth book in the CAHILLS VS. VESPERS series, the follow up to the worldwide bestseller THE 39 CLUES. After pulling some spectacular heists, Amy and Dan have become two of Interpol’s most wanted criminals. So when Vesper One orders them to steal the world’s largest diamond, they know they’re facing life in prison . . . or worse. But with the Cahill hostages still in peril, Amy and Dan have no choice but to launch a mission that leads them to an ancient city full of dangerous secrets. With a Vesper mole sabotaging the Madrigals from inside, Amy and Dan have to fulfill their enemy’s request before it’s too late. Vesper One has developed a taste for killing Cahills, and Amy and Dan aren’t going to wait to see who’s next.
♦ The Great Unexpected (HarperCollins) – Sharon Creech. In the little town of Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: one Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and her best friend, Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens. For she knows all the peculiar people in town—like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins and Mr. Farley. But then, one day, a boy drops out of a tree. The strangely charming Finn boy. Then the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking all kinds of questions. Curious surprises are revealed—three locked trunks, a pair of rooks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi and Lizzie find themselves zooming toward a future neither could ever have imagined. Meanwhile, on a grand estate across the ocean, an old lady whose heart has been deceived concocts a plan. . . .
♦ The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck (Katherine Tegen Books) – Emily Fairlie. Using a unique blend of notes, lists, and classic prose, The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck tells the story of Bud and Laurie’s quest to find the infamous Tutweiler Treasure. They’re hot (or at least lukewarm) on the trail of clues, but time is running out—the school board wants to tear down Tuckernuck Hall. Can Bud and Laurie find the treasure before it’s lost forever?
♦ Caught (Missing) (Simon & Schuster) – Margaret Peterson Haddix. Jonah and Katherine are accustomed to traveling through time, but when learn they next have to return Albert Einstein’s daughter to history, they think it’s a joke—they’ve only heard of his sons. But it turns out that Albert Einstein really did have a daughter, Lieserl, whose 1902 birth and subsequent disappearance was shrouded in mystery. Lieserl was presumed to have died of scarlet fever as an infant. But when Jonah and Katherine return to the early 1900s to fix history, one of Lieserl’s parents seems to understand entirely too much about time travel and what Jonah and Katherine are doing. It’s not Lieserl’s father, either—it’s her mother, Mileva. And Mileva has no intention of letting her daughter disappear.
♦ Century #4: Dragon of Seas (Random House) – Pierdomenico Baccalario. In the fourth installment of the Century Quartet, Italian author P. D. Baccalario concludes the mystery that took four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve. SHANGHAI, SEPTEMBER 19. As the equinox approaches, Sheng, Elettra, Harvey, and Mistral know they must come together one last time. Armed with only a map and a top that seem to be broken, a collection of old coins, and a tile with four knives painted on it, the four kids meet in Shanghai to try to make sense of clues that their predecessors couldn’t decipher. Meanwhile Sheng is haunted by a dream and by visions of a young boy who seems to understand their quest. The visions send the kids all over Shanghai, through abandoned water ducts and ancient tea houses, in search of the Pearl of the Sea Dragon, an ancient stone that they’re sure is the last piece of the puzzle. But a germophobic supercriminal who never leaves his sterile Shanghai skyscraper will do anything to learn their secrets. . . .
♦ Dragonbreath #7: When Fairies Go Bad (Dial) – Ursula Vernon. Everyone knows rule #1 in the dragon world: Never, ever mess with a dragon’s mama. So when Danny Dragonbreath’s mom gets kidnapped by fairies, Danny, his best friend Wendell, and know-it-all Christiana hop the first bus to the Faerie realm to show those fairies who’s boss. But these are not the sparkly Tinkerbell kind of fairies. These guys play dirty, and escaping fairyland with Danny’s mom is no easy task, even for a sort-of-fire-breathing dragon. The seventh book in this laugh-until-smoke-comes-out-of-your-nose series is perfect for Wimpy Kid and Dork Diary fans everywhere.
♦ Five Ancestors Out of the Ashes #1: Phoenix (Random House) – Jeff Stone. It is 350 years after the events of The Five Ancestors. Phoenix Collins lives in Indiana with his grandfather who is teaching him kung fu. But Phoenix’s real love is mountain bike racing. When unsettling events reveal that his grandfather is not only one of the legendary five Cangzhen monks, but also almost 400 years old, Phoenix must race the clock if he is going to keep his beloved ancestor alive. Traveling to China, he meets an intriguing young woman who is a talented biker and a terrific mechanic. She offers to help him, but can she be trusted?
