Welcome to another month of brand-new middle-grade releases. We’ve arranged them by category, but first let’s start with one of our own MUF members. Congratulations MICHELE WEBER HURWITZ on your latest release!
♦ The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days (Wendy Lamb Books) – Michele Weber Hurwitz. It’s summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother’s busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn’t know what “her thing” is yet, it’s definitely not shopping and makeup. And it’s not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute? This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.
♦ Fish Finelli (Book 2): Operation Fireball (Chronicle) – E.S. Farber. When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper—even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix their measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance at the Classic?
♦ Alice-Miranda At Sea (Delacorte) – Jacqueline Harvey. Alice-Miranda is set for a luxurious cruise aboard the royal yacht Octavia, where Aunty Gee is hosting the wedding of Aunt Charlotte and Lawrence Ridley. Even Ambrosia Headlington-Bear has come along, much to her daughter Jacinta’s surprise. Wild weather and rumors of a jewel thief throw the travelers into turmoil, but something else is giving Alice-Miranda one of her strange feelings. Why does the ship’s doctor look so familiar? And who is the shy blond boy hiding in one of the cabins? When Alice-Miranda seeks help from an unexpected source, will she and her helper manage to set things right in time for the celebrations?
♦ Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout (Candlewick) -Megan McDonald. Judy and Stink and the whole Moody family hunker down with beans and batteries, ready to wait out the storm. But along with massive rain and strong winds, Hurricane Elmer throws down ghosts, squirrels, and aliens. Spooky! Just when things couldn’t possibly get any freakier — flicker, flicker, gulp! — the lights go O-U-T out. The Moodys are smack-dab in the middle of a big bad blackout! Grandma Lou proposes musical board games and some good old-fashioned storytelling. Will Hurricane Elmer go down in Moody family history as bad news, a happy memory, or simply an LBS (Long Boring Story)?
♦ Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere (Chronicle) – Julie T. Lamana. Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.
♦ There Will Be Bears (Candlewick) – Ryan Gebhart. Thirteen-year-old Tyson loves hanging out with his roughneck Grandpa Gene, who’s a lot more fun than Tyson’s ex–best friend, Brighton. These days, Bright just wants to be seen with the cool jocks who make fun of Tyson’s Taylor Swift obsession and dorky ways. So when Grandpa Gene has to move to a nursing home that can manage his kidney disease, Tyson feels like he’s losing his only friend. Not only that, but Tyson was counting on Grandpa Gene to take him on his first big hunt. So in defiance of Mom and Dad’s strict orders, and despite reports of a scary, stalking, man-eating grizzly named Sandy, the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons. Yes, there will be action, like shooting and dressing a six-hundred-pound elk. Is Tyson tough enough? There will be heart-pounding suspense: is Grandpa Gene too sick to handle the hunt, miles away from help? And, oh yes, there will be bears. . . .
♦ Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (HMH Books for Young Readers) – Marcia Wells. Art, mystery, fun and friendship, combine in this illustrated middle grade series debut. Sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, codename “Eddie Red,” has a photographic memory and talent for drawing anything he sees. When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case, drawing Eddie deeper into New York’s famous Museum Mile and closer to a dangerous criminal group known as The Picasso Gang.
♦ Lantern Sam and the Blue Streak Bandits (Knopf) – Michael D. Beil. Lantern Sam is the wise-cracking, sarcastic, talking cat (for those who can hear him, that is) who lives onboard the Lake Erie Shoreliner train and is one of the best detectives no one knows about. He doesn’t have much patience for humans (unless they bring him sardines), but when 10-year-old traveler Henry can’t find his new friend, the exuberant Ellie, Sam’s enlisted to help. A ransom note is soon discovered and just like that, Sam and Henry are on the case, with the help of Clarence the Conductor (who supplies Sam’s sardines). But is Ellie still on board the train? Did the salesman with his trunk full of samples sneak her off? And why does that couple keep acting so suspicious?
♦ Poached (FunJungle) (Simon & Schuster) – Stuart Gibbs. School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry. Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit. Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.
♦The Tribe, Book 2 Camp Cannibal (A Tribe Novel) (Disney Hyperion) – Clay McLeod Chapman. Since being expelled for giving the Greenfield Middle School student body an “explosive” case of food poisoning and sent to live with his father, Spencer Pendleton hasn’t exactly been doing his best to put the past behind him and settle into his new life. What with losing the girl-of-his-dreams, Sully, and gaining a there-but-still-absentee father, his life still has a few kinks to work out. And when his single-minded quest to track down the Tribe and reunite with Sully lands him at camp New Leaf, Spencer is convinced things can’t get much worse. WRONG! Not only is Camp New Leaf no ordinary camp, but it appears that the Tribe hasn’t laid the past to rest, either. And what better place to catch up with an old member-or recruit a few new ones-than a secluded camp for “troubled” boys. With rebellion in the air, Spencer must find a way to stop the Tribe’s plans to put down roots and expand its ranks before someone gets seriously hurt-or worse.
