Tag Archives: fantasy

June New Releases

A couple of new series launch, others continue — and many, many delightful new stand-alone books. All in time for summer reading purchases and your library hold lists. Here we go:

The Education of Ivy Blake by Ellen Airgood
ivy blakeIvy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing public tantrums often make Ivy feel ashamed and alone. Fortunately, Ivy is able to find solace in art, in movies, and from the pleasure she finds in observing and appreciating life’s small, beautiful moments. And when things with her mom reach the tipping point, this ability gives her the strength and power to push on and shape her own future.

dungeoneersThe Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will.

enemies and endingsOf Enemies and Endings by Shelby Bach
Conclusion to the Ever After series. The whole fairy-tale world is on high alert. The Snow Queen and her minions are targeting Characters, and Ever After School is the only safe refuge left. Rory Landon knows a final confrontation is inevitable, and she worries about the safety of her family and friends–particularly Chase, who has been acting very strange lately. Will Rory be able to count on Chase when she needs him most? Can she put an end to the Snow Queen’s terrible reign once and for all? It’s time for Rory to find out if her tale ends in happily-ever-after.

ruby on the outsideRuby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes is about to start middle school, and only her aunt knows her deepest, darkest, most secret secret: her mother is in prison. Then Margalit Tipps moves into Ruby’s condo complex, and the two immediately hit it off. Ruby thinks she’s found her first true-blue friend–but can she tell Margalit the truth about her mom? Maybe not. Because it turns out that Margalit’s family history seems closely connected to the very event that put her mother in prison, and if Ruby comes clean, she could lose everything she cares about most.

circus mirandusCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

book scavengerBook Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. When Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book that might have a copy of the new game, they , which they rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game–before those who attacked Griswold come after them, too.

wand and seaThe Wand & the Sea by Claire M. Caterer
Holly and Ben are back, hoping to again join Everett and return to Anglielle, the land ruled by a ruthless king and sorcerer who have outlawed magic.
But when they arrive, Anglielle is not what they expect: Their friends are imprisoned and the alliance is scattered. Ruthless King Reynard and the sorcerer Raethius are determined to find the very Adepts they exiled in the first place. But why? It’s up to Holly and the boys to sail to the Isle of Exile and find the Adepts first, but that means enlisting the help of the Water Elementals–and a pirate captain with a secret agenda.

i text dead peopleI Text Dead People by Rose Cooper
Annabel Craven’s worried she’ll be friendless and phoneless at the Academy. But when she finds a mysterious phone in the woods near the cemetery, one of her problems is solved . . . and another one is just beginning. Someone won’t stop texting her. And that someone seems . . . dead. How is Annabel supposed to make friends when her phone keeps blowing up with messages from the afterlife? And what will happen if she doesn’t text back?

raising rufusRaising Rufus by David Fulk
Martin stumbles across an egg, which is remarkable in itself … but then a week later he finds himself taking care of a Tyrannosaurus rex. As the summer unfolds, Martin finds it harder and harder to keep Rufus hidden from rest of the world.  Can Martin save Rufus from his parents, his neighbors, and most importantly, the owner of the town carnival? With the help of his best friend, Audrey, and his science teacher, Mr. Ekhart, Martin must uncover his inner hero and find Rufus a home, even if it means losing the one thing he’s come to really care about.

mothman's curseMothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes
Josie may live in the most haunted town in America, but the only strange thing she ever sees is the parade of oddball customers that comes through her family’s auction house each week. When she and her brothers discover a Polaroid camera that prints pictures of the ghost of local recluse John Goodrich, they are drawn into a mystery dating back over a hundred years. A desperate spirit, cursed jewelry, natural disasters, and the horrible specter of Mothman all weave in and out of the puzzle that Josie must solve to break the curse and save her own life.