♦ Frankenweenie: A Novel (Disney Press) – Elizabeth Rudnick. Frankenweenie is about a clever, quiet, scientifically minded boy named Victor, who lives in the Burbank-esque town of NEW HOLLAND. Victor’s only friend is his dog, Sparky, who dies when he is hit by a car, but is reanimated by Victor. This clever and fresh take on the Frankenstein tale will delight readers of all ages.
♦ Gods and Warriors (Dial) – Michelle Paver. An action-packed new series set in the mysterious, dangerous Bronze Age. Young Hylas–goatherd, Outsider, thief–is hunted by powerful warriors who want him dead and have kidnapped his sister. Hylas is forced to flee his home, but not before a mysterious stranger gives him a bronze dagger. While on the run, Hylas must use his skill and wits to survive a shipwreck and a great white shark attack, befriend a dolphin, and help Pirra, the runaway daughter of a High Priestess. Together with Pirra, the dolphin, and the valuable bronze sword, Hylas fights to discover why he’s being hunted and find his sister before the warriors find them.
♦ Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones (Katherine Tegen Books) – Christopher Krovatin. Ian was the 0ne who chased the majestic buck into the forest. (His motto: Act first, think later.) Kendra didn’t want to become separated from the other sixth graders, but she followed Ian anyway, despite what her analytical mind told her. PJ followed him too. Even though he was scared, he figured he might catch some amazing footage with his video camera. They all hoped to return to the hiking trail before anyone noticed they were gone. However, the mountain had other plans for them: dark, sinister plans that only nightmares are made of. Now they don’t know where they are. They don’t know how to get home. They don’t know what gruesome creatures lurk in the shadows—but when they find out these grisly ghouls are actually ravenous zombies, will they be able to escape the mountain with their lives?
♦ Horten’s Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & Another Very Strange Adventure (Sterling) – Lissa Evans. This magical follow-up to Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms continues Stuart’s amazing adventures–with more enchantment, more surprises, and more thrills. When we last left 10-year-old Stuart, he had just recovered his great-uncle Tony’s long-lost magic workshop. Now all the priceless tricks are on display in the Beeton Museum–and Stuart is junior curator of the exhibit! But another mystery awaits Stuart: Where did the great magician hide his will? Only by entering the magic world of the workshop can he find the answer. But as the mechanisms whisk him off on increasingly incredible adventures, the puzzles become harder and harder to solve…and the stakes higher. With even more page-turning action, this second book in the exciting middle-grade series does a magic trick of its own: it’s even better than the first!
♦ In a Glass Grimmly (Dutton Juvenile) – Adam Gidwitz. More Grimm tales await in the harrowing, hilarious companion to a beloved new classic. In this companion novel to Adam Gidwitz’s widely acclaimed, award-winning debut, A Tale Dark & Grimm, Jack and Jill explore a new set of tales from the Brothers Grimm and others, including Jack and the Beanstalk and The Frog Prince.
♦ Island of Silence (Unwanteds) (Aladdin) – Lisa McMann. Following the life-altering events at the conclusion of The Unwanteds, the stark world of Quill and the magical haven of ArtimÉ are now home to whoever wants to live there, whether they are Wanteds, Unwanteds, or Necessaries. In ArtimÉ, Alex Stowe and his friends continue to hone their artistic magical spells while welcoming newcomers, wondering how long this peace between Quill and ArtimÉ will last. Alex is stunned when Mr. Today comes to him with a very special request—one Alex questions his readiness for, until circumstances offer a dramatic answer. And back in Quill, Aaron Stowe, Alex’s twin, faces a very different path. Devastated by his loss of status after Justine’s defeat and seething with rage toward Alex, Aaron is stealthily planning his revenge and return to power. Alex and Aaron’s separate stories proceed with suspenseful pacing, colliding in a stunning climax that elevates sibling rivalry to epic proportions and leaves the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance.
