Tag Archives: New Releases

New Middle Grade Books: September 2016

So many new books this month —  and this is just a sampling! We’ve listed 35 novels here. Take a look:


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How to Avoid Extinction by Paul Acampora (fiction)
Since the death of his grandfather, Leo’s number one chore has been to chase after his grandmother who seems to wander away from home every few days. Now, Gram’s decided to roam farther than ever. And despite his misgivings, Leo’s going along for the ride. With his 17-year-old cousin, Abbey, and an old, gassy dog named Kermit, Leo joins Gram in a big, old Buick to leave their Pennsylvania home for a cross-country road trip filled with foldout maps, family secrets, new friends, and dinosaur bones.

Insert Coin to Continue by John David Anderson (fiction)
One day Bryan wakes up to find out his life has become a video game. Sort of. Except instead of fighting dragons or blasting bad guys, he’s still doing geometry and getting picked last for dodgeball. It’s still middle school. Only now there’s much more at stake.

Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg (fiction)
With candor and compassion, Ann E. Burg unearths a startling chapter of American history — the remarkable story of runaways who sought sanctuary in the wilds of the Great Dismal Swamp — and creates a powerful testament to the right of every human to be free.

The Ungrateful Dead by Rose Cooper (fiction)
When a ghost girl named Harper begs Anna to help her rejoin the living, Anna warns her that it’s impossible. Once you’re dead, you can’t just start living again…or can you? Includes morbidly-cute black-and-white illustrations.

William and the Witch’s Riddle by Shutta Crum (fiction/Adventure)
When William is visited by a mysterious witch named Morga, it seems his and his little brother’s lives might be in danger—unless they help the witch solve a riddle and find a dark family heirloom. A charming reimagination of Sleeping Beauty.

Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee (fiction)
When Lia returns after a summer with her eccentric aunt, it feels like everything has changed within her group of five friends. And after playing a game of Truth or Dare, Lia discovers how those divides are growing wider, and tells a few white lies about what really happened over the summer in order to “keep up.”

The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly (historical fiction)
Adam Gidwitz takes on medieval times in an exciting and hilarious middle grade adventure about class, history, religion…and farting dragons. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout.

Jubilee by Patricia Reilly Giff (fiction)
Judith stopped talking years ago after her mother left. Now she communicates entirely through gestures and taps, and by drawing cartoons, speaking only when she’s alone—or with Dog. Then she discovers that her mother has moved back to the mainland, nearby. If Jubilee finds her, will her mother’s love be what she needs to speak again?

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix (fantasy)
For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

George and the Unbreakable Code by Stephen Hawking, Lucy Hawking, Garry Parsons (fiction/adventure)
Banks are handing out free money, supermarkets aren’t able to charge for their produce so people are getting free food, and aircrafts are refusing to fly. It looks like the world’s biggest and best computers have all been hacked. It’s up to George and Annie to travel further into space than ever before in order to find out what—or who—is behind it.

The Forgetting Machine by Pete Hautman (fiction)
Absentmindedness in Flinkwater, a town overflowing with eccentric scientists and engineers, is nothing new. But when Ginger’s true love and future husband Billy Bates completely forgets who she is, things suddenly get serious, and Ginger swings into action.

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey (fiction)
Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. A heartfelt story about a transgender boy’s journey towards acceptance and empathy.

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi (fiction)
Obayda’s father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room. One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes.

Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey lyall (mystery)
Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. When a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he’s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick—and a friend—is such a bad thing after all.

The Most Frightening Story Ever Told by Philip Kerr (mystery)
Billy Shivers doesn’t have a lot of excitement in his life. He prefers to spend his days reading alone in the Hitchcock Public Library. So it is a bit out of character when he finds himself drawn to the Haunted House of Books, and a competition daring readers to survive an entire night inside. But the frights of the store itself are nothing compared to the stories it holds.

Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur (historical fiction)
Sofarende is at war. For 12-year-old Mathilde, it means food shortages, feuding neighbors, and bombings. But the army is recruiting children, and paying families well for their service. If Megs takes the test, Mathilde knows she will pass. Her friend Megs hopes the army is the way to save her family. Mathilde fears it might separate them forever.

The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere (mystery)
Claudeline Feng LeBernardin learns what it really means to be bad in this colorful and hilarious mystery. When a very strange character by the name of Alma Lingonberry shows up in the neighborhood, Claude gets closer to the crime life than ever. Before long, she’s swept up in a maddening mystery that’s got her wondering: What does it really mean to be bad?

