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    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...
 

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

April 11, 2014:
Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

April 9, 2014:
How many Newbery winners have you read?
You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

March 28, 2014:
Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

February 14, 2014:
Cybils Awards announced
Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

November 9, 2013:
Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

October 14, 2013:
Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
Read more ...

September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

September 16, 2013:
National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

August 21, 2013:
Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

August 19, 2013:
S&S and BN reach a deal
Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

August 6, 2013:
NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

 
July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

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  • July New Releases

    Book Lists

    To help you kick back into summer, here’s a list of the latest middle grade books published in July. Congratulations to Mixed-Up Files member, Kimberley Griffiths Little, on her latest release!

    Mixed-Up Files Member Releases

    The Time of the Fireflies (Scholastic) – Kimberley Griffiths Little. Critically acclaimed author Kimberley Griffiths Little spins a thrilling story of one girl’s race to unravel the curse that has haunted her family for generations. When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family’s antique shop, she knows she’s in for a strange summer. A series of clues leads her to the muddy river banks, where clouds of fireflies dance among the cypress knees and cattails each evening at twilight. The fireflies are beautiful and mysterious, and they take her on a magical journey through time, where Larissa learns secrets about her family’s tragic past — deadly, curse-ridden secrets that could harm the future of her family as she knows it. It soon becomes clear that it is up to Larissa to prevent history from repeating itself and a fatal tragedy from striking the people she loves.

     

    Other Releases

    The Fourth Wish: The Art of Wishing: Book 2 (Kathy Dawson Books) – Lindsay Ribar. Here’s what Margo McKenna knows about genies: She’s seen Aladdin more times than she can count; she’s found a magic genie ring and made her three allotted wishes; she’s even fallen head over heels in love with Oliver, the cute genie whose life she saved by fighting off another genie. But none of this prepared her for the shock of becoming a genie herself. Everything Margo’s taken for granted–graduating high school, going to college, hating math, performing in the school musical, even being a girl–is in question. Just at a time when she’s trying to figure out who she wants to be, Margo is forced to become whomever her master wants. But Margo is also coming into a power she never imagined she’d have. How will she reconcile the two? And where will she and Oliver stand when she’s done?

    The Hypnotists Book 2: Memory Maze (Scholastic) – Gordon Korman. Jax Opus knows he’s not like other kids. And it isn’t his skill on the basketball court or his test scores that set him apart. No, Jax is different because he can hypnotize people. In fact, he might be the best hypnotist the world has seen in a very long time. You would think Jax would be happy about this. But really? It’s ruining his life. He and his family are hiding from a master hypnotist who wants Jax out of the picture . . . forever. And the FBI is also starting to ask questions about Jax and his abilities. Jax thinks life might be getting a little better when a very rich, very powerful man asks him to help out with something. The reward will be great. And the price — well, the price is that Jax starts taking on the man’s memories. And some of them are pretty deadly.

     Shipwreck Island (Feiwel & Friends) – S.A. Bodeen. Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it. Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

     Marion Strikes a Pose (The Critter Club) (Little Simon) – Callie Barkley. Fashionista Marion enters a styling competition in the eighth book of the Critter Club series—but will she regret helping out one of her competitors? Marion is so excited. There’s an upcoming kids’ fashion show for charity, and the students at Santa Vista Elementary get to style an outfit for it! Since only one design from each grade will get picked for the show, Marion knows she has to win. So she’s surprised when a girl named Olivia asks her for some style advice. Marion agrees to help Olivia, and actually has fun doing it! But problems arise when Marion realizes that Olivia has designed the exact outfit Marion had planned to present to the judges. So Marion tells a little white lie in order to get her way. At first, she is excited to impress the judges, but soon, another feeling creeps up on her. Is it guilt? Will Marion tell Olivia what she did? And whose outfit will get picked for the fashion show? Plus, Marion deals with taking care of some frogs at The Critter Club!

     The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince (Disney Press) – Serena Valentino. A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp–like a beast’s! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?

     

    The Secret of the Key (Random House) – Chicago sixth graders Ruthie and Jack think they’ve learned everything about the magic of the Art Institute’s Thorne Rooms. But the magic starts to act strangely when Ruthie and Jack discover two rings that are out of place—and out of time—and a portal that shouldn’t be open but somehow is. Ruthie and Jack follow the clues to seventeenth-century England and the Brownlow house, where they meet the Brownlow’s governess, Rebecca. But Rebecca has a few secrets of her own—and she might even be in the wrong century! Can Ruthie and Jack discover the truth about Rebecca’s mysterious past, or will they end up stuck in the wrong century themselves? Their quest for answers takes them from 1930s New York City and San Francisco to turn-of-the-century China. The only one who can truly answer their questions may be the woman who started it all: the room’s creator, Narcissa Thorne. But to talk to Mrs. Thorne, they’ll have to go back in time and find her!

