Category Archives: Nonfiction

The timeless intrigue of Greek myths

athena the brain have a hot time hades hound of hades new olympians chronus chronicles

Bigger than life characters, epic battles, good versus evil, outlandish monsters and over-the-top family strife are just a few reasons Greek myths are now — just as they have been for generations — absolutely irresistible for middle grade readers. And while no kid wants to hear this now, getting a grounding in Greek tales will serve these young readers well the rest of their lives. So many references in literature (Shakespeare, for one) and pop culture have roots in these myths, and they’ll also provide fodder for kids’ own stories and interpretations.

If Percy Jackson and the Olympians first reeled your reader to Poseidon, Zeus, and Athena, you may be wondering what books to grab next. Or maybe your reader likes the idea of Greek myths, but isn’t really sold on the whole Percy Jackson thing. Either way, here are some ideas for what to read next:

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams’ Goddess Girls series is pure delight. Readers can start with any in the series (and then devour all others); one of my favorites is Athena the Brain, which is also first in the series. Athena, 12, is ordered to go to Mount Olympus Academy (where Zeus is principal) where she juggles academics, her social life, and proving her intellect by ending the Trojan War.

Have a Hot Time, Hades! is a one of the many greats in Kate McMullan’s Myth-o-mania series. In this story with a modern twist, Hades tells his own version of how he became King of the Underworld and Zeus became King of the Gods.

Speaking of Hades, new this year in Lucy Coates’ Beasts of Olympus series is Hound of Hades. Having proven himself capable of caring for the mythical creatures that dwell on Olympus, eleven-year-old Demon is summoned by the great god Hades to the Underworld to tend to Cerberus, the three-headed dog Guardian of the Underworld, which has been beaten by Demon’s nemesis, Heracles.

In The New Olympians (Pegasus series) by Kate O’Hearn, Pegasus and Emily investigate a series of incidents back on Earth, and discover that the CRU has been cloning Olympians. Science (STEM) and myths!

One more don’t miss series is The Chronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu (where one of the doors to the Underworld is located under the Mall of America). The Shadow Thieves is first in the series: After her cousin Zee arrives from England, 13-year-old Charlotte and he must set out to save humankind from denizens of the underworld, Nightmares, Death, Pain, and a really nasty guy named Phil.

greek mythsThere are many nonfiction guides, but the gold standard is still D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. It was published in 1962 — not quite as old as the myths themselves, but another one that stands the tests of time and interfering Greek gods and goddesses. And if you can get your hands on this spectacular audio book version, it’s read by Sidney Poitier, Kathleen Turner, Paul Newman, and Matthew Broderick. Best yet, use your local library card to get the downloadable version via OverDrive. Listen to a sample here.

Chicken!

Photo from http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buff_Orpington_chicken,_UK.jpg by Pete Cooper

Photo from Wikimedia by Pete Cooper. Used by creative commons license.

No, I’m not calling you a chicken. I’m just really excited to talk about live poultry. Isn’t everyone?

Wait, that’s just me?

Oh. Oops.

In all seriousness, I am a farm girl at heart. As a child I spent my summers on my grandparents’ small farm in Idaho, and though today I live in the suburbs, I look back fondly at the rural lifestyle I was lucky enough to live three months out of the year while growing up. Nowadays I love working in my many flower beds, I take care of a big vegetable garden every year, and I have recently added a small orchard to my growing list of backyard horticultural accomplishments.

And, yes, I’ll admit, I have been contemplating purchasing a few chickens as well. But I’ve only be thinking about it.  I haven’t actually, you know, done anything yet….

Okay, fine, I confess.  Last month I did take a little field trip to the local ranch store, but just to look at the cute baby chicks they had for sale. (You don’t really need to know that while I was there I priced out everything I’d need for chickens,  including the little cluckers themselves, so I’d have a very good idea what this new venture would cost me. I didn’t actually buy anything, so that’s the same as not doing anything, right?)

Since chickens have been on my mind a lot these past few weeks, this has led to talking chickens with my middle-grade-age kids, too.  And I thought it would be good to fuel any budding interest with some age-appropriate chicken literature.  I was pleasantly surprised to find several titles I could give them.

And since we all could use a little more chicken literature in our lives (don’t laugh!), I’m sharing my list with you today.  Note that some of these titles are targeted for younger kids ages 6-9. All descriptions are from Indiebound unless otherwise noted:

FROM A MIXED-UP FILES ALUM:

The Map of Me by Tami Lewis Brown

Summary: The note Momma left on the fridge says only: “I HAVE TO GO.” But go where? Twelve-year-old Margie is convinced that Momma’s gone to the Rooster Romp at the International Poultry Hall of Fame, in search of additions to her precious flock of chicken memorabilia. And it’s up to Margie to bring her home. So she commandeers her daddy’s Faithful Ford, kidnaps her nine-year-old sister, Peep, and takes to the open road.