♦ Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret (Simon & Schuster) – Tim Kehoe. When his dad’s book turns out to contain deadly secrets, twelve-year-old Furious Jones is thrust into a web of mystery and danger in this gripping page-turner. Furious Jones, the twelve-year-old son of a famous thriller writer, lives with his grandfather after his mother was mysteriously gunned down right in front of him a year ago. Curious to know more about his estranged dad, he goes to see him speak about his upcoming novel to a packed audience—and to his shock and horror, he witnesses his father get shot as well.
♦ Whatever After #5: Bad Hair Day (Scholastic) – Sarah Mlynowski. Fifth installment. This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Rapunzel. When the siblings get the famous tale all tangled up, they have to find a way to set things right . . . with hilarious results! With quick thinking and a bit of magic, can Abby and Jonah turn this bad hair day around? Find out in this whimsical adventure!
♦ The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw (Walden Pond Press) – Christopher Healy. Last in the series. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
♦ Curiosity (Dial) – Gary Blackwood. Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them?
♦ The Luck Uglies (HarperCollins) – Paul Durham. Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye’s only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can’t be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning’s maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she’ll discover the truth behind the village’s legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.
♦ The Islands of Chaldea (Greenwillow) – Diana Wynne Jones. Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen’s magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she’ll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms.
♦ The Boundless (Simon & Schuster) – Kenneth Oppel. The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life! When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past. In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?
♦ The Eighth Day (HarperCollins) – Dianne K. Salerni. When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it’s the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he’s really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who’s been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.And there’s a reason Evangeline’s hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.
♦ The Klaatu Terminus (Klaatu Diskos) (Candlewick) – Pete Hautman. National Book Award winner Pete Hautman weaves several diverging time streams into one satisfying masterwork in this stunning and revelatory series finale. In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?
♦ West of the Moon (Amulet) – Margi Preus. In West of the Moon, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Margi Preus expertly weaves original fiction with myth and folktale to tell the story of Astri, a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America. After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.
♦ Once Upon a Midnight Eerie: Book #2 (Misadventures of Edgar/Allan) (Viking) – Gordon McAlpine. In The Tell-Tale Start, Edgar and Allan Poe (great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the legendary Edgar Allan Poe) managed to outwit the nefarious Professor P. Pangborn Perry, who was (and is) determined to kill just one of them, in order to prove a mad scientific theory. Now the boys are in New Orleans, about to play the young Poe in a feature film. But the role may cost them their lives, because now someone else wants them dead. But who? And can the twins—with the help of their co-stars, Em and Milly Dickinson, their ghostly forebear, and a pair of real ghosts—manage to outwit them?
♦ The Forbidden Library (Kathy Dawson Books) – Django Wexler. When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within. It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
♦ In the Shadows (Scholastic) – Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo. Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch. Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t. Arthur is also new to the boarding house. His fate is tied to that of Cora, Minnie, Thomas, and Charles. He knows what darkness circles them, but can’t say why, and doesn’t even know if they can be saved. Sinister forces are working in the shadows, manipulating fates and crafting conspiracies. The closer Cora, Minnie, Arthur, Thomas, and Charles get to the truth, the closer they get to harm. But the threat is much bigger than they can see. It is strangling the world. Until one of the boys decides he wants to save it.
♦ Saving Lucas Biggs (HarperCollins) – Marisa de los Santos, David Teague. Thirteen-year-old Margaret knows her father is innocent, but that doesn’t stop the cruel Judge Biggs from sentencing him to death. Margaret is determined to save her dad, even if it means using her family’s secret—and forbidden—ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man. But with the forces of history working against her, will Margaret be able to change the past? Or will she be pushed back to a present in which her father is still doomed?
♦ She Is Not Invisible (Roaring Brook Press) – Marcus Sedgwick. Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.
♦ The Vanishing Coin (Magic Shop) (Feiwel & Friends) – Kate Egan, Mike Lane. Fourth grade was supposed to be a fresh start, but Mike’s already back in the principal’s office. He’s not a bad kid. He just can’t sit still. And now, his parents won’t let him play soccer anymore; instead he has to hang out with his new neighbor Nora, who is good at everything! Then, Mike and Nora discover the White Rabbit. It’s an odd shop—with a special secret inside. Its owner, Mr. Zerlin, is a magician, and, amazingly, he believes Mike could be a magician, too. Has Mike finally found something he’s good at?