More Than Magic by Kathryn Lasky (fiction/adventure)
Ryder Holmsby is the same age as Rory, the popular TV cartoon character her animator parents created. And then: Shazam! Rory jumps out of the TV into Ryder’s bedroom to tell her that the TV studio behind her parents’ show is trying to turn Rory into a dopey princess—no more adventures. She needs Ryder’s help! The two girls team up with a crew of animated and real-life friends to save the day in both worlds.

Charmed, I’m Sure by Sarah Darer Littman (fairy tales and folklore)
Meet Rosie White Charming. You probably know her parents, Snow and Prince. Yup—that Snow and Prince. You would think that being the only daughter of two of the most famous people in fairy tale history would be awesome. But you would be wrong…

A Long Pitch Home by Natalie Dias Lorenzi (fiction)
Ten-year-old Bilal liked his life back home in Pakistan. He was a star on his cricket team. But when his father suddenly sends the family to live with their aunt and uncle in America, nothing is familiar. Maybe if Bilal can prove himself on the pitcher’s mound, his father will make it to see him play. But playing baseball means navigating relation-hips with the guys, and with Jordan, the only girl on the team—the player no one but Bilal wants to be friends with.

Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin (fiction)
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has gone away unexpectedly and left her niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle, in charge of the Upside-Down House and the beloved animals who live there: Lester the pig, Wag the dog, and Penelope the parrot, among others. Families in town soon realize that, like her great-aunt, Missy Piggle-Wiggle has inventive cures for all sorts of childhood (mis)behavior: the Whatever Cure and the Just-a-Minute Cure, for instance. What is a stressed-out parent to do? Why, call Missy Piggle-Wiggle, of course!

Enter a Glossy Web by Ruebush McKenna and Jaime Zollars (fantasy)
Twelve-year-old George has no idea what to expect when she’s sent to stay with eccentric relatives following the disappearance of her brother. Soon after her arrival, she learns that Uncle Constantine — the Timekeeper — has been kidnapped. If he’s not rescued, events will cease to happen at their designated times, disrupting the unfolding of the universe.

Going Wild by Lisa McMann (fiction/Adventure)
Charlie Wilde knew her life would change forever when her family moved from Chicago to Arizona—but she had no idea how right she’d really be after she discovers a mysterious bracelet. She’s suddenly able to run across the soccer field as fast as a cheetah and lift heavy objects as if she were as strong as an elephant. Of course, Charlie would be thrilled about her transformation if she had any idea how the bracelet works or how to control her amazing powers. So she and her new friends must work together to figure out what’s happening to her and uncover the truth behind the incredible device.

Write This Down by Claudia Mills (fiction)
Autumn decides that she is going to become a published author–now! She writes an essay about her changing relationship with her brother, enters it in a contest, and wins, and her dream of publication is within reach. But if her essay is published, everyone will know her family’s secrets. Is being published worth hurting those you love?

Fishbone’s Song by Gary Paulsen (fiction)
Deep in the woods, in a rustic cabin, lives an old man and the boy he’s raised as his own. This sage old man has taught the boy the power of nature and how to live in it, and more importantly, to respect it. In Fishbone’s Song, this boy reminisces about the magic of the man who raised him and the tales that he used to tell—all true, but different each time.

The Best Man by Richard Peck (fiction)
When Archer is in sixth grade, his beloved uncle Paul marries another man—Archer’s favorite student teacher. But that’s getting ahead of the story, and a wonderful story it is. In Archer’s sweetly naïve but observant voice, his life through elementary school is recounted: the outspoken, ever-loyal friends he makes, the teachers who blunder or inspire, and the family members who serve as his role models. From one exhilarating, unexpected episode to another, Archer’s story rolls along as he puzzles over the people in his life and the kind of person he wants to become…and manages to help his uncle become his best self as well.

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick (fiction)
A heartwarming contemporary middle grade novel about two girls named Naomi—one black, one white—whose divorced parents begin to date. Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way

The Courage Test by James Preller (fiction)
A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail–from Fort Mandan to the shining sea–offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery.

The Memory Wall by Lev AC Rosen (fiction)
Severkin is an elf who slinks through the shadows of Wellhall’s spiraling stone towers, plundering ancient ruins and slaying mystical monstrosities with ease. He’s also a character in a video game—a character that twelve-year-old Nick Reeves plays when he needs a break from the real world. And lately, Nick has really needed a break. His mother had an “incident” at school last year, and her health has taken a turn for the worse.

