Fiction

New Releases: September 2022

It’s back to school season . . . and back to the school library too! Which books will be filling those shelves? Maybe some of these great new middle grade releases. Here are a few to check out, releasing this month. Happy back-to-school reading!

How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

Releases September 13 from Kokila

Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg’s life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family’s Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel’s only constant, she’s left to hone something that will be with her always–her own voice.

 

 

 

Adventuregame Comics: Leviathan by Jason Shiga

Releases September 13 by Amulet Books

Adventuregame Comics is a new series of interactive graphic novels in the vein of Jason Shiga’s hit graphic novel Meanwhile. Readers follow the story from panel to panel using tubes that connect them, and sometimes the path will split, giving readers the chance to choose how the story unfolds.

Leviathan is set in a medieval coastal village, where residents live in fear of a giant sea creature. Your goal as a reader is simple: defeat the Leviathan! As you wander through the open world, the town’s backstory is revealed. You can attempt to visit the library to try and learn why the Leviathan destroyed it years ago. You can stop by the castle to discover the town was once riddled with crime and theft—and how that’s stopped as the Leviathan will wreak havoc on the town for the smallest misdeeds. If you’re lucky, you may find your way to the old wizard who may possess the one thing that could keep the Leviathan at bay. But not everything is as it appears in this village. Can you discover the secrets and stop the Leviathan before it’s too late?

 

The Midnight Brigade by Adam Borba

Releases September 13 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Carl Chesterfield wishes he could speak up—whether that means being honest with his father about the family’s new (and failing) food truck, reaching out to a potential friend, or alerting others to the fact that monsters might be secretly overrunning his hometown of Pittsburgh. There’s plenty to fret over. And plenty to question.

When a flyer about a mysterious monster-seeking group called the Midnight Brigade catches his eye, Carl sees an opportunity to find answers. Little does he know, his curiosity will lead him to find an incredible discovery under one of his city’s magnificent bridges and to be bolder than he ever imagined. Chock-full of humor and heart, this is the quirky tale of three unexpected friends and the crankiest troll with a heart of gold.

 

Meet Me Halfway by Anika Fajardo

Releases September 13 from Simon & Schuster

Meet Me Halfway is the story of seventh-graders Mattie Gomez and Mercedes Miller. Despite looking alike, they have nothing in common, and finding out that they’re half-sisters, doesn’t help them get along. But when they discover that their Colombian father—whom neither has met—is a visiting professor at a nearby college, they have to figure out how to work together as they embark on a road trip/adventure to find him.

 

 

 

 

Duet: Our Journey in Song with the Northern Mockingbird by Phillip Hoose

Releases September 13 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Northern mockingbird’s brilliant song―a loud, bright, liquid sampling of musical notes and phrases―has made it a beloved companion and the official bird of five states. Many of our favorite songs and poems feature mockingbirds. Mockingbirds have been companions to humans for centuries. Many Native American myths and legends feature mockingbirds, often teaching humans to speak. Thomas Jefferson’s mockingbird, “Dick”, was the first White House pet. John James Audubon’s portrait of a rattlesnake raiding a mockingbird’s nest sparked outrage in the world of art. Atticus Finch’s somber warning to his children, “Remember, it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird,” is known throughout the world. Some jazz musicians credit mockingbirds with teaching them a four-note call that says, “Break’s over.” And mockingjays―a hybrid between jabberjays and mockers―are a symbol of the rebel cause in the Hunger Games trilogy.

But in the early 1900s the mocker was plummeting toward extinction. Too many had been trapped, sold, and caged. Something had to be done. To the rescue came a powerful and determined group of women. Now, National Book Award and Newbery honor-winner Phillip Hoose brings the story of the important and overlooked connection between humans and mockingbirds―past, present, and future. It is the third volume of his bird trilogy.

 

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Releases September 27 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets… Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight. The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs… As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

 

The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers: A Tour of Your Useless Parts, Flaws, and Other Weird Bits by Rachel Poliquin, Illustrated by Clayton Hammer

Releases September 27 from Greystone Kids

Did you know your amazing, incredible body is a walking, talking museum of evolution? In The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers, tour guides Wisdom Tooth and Disappearing Kidney lead readers through a wacky museum dedicated to vestigial structures: body parts that were essential to our ancestors but are no longer useful to us—even though they’re still hanging around.

From goosebumps and hiccups to exploding organs and monkey muscles, each room in the museum shows us that these parts have stories to tell us about our past. By the time we make it to the gift shop, we’ll understand that evolution is not only messy and imperfect, but also ongoing. Our bodies are constantly changing along with the environment we live in—and there’s so much that is still unknown, just waiting to be discovered.