sign of the catThe Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
Duncan is very smart. He also has a most unusual gift. So why does his mother encourage him to be perfectly average and insist he only get mediocre grades ? His special talent is the ability to talk to cats–but Duncan longs more than anything for academic success. When Duncan rebels and gets a perfect test score, people start taking notice of him. And it turns out that some of those people may not have the best intentions . . . not by a long shot.

nooks and cranniesNooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Tabitha Crum, who never goes anywhere without her pet mouse Pemberley, receives one of six invitations to the country estate of wealthy Countess Camilla DeMoss. Upon the children’s arrival at the sprawling (and possibly haunted) mansion, it turns out the countess has a very big secret–one that will change their lives forever. When children beginning disappearing, one by one. Tabitha takes a cue from her favorite detective novels and, with Pemberley by her side, takes on the case to rescue the other children, who might just be her first real friends.

unlikely adventures mabel jonesThe Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt
Kidnapped, Mabel is forced to serve aboard “The Feroshus Maggot” with the strangest crew you ll ever meet. And the captain an odious wolf named Idryss Ebenezer Split won t let her go until she helps the pirates unlock the treasure they seek.
Mabel’s voyage takes her across the Greasy Pole of Certain Death, into the belly of a whale, and underground to a decrepit crypt. And she does it all in pajamas

just my rotten luckJust My Rotten Luck by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
In this seventh Middle School episode, Rafe heads back to the place his misadventures began: the dreaded Hills Village Middle School, where he’s now being forced to take “special” classes and ends up on the school’s football team–alongside his main tormenter, Miller the Killer. Rafe has grand plans for a better year, including a super-secret art project. And he may just have to deal with something completely new: popularity.

spacejackersSpacejackers by Huw Powell
As a baby, Jake Cutler was separated from his family and left on the planet Remota, deep in the seventh solar system. Eleven years later and Jake isn’t like other boys-he has purple eyes and carries a secret within himself that could change the entire universe. When Remota is attacked by ruthless space pirates on the hunt for Jake, he manages to escape. But now he’s on the run with a bounty hunter and the suspicious-looking crew of a spaceship called the “Dark Horse.” Forced to contend with zero-gravity, shipwrecks, black holes, and countless enemies, Jake must discover the truth about his past before he is hunted down and caught.

crown of threeCrown of Three by J.D. Rinehart
First in series. Toronia, a kingdom composed of three realms, is wracked with civil war. King Brutan rules with an iron fist. Cruelty and suffering abound. The kingdom’s only hope is a prophecy that the king will have triplets who will one day rebel and take over the throne. Separated at birth and scattered throughout the realms, the triplets face a desperate fight to secure their destiny. Will they survive long enough to rule?

woundaboutWoundabout by Lev Rosen
Siblings Connor and Cordelia and their pet capybara are sent to the precariously perched town of Woundabout to live with their eccentric aunt. Woundabout is a place where the mayor has declared that routine rules above all, and no one is allowed to as questions–because they should already know the answers. But Connor and Cordelia can’t help their curiosity when they discover a mysterious crank that fits into certain parts of the town, and by winding the crank, places are transformed into something beautiful. When the townspeople see this transformation, they don’t see beauty–they only see change. And change, the mayor says, is something to fear. With the mayor hot on their trail, can Connor and Cordelia find a way to wind Woundabout back to life?

everyday etiquetteCassidy’s Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation) by Sue Stauffacher
Eleven-year-old Cassidy has just inherited a gift from her late great-grandmother. Unfortunately, that gift turns out to be a summer trapped in etiquette school. What good are manners, anyway, for a girl who dreams of living life on the road as a hobo er, knight of the road ? As if trying to remember to keep her elbows off the table isn t bad enough, Cassidy’s best friend, Jack, suddenly seems more interested in doing chores for the new teenage girl who’s moved in next door than in fishing with Cassidy down by the river. Not even her classic epic pranks seem to be saving Cassidy from having her worst summer ever. It’s time to face facts: growing up stinks.

