Author Archives: Amie Borst

Not-So-Scary Monster Middle-Grade!

What does a mom with strep throat + a child with strep throat + a soccer tournament + an archery championship + a two day SCBWI conference + out-of-town guests = ??

You guessed it.

A very late Mixed-Up Files Post!

Your patience (and my persistence) paid off though, because I have an awesome book list just in time for Halloween!

Not all readers enjoy scary books. If they did, I could recommend quite a few bookst. Neil Gaiman’s CORALINE, and just about any ghost story ever written by Mary Downing Hahn. Or more recently two hits by Claire Legrand: THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS and THE YEAR OF SHADOWS.

But since many of us feel our skin crawl a little too easily, might I suggest some lighter faire?

THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT by Robert Paul Weston

My daughter read this book and loved it. She says it reminds her of Monster’s Inc. I’ll be taking this off my shelf to read this week!

the creature departmentIt’s a tentacled, inventive, gooey, world in there. . . .
Elliot Von Doppler and his friend Leslie think nothing ever happens in Bickleburgh, except inside the gleaming headquarters of DENKi-3000—the world’s eighth-largest electronics factory.  
Beneath the glass towers and glittering skywalks, there’s a rambling old mansion from which all the company’s amazing inventions spring forth. And no one except Uncle Archie knows what’s behind the second-to-last door at the end of the hall.
Until Elliot and Leslie are invited to take a glimpse inside.
They find stooped, troll-like creatures with jutting jaws and broken teeth. Tiny winged things that sparkle as they fly. And huge, hulking, hairy nonhumans (with horns). It is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
But when Chuck Brickweather threatens to shut down the DENKi-3000 factory if a new product isn’t presented soon, the creatures know they are in danger. And when Uncle Archie vanishes, it’s up to Elliot, Leslie, and every one of the unusual, er, “employees” to create an invention so astonishing it will save the Creature Department.

GOBBLED BY GHORKS by Robert Paul Weston

Okay, okay. Don’t get too excited. This one doesn’t release until November 13th, but that gives you plenty of time to read the first book and drool in anticipation as you await book two!Gobbled

When a singing telegram arrives with some seriously stomach-churning news, the Creature Department is once again thrown into an invention frenzy. Rumor has it that monstrous ghorks have taken the creatures of Heppleworth’s Food Factory hostage. And worse, they are threatening to turn them into tasty treats!

The Creature Department and their human friends, Elliot and Leslie, sneak into Heppleworth’s disguised as performers in an all-singing, all-dancing dinner-theater cabaret. There they discover the five types of ghorks that had previously caused them a whole lot of trouble: nose ghorks, eye ghorks, ear ghorks, mouth ghorks, and hand ghorks—one for each of the five senses. But then they stumble upon something else: a sixth ghork, equipped with a mysterious sixth sense!

When the sixth ghork’s sixth sense is finally revealed, it is even more outlandish than anyone imagined; and the only way to save the day is to make a dangerous deal. But if the deal goes wrong, Elliot, Leslie, and every last creature will be… gobbled by ghorks!

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND MONSTERS by Ron Bates

I read this book last year and absolutely fell in love with the laugh-out-loud humor, the awkward memories of making friends, and the lesson learned about friendships. I’m thrilled to see there’s a sequel to add to my list!

how to make friends and monsters

Some Friends Are Just Worth Making

For Howard Boward, science genius, making friends in middle school is hard. The other kids have more fun creatively expanding Howard’s name than actually hanging out, as in How-weird or How-Lame. . So, why not actually make a friend? A little wonder putty, some DNA, a few accidentally spilled chemicals and—boom!—instant friend. Monster friend, that is. Franklin ends up being cool in middle school, and he helps Howard climb the uber-popular ladder, becoming How-Cool.  But the new fame and friendship isn’t exactly everything Howard hoped. Turns out real friendship might not be so simple, even when you create your own friends from scratch.

HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE-SCHOOL AND MONSTER BOTS by Ron Bates

monster bots

Sometimes, being smart just isn’t enough

It s been a rough semester for Howard Boward, science genius. Not only is he having to dodge winter s most feared weapon (snowballs), his close friend, Winnie McKinney, is barely speaking to him. If that weren t enough, he s the favorite target of some bullies who seem determined to make life at Dolley Madison Middle School as miserable as possible. But then Howard learns about an upcoming robot-building contest finally a chance to show off his science skills and beat archrival Gerald G-Force Forster Unfortunately, the only way to win is by using his secret monster goo, a formula that has terrifying side effects. Can Howard resist the temptation? Or will he unleash a robot rampage that could destroy the town and ruin the school dance?”

FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTI-MATTER MOTOR by Jon Scieszka

All right. I know. It’s technically a science book, but c’mon! With a title like Frank Einstein, I just had to put it on the list!

Frank Einstein

Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor . . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! Using real science, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers.

THE LITTLE VAMPIRE SERIES by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg

Forever a classic for those children who like monsters along with a good laugh!

The little Vampirethe little vampire 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we’re talking about vampires, have you read the TOTALLY LAME VAMPIRE SERIES by Tim Collins? That’s not an insult! It’s the title of the series! See for yourself.

Lame vampirelame vampire 2lame vampire 3

Finally, a series of fairy tale/monster stories with themes of friendship, self-acceptance, peer pressure, and fitting in.