    The Map Trap (Atheneum) – Andrew Clements. This map-tastic middle grade story from Andrew Clements gives the phrase “uncharted territory” a whole new meaning! Alton Barnes loves maps. He’s loved them ever since he was little, and not just for the geography. Because maps contain more information than just locations, and that’s why he likes to draw maps as well as read them. Regular “point A to point B” ones, sure, but also maps that explain a whole lot more—like what he really thinks about his friends. And teachers. Even the principal.So when Alton’s maps are stolen from his locker, there’s serious trouble on the horizon…and he’ll need some mad cartographic skills to escape it.

    The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher(Delacorte) – Dana Alison Levy. Meet the Fletchers. Their year will be filled with new schools, old friends, a grouchy neighbor, hungry skunks, leaking ice rinks, school plays, wet cats, and scary tales told in the dark!There’s Sam, age twelve, who’s mostly interested in soccer, food, and his phone; Jax, age ten, who’s psyched for fourth grade and thinks the new neighbor stinks, and not just because of the skunk; Eli, age ten (but younger than Jax), who’s thrilled to be starting this year at the Pinnacle School, where everyone’s the smart kid; and Frog (not his real name), age six, who wants everyone in kindergarten to save a seat for his invisible cheetah. Also Dad and Papa. WARNING: This book contains cat barf, turtle pee, and some really annoying homework assignments.

    The Shadow Lantern (Blackhope Enigma) (Templar) – Teresa Flavin. When a mysterious oil lantern and a box of painted slides appear at Blackhope Tower, Sunni and Blaise are drawn back to the place where their adventures first began. When they discover that the slides conceal secrets about artist-magician Fausto Corvo, the pair find themselves once again caught up in a deadly pursuit. An old enemy is still tracking Corvo and will stop at nothing to find him. Sunni and Blaise must fight to protect Corvo’s secrets and rid themselves of Soranzo’s evil threat once and for all.

     Galaxy’s Most Wanted (HarperCollins) – John Kloepfer. Aliens Attack! When science-camp buddies Kevin, Warner, Tara, and TJ summon alien life to earth, they quickly find out that not all extraterrestrials come in peace. Can they stop an alien takeover and save the world in time to win the Invention Convention? John Kloepfer, author of the popular Zombie Chasers books, has done it again. Galaxy’s Most Wantedhas a fast-paced, silly plot full of sidesplitting descriptions, a cast of diverse and endearing characters, and a slew of creepy-crawly aliens oozing off the page. With out-of-this-world black-and-white illustrations by Nick Edwards throughout, the first book in this new series is going to blast off!

     Oliver and the Seawigs (Random House) – Philip Reeve. When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?

     Earthquake: San Francisco, 1906 (Survivors) (Aladdin) – Karen A. Bale and Kathleen Duey. Can two kids survive the biggest disaster of 1906? Brendan O’Connor is delivering pastries to the bustling businesses and elegant hotels of San Francisco, dreaming that someday he will be part of that life. Li Dai Yue is running from the isolated security of Chinatown, distraught over the marriage her uncle has arranged for her. Chance throws them together on the day of the San Francisco earthquake. Can two strangers from such different worlds work together to survive the terror of crumbling buildings, fire, looting, and chaos?

     Case File #1 First Contact (Rabbids Invasion) (Simon Spotlight) – David Lewman. The Rabbids are crazy, silly, and hilarious—and in this start to an illustrated chapter book series, they’re under investigation! The Rabbids have landed their yellow submarine–shaped spacecraft on Earth, and they are all set to wreak havoc everywhere they go. That is, unless the SGAII-RD (Secret Government Agency Intruder Investigations—Rabbids Division) can stop them!

     Case File #2 New Developments (Rabbids Invasion) (Simon Spotlight) – David Lewman. In this second book of the hilarious and zany illustrated chapter book series, Agent Glyker continues his mission to capture a Rabbid and figure out what they’re all about.Special Agent Glyker is hard at work tracking down the Rabbids—his job depends on it! Agent Glyker’s scary boss, Mr. Stern (who also happens to be his uncle), has issued him an ultimatum: capture a Rabbid OR ELSE! But just when it seems like things might finally go Agent Glyker’s way, he has to choose between saving his job or saving his boss. What will the secret agent do?

