Category Archives: Book Lists

The Sister Solution Blog Tour Author Interview: Trudi Trueit

Thanks so much to Trudi Trueit for joining us on The Mixed Up Files today!


We’re thrilled about Trudi’s new release, The Sister Solution.


Just so our readers are aware, Trudi and I have known each other for awhile now. I’m so honored to be the one to conduct this interview as part of The Sister Solution Blog Tour!


Let’s get right to the interview, shall we?

MUF: Trudi, we met when you did a book fair event for our school. It was obvious to me from the start that you love to work with kids. Can you please share with us what you most enjoy about connecting with your readers?

TT: From a young age, I found comfort and power in books and, in particular, writing. I was a shy girl, but through my stories I could be all of the things I thought I wasn’t in real life. I could be brave. I could be strong. I could even be magical! And the more I wrote, the more I started to realize that maybe I wasn’t just those things on the page. Maybe I had little tiny bit of them within me. Writing gave me the confidence to come out of my shell and try new things. It became my passion to write stories, both fiction and nonfiction (I was a journalist before I wrote books for children). So when I get to connect with young readers and writers, the thing that thrills me most is seeing that same light turn on in them. When they have read something that makes them see the world from a different point of view or when they have written something they didn’t even know they had in them, it’s pure joy. I know that, like me, they are forever changed. They are finding all of that potential within themselves. They are brave. They are strong. They are magical.

MUF: Wow, thanks for that answer! As a kid who grew up feeling much the same as you, I deeply appreciate the way you’ve been able to tap into that magic and share it with kids. I’ve seen the lights turn on with kids and your books, and it’s pure joy.

As a school librarian, I know your books well. You write your nonfiction in particular for many ages, but I’d say that your fiction is all for middle grade readers (though Scab appeals to younger kids, too, he is very much loved by 3rd and even 4th graders!). What led to your focus on books for this age group?

TT: Fourth grade was when I found my own voice through writing, so I think that’s why this age group appeals to me. There is something inherently special about being nine or ten years old. You are just beginning to discover who you truly are, what your values are, what you want out of life, and where you want to go. All of these possibilities intrigue me and I find it to be rich with material. To me, it’s the ‘golden age.’

MUF: What a great answer. I find that the Middle Grade age range challenges and feeds me at the same time, as a writer and as a librarian, too. Of course, I’m not sure I’ve ever grown beyond 10 years old myself!

The Sister Solution, like Stealing Popular, is about facing the pressures of school and relationships head on. Where did the idea for this book get its start? Was it an “aha!” moment, or a slow development of an idea?

TT: I do love writing about relationships! I find it fascinating to deconstruct them. It is the journey we all take together. We are all trying to figure out what makes the people around us tick. I’ve known for quite a while I wanted to write about two sisters, who were polar opposites, that had to figure out how to navigate their differences to save their relationship. I started writing the book from the elder sister’s point of view but I wasn’t more than a few chapters in when I knew something was wrong. It was one-sided. I realized that if I truly wanted to explore what each sister was thinking and feeling I had to do it in her words. I switched to alternating points of view and that seemed to do the trick!

MUF: I love this, thanks for sharing your journey to find the right voice for this book. Can you please tell us a little more about your writing process? I happen to know that cats are involved, but beyond that, what does a typical workday look like for you?

TT: As I type this my cat, Pippin, is demanding I play with him so I’ll make it quick, because I am, after all, his servant. My routine is not too exciting. I am usually at my desk by 7:30 a.m. to answer emails and do a few promotional tasks (PR is an essential part of a writer’s job). I will write from 8:30 to about 4:00 p.m., with a few breaks to play with Pippin, check emails, and return phone calls. I might also have a Skype visit with a class. When I have a new book coming out – like now – I will go ride my bike or do a work-out, have dinner and then return to my desk for a few hours to handle some of the tasks that go along with marketing, like updating my website, blog tour interviews, promotional mailings, etc.

MUF: I wonder if we should tell our readers that Pippin has his own Facebook page…

Before you go, the librarian in me always has to ask:

Is there a favorite book you’d like to share from your own middle grade years? We’d love to hear about a book that stuck with you from your childhood.

