Author Archives: Jennifer Swanson

August New Releases

Can you believe it’s August already? Time to start thinking about gathering school supplies and shopping for clothes. Don’t forget to throw some new books into your basket. Here’s a few new releases that would add a whole lot of fun to your back-to-school purchases!

First off, a few of our very own MUF authors have new releases. Congratulations to  Jonathon Rosen, and Dori Hillestad Butler!!

Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies By Jonathan Rosen (Sky Pony Press)

Twelve-year-old Devin Dexter has a problem. Well, actually, many of them. His best friend, Tommy, sees conspiracies behind every corner. And Tommy thinks Devin’s new neighbor, Herb, is a warlock . . . but nobody believes him. Even Devin’s skeptical. But soon strange things start happening. Things like the hot new Christmas toy, the Cuddle Bunny, coming to life.That would be great, because, after all, who doesn’t love a cute bunny? But these aren’t the kind of bunnies you can cuddle with. These bunnies are dangerous. Devin and Tommy set out to prove Herb is a warlock and to stop the mob of bunnies, but will they have enough time before the whole town of Gravesend is overrun by the cutest little monsters ever? This is a very funny “scary” book for kids, in the same vein as the My Teacher books or Goosebumps.

 

The Underground Ghosts #10 A Super Special By Dori Hillestad Butler (Grosset & Dunlap)

It’s almost Halloween, and Kaz and Claire are off to Seattle to visit Claire’s cousins. They explore the local library…and find a ghost living there The ghost’s family has been missing, so Kaz and Claire decide to investigate. When they discover ghostly activity in the city’s subterranean passages, they put their detective skills to work. Kaz and Claire are on the case.

 

Laugh Out Loud By James Patterson; Chris Grabenstein (Jimmy Paterson Books)

Get ready to Laugh Out Loud (a lot ) with James Patterson’s newest illustrated middle grade story 
Jimmy loves reading so much that he’s inspired to start a book company for kids–run by kids. It’s a bit dream for a twelve-year-old boy–some would even say it’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous
But that doesn’t stop Jimmy from dreaming even bigger His company will be as imaginative and fun as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory…with a Ferris wheel instead of an elevator, a bowling alley in the break room, and a river filled with floating books He just has to believe in himself and his idea. (And maybe win the Lotto.)

 

Patina (Track) by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)

A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Lucy & Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown (Crown BFYR)


Neanderthal siblings Lucy and Andy are back to their paleo pranks. This time, they have to put up with more than just each other—the cave is feeling awfully cramped since the humans moved in. They’re in the Ice Age, and legroom comes at a real premium!

Jeffrey Brown skillfully blends humor and history with paleontologist sections: Timeline of Key Discoveries, Ice Age Fact vs. Fiction, Silly Cavemen Myths, and more.

I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 By Lauren Tarshis (Scholastic Press)

The battlefield was soaked in blood. Screams of injured soldiers rang through the air. Eleven-year-old Nathaniel Knox knelt behind a rock, his gun clutched in his shaking hands. Nate had been heading to New York City to find his father. But now he was trapped in a terrible gunfight between American and British troops.
Thousands of American troops were either dead or dying in filthy British prison ships. General George Washington’s army was in tatters.
All Nate wanted was to find his father…and to get out of here alive.

 

Who Was Alexander Hamilton? by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso (Penguin Workshop)

Born in the British West Indies and orphaned as a child, Alexander Hamilton made his way to the American Colonies and studied to become a lawyer. He joined a local militia during the American Revolution, rose to the rank of Major General, and became the chief aide to General George Washington. After the war, he became the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. He founded the Bank of New York and The New York Post newspaper. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and is also celebrated as a co-author of The Federalist Papers, a series of essays that are still used today to interpret the U.S. Constitution.

The Friendship Code #1 (Girls Who Code) by Stacia Deutsch (Penguin Workshop)


Loops, variables, input/output – Lucy can’t wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after school activity that she’s really interested in. But Lucy’s excitement turns to disappointment when she’s put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her.

Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding – and friendship – takes time, dedication, and some laughs!