      The XYZs of Being Wicked (Aladdin) – Lara Chapman. When a young witch goes off to boarding school, she discovers powers that leave her with a challenging choice. Eleven-year-old Hallie is more thrilled than you might think to be shipping off to boarding school. After seeing how horrible “normal” kids can be—kids like her former BFF, Kendall Scott—Hallie figures The Dowling Academy School of Witchcraft will be a welcome fresh start. Plus, it’s a chance to make her dad proud that she’s continuing family traditions and becoming the best kind of witch, just like her legendary great-great-grandmother. But when Hallie arrives at Dowling, she’s dismayed to discover her roommate will be none other than awful Kendall. And when Hallie’s witching talents take a turn for the dark side, she must determine whether it’s abilities or choices that distinguish the good from the wicked.

     Slaves of Socorro (Brotherband Chronicles) (Philomel) – John A. Flanagan. Hal and his fellow Herons have returned home to Skandia after defeating the pirate captain Zavac and reclaiming Skandia’s most prized artifact, the Andomal. With their honor restored, the Herons turn to a new mission: tracking down an old rival turned bitter enemy. Tursgud—leader of the Shark Brotherband and Hal’s constant opponent—has turned from a bullying youth into a pirate and slave trader. After Tursgud captures twelve Araluen villagers to sell as slaves, the Heron crew sails into action . . . with the help of one of Araluen’s finest Rangers!

    Found Things (Atheneum) – Marilyn Hilton. One morning, River Rose Byrne wakes up talking like nobody else, and she doesn’t know why. Maybe it’s because her beloved older brother, Theron, has abruptly vanished. Maybe it’s because that bully Daniel Bunch won’t leave her alone. Or maybe it has everything to do with the eerily familiar house that her mind explores when she’s asleep, and the mysterious woman who lives there. River has to puzzle through these mysteries on her own until she makes a strange new friend named Meadow Lark. But when she brings Meadow Lark home and her mother reacts in a way that takes River by surprise, River is more lost than before. Now all that’s left for her to do is make wish after wish—and keep her eyes open for a miracle.

    Skies Like These (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Tess Hilmo. Twelve-year-old Jade’s perfect summers have always been spent reading and watching TV reruns, so she’s not happy when her parents send her off to Wyoming to her aunt’s house. She meets a boy who calls himself Roy Parker—just like the real name of the legendary rebel cowboy Butch Cassidy. Roy’s dad’s hardware store has closed because a chain store has opened up in town, and Roy thinks it is just like the big cattle barons in Butch’s day who put the local ranchers out of business. He wants Jade to be his Sundance Kid and help him pull some stunts worthy of Butch Cassidy. Sabotage the big store? Outsmart the store’s owner by doing reconnaissance on his ranch? Jade wants to be a good friend, but she’s not so sure about Roy’s schemes.

      Trash Can Nights (Disney Hyperion) – Teddy Steinkellner. Jake Schwartz is back at San Paulo Junior High completely unprepared for his new celebrity status as the-boy-who-survived-a-gang-brawl. Facing unwanted attention from both foes and fanatics, Jake is out to make some changes-for better, or for worse. On the Eastside of town, Jake’s former best friend, Danny Uribe, has stepped up in the ranks of the local gang, the Raiders. Now that Danny is calling the shots, he has to start making some tough decisions. Life as a Raider may not be all that Danny thought it would be. Meanwhile, Hannah Schwartz is starting a new school year at Costa Blanca Preparatory Academy. No longer perched at the top of the social ladder, Hannah must fight for her position on the popularity pole. But frenemies have set their sights on Hannah, and they won’t make it easy for her to get ahead. And as for Dorothy Wu, no one is as excited as she is about starting the eighth grade. With her new drama class friends and her boyfriend, Prince Jacobim, by her side, what else could a Wu ask for? But Dorothy has never navigated rocky relationship waters before. Can she help save Jake from the moody blues? Or will Dorothy end up dumped in the trash can, too?

    All Four Stars (Putnam Juvenile) – Tara Dairman. Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world. But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

      The Meta-Rise (Bot Wars) (Dial) -J.V. Kade. Trout St. Kroix can’t believe that his half-human/half-robot father is the leader of the Meta-Rise, the robot civil rights movement. Trout can’t even enjoy being a Bot Territory celebrity, because it also puts his whole family in danger. Ratch, a robot and former friend, has found a way to take control of robot Thinkchips, and under Ratch’s control, all bots—including Trout’s dad—would become Ratch’s drones. CanTrout—and his friends Vee and Tellie Rix, along with brother Po—find a way to stop Ratch before Trout loses his father all over again?

     Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting (A 14 Day Mystery) (Dial) – Erin Dionne. While at Wilderness camp on the Boston Harbor Islands, Ollie must navigate new friends, new enemies, and a high-stakes game of tag, so the last thing he needs is a mystery. But then Ollie meets Grey, an elusive girl with knowledge of the island’s secrets, including the legend of a lost pirate treasure, which may not be a legend after all. The sidekick steps into the spotlight as Ollie uses his wits and geocaching skills to keep long-lost treasure out of the wrong hands in this exciting adventure-mystery from fan-favorite middle grade author Erin Dionne.

    Twice As Nice #4 (Almost Identical) (Grosset & Dunlap) – Lin Oliver. After double-crossing her friends to support her twin sister, Charlie is out of the popular group. But now her school has announced that they are accepting applications for a new school Junior Booster club–one in which members will get to shadow the Senior Boosters, receive tickets to all the high school football games, and of course, get to meet the cute football players. The popular kids need Charlie to fit the requirements: good grades, an interest in sports, and community service. Charlie’s flattered, but are the girls just using her to get what they want?

     Stick Dog Chases a Pizza (HarperCollins) – Tom Watson. In Stick Dog Chases a Pizza, Tom Watson’s hilarious follow-up to Stick Dog and Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog, Stick Dog returns with the same crazy crew. This time these canine friends have discovered a newfangled flavor—and it’s even more delicious than hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s pizza! And they won’t be satisfied until they get some slices of their own. But it won’t be that easy. There’s a kitten to rescue, a plan to make, and the messiest—and most dangerous—game of catch they’ve ever played. Pizza is on the menu, but only if their mission succeeds. Perfect for fans of Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the previous Stick Dog books.

     My Zombie Hamster (EgmontUSA) – Havelock McCreely. A laugh-out-loud funny middle-grade debut with a scary twist, My Zombie Hamster will appeal to readers who like their animal stories mixed with chills. Fans of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps Most Wanted series will grab this one right up. Matt Hunter and his buddies are looking forward to Christmas–actually, they’re looking forward to receiving the latest sword-and-fantasy video game. But Matt’s parents have other thoughts–they give him a fluffy little mammal, a hamster called Snuffles, for the holiday. And his grandmother makes it worse by giving him a hamster cage and wheel. But the hamster isn’t all that cute–at least not after part of its cheek and belly fall right off–without bothering it a bit! And why is it staring at Matt with black beady eyes and a lean and hungry look?

     Stop the Presses! (Dear Know-It-All) (Simon Spotlight) – Rachel Wise. Sam’s love of newsprint clashes with her love for the planet—and her BFF—in a Dear Know-It-All conflict of newsworthy proportions! When Sam hears Cherry Valley Middle School is “going green,” she is delighted. Saving the Earth is very important to Sam, plus, she knows she can get a great story out of it. But that’s before she finds out one of the environmentally friendly suggestions is to stop printing The Cherry Valley Voice! Who would dare to suggest that the school newspaper be published only online? When she discovers the idea came from her BFF, Hailey, Sam gets even more upset. How will Dear Know-It-All solve this total disagreement?

      Swatch Out! (Sew Zoey) (Simon Spotlight) – Chloe Taylor. As the summer ends, Zoey thinks something’s fishy—so she’s making waves! Includes “Sew Zoey” blog posts and fashion illustrations. In the eighth book of the Sew Zoey series, for Zoey Webber, the end of summer means beach trips, concerts, and lots of time to sew. She’s making clothes for her friend Libby’s little sister, pillows for her friend Priti’s new bedroom, and a surprise for her brother’s rock band. It all seems to be going swimmingly, but under the surface, things are getting rough. Libby is frustrated that her little sister won’t leave her alone, Priti is struggling with getting a great new bedroom for a not-so-great reason, and Zoey hurts people’s feelings when she tries to figure out why her fabric swatches keep disappearing. Then someone unexpected shows up at Zoey’s front door…

    Latitude Zero (Viking) – Diana Renn. That’s what Tessa promises. But by two o’clock, young Ecuadorian cycling superstar Juan Carlos is dead, and Tessa, one of the last people ever to speak to him, is left with nothing but questions. The media deems Juan Carlos’s death a tragic accident at a charity bike ride, but Tessa, an aspiring investigative journalist herself, knows that something more is going on. While she grapples with her own grief and guilt, she is being stalked by spies with an insidious connection to the dead cycling champion. Tessa’s pursuit of an explanation for Juan Carlos’s untimely death leads her from the quiet New England backwoods to bustling bike shops and ultimately to Ecuador itself, Juan Carlos’s homeland. As the ride grows bumpy, Tessa no longer knows who’s a suspect and who is an ally. The only thing she knows for sure is that she must uncover the truth of why Juan Carlos has died and race to find the real villain—before the trail goes cold.