MONSTER HIGH by Lisi Harrison and EVER AFTER HIGH by Shannon Hale

Monster high

ever after high

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, I would even include my own books in this list.
The SCARILY EVER LAUGHTER series by Amie & Bethanie Borst

Cinderskella Cover

little dead riding hood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s my list of not-so-scary books perfect for the timid readers among us. What are some of your favorites? Do you have a recommendation to share? Leave a comment for us!

Amie Borst likes not-so-scary books, not for her kids, but for herself! Goosebumps aren’t for the faint of heart. She writes not-so-scary middle-grade books. Find her on her blog.

Little Dead Riding Hood by Amie Borst

little dead riding hood

You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!

Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret.

When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day. Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in.

Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?

Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Goodreads

***

I hold the awesome job of being the interview coordinator here at The Mixed-Up Files. It means I meet wonderful authors, interact with publicists who go above and beyond the call of duty to promote books for their clients, and I have the opportunity to read many incredible middle-grade books.

The downfall?

It’s really hard to interview yourself. But…that’s what I’m going to do!

Amie: Hi Amie! *waves to reflection in the mirror* It’s great to have you here at MUF today! Tell us a little about your book.

Self: *rubs arm awkwardly* Little Dead Riding Hood is the second book in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. It’s a companion novel to Cinderskella. Both books are co-authored by my 14 year old daughter (who, btw, was only 9 when she came up with the idea for the series). Scarlet Small (dead riding hood) is a vampire trying to fit in at her new school, but with a werewolf intent on destroying her afterlife, that’s pretty difficult.

Amie: Whoa. So you’ve got vampires and werewolves? *scratches head* Isn’t the whole Twilight thing over?

Self: That’s probably true. But don’t worry. The only relation LDRH has to Twilight is mocking it. In a nice way of course. *sparkly unicorns are the best*

Amie: Oh. I see. So what’s it like to write with your daughter?

Self: You know, I think most people would dread writing with their kids but I enjoy it. Bethanie is a hard worker, she’s dedicated and creative, and she’s not intimidated by deadlines, mistakes, or the writing process in general.

Amie: So you fight a lot.

Self: Who said that? Weren’t you listening?

Amie: *quickly changes subject* One last question. Chocolate or cupcakes? Chimichanga or chicken pot pie? Mountains or ocean?

Self: First of all, you can’t count. That was THREE questions.

Amie: Hey, I never said math was my best subject. Just answer the question. I mean questionS.

Self: Well that’s easy. All of the above!

Thanks for being here Amie!

 

Amie…I mean, I have a few contests happening, ’cause I’m a happenin’ kind of gal. The first is a giveaway for a copy of LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! You can enter by filling out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  The second is a scavenger hunt on my blog! This week’s prize is a free SKYPE VISIT! Wahoo! So if you’re a teacher (or know one) who’d love to have Bethanie and I virtually visit your classroom, be sure to enter the rafflecopter form below. You can also go to my blog and visit all the stops during my blog tour as well as follow the scavenger hunt for lots of great prizes through November 7th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst is the author of Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood. She frequently talks to herself. You can find her on facebook, twitter, her blog, and two soon to be released websites – Amieborst.com and AmieAndBethanieBorst.com

Young Houdini: The Magician’s Fire by Simon Nicholson

young houdini

Young Harry Houdini spends his days chaining himself to train tracks and teetering on wires high above the city with his two best friends, Arthur and Billie. But when Harry’s friend and magical mentor, Herbie, disappears, the three friends band together, determined to rescue the beloved magician.  

With nothing more than a mysterious puff of purple smoke, an ominous threat, and a menacing Bulgarian for evidence, Harry, Arthur, and Billie embark on a dangerously thrilling investigation that pushes their skill, and friendship, to the limits. But can Harry find Herbie before it’s too late?

Buy YOUNG HOUDINI: THE MAGICIAN’S FIRE at these retailers:

Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | iBooks

Amie: Welcome to the show, Simon! Tell us why The Magician’s Fire is a perfect middle-grade read.

Simon: The real Houdini dazzled and thrilled the world with his remarkable feats of magic, bravery  and escape. But even more exciting are these stories of what might have happened to him as a boy…

Amie: Intriguing for sure! It definitely makes me wonder what kind of mischief he might have gotten himself into as a child. Especially during those middle-grade years when they’re all about self-discovery! Tell us – were you full of mischief as a boy? I mean…er…did you like magic?

Simon: Yes, though I was one of those who always tried to see the invisible bits of the string, the flash of a hand that made the magic work. It seems to me interesting that the great kids character of our age is a boy called Harry who can do magic – and now here is another boy called Harry who seeks to find out the actual truth behind how so-called “magic” is done…

Amie: Oh! I love the idea of  Harry Houdini and Harry Potter and their connection in the magical world. One last question. Soaring heights or swimming in an endless ocean?

Simon: My gut response… I ‘d say soaring heights – endless swimming sounds rather tiring…

Amie: Good choice! But the answer was BOTH! We’re going kite sailing today, Simon. You go first!

simon

Simon Nicholson writes for Nick Jr. including such shows as Tickety Tock, Bob the Builder, and Zack and Quack, as well as for BBC children’s programming. He lives in London. Visit him online at www.simonbnicholson.com and on Twitter @SimonBNicholson

Excited about this great book? Then enter to win a copy by filling out the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst is the author of Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood, which she co-wrote with her 14 year old daughter. She’d like to perform magic so her books could finally write themselves.