 

Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas

Releases September 20 from Square Fish

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

Detector Dogs, Dynamite Dolphins, and More Animals with Super Sensory Powers by Cara Giaimo, Illustrated by Daniel Duncan

Releases September 20 from MIT Kids Press

Fly alongside a photo-delivery pigeon, discover a honeybee’s electric secrets, and sail the high seas with a poop-sniffing dog detective on a mission to save endangered killer whales. All of these animals use their super senses, from echolocation to electroreception, to help human coworkers tackle real-world problems like pollution and global warming. Each chapter introduces a different animal, such as Cynthia, the pipe-fixing ferret, and Rosita, a goat who helps prevent wildfires. With bright and entertaining text alongside colorful photos and illustrations, this book examines how each animal’s behavior and biology makes it perfectly suited for the job it does. At the end of each chapter, curious young scientists are invited to explore their own human senses through fun guided experiments.

 

Iveliz Explains It All by Andrea Beatriz Arango, Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez 

Releases September 13 from Random House Books for Young Readers

Seventh grade is going to be Iveliz’s year. She’s going to make a new friend, help her abuela Mimi get settled after moving from Puerto Rico, and she is not going to get into any more trouble at school. . . .Except is that what happens? Of course not. Because no matter how hard Iveliz tries, sometimes people say things that just make her so mad. And worse, Mimi keeps saying Iveliz’s medicine is unnecessary—even though it helps Iveliz feel less sad. But how do you explain your feelings to others when you’re not even sure what’s going on yourself? Powerful and compassionate, Andrea Beatriz Arango’s debut navigates mental health, finding your voice, and discovering that those who really love you will stay by your side.

Take a Hike: An Outdoor Adventure Book List

One of the very best things about the place where I live is that there is a fun mountain hike less that 10 minutes from my house. Which means, on a good week, I’ve climbed the trail to the summit at least once and have hiked the foothills trail around 2 times. Last year, there were very few good weeks because we were socked in by wildfire smoke most of the summer. This year, we’ve been lucky so far (fingers crossed that it lasts) so I’ve managed a few good hikes where I can wander up the hill and imagine stories and sort out problems in my work in progress.

My hiking adventures are pretty tame right now, but, truth be told, I love a good outdoor adventure. I bet some of you do to. So, I’ve put together a list of Middle School books that take you outside – up mountains and across deserts and even to a city park. Settle in and get ready to hit the trail with these kids. Who knows? You may be inspired to lace up your hiking books or tennis shoes and set out on your own adventure.

The Hike to Home by Jess Rinker

In this fun middle grade adventure, a young girl and her two new friends brave the wilderness to find a castle, prove a local legend, and discover the true meaning of home.

Lin Moser is not looking forward to this summer. After living on the road all her life, hiking mountains and traveling through the country in an RV with her house-flipping parents, she’s now stuck in Newbridge, New Jersey for their longest stay yet. With Mom away on a year-long naturalist assignment, Lin has resigned herself to having the most boring summer ever. But then she finds out about a local legend: an ancient ruined castle in the woods that no one has been able to find. Hiking to this castle would be like a quest. . . such an amazing quest that Mom might even come home, and they could adventure together the way they used to.

Determined to create her own adventure, Lin sets off on her biggest one yet–braving the wilderness with her two new friends, seeking the castle, and maybe discovering a new idea of home along the way.

 

 

Lily’s Mountain by Hannah Moderow

Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.

In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting–and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places.

 

 

 

 

Super Troop by Bruce Hale 

From the Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale comes a hilarious story about a kid who likes to break the rules . . . until the rules try to break him.

Cooper just wants to spend the summer before 7th grade drawing and having adventures with his best friend, Nacho. Anything to keep his mind off the fact that his dad’s new girlfriend and his mom’s announcement that she’s going to start dating.

But when one of his adventures with Nacho goes too far, Cooper’s parents freak out. Either he joins the Boy Rangers, a dorky club that’s all about discipline and rules, or that dream cartooning camp at the end of his summer? Will get erased.

At first it’s not so bad–the troop is a disorganized mess. But then a new scoutmaster starts. Mr. Pierce is a gruff ex-Marine who’s never worked with kids before, especially not a ragtag team of misfits like Troop 19. As he tries turning them into a lean, mean, badge-earning machine, Cooper longs for freedom. He doesn’t want to break the rules, but the rules are going to break him!

 

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton–almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

 

Out of Range by Heidi Lang

Hatchet meets Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters in this adventurous and heartfelt middle grade tale of three warring sisters who find themselves lost in the wilderness and must learn to trust each other if they want to survive.

Sisters Abby, Emma, and Ollie have gone from being best friends forever to mortal enemies.

Thanks to their months-long feud, they are sent to Camp Unplugged, a girls’ camp deep in the heart of the Idaho mountains where they will go “back to nature”–which means no cell phones, no internet, and no communicating with the outside world. For two whole weeks. During that time, they had better learn to get along again, their parents tell them. Or else.