As she navigates the back roads of Kentucky with smarty-pants Peep criticizing her every move, Margie also travels along the highways and byways of her heart, mapping a course to help understand Momma–and herself.

CLASSIC TITLES:

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater

Summary: When Arthur Bobowicz is sent out to bring home the family’s Thanksgiving turkey, he returns instead with Henrietta — a 266 pound chicken with a mind of her own. Feathers fly when this colossal clucker descends upon Hoboken, New Jersey. Thus begins the hilarious hen-tastic tall tale that has kept readers in stitches since Henrietta first pecked her way onto the scene in 1977.

Whittington by Alan Armstrong

Summary: This Newbery-Honor winning tale introduces Whittington, a roughneck Tom who arrives one day at a barn full of rescued animals and asks for a place there. He spins for the animals–as well as for Ben and Abby, the kids whose grandfather does the rescuing–a yarn about his ancestor, the nameless cat who brought Dick Whittington to the heights of wealth and power in 16th-century England. This is an unforgettable tale about the healing, transcendent power of storytelling, and how learning to read saves one little boy.

NON-FICTION TITLES:

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey

Summary: Chickens make wonderful pets, and Melissa Caughey (author of the award-winning blog “Tilly’s Nest”) provides all the information kids need to raise healthy chickens and have tons of fun doing it. Caughey shares her advice in an engaging way so that kids understand what it means to keep chickens and what kind of housing, food, equipment, and care the chickens will need to thrive. She also suggests lots of creative activities sure to spark enthusiasm and imagination, such as speaking chicken, creating a veggie piñata for the flock, and making a chicken fort in the backyard. She even offers ten egg-centric recipes that kids will love to make and eat, including egg drop soup and Mexican egg pizza. Includes a colorful pull-out poster.


ChickensChickens: Hens, Roosters, and Chicks by Lorijo Metz

Summary: Kids who visit farms are often charmed by the clucking, crowing, and chirping of chickens. This fun book is full of interesting facts about the worlds most common bird.

Chicken Games & Puzzles by Patrick Merrell and Helene Hovanec

Summary: This collection of 100 chicken-themed challenges is really something to cluck about Kids ages 6 to 9 will love these adorably illustrated mazes, codes, brainteasers, logic puzzles, word searches, jokes and riddles, tongue twisters, and picture puzzles. It’s a barnyard of fun that will make you cackle.

How to Draw a Chicken by Jean-Vincent Senac

Summary: Anyone can draw a chicken, right? Follow Jean-Vincent Senac’s attempts to draw one as he has to contend with runaway beaks, sleeping eggs, and hungry hens. The entertaining characters and witty text in this book of simple outline drawings, much like a flip-book, will charm readers of all ages and encourage children and adults alike to draw with humor and imagination.

Illustrated throughout in Senac’s unique style, this little book will encourage drawing while making readers laugh out loud.

FICTION TITLES:

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Summary: Fans of Polly Horvath or Roald Dahl will love this quirky story of a determined girl, and some extraordinary chickens.

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the “entire” henhouse….

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.
Told in letters to Sophie’s “abuela, ” quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, “Unusual Chickens” is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

Chicken Boy by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Summary: Meet Tobin McCauley. He’s got a near-certifiable grandmother, a pack of juvenile-delinquent siblings, and a dad who’s not going to win father of the year any time soon. To top it off, Tobin’s only friend truly believes that the study of chickens will reveal…the meaning of life? Getting through seventh grade isn’t easy for anyone, but when the first day of school starts out with your granny’s arrest, you know you’ve got real problems. Throw on a five-day suspension, a chicken that lays green eggs, and a family feud that’s tearing everyone to pieces, and you’re in for one heck of a ride.

The Chicken Doesn’t Skate by Gordon Korman

Summary: What do a scientist, a screenwriter, and a hockey team all have in common?
A chicken!

Milo has a problem. He’s trying to do a project on the food chain, so he charts the growth of a baby chick, and makes arrangements to serve his specimen to the judges at the science fair. But he’s baffled by the rest of his class. They name the chick Henrietta. They sign up to take her home on weekends. They claim that she’s a good luck charm, a friend, even the new hockey team mascot!

Milo just wants to win the science fair to impress his dad. But when the class finds out that Henrietta will be cooked and eaten for Milo’s project, everyone panics!