golden capeAttack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti
When twelve-year-old Miles Taylor unexpectedly inherits a golden cape that gives him amazing superpowers, his life instantly changes: he becomes a superhero. For real. With some help from a new friend named Henry, Miles does his best to protect his city. But his skills and courage are about to be put to the ultimate test–an alien horde is working its way toward Earth, with their sights set on the golden cape…and total domination. An adventure story with humor — and comics.

survival strategiesSurvival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White
It’s easy to be brave when your eight-year-old sister, Billie, looks up to you as her protector. Twelve-year-old Liberty feels it’s her job to look after Billie once they are sent to live with their father, whom they haven’t seen since they were very young. Dad is unpredictable on his best days, but when he abandons the girls at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, Liberty’s courage is truly put to the test.

Descriptions and book cover images from IndieBound.


April New Releases: 13 Middle-Grade Novels

So many books to buy or place on hold at your library this month! Here are a few hand-picked middle-grade titles for your to-read list:

Hide and Seek (Capture the Flag, #2)Hide and Seek by Kate Messner
José, Anna, and Henry are junior members of the secret Silver Jaguar Society, sworn to protect the world’s most important artifacts. When they discover that the society’s treasured Jaguar Cup has been replaced with a counterfeit, the trio and their families rush to the rain forests of Costa Rica in search of the real chalice. But when the trail runs dry, new mysteries emerge: Who can they trust? Is there a traitor in their midst? With danger at every turn, it will take more than they realize for José and his friends to recover the cup before it falls into the wrong hands. This is the sequel to Capture the Flag. (April 1.)


All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens by Gloria Whelan
Rosalind inhabits two worlds in 1920s India. There is the world of her heritage—English to the core, with a strict father who is a major in the British Indian Army, a muted mother, and a tutor to educate her within the walls of the luxurious estate her family occupies. And then there is the world of her homeland—or the land that feels like home, anyway. The world where followers of Gandhi surround her, and the streets are full of poverty and the whispers of independence.  When she has a chance to meet the Prince of Wales, Rosalind must decide if she has the courage to speak up about the injustice she witnesses in the streets of India. (April 2)

The Key and the Flame by Claire M. Caterer
Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard is given an old iron key that unlocks a door—in a tree—that opens to the stunning and magical medieval world of Anglielle. Holly is joined on her journey by two tagalongs—her younger brother Ben, and Everett, an English boy who hungers after Holly’s newfound magic and carries a few secrets of his own. When Ben and Everett are sentenced to death by the royals, whose fear of magic has fueled a violent, systemic slaughter of all enchanted creatures, Holly must save them and find a way back home. But will she be able to muster the courage and rise above her ordinary past to become an extraordinary hero? (April 2)

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley
Things aren’t looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she’s needed on the family farm. The longer she’s out of school, the more likely it is that she’ll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a staggering sum and says she will return in three weeks for more. Mehrigul must brave terrible storms, torn-up hands from working the fields, and her father’s scorn to get the baskets done. The stakes are high, and time is passing. An intergenerational story of a strong, creative young artist in a cruelly oppressive society. (April 2)

The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors
When Ben Silverstein is sent to the rundown town of Buttonville to spend the summer with his grandfather, he’s certain it will be the most boring vacation ever. That is, until his grandfather’s cat brings home what looks like . . . a baby dragon?
Ben takes the wounded dragon to the only veterinarian’s office in town: Dr. Woo’s Worm Hospital. But as Ben and his friend Pearl discover once they are inside, Dr. Woo’s isn’t a worm hospital at all — it’s actually a secret hospital for imaginary creatures, and now it seems a rather large, rather stinky, and very hairy beast has escaped from the hospital. (April 2)

Story's End (Storybound, #2)Story’s End
  (Storybound Book #2) by Marissa Burt
Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles when a King ruled the land of Story long ago. Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan. Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story’s past–and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story’s only hope for survival. (April 2)

