Browsing the archives for the fantasy tag.


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

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

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

    July 10, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

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

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  • April New Releases: 13 Middle-Grade Novels

    Book Lists, New Releases

    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.

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    August new releases

    Book Lists, 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.

    REALISTIC FICTION

    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.


    MYSTERY

    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.

    HUMOROUS

    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

    HISTORICAL FICTION

    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.

     

    FANTASY / HISTORICAL FICTION

    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.

    FANTASY

    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!

    NONFICTION

    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!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    All Aboard the Fantasy Train!

    Book Lists

    Have you already read the Harry Potter series backward and forward? Then climb aboard the fantasy train for more great fantasy adventures. Okay, take one more ride on the Hogwarts Express first. We’ll wait.

    Photo credit: Karen B. Schwartz, taken at Universal Studios

    All good? Then check out these great fantasy adventures!

    THE BOGGART by Susan Cooper

    From IndieBound:  When Emily and Jess Volnik’s family inherits a remote, crumbling Scottish castle, they also inherit the Boggart — an invisible, mischievous spirit who’s been playing tricks on residents of Castle Keep for generations. Then the Boggart is trapped in a rolltop desk and inadvertently shipped to the Volniks’ home in Toronto, where nothing will ever be the same — for the Volniks or the Boggart.

    In a world that doesn’t believe in magic, the Boggart’s pranks wreak havoc. And even the newfound joys of peanut butter and pizza and fudge sauce eventually wear thin for the Boggart. He wants to go home — but his only hope lies in a risky and daring blend of modern technology and ancient magic.

    THE WARRIORS series by Erin Hunter

    From IndieBound:  Fire alone can save our Clan…

    For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by the powerful ancestors. But the warrior code is threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying — and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

    In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty . . . Who may yet turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

    THE HOUND OF ROWAN: Book One of the Tapestry by Henry H. Neff

    From IndieBound: Max McDaniels lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago, until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. Many strange people are interested in Max and his tapestry. His discovery leads him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where great things await him.

    But dark things are waiting, too. When Max learns that priceless artworks and gifted children are disappearing, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil. To survive, he’ll have to rely on a network of agents and mystics, the genius of his roommate, and the frightening power awakening within him.

    THE STEPS ACROSS THE WATER by Adam Gopnik

    From IndieBound:  Ten-year-old Rose lives in New York, the city of bright lights and excitement, and a seemingly endless variety of people, architecture, and food–where extraordinary things happen every day on every block. But Rose wasn’t born in New York; she was adopted as an infant from a far-away country. Though Rose loves her home and her adopted family, sometimes she can’t help but feel different, like she’s meant to be somewhere else. Then one day in Central Park, Rose sees something truly extraordinary: a crystal staircase rising out of the lake, and two small figures climbing the shimmering steps before vanishing like a mirage. Only it’s wasn’t a mirage. Rose is being watched–recruited–by representatives of U Nork, a hidden city far more spectacular than its sister city New York. In U Nork, Dirigibles and zeppelins skirt dazzling skyscrapers that would dwarf the Crysler building. Impeccably dressed U Norkers glide along the sidewalks in roller skates. Rose can hardly take it all in. Then she learns the most astonishing thing about U Nork. Its citizens are in danger, and they need Rose’s help, and hers alone.

    UNDER THE GREEN HILL by Laura L. Sullivan

    From IndieBound:  Meg and her siblings have been sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with elderly relatives. The children are looking forward to exploring the ancient mansion and perhaps discovering a musty old attic or two filled with treasure, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war.

    When Rowan pledges to fight for the beautiful fairy queen, Meg is desperate to save her brother. But the Midsummer War is far more than a battle between mythic creatures: Everything that lives depends on it. How can Meg choose between family and the fate of the very land itself?

    And don’t forget the classics:

    THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster

    A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle

    THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien

    THE ENCHANTED CASTLE by Edith Nesbit

    HALF MAGIC by Edward Eager

    Tell us your favorites in the comments!

    Karen B. Schwartz had the good fortune to visit Harry Potter land at Universal Studios with a bunch of other Muggles. She’s got the magic wand and screaming yo-yo to show for it.

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