♦ Joshua Dread (Delacorte) – Lee Bacon. When your parents are supervillains, it’s hard to have a normal life. Joshua Dread tries to keep a low profile. Not even his best friend, Milton, knows his secret. Luckily Joshua’s not on anyone’s radar–not like Sophie, a new girl with a mysterious past who’s got everyone talking. But weird stuff is happening. Pencils explode in his hand. He leaves scorched butt marks on the carpet. And he can send bullies crashing into lockers. Turns out Joshua has a superpower. But he doesn’t have to use it for evil, right? His parents give him a book to explain things… but nothing can prepare him for when smoke creatures start kidnapping bad guys. Is Joshua’s family next?
♦ Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (First Second) – Ben Hatke. Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Zita is determined to find her way home to earth, following the events of the first book. But things are never simple, and certainly never easy, in space. Zita’s exploits from her first adventure have made her an intergalactic megastar! But she’s about to find out that fame doesn’t come without a price. And who can you trust when your true self is being eclipsed by your public persona, and you’ve got a robot doppelganger wreaking havoc . . . while wearing your face? Still, if anyone can find their way through this intractible mess of mistaken identity and alien invaders, it’s the indomitable Zita, in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl.
♦ No Other Story (Whole Nother Story) (Bloomsbury USA) – Dr. Cuthbert Soup.
♦ The Seven Tales of Trinket (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Shelley Moore Thomas. Guided by a tattered map, accompanied by Thomas the Pig Boy, and inspired by the storyteller’s blood that thrums through her veins, eleven-year-old Trinket searches for the seven stories she needs to become a bard like her father, who disappeared years before. She befriends a fortune-telling gypsy girl; returns a child stolen by the selkies to his true mother; confronts a banshee and receives a message from a ghost; helps a village girl outwit—and out-dance—the Faerie Queen; travels beyond the grave to battle a dastardly undead Highwayman; and meets a hound so loyal he fights a wolf to the death to protect the baby prince left in his charge. All fine material for six tales, but it is the seventh tale, in which Trinket learns her father’s true fate, that changes her life forever.
♦ Potterwookiee (Creature from My Closet) (Henry Holt and Co.) – Obert Skye. The latest creature to emerge from Rob’s closet is a cross between Chewbacca from Star Wars and Harry Potter. Rob names him “Potterwookiee” (“Hairy” for short) and soon Rob finds himself treading water as he tries to figure out how to care for his mixed-up friend. Great laughs and great books help Rob along the way.
♦ Super (Knopf) – Matthew Cody. Daniel Corrigan is as regular as can be, especially when compared to the Supers: kids in his new hometown with actual powers like flight and super strength. But Daniel’s not powerless. Only he was able to stop the Shroud, a supervillian bent on stealing his newfound friends’ powers. And thanks to him, his friends got to keep those powers. Now Daniel himself is starting to display powers, while at the same time, his friends are losing theirs. His friend Eric thinks Daniel is just becoming a Super himself, a late-blooming one. But Daniel worries there may be something more sinister at work, since his power-stealing ability is uncomfortably like the Shroud’s. Of course, the Shroud is gone now . . . or is he? And could Daniel himself be his new vessel?
♦ Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle (Strange Tales from Lovecraft Middle School) (Quirk Books) – Charles Gilman. Strange things are happening at Lovecraft Middle School. Rats are leaping from lockers. Students are disappearing. The school library is a labyrinth of secret corridors. And the science teacher is acting very peculiar – in fact, he just might be a monster-in-disguise. Twelve-year-old Robert Arthur knew that seventh grade was going to be weird, but this is ridiculous!
♦ The Drowned Vault: Ashtown Burials #2 (Random House) – N. D. Wilson. It’s been almost a year since Cyrus and Antigone Smith earned their places as Journeymen at Ashtown, home of an ancient order of explorers that has long guarded the world’s secrets and treasures. While their studies go well, Cy and Tigs are not well liked since losing the Dragon’s Tooth to the nefarious Dr. Phoenix. The Tooth is the only object in the world capable of killing the long-lived transmortals, and Phoenix has been tracking them down one-by-one, and murdering them. The surviving transmortals, led by legendary warrior Gilgamesh of Uruk, descend on Ashtown in force, demanding justice. Cy and Tigs find themselves on the run in a desperate search to locate Phoenix and regain the Tooth. In the process, they uncover an evil even more dangerous than Phoenix, one that has been waiting for centuries to emerge.