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
Thirteen-year old Jemma has no clue about her supernatural powers, let alone that a Prophecy says she is the one who will save her country from the evil Agromond rulers and the sinister Mist they create. Then, some very disturbing discoveries reveal the truth of who she really is, propelling Jemma into dark dangers that she faces with her two telepathic golden rats, and her friend Digby. But in the end, her own untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril. Magic, mystery, and mayhem spice this action-packed medieval-flavored fantasy debut. (April 9)

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change: Rump can spin straw into gold. Magical gold. His best friend Red Riding Hood warns him that magic is dangerous. With each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse. There’s only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—Rump just might triumph in the end. (April 9)

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino
Eleven-year-old musical prodigy Elvis Ruby was supposed to win Tween Star, the most coveted reality show on television. None of the other contestants even came close to his talents. But in the middle of the biggest night, with millions of people watching, Elvis panicked. He forgot the words to the song. He forgot the tune. He forgot how to play every single instrument he’d ever known and froze on national TV. So Elvis must run from the paparazzi camped outside his door and spend the summer working with his aunt and cousin at Piney Pete’s Pancake Palace in the remote wilds of New Jersey. It’s the perfect place to be anonymous, that is until Elvis meets Cecilia, a girl who can’t seem to help blurting out whatever’s on her mind. (April 16)

Hero on a BicycleHero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though, and neither have thirteen-year- old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings, with only a bicycle to help them, do against a whole army? Middle-grade fans of history and adventure will be riveted by the action and the vividly evoked tension of World War II. This is the first novel by Hughes, who has written more than 50 books and has twice won the Kate Greenway award for illustration in Britain.

The Ability by M.M Vaughan
When Christopher begins at his new school, he is astounded at what he can do. It seems that age twelve is a special time for the human brain, which is capable of remarkable feats. Schoolmates Ernest and Mortimer Genver, at the direction of their vengeful and manipulative mother, are testing the boundaries of the human mind. All this experimentation has definite consequences, and Chris soon finds himself forced to face them … or his new life will be over before it can begin. (April 23)

TGirl from Felony Bay, Thehe Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
The last year has been rougher than sandpaper for Abbey Force and her dad. He’s in a coma after his accident a year back, wherein he was framed for a terrible crime he didn’t commit. And their home on the eastern coast of South Carolina had to be sold to pay off his debt. The new family that moved into Abbey’s old house has a daughter named Bee who is just as curious about all the No Trespassing signs and holes being dug out by Felony Bay, in the corner of what used to be Abbey’s home. It appears someone’s been poking around a mystery that dates all the way back to the Civil War—and it just might be the same someone who framed Abbey’s dad. (April 30)

The Hero's Guide to Storming the CastleThe Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don’t you? They’re the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses–Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose–to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening–even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. (April 30)

                             Book descriptions courtesy of publishers and IndieBound.

August new releases

August = reading for pure pleasure, at least in a perfect world. And August 2012 is looking fairly perfect, with a wide selection of middle grade fiction and a couple of notable nonfiction titles. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, here are a few titles to add to your TBR (to be read) list.


Liar & Spy (Wendy Lamb Books) — Rebecca Stead
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

 Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead’s Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end.

Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff (Random House) — Jennifer L. Holm (author); Elicia Castaldi (illustrator)
Ginny has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to try out for cheerleading, join Virtual Vampire Vixens, and maybe even fall in love. But middle school is more of a roller-coaster ride than Ginny could have ever predicted. Her family has just moved into a fancy new house when Ginny’s stepdad loses his job. (Can worrying about money make you sick?). Ginny’s big brother keeps getting into trouble. And there’s a new baby on the way. (Living proof that Ginny’s mom and stepdad are having sex. Just what she needs.) Filled with Post-its, journal entries, grocery lists, hand-drawn comic strips, report cards, IMs, notes, and more, Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick is the sometimes poignant, often hilarious, always relatable look at a year in the life of one girl, told entirely through her stuff.