TT: My favorite book, the one I read again and again, was Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, by E.L. Konigsburg (also, of course, the author of From the Mixed Up Files – another one of my favorites). Elizabeth, the main character, was the first character from a book that I could completely relate to. She got me. And I got her. I wanted to have more friends, and so did she. I wanted to be extraordinary, and so did she. This book is why I love writing realistic fiction so much, because while I could always find pieces of myself in a fantasy realm, I could find ALL of myself in a real one.

MUF: You’ve expressed so well how a book can reach a reader, and why the books you chose reached you – thank you! I want to remember these words when I share my favorites with young readers. It’s so helpful for kids if we don’t assume that favorites are the same for everyone.

Thanks again for visiting with us today, Trudi. We’re very excited for Sister Solution, and we hope you have all kinds of success with it!

We’re so grateful that Trudi could stop by today. You can visit her webpage to find information about the rest of the blog tour and her other books, author visits and more.

You can also download the reader’s guide for The Sister Solution.

Follow Trudi on Twitter, and  keep up with the latest with the hashtag #SisterSolutionBlogTour.

Trudi’s Facebook page .

Thanks to



October New Releases

Did you happen to see recent headlines about how independent book stores aren’t just surviving, they’re actually thriving? The Week magazine summarizes findings and offers its own spin on why book stores are vital, including the fact that they “curate and recommend in a human way.” That point is crucial for middle grade readers who depend (often unknowingly) on parents, librarians, teachers, and booksellers to help them find the right book at the right time. We here at the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors take the privilege of being able to curate and recommend quite seriously — and joyfully. And with that, we happily present you with fifteen choice middle grade books heading to book store and library shelves this month:

house arrestHouse Arrest by K.A. Holt (Oct. 6)
Probation is a strange word, something that happens to other kids, to delinquents, not to kids like Timothy. And yet that’s exactly where he is: under house arrest, checking in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, forced to keep a journal AND keep out of trouble for an  entire year.  When he needs to take drastic measures to help his struggling family, staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be. Touching and funny, this is a novel in verse about a boy navigating his world with a sick brother, a grieving mother, and one tough probation officer.

the restThe Nest by Kenneth Oppel,  illustrations by Jon Klassen (Oct. 6)
For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered. This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

highly unusual magicA Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou (Oct. 6)
Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined. From the author of Confectionately Yours. 

dream on amberDream On, Amber by Emma Shevah (Oct. 6)
As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl who thinks her name is ridiculously long, Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto is not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school. But the hardest thing about being Amber is that a part of her is missing. Her dad. He left when she was little and he isn’t coming back. Not for her first day of middle school and not for her little sister’s birthday. So Amber will have to dream up a way for the Miyamoto sisters to make it on their own..


tournament of gorlanThe Tournament at Gorlan by John A. Flanagan (Oct. 6)
The first in a prequel to the Ranger’s Apprentice series, this one features one ofour favorite Rangers, Halt.  When Halt and Crowley discover that the ambitious Morgarath has been infiltrating the Rangers in order to corrupt the Corps, the young Rangers travel north to find Prince Duncan, seeking a royal warrant to stop Morgarath before it is too late. This origin story brings readers to a time before Will was an apprentice, and lays the groundwork for the epic battles that will culminate with The Ruins of Gorlan and The Burning Bridge, Books 1 and 2 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

bubble wrap boyThe Bubble Wrap Boy
by Phil Earle (Oct. 13)
Charlie Han’s troubles are much bigger than he is. At school he’s branded an outsider, a loser … the tiny kid from the Chinese takeout. His only ally is Sinus Sedgely, a kid with a lower-level reputation than Charlie himself. Life at home isn’t much better. His dad is more skilled with a wok than he is with words, and his mom is suffocating the life out of Charlie, worried about his every move. But when a new passion leads Charlie to the mother of all confrontations, he finds his real mom has been hiding a massive secret. A secret that might actually lead Charlie to feeling ten feet tall. From a Kirkus review: “In the fast-growing bullying genre, Charlie’s story stands out. This isn’t a kid who will do anything to join the cool clique. This is a story about staying true to yourself and following your passion.”