♦ The Familiars #3: Circle of Heroes (HarperCollins) – Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson. Can the familiars bring magic back to the queendom? Vastia is in a state of war. Led by the evil Paksahara, whose command of the Shifting Fortress gives her nearly unstoppable power, an army of undead animals is wreaking havoc on the queendom. With human magic still gone, it’s up to the three prophesized familiars—Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert—to capture the fortress and bring Paksahara down. But it won’t be easy. The three familiars must embark on a quest to gather seven descendants of the most ancient and powerful animals in Vastia. And to make matters worse, Aldwyn finds a troubling scroll that causes him to doubt the very truth of the prophecy that guides them.
♦ The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate (Candlewick) – Scott Nash. Hoist the Jolly Robin! Fly with a swashbuckling crew as they soar through the air — and evade danger on the ground — in search of treasure and lofty adventure. Captain Blue Jay, notorious and feared pirate of the skies, has a fondness for collecting treasure, especially eggs. Unfortunately, sometimes his treasure hatches, and this time the hatchling is the strangest one the Grosbeak has ever seen. No sailor is certain whether the chick is a young god or just an oversized bird who needs too much food, but one thing is clear: the winds over Thrushland are shifting, and dramatic changes are in store for all. Whether outwitting a gang of thieving crows, outrunning murderous fishers and weasels, or rallying Briarloch’s beleaguered sparrows, this motley crew must do all they can to stay together and stay alive. And that’s just the tip of the bird’s feather! Offering a bounty of illustrations and a host of memorable characters — from an endearing star-nosed mole to an unlikely little warrior with a vendetta — here is a treasure for anyone who has ever wanted to take to the skies and see where fortune blows.
♦ The Jaguar Stones Book Three, The River of No Return (Egmont USA) – Jon Voelkel, Pamela Voelkel. A hurricane is brewing in the jungles of the Maya, and the ancient Death Lords are on the warpath. Across the world in Venice, Italy, hanging out with his blogger friend Nasty (Anastasia) Smith-Jones and eating Pizza Gelato, Max Murphy thinks he is safe from their clutches. But when a rogue octopus pulls him off his gondola and tries to drag him down to the underworld, Max realizes that the Death Lords have not finished with him yet. Soon Max is back in Central America and reunited with the only ones who can help him in his battle—Lola, the mysterious Maya girl, and the howler monkeys Lord 6-Dog and Lady Coco. Once again it’s up to the four of them to save the world as they fight off mutant cave spiders, zombie warriors, and, of course, the twelve villainous Death Lords. With the hurricane about to hit land, Max and Lola embark on a one-way journey to danger down the blighted Monkey River. They take shelter in a subterranean hotel, only to stumble upon Death Lord central. Torn between rescuing themselves and rescuing one of the last wild jaguars of the Monkey River region, Max and Lola find themselves drawn into an ever more bizarre series of tests, culminating in a terrifying ballgame that they can never win.
♦ The Peculiar (Greenwillow) – Stefan Bachmann. Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged.In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings—Peculiars—and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them. One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley—Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed. First he’s noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.
♦ The Secret Zoo: Traps and Specters (Greenwillow) – Bryan Chick. A continuation of the Secret Zoo series.
♦ Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book II (Balzer + Bray) – Colin Meloy. Ever since Prue McKeel returned home from the Impassable Wilderness after rescuing her brother from the malevolent Dowager Governess, life has been pretty dull. School holds no interest for her, and her new science teacher keeps getting on her case about her dismal test scores and daydreaming in class. Her mind is constantly returning to the verdant groves and sky-tall trees of Wildwood, where her friend Curtis still remains as a bandit-in-training. But all is not well in that world. A hard winter has come and discord reigns in the wake of the so-called Bicycle Coup. Dark assassins with mysterious motives conspire to settle the scores of an unknown client. A titan of industry employs inmates from his orphanage to work in his machine shop, all the while obsessing over the exploitation of the Impassable Wilderness. Under a growing threat, Prue is drawn back into Wildwood, where she and Curtis will face their greatest challenge yet: to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country. But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood.