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood

Summary: This charming, coming-of-age story is perfect for fans of Joan Bauer and Sheila Turnage.
Prairie Evers is finding that school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s always been homeschooled by her grandmother, learning about life while they ramble through the woods. But now Prairie’s family has moved north and she has to attend school for the first time, where her education is in a classroom and the behavior of her classmates isn’t very nice. The only good thing is meeting Ivy, her first true friend. Prairie wants to be a good friend, even though she can be clueless at times. But when Ivy’s world is about to fall apart and she needs a friend most, Prairie is right there for her, corralling all her optimism and determination to hatch a plan to help.
Wonderful writing and an engaging narrator distinguish this lively story that celebrates friendship of every kind.

The Great Chicken Debacle by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Summary: May all your chickens come home to roost. If they had only known what trouble lay ahead, maybe, just maybe the Morgan children and their friend Deeter wouldn t have agreed to mind No-Name, the world’s ugliest chicken. Maybe they could have avoided camping out with it; confronting its archenemy, the fox; grappling with its abductors. But then again, maybe the whole madhouse caper was inevitable.

The Chicken Dance by Jacques Couvillon

Summary: On his birthday, Don Schmidt spends the day waiting patiently for his big surprise–“a cake, presents, maybe a Chinese clown” . . . . But instead, his batty parents get into their monthly argument. This time it’s because his mother has to feed the chickens. It ends with her shouting the same thing as always about their Louisiana chicken farm: “I hate it here.”

What follows is Don’s journey from obscurity to fame and back again, when he becomes the youngest kid to ever win the Horse Island Dairy Festival chicken-judging contest. Gradually, his mom notices that something strange is going on–everyone knows her son –but once she realizes that Don has become the town celebrity, she sees that there may be benefits to living on a chicken farm. What she doesn’t seem to see are the benefits of having a son like Don.

For Don, the contest is the beginning of a big, big adventure. It involves trips to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fair weather friends, a missing sister, and one big secret. Readers will cheer for Don, who goes out of his way to see the good in everything.

Quinny & Hopper by Brad Schanen Adriana

Summary: Quinny has a lot to say. Hopper gets to the point.

Quinny has one speed: very, very, extra-very fast. Hopper proceeds with caution.

Quinny has big ideas. Hopper has smart solutions.

Quinny and Hopper couldn’t be more different. They are an unstoppable team.
But when summer ends, things suddenly aren’t the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and the brand-new Third Grade Rules-especially the one that says they aren’t allowed to be friends anymore?

Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata

Summary: Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways.
But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch.

If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.

Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

Summary: When Ruby’s grandmother, Miss Eula goes to visit her new grandbaby in Hawaii, Ruby is sure that she will have a lonely, empty, horrible summer without her in boring old Halleluia, Mississippi. What happens instead? She makes a new friend, saves the school play, writes plenty of letters to her favorite (and only) grandmother . . . and finally learns to stop blaming herself for her grandfather’s death. Not too bad, for a nine-year-old.

The Secret Chicken Society by Judy Cox

Summary: When Daniel’s class hatches chicks as a science project, he adopts them. After 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 Society is quickly formed to save Peepers.

CHICKENS IN A SERIES:

Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Falling Sky by John R. Erickson

Summary: When Hank hears a rumor that the sky is going to fall from the ranch’s resident rooster, he is naturally a bit skeptical. But then a report from Pete the Barncat and a strange dream seem to support the theory, and Hank realizes that he’d better take the threat seriously. So Hank decides that he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent the sky from falling on his beloved ranch. Even if it means getting into trouble with Sally May (again)…

Also check out The Case of the Tender Cheeping Chickies in the Hank the Cowdog Series.

Kung Pow Chicken: Let’s Get Cracking! by Cyndi Marko

Summary from Amazon: Kung Pow Chicken is the superhero everyone has been waiting for!

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

In this exciting full-color series, Gordon Blue transforms into Kung Pow Chicken, an avian superhero who fights crime in the city of Fowladelphia. The first book in the series kicks off when Gordon’s birdy senses lead him to a festival. Suddenly, POOF! Feathers fill the air and shivering naked chickens are everywhere. Why have all these chickens lost their feathers? Forced to wear wooly sweaters, the city itches for a hero. Kung Pow Chicken hops into his Beakmobile to save the day!

Also check out the other titles in this hilarious series: Bok! Bok! Boom!; The Birdy Snatchers; and Heroes on the Side.

Supernatural Rubber Chicken: Fowl Language by D.L. Garfinkle

Summary: Meet the world’s first superpower-granting, smart-alecky, supernatural rubber chicken!

It all starts when ten-year old twing Nate and Lisa Zupinski discover a rubber chicken lying in a pile of their brother’s dirty laundry. “Dudes,” Dave says, “It’s a supernatural rubber chicken. He’s, like, magic. He’ll give the first person who touches him a superpower. And you guys get to pick which power.” Lisa and Nate don’t believe a word their airhead brother says, but then the chicken starts talking!