The Dark Talent: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary–known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders–the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all? Book 5.

Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (fantasy)
The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

Be Like a Bird by Monika Schroder (fiction)
After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,

Bounce by Megal Shull (fiction)
Seventh-grader Frannie Hudson wonders what it would be like to trade in her family for a new one. Her big brother ignores her. Her mean older sister can’t stand her. And her parents have just announced they’re going on a last-minute vacation—without her. When Frannie makes one desperate, crazy wish—BOOM!—she magically bounces into a whole new life—with a totally different family. AND. IT. IS. AMAZING! There’s only one catch: waking up as someone else keeps happening. Frannie begins to worry if she’ll ever get back home.

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart and Diana Sudyka (mystery)
When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch, he soon learns it has a secret power and his life takes an intriguing turn. At first he is thrilled with his new treasure, but as one secret leads to another, Reuben finds himself torn between his innately honest nature and the lure to be a hero.

Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught (Mystery)That’s Dani’s Grandma Beans has Alzheimer’s and Dani isn’t sure about anything any more,  like why Mac Richardson suddenly doesn’t want to be her friend, and why Grandma Beans and Avadelle Richardson haven’t spoken in decades. Lately, Grandma Beans doesn’t make a lot of sense. But when she tells Dani to find a secret key and envelope that she’s hidden, Dani can’t ignore her. So she investigates, with the help of her friend, Indri, and her not-friend, Mac. Their investigation takes them deep into the history of Oxford, Mississippi, and the riots surrounding the desegregation of Ole Miss. The deeper they dig, the more secrets they uncover. Were Grandma Beans and Avadelle at Ole Miss the night of the Meredith Riot? And why would they keep it a secret?




A Chat With Author Kelly Barnhill

Book jacket for The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Some books grab you from the first moment you see their gorgeous cover. Such was the case the first time I saw Kelly Barnhill’s beautiful middle-grade fantasy, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Anticipation grew even more when Barnhill and her publisher released two prequels to the story last month on Entertainment Weekly (read Part 1 and Part 2 for a taste of Barnhill’s storytelling). So I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Kelly and to help her celebrate the release of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Hello Kelly, welcome to From the Mixed-Up Files! Which middle-grade books did you love when you were younger?

A: I wasn’t much of a reader before fifth grade. Like at all. I knew that one should read, and I was very good at pretending to read, but the ability to sink into a page just wasn’t there for me. What I did love was listening. My parents read to us all the time, and I can remember listening to Grimm’s fairy tales, and later C.S. Lewis, and later Tolkien, and later Dickens. I also —thanks to a garage sale purchase of a Fisher Price orange plastic record player — loved checking out books on records from the library. Because, once upon a time, that was a thing. I listened to Treasure Island and Kidnapped and Just So Stories and both Jungle Books. Later, when I started seeking books out on my own, I loved weird things. L. Frank Baum, particularly. And Roald Dahl. And Daniel Pinkwater. And Diana Wynne Jones. And Ursula K. LeGuin. And Andre Norton. You don’t have to scratch my skin very deeply to find the undercurrent of those writers, pulsing in my veins.

Q: Which came first, the story itself or the prequel?

A: Oh, the story. For sure. But one thing that I didn’t realize when I started writing the story was how much Xan’s unremembered history would come to play in the way the action unfolded. There is much that I couldn’t include in the story itself, simply because Xan had chosen not to remember it — because memory is dangerous, as is sorrow. Or so Xan thinks. Anyway, the idea of her as a child in the company of a bunch of irascible magicians and scholars — many of whom do not have her best interests at heart — intrigued me. And so some of the cut pages and a bunch of the notes started swirling around until a story emerged.

Q: Last year, you wrote a novella for adults called The Unlicensed Magician. Can you talk a little bit about the differences between writing for adults and for children? Which do you prefer? Should we expect more adult stories from you in the future?

Writing a novella, I feel, is a bit like the Spanish Inquisition — no one expects it. I have written and published quite a few short stories for grown-ups that have appeared in a variety of journals. I like writing short stories; I like the muscle of it and the precision needed. It’s an entirely different skill set from what is required for a novel. And while I’ve written a few short stories for kids, the vast majority of them have been for adults. I’m not entirely sure why this is. Maybe my “adult fiction voice” is just more narrow than my “children’s fiction voice.” Or something.

