Whether you’re roasting chestnuts on an open fire or skiing in Colorado, there’s always room for reading during the holiday season. So grab a chair and treat yourself to one of these sweet December releases!
The Bully Book: A Novel (HarperCollins) – Eric Kahn Gale. When the author was eleven, he was bullied. This book is loosely based on incidents that happened to him in sixth grade. Eric Haskins, the new sixth-grade bully target, is searching for answers. And unlike many of us who experienced something awful growing up, he finds them. Though they may not be what he expected. Originally self-published as an ebook by a member of Team Starkid, The Bully Book is now available in print and ebook editions. A Top Ten Indie Next List pick of 2013.
Case File 13: Zombie Kid (HarperCollins) – J. Scott Savage. The dark adventures of Nick, Carter, and Angelo, three boys who possess an unhealthy obsession with monsters. In this volume, look for voodoo queens, graveyards, and even the dreaded Zombie King himself. Kirkus Reviews describes this book as “striking the perfect balance between rib-tickling humor and bone-chilling adventure.”
Cake: Love, chickens, and a taste of peculiar (Zondervan) – Joyce Magnin. More than frosting filled those cakes… Wilma Sue seems destined to go from one foster home to the next—until she is sent to live with sisters and missionaries, Ruth and Naomi. Do they really care about Wilma Sue, or are they just looking for a Cinderella-style farmhand to help raise chickens and bake cakes? As Wilma Sue adjusts to her new surroundings and helps deliver ‘special’ cakes, Wilma Sue realizes there’s something strange going on. She starts looking for secret ingredients, and along the way she makes a new friend, Penny. When Penny and her mother hit a rough patch, Naomi decides to make her own version of cake—with disastrous results. Then tragedy strikes the chickens, and all fingers point to Wilma Sue—just when she was starting to believe she could at last find a permanent home with Ruth and Naomi. Will the sisters turn her out, or will she discover what it feels like to be truly loved?
I Funny: A Middle School Story (Little, Brown) – James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein. Jamie Grimm is a middle schooler on a mission: he wants to become the world’s greatest standup comedian–even if he doesn’t have a lot to laugh about these days. He’s new in town and stuck living with his aunt, uncle, and their evil son Stevie, a bully who doesn’t let Jamie’s wheelchair stop him from messing with Jamie as much as possible. But Jamie doesn’t let his situation get him down. He practices the craft of stand-up every day on friends, family, and the willing customers at his Uncle Frankie’s diner. When Uncle Frankie mentions a contest called The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic, Jamie knows he has to enter. But are the judges only rewarding him out of pity because of his wheelchair, like Stevie suggests? Will Jamie ever share the secret of his troubled past instead of hiding behind his comedy act?
Magicalamity (Delacorte) – Kate Saunders. Tom is in shock. He’s just discovered that his dad is an escaped fairy on the run. And that he must trust his life to three dangerous fairy godmothers he’s never met. Two of them are hardened criminals, and one falls out of the window when she tries to fly. Will their mad magic be enough to help Tom rescue his dad from the clutches of some killer fairies?
Moment of Truth (Saranormal) (Simon Spotlight) – Phoebe Rivers. Sara now understands who she really is—why she has paranormal powers, why she’s living in Stellamar, and why it’s important to have Lady Azura in her life. What she doesn’t understand is how her best friend, Lily Randazzo, can have a crush on a boy who’s not alive. Kyle and his family died in a car accident while visiting Stellamar over the holidays, but Kyle isn’t aware of his sudden death and can still walk around like he’s alive. Only Sara knows he’s really a spirit, and if she doesn’t say something to Lily, there could be traumatizing consequences. Lady Azura firmly warns Sara against interfering, saying that this sort of spirit phenomena is a recipe for disaster. But Sara knows she has no choice…she has to protect her best friend and help Kyle learn the truth. Can she do so without hurting Lily in the process?
Pandora the Curious (Goddess Girls) (Aladdin) – Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams. Pandora is one of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy—and probably the most curious of all the students in school. Her quizzical nature is famous—not that she thinks there is anything wrong with being curious, of course! When a godboy named Epimetheus brings a mysterious and fantastical box to school, Pandora’s curiosity is piqued. And when it unexpectedly lands in her lap—literally—she can’t help but take a look at what’s inside. What could be the harm in that? But little does she know that opening the box will open up more trouble than she thought….
The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers, Book 5 (Scholastic) – Linda Sue Park. When seven members of their family were kidnapped, thirteen-year-old Dan Cahill and his older sister, Amy, got ready for the fight of their lives. But their enemy, a terrifying group known as the Vespers, remained frustratingly elusive. They stay in the shadows, picking off Cahills one by one. And now the Vespers have landed their most serious blow yet – a blow that strikes at the very heart of the Cahill family. Because Amy and Dan discover that there’s a Vesper mole in their innermost circle. Amy and Dan need to smoke out the traitor before the next hostage dies. They have just days to discover who has their back . . . and who wants to sink a knife into it.
The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie (Razorbill) – Jacqueline Resnick. Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That’s why they’re known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford’s farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It’s an idyllic existence–until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying tricks. At the circus, Smalls and his friends only have slop to eat. They live in filthy, cramped cages. And they’re bullied by a rough band of trained animals called the Lifers. It’s worse than awful–it’s despicable! But then young Bertie Magnificence comes along, and he and Smalls form the kind of friendship that inspires hope. They decide that something needs to change…and fast. With the help of an acrobat named Susan, Smalls and Bertie set in motion a heroic plan.
The Marble Queen (Amazon Children’s Publishing) – Stephanie J. Blake. Freedom Jane McKenzie isn’t good at following the rules. She doesn’t like any of the things that girls are supposed to like. She’s good at fishing, getting into trouble—and playing marbles. All she wants is to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and show the boys in the neighborhood that she’s the best player. If she can’t be the Marble King, then she’ll be the Marble Queen. First, Freedom has to convince her mother to let her enter. But there’s a new baby on the way, Freedom’s daddy is drinking too much, her little brother is a handful, and her mother is even more difficult than usual. Freedom learns that when it comes to love, friendship, and family, sometimes there are no rules. Set in 1959, The Marble Queen is a timeless story about growing up.
The Poet Upstairs (Pinata Books) – Judith Ortiz Cofer. Juliana is too sick to go to school one cold, winter day. So she stays at home in bed and looks out her bedroom window. She watches as a tall lady in a red coat and hat carries her boxes of books and papers upstairs. Her mother has heard that the mysterious woman is a poet writing a book. Juliana loves books and can’t wait to meet the poet upstairs. Juliana listens to the poet’s typewriter clicking and clacking all day long, while outside the snow falls and people rush by bundled up in their coats. She dreams of a tiny tropical island “sitting on the ocean like a green button on a blue dress,” the island home that her mother and the poet share. She dreams of red hibiscus flowers and beaches of white sand. The next day, she receives an invitation from the poet to come upstairs. Invoking Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos’ famous poem about the Loiza River, Ortiz Cofer’s lyrical text is combined with Oscar Ortiz’s breathtaking illustrations of the natural world and the animals that inhabit it.