Author Archives: Jennifer Swanson

I’ll Take a Little Science with my Fiction, Please

I have a confession. I’m a huge science geek!  That’s probably why I write nonfiction books– mostly about science and engineering.  But I also like to read  fiction, too.   Even though I tend towards high stake action- adventure, mystery, humorous, and even a little fanasty on occasion, I sometimes miss seeing the science in those books.

So I have to say that I have been delighted to see the trend of science creeping into fiction books lately.  Here are a few good ones that you might want to check out if you are into science, too. These books will surely help you “get your geek on”!

 

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Believe in the possible . . . with this “warm, witty, and wise” novel from “New York Times” bestseller, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

 

 

Wake Up Missing  by Kate Messner

Four kids . . . Two weeks in the Florida Everglades . . . One top-secret science experiment that could change them “and “the world as they know it . . . Meet Quentin, a middle-school football star from Chicago; Sarah, a hockey player from Upstate New York; Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest; and Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California.The four have little in common except the head injuries that landed them in an elite brain-science center in the wild swamps of Florida. It’s known as the best clinic in the world and promises to return their lives to normal, but as days pass, the kids begin to notice strange side effects and unexplained changes.

 

Frank Einstein and the Anti- Motor Motor by Jon Scieszka 


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.

 Edison’s Gold by Geoff  Watson

Solving a centuries-old family mystery is Tom Edison’s only hope to stop his family from moving to Kansas. His famous name­sake and great-great-grandfather, Thomas Edison, had discovered the secret formula for changing metal into gold, and now Tom and his friends are on a whirlwind adventure to find the key to this monumental discovery. But can the three friends uncover Edison’s secret formula in time and escape the clutches of an evil billionaire?

Full of gadgetry, historical rivalries, secret societies, and bad guys galore, Geoff Watson’s Edison’s Gold is a thrilling adventure for middle-grade readers.

 

 

E ye of the Storm by Kate Messner

In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms have become a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her meteorological engineer father, Jaden Meggs is surprised at the strides her father’s company StormSafe, has made with custom shelters that keep her family safe in even the worst of storms. At her exclusive summer science camp, Eye On Tomorrow, Jaden meets Alex, a boy whose passion for science matches hers. Together, they discover that her father’s company is steering storms away from the expensive neighborhoods and toward the organic farming communities that are in competition with his bio-engineered food company, NatureMade. Jaden must confront her father, but when she does, she uncovers a terrifying family secret and must call on both her scientific knowledge and her faith to save the people she loves most from one of her father’s monster storms.

Brendan Buckley’s 6th grade Experment by  Sundee T. Fraizer

Brendan Buckley is headed to middle school on a whole new adventure. When his alternative energy idea gets him paired with new girl Morgan Belcher for the national science competition, Brendan is skeptical. But their partnership clicks, and they embark on a methane-producing experiment involving bottles, balloons, and the freshest cow manure they can find.
As Brendan spends more time on the experiment, he has a lot of big questions: Does his police detective dad really think he’s a science-nerd whimp? Will he and Khalfani, his best friend and Tae Kwon Do sparring partner, remain best friends? And can Brendan prove that his scientific pursuits really “could” be world-changing?

 

 The Secret Chicken Society by  Judy Cox

When Daniel’s class hatches chicks as a science project, he adopts them. When he finds out that his favorite bird, Peepers, isn’t a hen but a rooster, and therefore illegal to keep in the city of Portland, the Secret Chicken Societyis quickly formed to save Peepers. This warmhearted chapter book about an environmentally-conscious family will provide plenty of clucks and lots of chuckles for young readers.

download (25)The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler Dewitt

Wilmer has always known that the greatest science comes from the keenest observations. So when he observes his classmates looking a little green…and orange…and chartreuse-fuchsia polka-dotted…he knows that it’s up to him to find the cause of this mysterious illness—and its cure.

But with his arch nemesis, Claudius Dill, hot on his heels; the eagle-eyed biology teacher, Mrs. Padgett, determined to thwart his plans; and a host of fluorescent classmates bouncing off the walls at increasingly dangerous speeds, can Wilmer prove he has what it takes to save the sixth grade from a colorful demise before it’s too late?