 

Vanished! (Framed!) by James Ponti (Aladdin)

Florian Bates—the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists—must uncover the truth behind a series of middle school pranks that may or may not involve the daughter of the President of the United States in this hilarious second novel in the T.O.A.S.T. Mystery series.

Interview with Author Mike Lowery — and a Giveway of a set of Doodle Adventure Books!

I’m so excited to welcome the awesome Mike Lowery to the MUF blog today!

He is celebrating the release of his new book:

The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat! by Workman Publishing.

A little bit about the book: Carl the Duck is back and needs help on the very important mission of discovering why the cats around town are acting like jerks. Can you track them down and break the spell they are under? (And maybe draw a space vampire along the way?)    Each page combines hand-lettered text, delightful illustrations, plus prompts and plenty of space for the reader’s own contributions. The book is sturdy paper over board with high-quality cream paper that’s a pleasure to draw on. Kids will love using their imaginations to complete the story, then reading it over and over again.

“Perfect for a summer birthday gift, a travel distraction, or for gathering out on the porch and enjoying a warm evening together.” — Geek Dad

Thanks for joining us today, Mike! Here are a few questions for you

Why do you write graphic novels/illustrated stories for middle grade readers?

I really got into comics and reading when I was around 9.  Later, when I was given the chance to pitch my own ideas for books, I tried to make something that 9-14 year old me would’ve loved.  Also, I like making jokes about pizza and pirates and slugs and silly stuff.

What comes first—the art idea or the book idea? 

All of my projects are usually based on something that I came up with in my sketchbook, so I guess I’d say art idea comes first.

You seem to love random facts—why is that? Why do you think these appeal to kids? 

We used to take a LOT of road trips when I was a kid.  My dad would get audio books on tape, and we’d listen to lots of stand up comedy…and sometimes we would listen to non-fiction interesting facts books.    You could say I started collecting weird facts at a very young age, and never really stopped.  So, it made sense years later to start drawing some of the stuff that I found particularly interesting.

How long does it take you to do the illustrations for a book?

It really depends on the book.  For some stuff it might be just a few months, but the random facts book that I’m working on has taken almost two years!

Where do you come up with your wacky and fun characters? 

Every morning,  before I start drawing for projects that I’m working on, I spend some time just making doodles and sketches in my sketchbook.  Sometimes these doodles turn into funny looking characters and I develop them to have personalities that might be funny in a book.

Why did you decide to invite kids to write in your book?

Again, I wanted something that I would’ve liked as a kid.  I loved drawing, but I didn’t always know what to draw.  I wanted a book for kids that needed a little push to help with drawing, and I’ve gotten to see some really crazy and awesome ideas from the folks who have been filling out the books.

Do you have a  favorite of all of your books?

That’s tough.  I’ll say I’ve had a lot of fun drawing the Doodle Adventures series because I get to draw a grumpy duck named Carl.

Can you give us a hint about the next book you are working on?

Yes!  But just a little hint.  One book is a collection of drawings of random facts, one is about an evil character (who turns out to be not-so-evil).

That sounds really cool! Thanks for being with us today, Mike.

If you want to learn more, please check out this information :

Mike Lowery is the creator of the Doodle Adventures series and The Kid’s Awesome Activity Calendar. He lives with his wife and daughter in Atlanta, GA. Mike shares daily sketches on Instagram @mikelowerystudio. Find out more about him and his work at www.mikelowery.com.

Workman Publishing is offering a FREE SET of Doodle Adventure Series books!

Just leave a comment below to be entered.

New Releases for April

Spring has Sprung!  Are you anxious to sit out in the sun and catch some rays? Why not take a book. Take a look at this awesome new releases for some good relaxing time.

Good news! We have 4 MUF members with new releases this month. Congratulations to Amber J. Keyser, Tricia Springstubb, Patricia Bailey, and Jennifer Swanson.

