In some parts of the country, school is almost starting. In others, there’s a whole month left of relaxation. No matter where you live or what August has in store for you, here are some great reads that are sure to make it a fun month!
We at The Mixed-Up Files are particularly proud to feature several August releases written by our members: Jonathan Rosen, Jennifer Swanson, and Karen Latchana Kenney. (Mouse over the book covers for purchase information.)
From Sunset Till Sunrise by Jonathan Rosen
Jonathan Rosen’s newest is a follow-up to the hilarious Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, the first of his Dexter books. The novel continues the story of Devin Dexter and his cousin Tommy after they’ve saved the city of Gravesend from the menace of magical, malicious Cuddle Bunnies brought to life by the warlock, Herb. But there’s no rest for the wicked, as a new mysterious neighbor moves in across the street. At night. With a coffin. Tommy immediately jumps to conclusions as he thinks this can only mean one thing: Vampires.
Devin isn’t so quick to believe, as he is struck by the neighbor’s daughter, a girl his age. Even though Tommy points out that they have never seen her during the day. Yet when she invites him to a dance at her school–the Nosfer Academy of Talented Understudies–how can Devin say no? Tommy, though, realizes that this is an opportunity. After tackling a wizard last winter, surely they can protect Gravesend from some measly vampires, right?
Bridges! With 25 Science Projects for Kids by Jennifer Swanson, illus. by Bryan Stone
From the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Tower Bridge in London, bridges are a huge part of our life. But how are these amazing structures built? What forces keep it standing? What might cause it to fall down? And who decides which type of bridge to use?
In Bridges!, readers discover how these extraordinary feats of engineering are created, and apply what they have learned to hands-on, critical-thinking activities that include building different types of bridges, such as truss, cantilever, and suspension bridges, out of different materials and modeling different types of supports. They examine the natural forces that affect structure selection and appearance, and also learn about the types of support required for each. Trivia, cartoon illustrations, links to online videos and other sources, and clear diagrams round out this book and make it fun and interesting for class discussions. Following the guidelines set forth in the NGSS/NSTA engineering and design standards, teachers can feel comfortable using this book as a guide for targeted learning in their classrooms.
TV Brings Battle into the Home with the Vietnam War: 4D An Augmented Reading Experience by Karen Latchana Kenney
On-point historical photographs combined with strong narration bring the battles and controversies surrounding the Vietnam War to life. People saw the battles in real time, on the nightly news, changing forever how people viewed war.
Readers will see it as well, both in the text and in the accompanying video clips via the free Capstone 4D app, creating an augmented reality experience that brings the printed page to life.
Extreme Longevity: Discovering Earth’s Oldest Organisms by Karen Latchana Kenney
Meet the science experts who study specimens of extreme longevity in both the plant and animal kingdoms, such as the 80,000-year-old root system of Pando (a colony of male quaking aspens), 11,000-year-old deep-sea sponges, and 400-year-old sharks. Learn about technologies used to determine age and longevity, including DNA sampling, growth rings, and radiocarbon dating. See how scientists located these long-lived species were and why and how they resist disease and aging. And delve into how scientists are using what they know about aged plants and animals to research how we can promote longevity in humans.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.
So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself. But she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle-grade novel since the National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.
Soon Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis’ supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya’s network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go, until Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core, and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works — in the Warsaw Ghetto. Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live — or die — with honor.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
It’s the first coronation of a female monarch of Genovia in 200 years, and Her Royal Highness, Princess Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison, is giving you the inside scoop in this newest (illustrated!) diary from New York Times―bestselling author and illustrator Meg Cabot!
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison should be having fun. Her best friend is visiting from America, her sister’s royal coronation is only three days away (the first coronation of a female ruler in two centuries), and she’s even got a new boyfriend who is actually a very smart and charming prince!
But it’s hard to celebrate when her royal cousins are scheming to take over the throne. And with everyone running around, Olivia and her friends have been saddled with royal babysitting duties. Then, to make matters worse, Olivia’s snobby cousin Luisa insists on gossiping about her, especially about things that should be personal . . . it’s none of her business whether Prince Khalil and Olivia have kissed or not!
Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent―which means finding herself a best friend.
Rose Tully is a worrier who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn’t been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother’s many rules to help Mr. Duffy―and find someone who really understands her.
Henry has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort―and doesn’t know where to look for them. When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry’s intersect―and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illus. by Giovanni Rigano
A powerfully moving graphic novel by New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels that explores the current plight of undocumented immigrants.
Ebo is alone.His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life―the same journey their sister set out on months ago.
But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family.
Twelve-year-old El has planned on making her first week at a new school fantastic. She won’t go by her given name, Laughter. She’ll sit in the back of the classroom where she can make new friends. She won’t even have time to think about all the fun her old friends are having without her. Everything will be great.