“Get me off of Dave’s dirty underwear!”

Lisa decides to ask the chicken to turn her shy friend Ashley into a charming speaker. But when big bully Hulk Paine gets his hands on the chicken, super charm turns into super trouble! From acclaimed author and humorist D.L. Garfinkle comes a new series so silly, so slapstick, it’s supernatural!

Also check out the other titles in this series: Poultry in Motion and Fine Feathered Four Eyes

AND TWO MIDDLE-GRADE PICTURE BOOKS:

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page

Summary: Why did the chicken cross the road? To follow you home! Learn all about a not-so-basic bird in this delightful nonfiction picture book.

What’s that? A “chicken” followed you home? Now what do you do?

Celebrated author-illustrator Robin Page leads a step-by-step, question-and-answer-style journey through the world of chickens. Along the way you’ll explore different breeds, discover different types of coops, and learn everything there is to know about chicken reproduction and hatching.

Gorgeous, playful, and filled with facts, this engaging nonfiction picture book shines new light on a very familiar fowl.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway

Summary: Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many.

Elissa Cruz finds chickens interesting.  She writes fiction for kids and teens and her current middle-grade work-in-progress does have some chickens in it, but they only show up occasionally.  She lives with her husband and five children in Utah, and together they own a dog and a fish but no chickens…at least, not yet, anyway.

May New Releases

Along with May flowers comes the blooming of brand new middle-grade books about friendship, food, and fabulous adventures. Click on the titles to purchase from your local indie bookstore. Happy reading!

9781939547095Amelia’s Middle School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss

Written and illustrated in Marissa Moss’s signature diary style, this is the last of the Amelia series and marks the 20th anniversary of its inception. This latest book finds Amelia excited to graduate from middle school but nervous about starting high school, especially when she finds out she won’t have her best friend, Carly, with her. In Amelia’s graduation yearbook, drawings and “photos” nostalgically recap her earlier notebook entires as she figures out how to face the changes ahead.

9781481431965You’re Invited by Jen Malone and Gail Nall

Twelve-year-old Sadie loves helping her mom with her wedding planning business, and with Sadie’s mad organizational skills, she’s a natural. That’s why it’s so devastating when her mother “fires” her after a “Little Mermaid”-themed wedding goes awry.
Enter Sadie’s best friends: sporty Vi, ace student Lauren, and boy-crazy Becca. The girls decide that in order to get Sadie’s mom to reconsider, they have to make her see how amazing Sadie is at party planning. Except no one’s gonna hire a twelve-year-old to plan a wedding. A birthday party, though? Definite possibility.
Before long, RSVP–your one-stop shop for the most creative parties in town–is born. But is the girls’ friendship strong enough to survive a business? Or does RSVP spell the end of these BFFs?

FC9780545700276A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

When Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it’s Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season. After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily’s grandfather, and Salma’s friendship transforms Lily’s summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they’ll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant-and possibly win? Set amongst the blueberry barrens and by the sea, this  novel by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord tackles themes of prejudice and friendship, loss and love.

FC9780062352934The Fog Diver by Joel Ross

Joel Ross debuts a thrilling adventure series in which living in the sky is the new reality and a few determined slum kids just might become heroes. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull, this fantasy is filled with daring and hope and a wonderfully imaginative world. Once the Fog started rising, the earth was covered with a deadly white mist until nothing remained but the mountaintops. Now humanity clings to its highest peaks, called the Rooftop, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the lower slopes and floating junkyards. Thirteen-year-old Chess and his friends Hazel, Bea, and Swedish sail their rickety air raft over the deadly Fog, scavenging the ruins for anything they can sell to survive. But now survival isn’t enough. They must risk everything to get to the miraculous city of Port Oro, the only place where their beloved Mrs. E can be cured of fogsickness. Yet the ruthless Lord Kodoc is hot on their trail. For Chess has a precious secret, one that Kodoc is desperate to use against him. Now Chess will face any danger to protect his friends, even if it means confronting what he fears the most.

FC9780316224840Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

It’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings — the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero? A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic, set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Bayou Magic celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.

FC9780545417839 The Search for Baby Ruby by Susan Shreve

The search for a missing baby drives this heart-pounding page turner, from Edgar Award Winner Susan Shreve. It was just a few minutes. Stuck in a hotel room babysitting while the rest of her family celebrated downstairs in the hotel, Jess thought she’d try on her sister’s wedding dress in the large bathroom while the baby slept. But when Jess opens the door again the baby is gone. Fighting guilt and terror, Jess and her kleptomaniac sister Teddy evade the swirl of police and hotel staff in their own desperate effort to get Baby Ruby back before it’s too late.