big gameBig Game by Stuart Gibbs (Oct. 13)
Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident zoo sleuth when a rhinoceros is at risk in this companion to Belly Up and Poached. When someone takes aim at Rhonda Rhino, FunJungle’s pregnant (and endangered) Asian greater one-horned rhinoceros, the zoo steps up security measures in order to protect this rare animal and her baby. But the extra security isn’t enough–someone is still getting too close for comfort. Teddy and company start to suspect that whoever is after Rhonda is really after her horn, which is worth a lot of money on the black market.

red shoesThe Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog  (Oct. 13)
A collection of tales in a graphic novel format that also includes The Little Match Girl. In the title story, Karen, the child of peasants, grew up with a pair of red shoes. Then, when her parents died, Karen was adopted by a rich old woman who gave Karen a new pair of red shoes that would make princesses green with envy. This newfound wealth causes Karen to forget her humble origins and grow up to become a cruel and vain adult. Then, one day, the red shoes that sparked her greed come to life and steer Karen down a path she never would have imagined in her wildest dreams.

sandriderSandRider by Angie Sage (Oct. 13)
Book Two in the TodHunter Moon trilogy, a spinoff of the popular Septimus Heap series. Taking place seven years after the events of the original Septimus Heap series, TodHunter Moon tells the story of Alice TodHunter Moon, a young PathFinder who comes to the Castle with a Magyk all her own. In this second book, Tod sets out for the Desert of the Singing Sands to retrieve the Egg of the Orm—a journey that will test not only her Magykal and PathFinding skills but her friendships, too.

blind guide to stinkville A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel (Oct. 13)
Before Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville. Now she finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.

sliver of stardustA Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt (Oct. 20)
Wren Matthews thought she’d outgrown nursery rhymes a long time ago. But that was before she knew that songs of twinkling little stars and four-and-twenty blackbirds were the key to an ancient, hidden magic. Wren’s discovery catapults her into a world of buried secrets, strange dreams, and a mountain fortress under an aurora-filled sky. But just as she starts to master her unique abilities, her new world begins to crumble around her . . . and only she can save it.

The Secrets of the Pied Piper 1: The Peddler’s peddler's roadRoad by Matthew Cody (Oct. 27)
It is said that in the thirteenth century, in a village called Hamelin, a piper lured all of the children away with his magical flute, and none of them were ever seen again. Today, pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modern-day Hamelin with their father . . . until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land. No one knows why the Piper stole them, but Max and Carter’s appearance may be the key to returning the lost children of Hamelin and to going home themselves. But to discover the secrets of the Piper, Max and Carter will have to set out on a mysterious quest down the dangerous Peddler’s Road.

league of unexeptional childrenThe League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari (Oct. 20)
Just what is The League of Unexceptional Children? You may not have heard of the actual organization (it’s undercover) but this is a series you’ll remember. This covert network uses the nation’s most average, normal, and utterly unexceptional children as spies. Why the average kids? Why not the brainiacs? Or over achievers? Or the jocks?  It’s simple: People remember them. But not the unexceptionals. They are the forgotten ones. Until now. A humorous start to a new mystery series.

odds of getting evenThe Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage (Oct. 6)
The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, North Carolina.  Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale’s daddy–confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale’s nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn’t mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction–if everything goes as expected. Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon’s on the run, Tupelo Landing’s in lockdown, and Dale’s brother’s life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client–one they’d never want in a million years. This is the second follow up to the Newbery honor book Three Times Lucky. 

lightning queenThe Lightning Queen by Laura Resau (Oct 27)
Nothing exciting happens on the Hill of Dust, in the remote mountains of Mexico in the 1950s. There’s no electricity, no plumbing, no cars — just day after day of pasturing goats. And now, without his sister and mother, eleven-year-old Teo’s life feels even more barren. And then one day, the mysterious young Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning, rolls into town like a fresh burst of color. Against all odds, her caravan’s Mistress of Destiny predicts that Teo and Esma will be longtime friends. Suddenly, life brims with possibility. With the help of a rescued duck, a three-legged skunk, a blind goat, and other allies, Teo and Esma must overcome obstacles to fulfill their impossible destiny. Inspired by true stories derived from rural Mexico, The Lightning Queen offers a glimpse of the encounter between two fascinating but marginalized cultures–the Rom and the Mixtec Indians.