But when her dad picks her up after school and tells her that her younger sister, Echo, has a life-threatening illness, her world is suddenly turned upside down. And with her parents now pressed for time and money, El feels lost and powerless.
Then she befriends Octavius, the only other kid in school who gets what she’s going through. As El begins to adjust to her new life, she soon finds that maybe a little hope and a lot of love can overcome any obstacle.
Just Breath by Mallika Chopra, illus. by Brenna Vaughan
Just Breathe is a fully illustrated go-to meditation guide written by Mallika Chopra, wellness expert and daughter of Deepak Chopra. For kids ages 8 to 12, this book is full of specific exercises to help deal with day-to-day challenges and tips to lead a healthier, happier, and more connected life. The book includes practical advice on breathing techniques and guided meditations for a number of topics and scenarios, including:
Dealing with stress; getting to sleep; building self-confidence; focusing on school/tests/other work; and ridding oneself of anxiety.
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
In a debut historical novel about the Great Migration a boy discovers Chicago’s postwar South Side and the poetry of Langston Hughes.
When 11-year-old Langston’s mother dies in 1946, he and his father leave rural Alabama for Chicago’s brown belt as a part of what came to be known as the Great Migration. It’s lonely in the small apartment with just the two of them, and at school Langston is bullied. But his new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the local public library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston, a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him.
Totally Middle School: Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In ed. by Betsy Groban
From literary masterminds Lois Lowry, Gary D. Schmidt, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, Karen Cushman, Gregory Maguire, and more comes a timeless and inspirational anthology about the sometimes-challenging, always-rewarding coming-of-age years: middle school.
With eleven short stories told in text messages, emails, formal letters, stories in verse, and even a mini graphic novel, Totally Middle School tackles a range of important subjects, from peer pressure, family issues, and cultural barriers to the unexpected saving grace of music, art, friendship, and reading.
Brimming with heart and humor, these poignant stories from bestselling and award-winning authors shine a light on the moments when everything is thrilling and terrifying at the same time–in a way it will never be again.
If This Were a Story by Beth Turley
Tenacious. That means strong-willed. My mother calls me that. I wish I felt the same way.
If this were a story, I would discover I was a direct descendent of a famous soldier who won countless battles and protected hundreds of people. This resilience running through my veins wouldn’t be damaged by the notes; it would fight off bullies and prevent my parents from yelling at each other.
But this is not a story. This is real life. My life as ten-year-old Hannah Geller, who is the only girl in fifth grade to have little red bumps on her face, is unable to let the sad thoughts escape her mind, and leaves heads-up pennies wherever she can to spread good luck. And who also finds magic in the most unlikely of places.
When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program.
Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai.
Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.
Toaff is a small squirrel full of big questions. Why must I stay away from the human’s house? Why shouldn’t I go beyond the pine trees? Why do we fight with the red squirrels across the drive? His sister shrugs–that’s just the way things are. His brother bullies–because I said so. And the older squirrels scold–too many questions! Can Toaff really be the only one to wonder why?
When a winter storm separates him from his family, Toaff must make his own way in the world. It’s a world filled with danger–from foxes and hawks and cats to cars and chainsaws. But also filled with delight–the dizzying scent of apple blossoms, the silvery sound of singing, the joy of leaping so far you’re practically flying. Over the course of a year, Toaff will move into (and out of) many different dreys and dens, make some very surprising friends (and a few enemies), and begin to answer his biggest questions–what do I believe and where do I belong?
Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley
After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.
The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.
Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.
Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos
In this funny, action-packed graphic novel adventure, a science-obsessed girl finds herself in the middle of one of her favorite monster movies. Can she invent her way out of disaster while also saving the monster who has become her friend?
Zoe’s favorite thing to do–besides invent and build robots–is watch classic monster movies. She has never been comfortable with kids her own age, and so she pretends she doesn’t need friends while inside she’s longing for connection. And then one day, Zoe finds a mysterious ring on her way home from school. She puts it on, gives it a twist, and–FRZAAKK There’s a massive burst of light The next morning, a familiar monster appears at Zoe’s window. He’s from one of her favorite kaiju movies, and he likes Zoe–he wants to be her friend. Has her secret wish been fulfilled? But it turns out that Zoe’s ring has brought more than just this friendly monster to life. More monsters have arrived, and they are hungry Now she’ll need to reach out to other people to help her save her town from destruction. Good thing she’s a robotics genius.
Wow. There are a lot of really good books this month. Thanks for the post. I will be looking for some of these.
Wow, what an incredible lineup of new middle grade books! August is going to be a busy reading month!