♦ What Came from the Stars (Clarion) – Gary D. Schmidt. The Valorim are about to fall to a dark lord when they send a necklace containing their planet across the cosmos, hurtling past a trillion stars . . . all the way into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader, of Plymouth, Mass. Mourning his late mother, Tommy doesn’t notice much about the chain he found, but soon he is drawing the twin suns and humming the music of a hanorah. As Tommy absorbs the art and language of the Valorim, their enemies target him. When a creature begins ransacking Plymouth in search of the chain, Tommy learns he must protect his family from villains far worse than he’s ever imagined.
♦ Zip (Razorbill) – Ellie Rollins. When Lyssa’s mother died, so did the magic—that special something that always made the sunflowers grow taller and the strawberry jelly taste sweeter. Now that her mother is gone, Lyssa struggles to get used to a life of the Ordinary with her kind but clueless stepfather in Kirkland, Washington. But secretly, she longs for change. Then one day change does come, when the most peculiar occurrence brings Lyssa alarming news about her childhood home. With no time to lose, she sets off on a two-wheeled cross-country journey to get back to Texas. But can she get there before the clock runs out? On her odyssey Lyssa meets some decidedly unusual people, from rowdy cowgirls to a chorus line of singing mermaids. With new friends by her side and the winds of change at her back, Lyssa discovers adventure at every turn–and uncovers her mother’s magic, little by little, all along the way.
♦ Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) – Marissa Moss. When Mira receives a cryptic postcard from her missing mother, she sets off with her father and brother to find her in Paris. Only Mira doesn’t know she’s looking in the wrong century. With an innocent touch to a gargoyle sculpture on the roof of Notre Dame, Mira is whisked into the past. There she learns her mother isn’t just avoiding the family, she’s in serious trouble. Following her mother’s clues, Mira travels through time to help change history and bring her mother home.
♦ Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution (Beach Lane Books) – Avi. In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.
♦ The Odyssey (Candlewick) – Gillian Cross, Neil Packer. Odysseus faces storm and shipwreck, a terrifying man-eating Cyclops, the alluring but deadly Sirens, and the fury of the sea-god Poseidon as he makes his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War. While Odysseus struggles to make it home, his wife, Penelope, fights a different kind of battle as her palace is invaded by forceful, greedy men who tell her that Odysseus is dead and she must choose a new husband. Will Odysseus reach her in time? Homer’s epic, age-old story is powerfully told by Carnegie Medalist Gillian Cross and stunningly illustrated by rising talent Neil Packer.
♦ Alien Deep: Revealing the Mysterious Living World at the Bottom of the Ocean (National Geographic Children’s Books) – Bradley Hague. Appealing to children over age ten, this engaging reference book depicts adventurous and thrilling elements in oceanographic fieldwork. In conjunction with a National Geographic television show, this book will reach a huge audience of marine lovers, as well as children interested in science and exploration.
♦ A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet (Candlewick Biographies) (Candlewick) – Kathryn Lasky. In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to America, she’d had everything taken from her – her family, her name, and her language. But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking with unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley became a poet and ultimately had a book of verse published, establishing herself as the first African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own.
♦ Believe: The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand (Young Readers’ Edition) (HarperCollins) – Eric LeGrand, Mike Yorkey. On October 16, 2010, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was known as a key performer on the field and a much-loved teammate who could make anyone smile. But in the heated fourth quarter of a tie game against Army, everything changed in a moment. A crushing tackle left him motionless on the field, and while the entire stadium went silent with fear and anticipation, Eric knew his life would never again be the same. What he didn’t know, however, was that the months to come would be a remarkable, transformative journey: one so profound that he would call the year following the accident that paralyzed him from the neck down the best year of his life.
♦ Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust (Candlewick) – Doreen Rappaport. Under the noses of the military, Georges Loinger smuggles thousands of children out of occupied France into Switzerland. In Belgium, three resisters ambush a train, allowing scores of Jews to flee from the cattle cars. In Poland, four brothers lead more than 1,200 ghetto refugees into the forest to build a guerilla force and self-sufficient village. And twelve-year-old Motele Shlayan entertains German officers with his violin moments before setting off a bomb. Through twenty-one meticulously researched accounts — some chronicled in book form for the first time — Doreen Rappaport illuminates the defiance of tens of thousands of Jews across eleven Nazi-occupied countries during World War II. In answer to the genocidal madness that was Hitler’s Holocaust, the only response they could abide was resistance, and their greatest weapons were courage, ingenuity, the will to survive, and the resolve to save others or to die trying.