FC9781481439473Billy Sure, Kid Entrepreneur by Luke Sharpe; Graham Ross (Illustrator)

Meet Billy Sure, twelve-year-old inventor and CEO of Sure Things, Inc., and discover all of his wild and wacky inventions in this start to a hilarious middle grade series. Everyone is talking about Billy Sure, the twelve-year-old CEO of Sure Things, Inc. and genius inventor of the All Ball, a ball that turns into different sports balls with the push of a button. Now Billy wants to help other kids achieve their inventing dreams just like he has. So Billy is hosting an online contest for other kid-inventors to share their inventions, and the winning submission will be produced by his company. Ideas like the Sibling Silencer, No-Wash Socks, and a pencil that does all your work start pouring in. With so many great ideas, how is Billy supposed to pick a winner? And that’s not all. Billy also has to keep the secret that could take him from hero to zero in a flash if anyone found out. Can Billy Sure find a way to stay on top of the world and help other kids achieve their dreams at the same time?

 FC9781481416054Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi; Meg Park (Illustrator)

Meet Anna and her beloved wiener dog, Banana, in this start to a charming illustrated chapter book series about the joys and challenges of elementary school friendships. Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.

FC9780763674748Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and Other Good Stuff) (Book #2) by Liz Pichon; Liz Pichon (Illustrator)

Middle-school comedian, homework dodger, rock-star wannabe, master doodler—Tom Gates is back with two more episodes full of visual humor and kid appeal. No school for two whole weeks! Now Tom has plenty of time for the good stuff, like finding new ways (so many!) to annoy his big sister, Delia. Or watching TV and eating caramel candy. Or most important, band practice for DOGZOMBIES in his best friend Derek’s garage (while not encouraging Derek’s ’60s-music-crazed dad). All that stands between this band and rock greatness is, well, a song (besides “Delia’s a Weirdo”). And finding a drummer. And landing a gig. Will Tom let a killer toothache and pesky overdue homework get in his way?

FC9781626720541Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith

Augie Hobble lives in a fairy tale–or at least Fairy Tale Place, the down-on-its-luck amusement park managed by his father. Yet his life is turning into a nightmare: he’s failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he has a crush on won’t acknowledge him, and Hogg Wills and the school bullies won’t leave him alone. Worse, a succession of mysterious, possibly paranormal, events have him convinced that he’s turning into a werewolf. At least Augie has his notebook and his best friend Britt to confide in–until the unthinkable happens and Augie’s life is turned upside down, and those mysterious, possibly paranormal, events take on a different meaning.

9781484713457The Neptune Challenge by Polly Holyoke

Genetically engineered to survive in the ocean, Nere and her friends are recovering from their treacherous journey to Safety Harbor, an undersea refuge founded by the scientists of the Neptune Project. But plenty of enemies prowl just outside the colony’s boundaries, and when two of the children are kidnapped, Nere, her loyal dolphins, and the other Neptune kids must set out on an expedition even more perilous than their first. Tasked with infiltrating the kidnapper’s high-tech undersea base, Nere soon discovers that rescuing the missing Neptune kids isn’t all there is to her mission: the secret to saving the world’s oceans is hidden somewhere deep inside this vast fortress, and she and her friends will have to risk everything to find it.

FC9781250066022From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is a completely average twelve-year-old: average height, average weight, average brown hair of average length, average brown skin and average hazel eyes. The only things about her that aren’t average are her name (too long and princess themed), her ability to draw animals (useful for her future career as a wildlife illustrator), and the fact that she is a half-orphan who has never met her father and is forced to live with her aunt and uncle (who treat her almost like their own kids, so she doesn’t want to complain). Then one completely average day, everything goes wrong: the most popular girl in school, Annabelle Jenkins, threatens to beat her up, the principal gives her a demerit, and she’s knocked down at the bus stop . . .Until a limo containing Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia pulls up to invite her to New York to finally meet her father, who promptly invites her to come live with him, Mia, Grandmère and her two fabulous poodles . . . .Maybe Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison isn’t so average after all!

9781423194606Kate Walden Directs Bride of Slug Man by Julie Mata

After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy–someone to share her interest with. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided. With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn’t interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can. But between the cut throat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big screen.

9781484709351Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen; Daryle Connors

The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task until now. After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye. Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

FC9781484708491The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Wyatt, his best friend, Matt, and a few kids from Culver Middle School find themselves in a heap of trouble-not just with their teachers, who have long lost patience with them-but from several mysterious men they first meet on their flight to the nation’s capital. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack-or maybe not.