The sisters don’t see any way they can ever forgive each other for what they’ve done, no matter how many hikes and campfire songs they’re forced to participate in. But then disaster strikes, and they find themselves lost and alone in the wilderness. They will have to outrun a raging wildfire, make it through a turbulent river, escape bears and mountain lions and ticks. They don’t have training, or food, or enough supplies. All they have is each other.

And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to survive.

 

Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling

One girl sets out on a journey across the treacherous Arizona desert to rescue a young pilot stranded after a plane crash in this gripping story of survival, friendship, and rescue from a bestselling and award-winning author.

Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite livestream: The Desert Aviator, where twelve-year-old “Addie Earhart” shares her adventures flying an ultralight plane over the desert. While watching this daring girl fly through the sky, Jolene can dream of what it would be like to fly with her, far away from her own troubled home life where her mother struggles with a narcotic addiction. And Addie, who is grieving the loss of her father, finds solace in her online conversations with Jolene, her biggest–and only–fan.

Then, one day, it all goes wrong: Addie’s engine abruptly stops, and Jolene watches in helpless horror as the ultralight plummets to the ground and the video goes dark. Jolene knows that Addie won’t survive long in the extreme summer desert heat. With no one to turn to for help and armed with only a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, it’s up to Jolene to find a way to save the Desert Aviator. Packed with adventure and heart, Across the Desert speaks to the resilience, hope, and strength within each of us.

 

Now, what about you? Do you love an outdoor adventure? Are you a hiker at heart? Or are you more comfortable in flip flops and a comfy chair? Let me know in the comments below – and please share your favorite outdoor adventure books. I’m going to need them.

Happy Reading!

 

Road Trip Roundup: Adventurous Reads for Your Summer List

trunk was a little full, but the views were killer!

Six years ago my wife and I went on a babymoon. We didn’t call it that. We still don’t call it that. But I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. We packed up our little car with snacks and camping supplies and a dog, then made for the West Coast. It was a pretty epic adventure to sneak in just before the birth of our first son. 

Fast forward and we’re now getting ready to welcome #3 into the world. No babymoon this time, unless you count a clandestine trip to IKEA while the grandparents watch our kids. We still talk about the road trip, though. We’d both love to take our littles across the country when they’re slightly less little. There’s just something about the roads out west — how the guardrails converge into pinpoints on those impossibly long, straight highways. Or the way every town has a story — usually recorded on some miniscule placard in the center of town, bronze letters boiling hot from the summer sun.

So maybe I won’t be loading up the car for an epic cross-country voyage this summer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live vicariously through the adventures of someone else. Listed below are my favorite road trip-themed middle grade books. Whether you’re skipping town or waiting for gas prices to come back down to earth, I think there will be something here to take you into that vast, beautiful, mysterious open space of our incredible country. Enjoy!

 

See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng

When space enthusiast Alex Petroski sets out to find the truth about his family, he discovers a menagerie of interesting characters and locations spanning from his hometown of Rockview, Colorado all the way to Los Angeles. Told entirely through recordings on an iPod, it’s a refreshingly original take on the road trip concept, and Alex’s revelations about love and family mirror the complexities of the landscape.

 

 

We’re Not From Here by Jeff Rodkey

What road trip could be more epic than a journey to an entirely new planet? When Earth is rendered  uninhabitable, a small envoy of survivors travel for 20 years only to wake up from hypersleep and find that the arrangement with their new alien hosts has fallen apart. It’s up to Lan Mifune’s family to prove that humanity is still worth saving in this high-concept exploration of immigration and cultural acceptance. 

 

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Calling this a “road trip” book may be a stretch, but the theme of journey is so strong in this story that I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. The characters embark on a quest to return a haunted doll to its proper grave site, and while the trip only takes them to a neighboring town, the adventure manages to include bus rides, boat trips, and a secret overnight stay in a library. But Zach, Alice, and Poppy take more than just a physical journey — they explore the depths of their friendship, the ways it’s changing before their eyes, and the uncertain road that lies ahead.

 

The Honest Truth by Dan Gameinhart

In this clever and twisty adventure story, Dan Gameinhart takes us across Washington state with a main character bent on fulfilling a lifelong dream before it’s too late. Mark’s journey is not just an exploration of some of the most breathtaking parts of that region, it’s also an exploration of terminal illness, dreams, and the line between determination and foolishness. 

 

 

Are We There Yet? By Dan Santat

Okay, so this one’s not technically a middle grade book, but I still think it belongs on this list. Dan Santat’s vivid illustrations and clever formatting make this a picture book that I consistently come back to with my kiddos. Add in the hidden Easter eggs (including embedded QR codes!) and it’s a book with enough layers to entertain even the most bored car trip voyagers.

 

 

So how about you? Will you be taking any epic adventures this summer? Or maybe you’ll be road tripping from your couch like me. Either way, feel free to drop a comment with your favorite road trip-themed books so those of us who are staying local this summer can still look forward to a few adventures. Happy travels!