February New Releases For Cozy Winter Reading

Brrr…it is -35 degrees where I live today. It might not be that cold in your world, but February offers a number of excuses to grab a good book and read.

Today, February 1, is World Read Aloud Day! What better reason than to cuddle up with a book together and read aloud to each other?
If you miss the fun, mark your calendars for National Read in the Bath Tub Day on February 9.

Of course, there’s always Valentine’s Day. Perhaps one of the following titles will appeal to the middle-grade readers in your life.
Great titles by amazing authors! Enjoy and keep warm!

To kick things off, one of our very own Mixed Up Files contributors, Andrea Pyros has a new release coming out February 1! Yay Andrea!

Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas, written by Andrea Pyros (Capstone Press) February 1
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore

Twelve-year-old Josephine has a lot on her plate―best friend issues, first crush issues, divorced parent issues, twin brother issues . . . and then her mom hits her with news that shakes her to her core: a breast cancer diagnosis. Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know―not even her best friend. Sharing the news means it’s actually real, and that’s something she’s not ready to face. Plus it would mean dealing with the stares―and pity―of her classmates. She got enough of that when her parents split up. Unfortunately for Josephine, her twin brother, Chance, doesn’t feel the same way. And when Chance dyes his hair pink to support his mom, the cat is out of the bag. Suddenly Josephine has to rethink her priorities. Does getting an invite to the party of the year matter when your mom is sick? And what if it does matter? Does that make her a monster?

Pay Attention, Carter Jones
, written by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books) February 5
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep—one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken.

In addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler’s notions of decorum. And ultimately, when his burden of grief and anger from the past can no longer be ignored, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared.

Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

Ruby in the Sky, written by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) February 5
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes does not want her new classmates to ask about her father. She does not want them to know her mother has been arrested. And she definitely does not want to make any friends. Ruby just wants to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She and her mother won’t be staying long in Vermont anyway, and then things can go back to the way they were before everything went wrong.

But keeping to herself isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house.? Before long Ahmad and Abigail have become Ruby’s friends―and she realizes there is more to their stories than everyone knows.

Song for a Whale, written by Lynne Kelly (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) February 5
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

The Bridge Home, written by Padma Venkatraman (Nancy Paulsen Books) February 5
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

The Simple Art of Flying, written by Cory Leonardo (Aladdin) February 12
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan, this irresistible debut novel combines plucky humor and a whole lot of heart in a story about the true meaning of family.

Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…

Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.

In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

To Night Owl from Dogfish, written by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer (Dial Books) February 12
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

Good Enough: A Novel, written by Jen Petro-Roy (Feiwel and Friends) February 19
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
A young girl with an eating disorder must find the strength to recover in this moving middle-grade novel from Jen Petro-Roy

Before she had an eating disorder, twelve-year-old Riley was many things: an aspiring artist, a runner, a sister, and a friend.

But now, from inside the inpatient treatment center where she’s receiving treatment for anorexia, it’s easy to forget all of that. Especially since under the influence of her eating disorder, Riley alienated her friends, abandoned her art, turned running into something harmful, and destroyed her family’s trust.

If Riley wants her life back, she has to recover. Part of her wants to get better. As she goes to therapy, makes friends in the hospital, and starts to draw again, things begin to look up.

But when her roommate starts to break the rules, triggering Riley’s old behaviors and blackmailing her into silence, Riley realizes that recovery will be even harder than she thought. She starts to think that even if she does “recover,” there’s no way she’ll stay recovered once she leaves the hospital and is faced with her dieting mom, the school bully, and her gymnastics-star sister.

Written by an eating disorder survivor and activist, Good Enough is a realistic depiction of inpatient eating disorder treatment, and a moving story about a girl who has to fight herself to survive.

Revenge of the Enginerds, written by Jarrett Lerner (Aladdin) February 19
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Ken and his EngiNerds crew return in a new, nutty and nerdy adventure that’s the perfect follow-up to EngiNerds.

When last we met, the EngiNerds were battling a horde of ravenous robots, but in this latest caper, they’re on the hunt for just one rogue robot. But who knows what kind of mayhem one mechanical creature can cause? And why is Ken the only EngiNerd who’s worried about the runaway robot?

The rest of the crew seems be missing in action and Ken fears it’s because of Mikaela Harrington. She’s the new girl in town who’s UFO and alien-obsessed and wants to join the EngiNerds. But as far as Ken is concerned, the EngiNerds are Y-chromosome only, no X’s allowed!

Will Ken allow a rogue robot and a know-it-all, genius girl to wreak havoc on the entire universe? He just might not have a choice!

Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2) written by Sayantani DasGupta (Scholastic Press) February 26
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
The sequel to the critically acclaimed debut-fantasy The Serpent’s Secret!

Saving the multiverse is no game

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger. Everyone is running scared or imprisoned following the enactment of sudden and unfair rules of law.

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again solve riddles and battle her evil Serpent King father — all while figuring out who her true friends are, and what it really means to be a hero.

The Moon Within, written by Aida Salazar (Arthur A. Levine Books) February 26
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Shop your local indie bookstore
Celi Rivera’s life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend’s exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.

But most of all, her mother’s insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It’s an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?

A dazzling story told with the sensitivity, humor, and brilliant verse of debut talent Aida Salazar.

Julie K. Rubini
Julie K. Rubini is the author of the upcoming MG biography, Eye to Eye: Sports Journalist Christine Brennan. She has also written Virginia Hamilton: America's Storyteller, which is included in the Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books, 2018. Her other works include Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Hidden Ohio. She is also the Founder of Claire's Day, Ohio's largest children's book festival.
www.julierubini.com and www.clairesday.org
1 Comment
  1. Hooray! I’ve read all of these. Thanks for this great list. After three snow days, I needed to feel like I’ve accomplished something!