     

    3 Comments

    On Being a Spy

    Book Lists, Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    I’m one of those adults who never read Harriet the Spy during my childhood. In her review of the 50th anniversary edition of the book, Hillary Busis from Entertainment Weekly observes that “Harriet M. Welsh would eat Anne of Green Gables for lunch.” Probably so. And as an eleven year old, I had happily read and ingested all the Anne books. So chances are I wouldn’t have liked Harriet all that much then.

    A few months ago I finally read Harriet on the recommendation of a writing student. And when I first started, I didn’t like Harriet at all. I found her appalling and unsympathetic. Here was a girl who makes the most terrible observations about people – about their minds, about their bodies, about the bleak futures she foresaw them having – and writes them down in her notebook. No one is spared, not her loved ones, her friends, her teachers, or strangers on the street. On top of that, she’s rude, self-involved, and spies on people – sneaking into their homes, peeking into windows. Why? Because she wants to be a writer, and to be a good writer is to be a good spy.

    Now being a writer, naturally that idea stopped me. And I have to say, it interested me, too. So I kept reading, through Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. By the end, I was completely enthralled by the sheer bravado of this story.

    This year marks the 50th year anniversary of Harriet the Spy, a book written by Louise Fitzhugh and edited by the legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom. Many regard Harriet as one of the most influential books in children’s literature, and rightly so. Harriet is a completely new kind of character: flawed, brash, someone who speaks her mind, and who isn’t afraid to be a “truth teller” as Jonathan Franzen notes, no matter what the price. Instead of being a role model in manners, she’s a role model in ideas.

    As a writer, this book made me think deeply about what it means to write for an audience. How does one find truth and represent it on paper? As a child, I too, kept a notebook, just like Harriet. I called it a journal, but it was a place where I wrote down my thoughts. But unlike Harriet, at even a very early age, I understood what it meant to be caught. I didn’t take my journal everywhere, I never left it lying around the house for anyone to see. Instead, I kept it hidden in my room.

    Most of all, from day one, I edited. I left out the parts that could truly incriminate me. Throughout the rest of my childhood, all the way through college, I continued my journals, and I continued self-editing.

    During my MA in fiction program at Boston University, the ten of us would sit in class reading each other’s short stories, and wonder every time, was this a thinly veiled autobiography of the person we were reading? Did this embarrassment, this disappointment, this failed relationship in the story, actually happen to the writer? We filled in shadows, connected the dots, no matter how unfairly, because speculation led that way. And knowing that, I continued editing myself.

    But Harriet, as a fictional character, never does this. She never edits, she never lies in her notebook. She never lies at all. And perhaps the lesson is there. Especially when what happens to Harriet is that her notebook full of sharp, unflattering observations of her friends and classmates, is eventually found and read in class, and suddenly Harriet is faced with the consequences.

    I’ve read many reviews of Harriet in recent days, and while most of them focus on the groundbreaking character of Harriet, few mention the other reason this book is so compelling – it’s a masterfully written novel. It’s a story where the stakes are high, and where Harriet loses not one, but two of the most important things in her life, and how she recovers with her integrity intact.

    Harriet the Spy is great book for anyone who wants to think about the challenges of being an honest writer. But it’s also a great lesson in storytelling, and how to build relationships between characters, like the one between Harriet and her nurse, Ole Golly, the most important person in her life who leaves her midway in the book. In creating Harriet, Fitzhugh and her brilliant editor forged a new kind of story, an audacious one that pulls at us and makes us squirm, and then makes us want to be better writers.

    1 Comment

    April New Releases

    Book Lists, New Releases

    Welcome to another month of brand-new middle-grade releases. We’ve arranged them by category, but first let’s start with one of our own MUF members. Congratulations MICHELE WEBER HURWITZ on your latest release!

    The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days (Wendy Lamb Books) –  Michele Weber Hurwitz. It’s summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother’s busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn’t know what “her thing” is yet, it’s definitely not shopping and makeup. And it’s not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute? This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.

     CONTEMPORARY

    Fish Finelli (Book 2): Operation Fireball (Chronicle) – E.S. Farber. When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper—even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix their measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance at the Classic?