♦ The Incredible Twisting Arm (Magic Shop) (Feiwel & Friends) – Kate Egan, Mike Lane. Life is a little easier for Mike now that he’s found The White Rabbit magic shop. But after missing a special show from a visiting magician, Mike realizes h needs a way to get to the shop by himself. Unfortunately, he’s exhausted after only a week of being a model student, and Nora, his magician assistant and expert on good behavior, is distracted by a new friendship. Convincing his parents he’s responsible enough to ride his bike downtown alone will take a miracle…or maybe, magic.
♦ Fluff Dragon (Bad Unicorn) (Aladdin) – Platte F. Clark. Second book in series. After defeating a killer unicorn and saving a universe, all Max and his friends want to do is go home. Instead, Max discovers that the Codex of Infinite Knowability has stopped working. He can’t use it to get home until he reboots it. The problem is that in order to reboot the book, he’s going to have to carry it into the heart of Rezormoor Dreadbringer’s Wizard’s Tower. Since Dreadbringer has been hunting Max and the book across time and space, getting in may be easy, but getting out will be another story. Max will just have to find a way to sneak into the tower, avoid the guards, escape Dreadbringer’s clutches, and figure out exactly where inside the tower the Codex was created. No problem…right?!
♦ File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents (All the Wrong Questions) (Little, Brown) – Lemony Snicket. Paintings have been falling off of walls, a loud and loyal dog has gone missing, a specter has been seen walking the pier at midnight — strange things are happening all over the town of Stain’d-By-The-Sea. Called upon to investigate thirteen suspicious incidents, young Lemony Snicket collects clues, questions witnesses, and cracks every case. Join the investigation and tackle the mysteries alongside Snicket, then turn to the back of the book to see the solution revealed.
♦ Greetings from the Graveyard (43 Old Cemetery Road) (HMH Books for Young Readers) – Kate Klise. The bestselling trio from Spence Mansion is launching a greeting card company called Greetings from the Graveyard. But what kind of card do you send to an ex-girlfriend who threatens to publish the love letters of Ignatius B. Grumply? And what do you send when the town of Ghastly is rocked by its first crime wave and two escaped convicts are on the loose? If you’re Olive C. Spence, you send for your old butler, T. Leeves, who arrives just in time for tea—and trouble!
♦ Mad Dogs (CHERUB) (Simon Pulse) – Robert Muchamore. CHERUB agents are highly trained, extremely talented—and all under the age of seventeen. For official purposes, these agents do not exist. They are sent out on missions to spy on terrorists, hack into crucial documents, and gather intel on global threats—all without gadgets or weapons. It is an extremely dangerous job, but these agents have one crucial advantage: Adults never suspect that teens are spying on them. In Mad Dogs, the British underworld is controlled by gangs. When two of them start a turf war, violence explodes onto the streets. The police need information fast, and James has the contacts to infiltrate the most dangerous gang of all…
♦ The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) – Jen Swann Downey. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase Moe—an unusually foul-tempered mongoose—into the janitor’s closet of their local library, they make an astonishing discovery: the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians. Their mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Petrarch’s Library is an amazing, jumbled, time-traveling secret base that can dock anywhere there’s trouble, like the Spanish Inquisition, or ancient Greece, or…Passaic, New Jersey. Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society, fighting injustice with a real sword! But when a traitor surfaces, she and Marcus are prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?
♦ The First Book of Ore The Foundry’s Edge (The Books of Ore) (Disney Hyperion) – Cam Baity, Benny Zelkowicz. For Phoebe Plumm, life in affluent Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her world-renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief Surveyor for The Foundry, a global corporation with an absolute monopoly on technology, Phoebe’s father is often absent for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter being abducted, Phoebe and would-be rescuer Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning yet volatile world of living metal, one that has been ruthlessly plundered by The Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.
♦ Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust (First Second) – Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, Marc Lizano. In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.
♦ Gaijin: American Prisoner of War (Disney Hyperion) – Matt Faulkne. With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realizes that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he’s sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII.
♦ Across A War-Tossed Sea (Disney Hyperion) – L.M. Elliott. It’s 1943, and World War II is raging. To escape the terror of the Blitz, ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles were evacuated from England to America. After a few near misses with German U-boats and a treacherous ocean crossing, the brothers arrived in Virginia. The culture shock is intense as the London boys adjust to rural farm life and have to learn new sports, customs, and spellings, plus contend with racial segregation and bullying. As time goes by, the brothers begin to adapt to their new reality and blaze their own trails, writing letters home, making new friends, and pitching in to the American war effort. But just when Wes and Charles think they are safe from the terror of the battles raging thousands of miles across the sea, they encounter the very brand of soldiers they were trying to escape: Nazis, from a POW camp right around the corner and U-boats torpedoing American ships off the nearby Atlantic coastline. Suddenly, Charles, Wesley, and their new Virginian family must face the dangers of a foreign war coming too close to home.