A Star Is Born: Book 3 in The Cruisers series (Scholastic Press) — Walter Dean Myers
The Cruiser, an alternative newspaper published by Zander and his crew of middle school misfits, is alive and well. And now there’s plenty to report on when LaShonda, one of the Cruisers, steps into the spotlight with her costume designs for an upcoming play. LaShonda’s designs get rave reviews, but she soon learns that show business is filled with challenges and choices. LaShonda is forced to consider what’s more important–fame, or loyalty to her autistic brother. Whether she gets a standing ovation or the curtain pulled down on her is up to LaShonda. And she can’t help but wonder if the Cruisers have got her back and will be there for her whether she’s center stage or waiting in the wings.

Dear Blue Sky (Scholastic Press) —  Mary Sullivan
Ever since her brother Sef left for Iraq, Cassie has felt like her life is falling apart. Her parents are fighting over her brother having gone to war. Her smart, beautiful sister is messing up. Her little brother, who has Down syndrome, is pretending he’s a Marine. And her best friend no longer has time for her. In her loneliness Cassie turns to a surprising source of comfort: Blue Sky, an Iraqi girl she meets through her blog. The girls begin a correspondence and Cassie learns that when Blue Sky says “I want my life back,” she means something profound, as she can no longer venture out in her destroyed city. Cassie takes strength from Blue Sky’s courage and is inspired to stop running away from the pain, and to reclaim her life.

Hisss-s-s-s-s! (Holiday House) — Eric A. Kimmel
Omar wants a snake more than anything, but his mom is unenthusiastic to say the least. However, the family manages to strike a compromise: Omar can get a corn snake; but the pet, which he names Arrow, must stay inside Omar’s room, where his mom will not have to set eyes on it. So when Arrow escapes, Omar has got to keep his family from finding out. But with an inquisitive little sister, and parents mindful of odd behavior, Omar is having a time of it. When Arrow makes a surprise appearance, it couldn’t be at the worst moment–yet the incident becomes a catalyst for Omar to gain a new understanding of his mother and her childhood in war-torn Lebanon.

The Second Life of Abigail Walker (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) —  Frances O’Roark Dowell
Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies—and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who’s as different as they come. Anders is homeschooled, and while he’s worried that Abby’s former friends are out to get her, he’s even more worried about his dad, a war veteran home from Afghanistan who is dangerously disillusioned with life. But if his dad can finish his poem about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, if he can effectively imagine what it is to experience freshness and innocence, maybe he will be okay. As Abby dives into the unexpected role as research assistant, she just as unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, there is plenty there for herself, as well.

After Eli (Candlewick) — Rebecca Rupp
Some people die heroically, others accidentally. When Daniel Anderson’s older brother dies, he wonders which category Eli’s death falls into. In an attempt to understand, Danny creates a Book of the Dead — an old binder that he fills with details about dead people, how they died, and, most important, for what purpose. Time passes, and eventually Daniel is prompted to look up from his notebook of death and questions to make new friends and be swept into their imaginings.


Hunter Moran Saves the Universe (Holiday House) —  Patricia Reilly Giff
Twins Hunter and Zack have a small problem to solve: they must save their town from a diabolical dentist who is planning to blow it to smithereens. But first they have to hold a funeral for an incriminating report card before it breaks their mother’s heart, hide a cello that has been demolished, and keep their father from finding out what they did to his laptop. None of this is going to be easy with their busybody older sister, Linny, watching their every move; older brother, William, just waiting to get them in trouble; five-year-old brother, Steadman, tailing them; and baby Mary banging her spoon like a maniac so no one can think. Before the book is over, a vintage airplane, a hot air balloon, and a borrowed fire engine will all play parts in the unfolding mystery.