    Alice-Miranda At Sea (Delacorte) – Jacqueline Harvey. Alice-Miranda is set for a luxurious cruise aboard the royal yacht Octavia, where Aunty Gee is hosting the wedding of Aunt Charlotte and Lawrence Ridley. Even Ambrosia Headlington-Bear has come along, much to her daughter Jacinta’s surprise. Wild weather and rumors of a jewel thief throw the travelers into turmoil, but something else is giving Alice-Miranda one of her strange feelings. Why does the ship’s doctor look so familiar? And who is the shy blond boy hiding in one of the cabins? When Alice-Miranda seeks help from an unexpected source, will she and her helper manage to set things right in time for the celebrations?

    Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout (Candlewick) -Megan McDonald. Judy and Stink and the whole Moody family hunker down with beans and batteries, ready to wait out the storm. But along with massive rain and strong winds, Hurricane Elmer throws down ghosts, squirrels, and aliens. Spooky! Just when things couldn’t possibly get any freakier — flicker, flicker, gulp! — the lights go O-U-T out. The Moodys are smack-dab in the middle of a big bad blackout! Grandma Lou proposes musical board games and some good old-fashioned storytelling. Will Hurricane Elmer go down in Moody family history as bad news, a happy memory, or simply an LBS (Long Boring Story)?

    Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere (Chronicle) – Julie T. Lamana. Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

    There Will Be Bears (Candlewick) – Ryan Gebhart. Thirteen-year-old Tyson loves hanging out with his roughneck Grandpa Gene, who’s a lot more fun than Tyson’s ex–best friend, Brighton. These days, Bright just wants to be seen with the cool jocks who make fun of Tyson’s Taylor Swift obsession and dorky ways. So when Grandpa Gene has to move to a nursing home that can manage his kidney disease, Tyson feels like he’s losing his only friend. Not only that, but Tyson was counting on Grandpa Gene to take him on his first big hunt. So in defiance of Mom and Dad’s strict orders, and despite reports of a scary, stalking, man-eating grizzly named Sandy, the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons. Yes, there will be action, like shooting and dressing a six-hundred-pound elk. Is Tyson tough enough? There will be heart-pounding suspense: is Grandpa Gene too sick to handle the hunt, miles away from help? And, oh yes, there will be bears. . . .

    MYSTERY

    Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (HMH Books for Young Readers) – Marcia Wells. Art, mystery, fun and friendship, combine in this illustrated middle grade series debut. Sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, codename “Eddie Red,” has a photographic memory and talent for drawing anything he sees. When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case, drawing Eddie deeper into New York’s famous Museum Mile and closer to a dangerous criminal group known as The Picasso Gang.

    Lantern Sam and the Blue Streak Bandits (Knopf) – Michael D. Beil. Lantern Sam is the wise-cracking, sarcastic, talking cat (for those who can hear him, that is) who lives onboard the Lake Erie Shoreliner train and is one of the best detectives no one knows about. He doesn’t have much patience for humans (unless they bring him sardines), but when 10-year-old traveler Henry can’t find his new friend, the exuberant Ellie, Sam’s enlisted to help. A ransom note is soon discovered and just like that, Sam and Henry are on the case, with the help of Clarence the Conductor (who supplies Sam’s sardines). But is Ellie still on board the train? Did the salesman with his trunk full of samples sneak her off? And why does that couple keep acting so suspicious?

     Poached (FunJungle) (Simon & Schuster) – Stuart Gibbs. School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry. Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit. Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.

    The Tribe, Book 2 Camp Cannibal (A Tribe Novel) (Disney Hyperion) – Clay McLeod Chapman. Since being expelled for giving the Greenfield Middle School student body an “explosive” case of food poisoning and sent to live with his father, Spencer Pendleton hasn’t exactly been doing his best to put the past behind him and settle into his new life. What with losing the girl-of-his-dreams, Sully, and gaining a there-but-still-absentee father, his life still has a few kinks to work out. And when his single-minded quest to track down the Tribe and reunite with Sully lands him at camp New Leaf, Spencer is convinced things can’t get much worse. WRONG! Not only is Camp New Leaf no ordinary camp, but it appears that the Tribe hasn’t laid the past to rest, either. And what better place to catch up with an old member-or recruit a few new ones-than a secluded camp for “troubled” boys. With rebellion in the air, Spencer must find a way to stop the Tribe’s plans to put down roots and expand its ranks before someone gets seriously hurt-or worse.