9780374300685If I Were You by Leslie Margolis

Twelve-year-old Katie is insanely jealous of her best friend, Melody. Turns out Melody is jealous of Katie, too. When they both wish for the exact same thing at the exact same time, to redo summer as each other, their wishes come true. Katie is Melody and Melody is Katie and neither one has the experience she expected. In this be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, two best friends learn that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

9780062071682Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

From Jarrett J. Krosoczka comes Last Panda Standing, the third installment in the hilarious, high-action illustrated middle grade series featuring two platypus detectives, perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Jarrett’s own Lunch Lady series. The Kalamazoo City mayoral race is heating up, and Frank Pandini Jr. has been threatened by a mysterious assailant. He requests a special Platypus Police Squad protection detail: Detective Rick Zengo. This leaves O’Malley to be partnered up with Jo Cooper, the newest detective on the force. Can Zengo get to the bottom of the attacks–without O’Malley backing him up?

FC9780385755528Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; Katie Kath (Illustrator)

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse…And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe. Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

FC9780062278074Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream by Tom Watson

In the follow-up to Stick Dog, Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog, and Stick Dog Chases a Pizza, Stick Dog and his pals are back, but this time the temperature is rising and they’re all feeling the heat. They need cold, cold ice cream on this hot, hot day. It will take all of Stick Dog’s smarts to guide his friends to a scrumptious ice cream feast. They’ll battle a water-attacking machine, discover rainbow puddles, and chase the strangest, loudest truck they’ve ever seen. But there’s a looming threat to their mission–Stick Dog gets spotted by a human. And the police are on his tail. If he’s captured, Stick Dog may never see his friends again. If he escapes, it’s ice cream for everyone. Perfect for fans of Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the previous Stick Dog books.

9780545709446Best Friend Next Door by Carolyn Mackler

Meet Hannah. Her name is a palindrome. Her birthday is on New Year’s. She wishes she had a cat. She’s medium height and a little awkward. Her life has NOT been fun lately — her dad and stepmom are having a baby and, worst of all, her best friend next door just moved away. Now a new girl is here, taking over her best friend’s bedroom . . . and her own identity. Meet Emme. Her name is a palindrome. Her birthday is on New Year’s. She loves her enormous orange cat. She’s so short that last week she was mistaken for a kindergartner. She’s found moving hard . . . but at least there’s the girl next door, Hannah. Maybe they’ll become friends? While Hannah and Emme are alike in so many ways, they’re also different in some wrong ways, too. Is this the perfect friendship . . . or a recipe for disaster?

9780385739436The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

Emily Huvar vanished without a trace. And the clues are right beneath Raine’s fingertips. Literally. Raine isn’t like other eighth graders. One touch of a glittering sparkle that only Raine can see, and she’s swept into a memory from the past. If she touches enough sparkles, she can piece together what happened to Emily. When Raine realizes that the cliquey group of girls making her life miserable know more than they’re letting on about Emily’s disappearance, she has to do something. She’ll use her supernatural gift for good . . . to fight evil. But is it too late to save Emily?

UnknownTime Out of Time Book Two: The Telling Stone by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

In book two, the excitement and mystery continue as Timothy, his sister, Sarah, and their friend Jessica journey from America to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they seek the Four Treasures of Ireland, especially the Telling Stone. They must keep the treasures from falling into the hands of Balor, who can use them to deprive the world of good. The children pass through Time out of Time as they undertake their quest and encounter a number of mythic and folkloric characters, including the Tuatha De Danann, Gwydon, Cerridwyn, and others.
In this book, a code hidden in a map is the key to finding the Stone, and readers work alongside Timothy, Sarah, and Jessica to decode the message. Along with the code, the book includes a glossary of the many historical, literary, and folkloric references mentioned in both volumes.

FC9780399164064Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can’t get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he’s not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is. If only Trent could make that fresh start happen. It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.

FC9781481410465The Secret Cookie Club by Martha Freeman

Friends make everything better–and so do cookies –in this warm-hearted novel in the tradition of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” with a middle grade dash of sugar and spice. Recipe for friendship: mix four very different girls, one boy, and a camp counselor. Add cookies. When her four campers don’t get along, counselor Hannah has an idea. They gather in the kitchen at the Moonlight Ranch Summer Camp. There, they measure, mix, stir, and bake. As they bite into their warm sugar cookies, they finally seem to be friends. But summer doesn’t last forever. And if the bond is going to survive the long school year, these kids will need a plan, a plan that just might require cookies. Complete with recipes, this book will satisfy every reader’s craving for something sweet–just like a homemade sugar cookie.

9781619636309The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Ruth Mudd-O’Flaherty has been a lone wolf at her new middle school ever since her best friend, Charlotte, ditched her for “cooler” friends. Who needs friends when you have fantasy novels? Roaming the stacks of her town’s library is enough for Ruth. Until she finds a note in an old book…and in that note is a riddle, one that Ruth can’t solve alone. With a tantalizing set of clues before her, Ruth must admit she needs help, the kind that usually comes from friends. Lena and Coco, two kids in her class could be an option, but allowing them in will require courage, and Ruth must decide: Is embarking on this quest worth opening herself up again?