If you know of any more “science-y” middle grade fiction books, please feel free to share below. I’m sure all of us science lovers out there would be thrilled to add them to our “to be read” list!

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40891_1381959640245_1569575144_30796630_633978_nJennifer Swanson is a  self-professed science geek and the author of over 20 nonfiction books for kids. You can find her at her website at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com

 

April New Releases!

Spring has sprung!   Time to get out your lawn chairs and go soak up some sun. Don’t forget to take along a good book. If you need some recommendations, check out these shiny news ones here:

(including one from our very own MUF-er  Tricia Springstubb!)
 Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick)

For whimsical Cody, many things are beautiful, especially ants who say hello by rubbing feelers. But nothing is as beautiful as the first day of summer vacation, and Cody doesn’t want to waste one minute of it. Meanwhile, teenage brother Wyatt is moping over a girl, Mom is stressed about her new job as Head of Shoes, Dad is off hauling chairs in his long-distance truck, and even camp has been closed for the summer. What to do? Just when all seems lost, Cody bumps into a neighborhood boy named Spencer who is looking for a runaway cat. With a new friend and a soon-to-be-found cat, Cody is on her way to the fountain of happiness.

 

The 39-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (Fiewel & Friends)

Andy and Terry are once again inviting readers to come hang out with them in their astonishing 39-story treehouse (it used to be 13 stories, then 26 stories, but they keep expanding). And this year they will have even more time to jump on the world’s highest trampoline, toast marshmallows in an active volcano, swim in the chocolate waterfall, pet baby dinosaurs, and go head-to-trunk with the Trunkinator, since Terry has created the greatest invention that he–or anyone else–has ever invented . . . a Once-upon-a-time machine that will write and illustrate their entire book for them!
What are you waiting for? Come on up!

 

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission  by  Judith Viorst (Atheneum BFYR)

Lulu has put her tantrum-throwing days behind her. That is, until her parents announce that they are going on vacation–WITHOUT LULU. Not only that, but they are leaving her with the formidable Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky, who says hello by bellowing, “The Eagle has landed,” and smiles at you with the kind of smile that an alligator might give you before eating you for dinner.
The second her parents are out of the house, Lulu tries out several elaborate schemes to bring them straight back. But just when she seems to finally be making some headway, her babysitter reveals an astonishing secret…one that has Lulu crossing her fingers that her parents will go on vacation “all the time”–without her.

 

The Black Reckoning by John Stephens  (Knopf BFYR) 
The final book in the bestselling Books of Beginning trilogy that began with The Emerald Atlas, which theNew York Times called “a new Narnia for the tween set.”

The adventures of siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma come to a stunning conclusion when they must find the last Book of Beginning—the Book of Death—before the Dire Magnus does, for when all three books are united, their combined power will be unstoppable.

 

 

Ever After High: Kiss and Spell by Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown BFYR)

What’s a girl to do when she accidentally turns her crush into a frog? Ginger Breadhouse had a hard time growing up with the Candy Witch for a mom. It’s not easy making friends if everyone believes your mom tried to cook Hansel and Gretel! But now that Ginger’s attending Ever After High, she has a chance to forge her own path, and she’s trying to make a name for herself as the host of the MirrorCast show Spells Kitchen. The problem is, she needs viewers!

 

Ellie’s Story by W. Bruce Cameron (Starscape)
Ellie is a very special dog with a very important purpose. From puppyhood, Ellie has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog. She can track down a lost child in a forest or an injured victim under a fallen building. She finds people. She saves them. It’s what she was meant to do.But Ellie must do more. Her handlers–widowed Jakob, lonely Maya–need her too. People can be lost in many ways, and to do the job she was born to do, Ellie needs to find a way to save the people she loves best.

My Life as a Gamer by Janet Tashjian  (Henry Holt BFYR)

Derek Fallon gets the chance of a lifetime–to participate in a gaming company focus group and to test out a new video game called “Arctic Ninja.” Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek thinks his gaming talents will be showcased. But he soon realizes that everyone has got him beat, including whiz kid El Cid. On top of that, school reading tests have begun and Derek feels doubly off his game. Isn’t there anything he’s good at?