    ♦  Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret (Simon & Schuster) – Tim Kehoe. When his dad’s book turns out to contain deadly secrets, twelve-year-old Furious Jones is thrust into a web of mystery and danger in this gripping page-turner. Furious Jones, the twelve-year-old son of a famous thriller writer, lives with his grandfather after his mother was mysteriously gunned down right in front of him a year ago. Curious to know more about his estranged dad, he goes to see him speak about his upcoming novel to a packed audience—and to his shock and horror, he witnesses his father get shot as well.

    FANTASY

    Whatever After #5: Bad Hair Day (Scholastic) – Sarah Mlynowski. Fifth installment. This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Rapunzel. When the siblings get the famous tale all tangled up, they have to find a way to set things right . . . with hilarious results! With quick thinking and a bit of magic, can Abby and Jonah turn this bad hair day around? Find out in this whimsical adventure!

    The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw (Walden Pond Press) – Christopher Healy. Last in the series. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

    Curiosity (Dial) – Gary Blackwood. Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them?

    The Luck Uglies (HarperCollins) – Paul Durham. Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye’s only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can’t be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning’s maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she’ll discover the truth behind the village’s legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

    The Islands of Chaldea (Greenwillow) – Diana Wynne Jones. Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen’s magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she’ll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms.

    The Boundless (Simon & Schuster) – Kenneth Oppel. The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life! When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past. In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

    The Eighth Day (HarperCollins) – Dianne K. Salerni. When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it’s the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he’s really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who’s been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.And there’s a reason Evangeline’s hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.

    The Klaatu Terminus (Klaatu Diskos) (Candlewick) – Pete Hautman. National Book Award winner Pete Hautman weaves several diverging time streams into one satisfying masterwork in this stunning and revelatory series finale. In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?

    West of the Moon (Amulet) – Margi Preus. In West of the Moon, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Margi Preus expertly weaves original fiction with myth and folktale to tell the story of Astri, a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America. After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.

    Once Upon a Midnight Eerie: Book #2 (Misadventures of Edgar/Allan) (Viking) – Gordon McAlpine. In The Tell-Tale Start, Edgar and Allan Poe (great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the legendary Edgar Allan Poe) managed to outwit the nefarious Professor P. Pangborn Perry, who was (and is) determined to kill just one of them, in order to prove a mad scientific theory. Now the boys are in New Orleans, about to play the young Poe in a feature film. But the role may cost them their lives, because now someone else wants them dead. But who? And can the twins—with the help of their co-stars, Em and Milly Dickinson, their ghostly forebear, and a pair of real ghosts—manage to outwit them?

    The Forbidden Library (Kathy Dawson Books) – Django Wexler. When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within. It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

    In the Shadows (Scholastic) – Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo. Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch. Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t. Arthur is also new to the boarding house. His fate is tied to that of Cora, Minnie, Thomas, and Charles. He knows what darkness circles them, but can’t say why, and doesn’t even know if they can be saved. Sinister forces are working in the shadows, manipulating fates and crafting conspiracies. The closer Cora, Minnie, Arthur, Thomas, and Charles get to the truth, the closer they get to harm. But the threat is much bigger than they can see. It is strangling the world. Until one of the boys decides he wants to save it.

    ♦  Saving Lucas Biggs (HarperCollins) – Marisa de los Santos, David Teague. Thirteen-year-old Margaret knows her father is innocent, but that doesn’t stop the cruel Judge Biggs from sentencing him to death. Margaret is determined to save her dad, even if it means using her family’s secret—and forbidden—ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man. But with the forces of history working against her, will Margaret be able to change the past? Or will she be pushed back to a present in which her father is still doomed?

    ♦  She Is Not Invisible (Roaring Brook Press) – Marcus Sedgwick. Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

    ♦  The Vanishing Coin (Magic Shop) (Feiwel & Friends) – Kate Egan, Mike Lane. Fourth grade was supposed to be a fresh start, but Mike’s already back in the principal’s office. He’s not a bad kid. He just can’t sit still. And now, his parents won’t let him play soccer anymore; instead he has to hang out with his new neighbor Nora, who is good at everything! Then, Mike and Nora discover the White Rabbit. It’s an odd shop—with a special secret inside. Its owner, Mr. Zerlin, is a magician, and, amazingly, he believes Mike could be a magician, too. Has Mike finally found something he’s good at?

    ♦  The Incredible Twisting Arm (Magic Shop) (Feiwel & Friends) – Kate Egan, Mike Lane. Life is a little easier for Mike now that he’s found The White Rabbit magic shop. But after missing a special show from a visiting magician, Mike realizes h needs a way to get to the shop by himself. Unfortunately, he’s exhausted after only a week of being a model student, and Nora, his magician assistant and expert on good behavior, is distracted by a new friendship. Convincing his parents he’s responsible enough to ride his bike downtown alone will take a miracle…or maybe, magic.