FC9780545676052How to Speak Dolphin by Ginny Rorby

Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she has always struggled with him, too. He’s definitely on the autism spectrum–though her step-father, Don, can barely bring himself to admit it–and caring for him has forced Lily to become as much mother as sister. All Lily wants is for her step-father to acknowledge that Adam has a real issue, that they need to find some kind of program that can help him. Then maybe she can have a life of her own. Adam’s always loved dolphins, so when Don, an oncologist, hears about a young dolphin with cancer, he offers to help. He brings Lily and Adam along, and Adam and the dolphin–Nori–bond instantly. But though Lily sees how much Adam loves Nori, she also sees that the dolphin shouldn’t spend the rest of her life in captivity, away from her family. Can Adam find real help somewhere else? And can Lily help Nori regain her freedom without betraying her family?

FC9780399167751The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dolzer

Twelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin back to life from blood on his dog tags, Ella Mae is skeptical—until he steps out of a bio-pod right before her eyes. But the boy is not her cousin—he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and despised. When her aunt refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae and her Mama take him home instead. Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches Takuma English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when his memories start to resurface, Ella Mae learns some shocking truths about her own family and more importantly, what it means to love.

FC9780399170690The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman

In this charming sequel to All Four Stars, eleven-year-old foodie Gladys Gatsby now has her first published review under her belt and is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and reviewing. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley. As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy: she struggles to pass her swim test and can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches. The worst part is she can’t seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper and sneak away for her latest assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when it turns out her hot dog assignment was a dirty trick by a jealous reviewer, Gladys’s reviewing career may be over forever.

FC9781481411479The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon

Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie. Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad “think” Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number, and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too. Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground. Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida–to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

9780525426387Theodore Boone: the Fugitive by John Grisham

Theo thought the danger had passed, but he’s about to face off against an old adversary: accused mur­derer and fugitive Pete Duffy. On a field trip to Washington, DC, Theo spots a familiar face on the Metro: Duffy, who jumped bail and was never seen again. Theo’s quick thinking helps bring Duffy back to Strattenburg to stand trial. But now that Duffy knows who he is, Theo is in greater danger than he’s ever been in before. Even when every­thing is on the line, Theodore Boone will stop at nothing to make sure a killer is brought to justice.

9780316204958Thor’s Serpents by K. L. Armstrong; M. A. Marr

Thirteen-year-olds Matt, Laurie, and Fen have beaten near-impossible odds to assemble their fellow descendants of the Norse Gods and complete epic quests. Their biggest challenge lies ahead: battling the fierce monsters working to bring about the apocalypse. But when they learn that Matt must fight the Midgard Serpent alone and Fen and Laurie are pulled in other directions, the friends realize they can’t take every step of this journey together. Matt, Laurie, and Fen will each have to fight their own battles to survive, to be true to themselves, and to one another – with nothing less than the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

9780544339347Lots of Bots by C. J. Richards; Goro Fujita (Illustrator)

Having defeated the rampaging robots in The Junkyard Bot, George is thrilled to score his dream internship at Tinker Tech. But he and his best pal, Jackbot, realize that something does not compute when a dangerous new invention threatens Terabyte Heights. As he and his friends search for answers, they uncover secrets about George’s past that may change his life . . . forever.
Robots, engineering, and buddy stories have never been this cool, or this much fun. Perfect for restless readers who crave gizmos, gadgets, and mystery by the megabyte Visit www.robotsrulebooks.com to learn more.

FC9780385387927Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve; Sarah McIntyre (Illustrator)

Astra’s family is moving—to a whole new planet. And what does any kid need on moving day? Snacks! But when Astra asks her spaceship’s computer to whip up the ultimate treat, it makes cakes so amazing that they come to life. Now these cake-monsters are destroying the ship! Can Astra and her robot friend, Pilbeam, stop them in time? Or are killer cupcakes a recipe for disaster?

FC9780062112835The Lightning Catcher: The Secrets of the Storm Vortex by Anne Cameron; Victoria Jamieson (Illustrator)

Angus McFangus and his two best friends, Indigo Midnight and Dougal Dewsnap, are starting their second year at the Perilous Exploratorium for Violent Weather and Vicious Storms, where they are being trained to study and, eventually, become lightning catchers and manage the world’s most dangerous weather. They have more than lessons on their minds, however–namely, the fate of Angus’s parents, who have been kidnapped by the villain Scabious Dankhart. Angus’s parents are kept prisoner in Castle Dankhart, where a violent weather explosion has created a “storm vortex” so that no one can tell what is going on inside. It’s Angus, Indigo, and Dougal to the rescue. . . . Will they get there in time and all in one piece? Action-packed, lighthearted, and perfect for reluctant readers.