Always October (HarperCollins) – Bruce Coville
No doubt about it, little brothers can be monsters. When sixth grader Jake Doolittle finds a baby on the doorstep and his mother decides to keep it, those words are more than just an expression. Instead, they perfectly describe the way his new little brother, LD, sprouts pointy ears, thick fur, and fangs in moonlight. Not only is LD a monster. . . . other monsters have plans for him. But together with his friend “Weird Lily” Carker, Jake isn’t about to let anything happen to the baby. The little guy is still his brother, even if it turns out that LD may be the key to saving the world—or destroying it. Soon Jake and Lily are on a perilous quest through Always October, a world populated with monsters ranging from the venomous to the ridiculous.

Ungifted (Balzer + Bray) – Gordon Korman
The word “gifted” has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It’s usually more like “Don’t try this at home.” So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he’s finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students. It wasn’t exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn’t be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book (Amulet Books) —  Tom Angleberger
With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their own—no Origami Yoda to give advice and help them navigate the treacherous waters of middle school. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from Dwight—a paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It’s a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that’s just as good as Yoda’s—even if, in the hands of the girls, it seems too preoccupied with romance. In the meantime, Dwight is fitting in a little too well at Tippett. Has the unimaginable happened? Has Dwight become normal? It’s up to his old friends at McQuarrie to remind their kooky friend that it’s in his weirdness that his greatness lies


Emily and Jackson Hiding Out (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) —  Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Emily Wiggins is thrilled that she and her orphan friend Jackson have escaped the clutches of the Child-Catching Services and Emily’s villainous uncle Victor. Emily and Jackson are now living happily with her loving aunt Hilda. But just a mighty mouth minute! Someone’s snooping around for an orphan child on the run! He knows Jackson is hiding nearby and aims to get a reward for snatching him and sending him to work at a mill. What in leapin’ livers should Jackson do? And Emily can’t rest easy either, since some sort of creature is coming to their gate when Jackson and Emily are home alone. What in simmering succotash is that moving pile of dirt? Is it a heap of black rags, is it a dusty tumbleweed, no it’s . . .

Kizzy Ann Stamps (Candlewick Press) —  Jeri Hanel Watts
In 1963, as Kizzy Ann prepares for her first year at an integrated school, she worries about the color of her skin, the scar running from the corner of her right eye to the tip of her smile, and whether anyone at the white school will like her. She writes letters to her new teacher in a clear, insistent voice, stating her troubles and asking questions with startling honesty. The new teacher is supportive, but not everyone feels the same, so there is a lot to write about. Her brother, James, is having a far less positive school experience than she is, and the annoying white neighbor boy won’t leave her alone. But Shag, her border collie, is her refuge. Even so, opportunity clashes with obstacle. Kizzy Ann knows she and Shag could compete well in the dog trials, but will she be able to enter?

Jump into the Sky (Knopf Books for Young Readers) —  Shelley Pearsall
Levi Battle’s been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman—until Levi’s grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi’s staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it’s 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it’s time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayettville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed—last they knew.



Splendors and Glooms (Candlewick Press) — Laura Amy Schlitz
The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. 
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. 
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

The Wondrous Journals of Dr. Wendell Wellington Wiggins (Knopf Books for Young Readers) —  Lesley M.M. Blume
The journals of Dr. Wendell Wellington Wiggins might just be the most extraordinary contribution to the study of the earth’s past since the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. In the incredible pages of these thought-to-be-lost diaries, Dr. Wiggins—whom we now must consider the greatest paleozoologist of all time—has divulged the secrets of the truly ancient animal world: a world before human beings; a world before dinosaurs; a world that, until now, existed well beyond the outer reaches of human imagination.