    ♦  Fluff Dragon (Bad Unicorn) (Aladdin) – Platte F. Clark. Second book in series. After defeating a killer unicorn and saving a universe, all Max and his friends want to do is go home. Instead, Max discovers that the Codex of Infinite Knowability has stopped working. He can’t use it to get home until he reboots it. The problem is that in order to reboot the book, he’s going to have to carry it into the heart of Rezormoor Dreadbringer’s Wizard’s Tower. Since Dreadbringer has been hunting Max and the book across time and space, getting in may be easy, but getting out will be another story. Max will just have to find a way to sneak into the tower, avoid the guards, escape Dreadbringer’s clutches, and figure out exactly where inside the tower the Codex was created. No problem…right?!

    File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents (All the Wrong Questions) (Little, Brown) – Lemony Snicket. Paintings have been falling off of walls, a loud and loyal dog has gone missing, a specter has been seen walking the pier at midnight — strange things are happening all over the town of Stain’d-By-The-Sea. Called upon to investigate thirteen suspicious incidents, young Lemony Snicket collects clues, questions witnesses, and cracks every case. Join the investigation and tackle the mysteries alongside Snicket, then turn to the back of the book to see the solution revealed.

    Greetings from the Graveyard (43 Old Cemetery Road) (HMH Books for Young Readers) – Kate Klise. The bestselling trio from Spence Mansion is launching a greeting card company called Greetings from the Graveyard. But what kind of card do you send to an ex-girlfriend who threatens to publish the love letters of Ignatius B. Grumply? And what do you send when the town of Ghastly is rocked by its first crime wave and two escaped convicts are on the loose? If you’re Olive C. Spence, you send for your old butler, T. Leeves, who arrives just in time for tea—and trouble!

    Mad Dogs (CHERUB) (Simon Pulse) – Robert Muchamore. CHERUB agents are highly trained, extremely talented—and all under the age of seventeen. For official purposes, these agents do not exist. They are sent out on missions to spy on terrorists, hack into crucial documents, and gather intel on global threats—all without gadgets or weapons. It is an extremely dangerous job, but these agents have one crucial advantage: Adults never suspect that teens are spying on them. In Mad Dogs, the British underworld is controlled by gangs. When two of them start a turf war, violence explodes onto the streets. The police need information fast, and James has the contacts to infiltrate the most dangerous gang of all…

    ♦  The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) – Jen Swann Downey. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase Moe—an unusually foul-tempered mongoose—into the janitor’s closet of their local library, they make an astonishing discovery: the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians. Their mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Petrarch’s Library is an amazing, jumbled, time-traveling secret base that can dock anywhere there’s trouble, like the Spanish Inquisition, or ancient Greece, or…Passaic, New Jersey. Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society, fighting injustice with a real sword! But when a traitor surfaces, she and Marcus are prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?

    ♦  The First Book of Ore The Foundry’s Edge (The Books of Ore) (Disney Hyperion) – Cam Baity, Benny Zelkowicz. For Phoebe Plumm, life in affluent Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her world-renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief Surveyor for The Foundry, a global corporation with an absolute monopoly on technology, Phoebe’s father is often absent for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter being abducted, Phoebe and would-be rescuer Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning yet volatile world of living metal, one that has been ruthlessly plundered by The Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.

    HISTORICAL

    Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust (First Second) – Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, Marc Lizano. In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.

    ♦ Gaijin: American Prisoner of War (Disney Hyperion) – Matt Faulkne. With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realizes that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he’s sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII.

    Across A War-Tossed Sea (Disney Hyperion) – L.M. Elliott. It’s 1943, and World War II is raging. To escape the terror of the Blitz, ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles were evacuated from England to America. After a few near misses with German U-boats and a treacherous ocean crossing, the brothers arrived in Virginia. The culture shock is intense as the London boys adjust to rural farm life and have to learn new sports, customs, and spellings, plus contend with racial segregation and bullying. As time goes by, the brothers begin to adapt to their new reality and blaze their own trails, writing letters home, making new friends, and pitching in to the American war effort. But just when Wes and Charles think they are safe from the terror of the battles raging thousands of miles across the sea, they encounter the very brand of soldiers they were trying to escape: Nazis, from a POW camp right around the corner and U-boats torpedoing American ships off the nearby Atlantic coastline. Suddenly, Charles, Wesley, and their new Virginian family must face the dangers of a foreign war coming too close to home.

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