 

Cody and the Rules of Life by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick Press)


In Cody’s life, many things are hard to predict. Like why her older brother, Wyatt, is obsessed with his new bicycle called the Cobra, or why her best friend Pearl suddenly wants to trade favorite toys. Pearl says she will trust Cody with Arctic Fox because Cody is a trusty person. But Cody doesn’t want to give up her beloved Gremlin, and she regrets it as soon as she hands him over. When the Cobra goes missing, Cody has to decide for herself who is trusty and who is not. If only she had Gremlin to talk to! Surely Pearl wouldn’t mind if she secretly traded back . . . it’s not stealing if it belonged to you in the first place, right?

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey (Albert Whitman and Co.)

Life in a 1905 Nevada mining town is not easy for any thirteen-year-old. For Kit Donovan, it seems downright impossible. When her mother dies of a fever, Kit is certain she is to blame. Guilt-ridden, she is determined to honor her promises to her mother―namely to be a “proper lady.” Only being a lady is tougher than it looks. When Kit discovers that Papa’s boss at the gold mine (the menacing and self-serving Mr. Granger) is profiting from unsafe working conditions in the mine, she convinces her dad to speak out. But sometimes doing the right thing leads to trouble. Now Kit must find a way to expose Granger’s misdeeds before it’s too late. Aided by an eccentric woman, a Shoshone boy, and a drunken newspaperman, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit defies threats of violence and discovers that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

 

Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser  (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing)

Jessie Vale dances in an elite ballet program. She has to be perfect to land a spot with the professional company. When Jessie is cast in an animalistic avant-garde production, her careful composure cracks wide open. Nothing has felt more dangerous. Meanwhile, her friend Dawn McCormick’s world is full of holes. She wakes in strange places, bruised, battered, and unable to speak. The doctors are out of ideas.These childhood friends are both running out of time. Jessie has one shot at her ballet dream. Dawn’s blackouts are getting worse. At every turn, they crash into the many ways girls are watched, judged, used, and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?

 
Zoology: Cool Women who Work in Science by Jennifer Swanson (Nomad Press)


Love to work with animals? Zoology is the study of everything having to do with animals, including how and why they look, act, and behave in their environments and with other animals. As a zoologist, you might study how elephants solve problems or take care of tigers at a zoo.

 

Snowflake Freezes Up (Grimmtastic Girls) by Joan Holub (Scholastic)


Snowflake isn’t sure which fairy tale character she is. But with her magical powers causing lots of trouble, she’s definitely on thin ice! So just in case she might be a villain, Snowflake is chilly to her classmates. Can she keep her cool until she knows her whole story, or will her social life at Grimm Academy be permanently frozen?

 

The Bad Guys in The Furball Strike Back by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic)

Mr. Wolf and his bad buddies have messed with the wrong guinea pig–one who is secretly an evil mad scientist. And the nasty little furball wants revenge! Will they survive? Will they be heroes? And will they ever stop trying to eat each other?!? It’s time for the Bad Guys to spring into action!

Panda- Monium by Stuart Gibbs (Scholastic BFYR)

Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth when the zoo’s newest addition goes missing–before she even arrives –in Panda-monium, the latest novel in Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series.
FunJungle is frenzied, awaiting the arrival of its most thrilling animal yet–Li Ping–a rare and very expensive giant panda that the zoo went to enormous lengths to secure. But when the truck transporting Li Ping shows up, its precious cargo has vanished into thin air. The FBI steps in to investigate, and Teddy is happy to leave the job in their (supposedly) capable hands. After all, FunJungle has never encountered a crime this serious. But when someone threatens to blackmail Teddy’s girlfriend, Summer, if he doesn’t solve the crime, his involvement in this mystery is no longer black and white.

 

The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (Henry Holt & Co. BFYR)


Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then, they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers an arson fire.

The clock is ticking as the arson fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.

 
Titanic Treasure by Eric Luper (Scholastic)

Cleo and Evan have a secret. A collection of books so dangerous they are lockedup tight. And only they can find the keys to release the magic inside!
A FORTUNE LOST AT SEA!
When Cleo and Evan set sail on the Titanic, time is not on their side! The famous ocean liner is destined to hit an iceberg. If they can stop a thief from stealing a priceless jeweled book–and find their next key–they might avoid sinking with the ship in this historic disaster!