♦ Columbus (Amazon’s Children’s Publishing) – Demi. Born in 1451 in the seafaring nation of Genoa in northern Italy, Christopher Columbus grew up watching ships sail into the harbor loaded with riches from Egypt, Spain, England, and Belgium. Columbus was convinced that he could gain gold, silk, ivory, and much personal wealth for himself if he were to sail west from Europe to the East and trade with China and India. When Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon finally provided him with three ships, a crew, and supplies for his journey, Columbus embarked on the first of four voyages to the East in 1492. Although he never reached Asia, he did land in Central and South America, establishing a firm foothold in America and opening up wider European exploration to the new continent and other foreign lands. Demi portrays Columbus as a great navigator and explorer, but she also provides a balanced view of his accomplishments, describing his enslavement of the native Taino Indians of Central America and his mismanagement of the colonies that he established in the Indies. Using Chinese paintbrushes and inks, gold overlays, and Italian marbled paper from Florence, Italy, she paints Columbus’s vast world with characteristic skill and beauty.
♦ Mythmaker: The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien, Creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (Harcourt) -
J. R. R. Tolkien was far more than a fantasy book writer. His lifelong fascination with medieval texts and languages gave him a unique vision and endless inspiration for his tales. His broad interests made possible his creation of faery worlds and entire races of beings, as well as the languages, cultures, and characters that make his books as engaging today as they were fifty years ago. This clear and thoroughly researched biography of the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings recalls the mystery of Tolkien’s imaginary worlds.
♦ Out of this World: All the Cool Things You Wanted to Know About Space (I Wish I Knew That) (Reader’s Digest Juvenile) – Clive Gifford. Are you baffled by the Big Bang? Curious about what it’s like to walk on the moon? Wondering if someday you might meet an alien? Dreaming of becoming an astronaut? This fun, comprehensive book is bursting with all the cool things you ever wanted to know about space.
♦ Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey (Amazon Children’s Publishing) – Carmen Bernier-Grand. Pablo Picasso’s relationships with both his children and his female companions were often tempestuous and destructive, but they provided the drama on which he fed as he created one groundbreaking work after another. From ceramics to print making to sculpture to photography to poetry – Picasso had a huge appetite for expressing himself through every kind of artistic medium, and he is now considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. With bold, powerful oil paintings, David Diaz captures the intensity of a man who once signed a drawing as “Yo el rey” or “I the King.”
♦ So, You Want to Be a Comic Book Artist?: The Ultimate Guide on How to Break Into Comics! (Aladdin/Beyond Words) – Philip Amara (Author), Various (Illustrator). This comprehensive guide details the steps to becoming a hit comic book maker—from creating compelling characters and illustrations to getting published and marketing a finished product—and is full of insights from world-famous artists from such companies as DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. In addition to highlighting tips from seasoned pros, inspiring success stories from young artists are sprinkled throughout along with a resource list of potential publishers to help you hit the ground running.
♦ The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure (Candlewick) – Martin W. Sandler. The dead of an Arctic winter. Whaling ships full of men, stranded in ice. Follow three rescuers in a race against time — and all odds — in this heartpounding true adventure. In 1897, whaling in the Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast was as dangerous as it was lucrative. And in that particular year, winter blasted early, bringing storms and ice packs that caught eight American whale ships and three hundred sailors off guard. Their ships locked in ice, with no means of escape, the whalers had limited provisions on board, and little hope of surviving until warmer temperatures arrived many months later. Here is the incredible story of three men sent by President McKinley to rescue them. The mission? A perilous trek over 1,500 miles of nearly impassable Alaskan terrain, in the bone-chilling months of winter, to secure two herds of reindeer (for food) and find a way to guide them to the whalers before they starve. With the help of photographs and journal entries by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler takes us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills.
♦ Where Do Presidents Come From?: And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance (Dial) – Michael Townsend. Just in time for the 2012 election, Michael Townsend presents his comic book guide to everything you ever wanted to know (and maybe a few things you didn’t!) about the President of the United States. It’s full of insanely weird facts about our leaders (Did you know that President Coolidge had a pet pygmy hippo named Billy?), as well as the history and powers of the presidency, day-to-day life, and pros and cons of the job. Even the most mundane of facts become hilarious in this brilliantly cheeky guide to our nation’s MVP.