 

 

Miss Mayhem by  Rachel Hawkins (G.P. Putnam’s BFYR)

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

 

The Loch Nest Punster by Kate Klise (Harcourt Brace & Co.)

In the seventh and final installment of the popular 43 Old Cemetery Road series, twelve-year-old Seymour Hope has inherited a castle in Loch Ness, Scotland. It could be the perfect summer vacation spot for Seymour and his parents, Olive C. Spence and Ignatius B. Grumply. But Iggy wants nothing to do with the castle. Why? Because it was owned by his uncle Ian, a world-famous psychiatrist and the world’s worst punster. So Iggy stays home to write, and Seymour and Olive set off for Scotland–each with a secret.

 

 

Evil Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster BFYR)

When Ben gets kicked out of the CIA’s spy school, he enrolls with the enemy. This companion to Spy School and Spy Camp is rife with action, adventure, and espionage.
During a spy school game of Capture the Flag, twelve-year-old Ben Ripley somehow accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office—and immediately gets himself expelled. Not long after going back to the boring old real world, Ben gets recruited by evil crime organization SPYDER. And he accepts

 

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant (Random House BFYR)

Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!

 

Woof by Spencer Quinn (Scholastic Press)

Spencer Quinn speaks two languages — suspense and dog — fluently.” — Stephen King
There is trouble brewing in the Louisiana swamp — Bowser can smell it. Bowser is a very handsome and only slightly slobbery dog, and he can smell lots of things. Like bacon. And rawhide chews And the sweat on humans when they’re lying.
Birdie Gaux, the girl Bowser lives with, also knows something is wrong. It’s not just that her grammy’s stuffed prize marlin has been stolen. It’s the weird rumor that the marlin is linked to a missing treasure. It’s the truck that seems to be following Birdie and the bad feeling on the back of her neck.
When Birdie and Bowser start digging into the mystery, not even Bowser’s powerful sniffer can smell just how menacing the threat is. And when the danger comes straight for Birdie, Bowser knows it up to him to sic ’em.

 

The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each other)

by Geoff Rodkey  (Little, Brown BFYR)

This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

 

The Year of Three Sisters by  Andrea Cheng (HMH BFYR)

Astute Anna discovers that sisterhood really can cross continents and cultures in this heartwarming fourth book in the Anna Wang series. Patrice Barton’s lively and warm illustrations bring Anna’s story to life.

 

Graceful by Wendy Mass (Scholastic Press)

An exciting new story in the bestselling Willow Falls series from Wendy Mass
Angelina D’Angelo has left town to see the world. It’s now Grace’s turn to use her magic to protect the people of Willow Falls, and she is up to the challenge. This is her destiny, after all. But destiny is a funny thing-it doesn’t always behave the way you’d expect it to.
Mysterious postcards from Angelina begin showing up in the mail, Grace’s parents are freaking out with worry, and something BIG is coming to town that will affect everybody who lives there. But all Grace is powerful enough to do is turn leftover meatloaf into pizza.
Fortunately, she’s not alone. She has Team Grace on her side Amanda, Leo, Rory, Tara, David, and Connor know a thing or two about magic and how it works. But none of them are prepared for what’s coming, and none of them know how to stop it. Life in Willow Falls is about to change forever.

 

The Adventures of Tabitha and Sparky by R.W. Deane (Yellow Iris Press)

This is a delightful story of the unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog. A story comprised of poems and adventures. Tabitha is a very curious cat, always eager to find out about things that are often none of her business, which continually gets her into trouble. Sparky, on the other hand, is more sensible and reliable, and between the two of them they share many adventures which teach life long lessons.

Winner of Sarah Albee book giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS to

Rosi Hollenbeck!

She is the winner of a signed copy of Sarah Albee’s new book   Why’d They Wear That?

You will be receiving an email shortly, Rosi.

And a  HUGE thank you to Sarah Albee and also everyone who participated in this giveaway and especially for sharing the craziest outfit you ever wore with us!