When I started “The Unlicensed Magician,” I assumed I was writing a short story. And then 30,000 words poured out over the course of a couple days — just like that. This was a muscle that I didn’t know I had, and when I finished, I was tired and sore and had no idea what to do with the thing. I’m glad it’s found an audience, and that people seem to like it. As far as the intended audience goes — man. I don’t know. I will think and think and think about a story — just the story — and have no idea if it is a kid’s story or an adult’s story or just a weird story that only I would like. I don’t really know that until I’m done. Really, all I think about is the story itself — what the experience is, what the language feels like, what the big ideas are underpinning the whole thing. I don’t think about audience until the very end.

Author Kelly Barnhill

Author Kelly Barnhill

Q: Like you, I attended my first nErDcamp this year. Can you talk a little bit about the experience and what it meant to you as a writer and former teacher?

A: nErDcamp is magic, plain and simple. I have been fighting for so long — first as a teacher and then as a parent — for reading instruction in schools that is humane and empathetic and inspiring and challenging and ultimately joyful. Reading instruction and encouragement that helps young minds to be more than they are through the power of radical empathy in books. And I have found myself thwarted and frustrated at every turn. Coming to nErDcamp felt like coming home. So many joyful teachers! So many joyful book pushers! So many joyful writers and readers and kids! It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Q: You teach writing to adults and children and you mentioned on your web site that a big part of that involves “un-teach(ing) what they have already learned.” Can you elaborate on that?

A: When we learn to write, we learn there are rules, and when we actually write, we throw those rules away. So often, my students come to me already stuck in particular boxes of what they think “good” writing is, and is not, and what kind of writer they think they are, and are not. And primarily, I think a lot of kids and adults have learned over the years that their ideas just aren’t good enough. That they don’t have a story to tell. That an idea for a story is something that happens to other people — special people. This is balderdash. All of us are built out of stories. I have to un-teach them the lie in order to teach them the truth.

Q: What books are on your nightstand right now?
A: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, by V E Schwab. And after that, I have some marvelous Murakami waiting for me. There is something about summer that simply begs for Murakami. After that, I plan to read MR. FOX, by Helen Oyeyemi and a few Diana Wynne Jones books that are due for a re-read.


Oh, how I loved A Darker Shade of Magic and so did both of my children (readers, please note that it is technically adult, although I let my 10 & 11 year old read it!). Thanks so much for your time, Kelly, and best of luck with your new book.

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON releases today from Algonquin Young Readers.

July New Releases

Happy Summer!! Whether you are lounging by the pool, taking a break from playing in the waves, or just sitting in your backyard getting some sun, you can read a book. Take a look at some of the great new ones hitting the stores this month!


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production  by J.K. Rowling ( Arthur A. Levine Books)

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne,Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.



The World of Norm: Norm 10 Paperback by Jonathan Meres (Orchard Books)

Norm knew it was going to be one of those days when he lost his house…But even when he finds it, things don’t get much better. What could be worse than imagining your parents at a salsa dancing event – with your best friend?! Norm’s not sure what’s got into Mikey, but he suspects hormones may be involved. Flipping typical!


Michelangelo for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
by Simonetta Carr (Chicago Review Press)

Michelangelo Buonarroti—known simply as Michelangelo—has been called the greatest artist who has ever lived. His impressive masterpieces astonished his contemporaries and remain some of today’s most famous artworks. Young readers will come to know Michelangelo the man as well as the artistic giant, following his life from his childhood in rural Italy to his emergence as a rather egotistical teenager to a humble and caring old man. They’ll learn that he did exhausting, back-breaking labor to create his art yet worked well, even with humor, with others in the stone quarry and in his workshop. Michelangelo for Kids offers an in-depth look at his life, ideas, and accomplishments, while providing a fascinating view of the Italian Renaissance and how it shaped and affected his work.

The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)

What really happened over the summer break? A curious teacher wants to know. The epic explanation? What started out as a day at the beach turned into a globe-spanning treasure hunt with high-flying hijinks, exotic detours, an outrageous cast of characters, and one very mischievous bird! Is this yet another tall tale, or is the truth just waiting to be revealed? From the team behind I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . comes a fantastical fast-paced, detail-rich illustrated summer adventure that’s so unbelievable, it just might be true!


The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers (Henry Holt & Co.)

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.
When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.


Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux)

Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.