class dismissedClass Dismissed by Allan Woodrow (Oc.t 27)
What could possibly go wrong in a teacher-free classroom? Class 507 is the worst class Ms. Bryce has ever taught. And she would know — she’s been teaching forever. They are so terrible that when a science experiment goes disastrously wrong (again), Ms. Bryce has had it and quits in the middle of the lesson. But through a mix-up, the school office never finds out. Which means … Class 507 is teacher-free! The students figure that if they don’t tell anyone, it’ll be one big holiday. Will it?

(Note: Book descriptions here are modified from summaries provided by publishers.)

How Do You Cope?

Hello Mixed-Up Filers!

I missed you! Hope you’ve all been well since these last few months! As for me, much has happened in my life since my last post. Unfortunately, very little of it good. I know that this site is supposed to be strictly about middle grade books, so I might get fired or suspended for veering off course, but if you just bear with me, I’m going to alter things slightly…just this one time.

You see, a little over a month ago, my father passed away. He’d had cancer for years and deteriorated quickly over the past few months, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t bracing myself for a while, but even when it’s expected, it never makes it any easier. Shortly after that, my grandmother, my dad’s mother passed also. She was in her late 90’s with Alzheimer’s and didn’t know about my dad, so it wasn’t related, but still very freaky with the timing.

Now, needless to say, I have not been in the best of spirits. I try each day and am honestly mostly fine, but there is the occasional overwhelming feeling of grief, where you just don’t know what to do with yourself. So, that got me thinking a little. If I am having such a difficult time now, and I’m an adult, well, relatively speaking, how difficult would this be for kids? Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through this then, because who knows if I would have been strong enough. I mean, I know this happens every day to some kids, where they lose a parent, but how do they cope? How do adults cope even? Because, I have had a very rough time even accepting that it’s real. How does anyone get by this?

Usually, the thing that has always gotten me through any type of despair has been pouring myself into my writing, but for those who know me, you know I write humorous middle grade and it’s a very tough thing to get into a “Let me be funny now” mindset, when you can’t stop thinking about loss. Still, I have to admit, writing does help, because it lets me escape. That focus on writing “funny” helped force me to go to that place.

But, what do you do if you don’t have writing? I know some people read to escape also, and I did that also. I read A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck, and really enjoyed it. It takes place in the 1950’s and is about an eleven-year old boy named Jack Fair, who teams with legendary director, Alfred Hitchcock, to solve a mystery. I picked this book because I love Hitchcock movies and it made me think of my dad, because he loved them too and introduced me to them. My parents took me to see Rear Window as a kid and I was Spellbound (Another Hitchcock movie btw, so yay for me for doing that!). But anyway, combining those factors, A Hitch at the Fairmont, was a fun read and seemed perfect for my current mindset.

hitch at the fairmont

As a matter of fact, getting back to reading, I was originally going to make this post about books which dealt with the subject matter of coping with death or loss, but I just thought how utterly depressing for right now. Don’t get me wrong, I think those books are necessary and important for kids, but it just wasn’t what I needed to research right now.

Then, I thought about posting about uplifting books about the human spirit of going on and persevering in dark times. Triumphing over tragedy, but I figured that would reek of phoniness, since I am nowhere near triumphing over anything.

So, what this is, Mixed-Up Filers, is a question post really. How do all of you cope? What things do you do to get by in those times? Do you have favorite books to read? If so, what are they? Do you write? Anything?

I am very curious, because I have wondered a lot about kids in that situation. And don’t be shy. Even though, I didn’t want to write about good books which focused on dealing with death or sadness, doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about what some good books might be for that topic.

So, let me hear from you Mixed-Up Filers! And next time, I promise to be back in a totally middle-grade mood!