The Prairie Thief (Simon & Schuster) — Melissa Wiley (author) and Erwin Madrid (illustrator)
Louisa Brody’s life on the Colorado prairie is not at all what she expected. Her dear Pa, accused of thievery, is locked thirty miles away in jail. She’s living with the awful Smirches, her closest neighbors and the very family that accused her Pa of the horrendous crime. And now she’s discovered one very cantankerous—and magical—secret beneath the hazel grove. With her life flipped upside-down, it’s up to Louisa, her sassy friend Jessamine, and that cranky secret to save Pa from a guilty verdict.


The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy (Razorbill) —  Nikki Loftin
Lorelei is bowled over by Splendid Academy — Principal Trapp encourages the students to run in the hallways, the classrooms are stocked with candy dishes, and the cafeteria serves lavish meals featuring all Lorelei’s favorite foods. But the more time she spends at school, the more suspicious she becomes. Why are her classmates growing so chubby? And why do the teachers seem so sinister?

It’s up to Lorelei and her new friend Andrew to figure out what secret this supposedly splendid school is hiding. What they discover chills their bones — and might even pick them clean!

Mix one part magic, one part mystery, and just a dash of Grimm, and you’ve got the recipe for a cozy-creepy read that kids will gobble up like candy.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) — Claire Legrand
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.) But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

Survivors: The Empty City (HarperCollins) —  Erin Hunter
First in a new series. Lucky is a golden-haired mutt with a nose for survival. He has always been a Lone Dog, relying on his instincts to get by. Other dogs have Packs, but Lucky stands alone. Then the Big Growl strikes. Suddenly, the ground is split wide open. The Trap House is destroyed. And all the longpaws have disappeared. Now Lucky is trapped in a strange and desolate new world with no food, foul water, and enemies at every turn. He falls in with others left behind, including his littermate Bella, a Leashed Dog. Relying on other dogs—and having them depend on him—brings new dangers that Lucky isn’t prepared for, but he may not be able to survive on his own. Can Lucky ever be a true Pack Dog?

The Spy Princess (Viking Children’s Books) — Sherwood Smith
When twelve-year-old Lady Lilah decides to disguise herself and sneak out of the palace one night, she has more of an adventure than she expected–for she learns very quickly that the country is on the edge of revolution. When she sneaks back in, she learns something even more surprising: her older brother Peitar is one of the forces behind it all. The revolution happens before all of his plans are in place, and brings unexpected chaos and violence. Lilah and her friends, leaving their old lives behind, are determined to help however they can. But what can four kids do? Become spies, of course!


Zora! The Life of Zora Neal Hurston (Clarion Books) —  Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
From beginning to end, author Zora Neale Hurston’s life was extraordinary. As a young and confident girl who grew up in an all-black community in Eatonville, Florida, she didnt experience the prejudice that many African Americans felt at the time. In fact, she was so confident as a child, that she thought the moon followed her wherever she went. Such confidence could only lead one down the path of becoming a writer, and so Zora Neale Hurston traveled to New York City where she met prominent African American writers such as Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and many more figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Unfortunately, despite writing such luminary works as Their Eyes Were Watching God, she was always tight on money. Though she took odd jobs as a housemaid and as the personal assistant to an actress, Zora often found herself in abject poverty. Through it all, Zora kept writing. And though none of her books sold more than a thousand copies while she was alive, she was rediscovered a decade later by a new generation of readers, who knew they had found an important voice of American Literature.

Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing and Rescue (Dutton Children’s Books) —  Peg Kehret
A mother cat and her kittens, shot with a pellet gun. A poacher illegally stalking a bear. Peg Kehret tells these true stories and more as she invites readers into her life on a small wildlife sanctuary. Vividly showing the joys of animal rescue while providing facts about the animals and birds she encounters, Kehret also shares the tragedy of her husband’s sudden death, and the pain of losing Pete, the shelter cat who co-authored three of her books. Written with honesty, heart, and humor, Animals Welcome is a personal glimpse into the life of an author who loves animals, and the philosophy by which she lives.


Summaries and descriptions from IndieBound and publishers. And we’d like to thank them very much!