9780525428565Cast Off: The Strange Adventures of Petra de Winter and Bram Broen by Eve Yohalem

It is 1662, and twelve-year-old Petra sees only one way to escape her abusive father: She stows away on a merchant ship bound for the East Indies. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the illegitimate, half-Dutch / half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden and help disguise her as a boy. If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse . . . returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home—and family—he has. And so as tensions rise on the ship, with pirate attacks, illness, and even mutiny, both Petra and Bram must make impossible decisions about friendship, loyalty, freedom, and survival. Told in alternating voices and filled with secrets and intrigue, this action-packed, richly researched novel is historical fiction at its best.

9781419713699The Runaway’s Gold by Emilie Christie Burack

In 1842, Christopher Robertson’s family lives a difficult life as “crofters,” farmers and fishermen so in debt to the landowner that they have no hope of ever breaking free. To make matters worse, Christopher also lives under the thumb of his morally questionable father and devious brother. When his brother frames him for the theft of their father’s secret bag of coins, Christopher must leave his home and embark on a journey across the island to return the coins and clear his name. It’s a journey that takes twists and turns, including stops in prison, on a smuggler’s ship, and at the house of a beautiful girl–and it ends with him escaping to a new life in America, which has dangers of its own.

Joshua and the Lightning Road by Donna Galanti

image001Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him. In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life.

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes; Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator)

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During a visit to her grandma’s house, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, poems written by her mother when she was growing up. Her mother’s family often moved around the United States and the world because her father was in the Air Force. Over the years, her mother used poetry to record her experiences in the many places the family lived. Reading the poems and sharing those experiences through her mother’s eyes, the young girl feels closer to her mother than ever before. To let her mother know this, she creates a gift: a book with her own poems and copies of her mother’s. And when she returns her mother’s poems to the box in the attic, she leaves her own poems too, for someone else to find, someday. Using free verse for the young girl’s poems and tanka for her mother’s, master poet Nikki Grimes creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child’s need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be.

Nonfiction

9781426318832Myths Busted! 3: Just When You Thought You Knew What You Knew by Emily Krieger

This is the book that will put to rest even more rumors, misconceptions, superstitions, and flat out lies that you hear every day—also known as the book your mom never wanted you to see. Think boys are better at math? Don’t bet on it. Think an apple-a-day keeps the doctor away? Better buy some oranges too. Think you evolved from a chimp? You might want to check your sources on that. Be in the know on all kinds of amazing subjects!

FC9780374300227The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose

At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.

9781481410281A Chicken Followed Me Home! Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page

Why did the chicken cross the road? To follow you home Learn all about a not-so-basic bird in this delightful nonfiction picture book. Celebrated author-illustrator Robin Page leads a step-by-step, question-and-answer-style journey through the world of chickens. Along the way you’ll explore different breeds, discover different types of coops, and learn everything there is to know about chicken reproduction and hatching. Gorgeous, playful, and filled with facts, this engaging nonfiction picture book shines new light on a very familiar fowl

FC9781619302419Civic Unrest: Investigate the Struggle for Social Change by Marcia Amidon Lusted; Lena Chandhok (Illustrator)

From the American Revolution to the French Revolution, from the civil rights era in the United States to Arab Spring in the Middle East, the ongoing battle for freedom and democracy is a profound and fascinating study of the power of human will to change the world. This book examines the history behind civic unrest and the methods people use to fight for basic human rights such as freedom of speech and the right to vote. “Civic Unrest” discusses the different reasons for and methods of revolution, while offering young readers the opportunity to learn about the structure of the U.S. government and how the elements within the U.S. Constitution were decided upon by the Founding Fathers.

FC9780805099768Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw; Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Illustrator)

Once there was a redwood tree–one of the world’s largest and tallest trees, and one of the oldest. And once, born nearly a thousand years after the tree first took root, there was a girl named Julia, who was called Butterfly. When exploring her beloved forest, Butterfly wandered into a grove of ancient trees. One tree had broken branches and a big blue “X” on the side. It was going to be chopped down. Butterfly climbed up into the tree. A tree wouldn’t be cut down if it had a person living in it. This is the story of Julia Butterfly Hill and Luna, the redwood tree she lived in for two years, never once coming down. That is, not until Luna’s future was safe.

FC9781426319211National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by National Geographic Kids

This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.

Dorian Cirrone is the author of several books, including the forthcoming middle-grade novel Saving Summer (S&S/Aladdin, summer 2016). Subscribe to her blog for writing tips and giveaways at: doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog