Book Lists

July New Releases!

One of the best things about summer is lounging in a lawn chair and reading. Lucky for us, July is filled with a pile of new middle grade books – including books by our very own Natalie Rompella and Beth McMullen (Congratulations, Natalie and Beth!) – just in time for those lazy summer days. Enjoy!

July New Releases:

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgMidnight. Stars speckle the darkness with bits of light.

A cockroach skitters across the kitchen floor to snatch a forgotten breadcrumb. In the backyard, a spider weaves an intricate design on the fence. Winged insects dance and flicker in the porch light.

Day and night, small creatures are busy working, eating, hunting, hiding.

This nonfiction picture book reveals the hidden lives of insects and other small creatures from one midnight to the next. The world may appear to be sleeping in the dead of night, but it is not. As moonflowers open and stars shine, nature goes about her business. The world never sleeps.

Natalie Rompella’s lyrical text is vividly complemented by Carol Schwartz’s watercolors. A cat roams through the illustrations―silent witness, in the house and in the yard, to the myriad lives of night and day. A sense of mystery pervades all―even the backmatter natural-history portraits of the animals met in the book. This nature book invites children into a parallel universe, one that teems with life while they sleep.

Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school–and her super-spy mom–Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEveryone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son–who is Abby’s friend, Toby–receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA hilarious—and slimy—alien adventure (set on Earth) that the bestselling author of Zombie Chasers, John Kloepfer, calls “fast paced, out-of-this-world fun!”

When Margot Blumenthal removes a bright blue slug alien attached to Mateo Flores’s back, the school play co-stars know it’s definitely not going to be a regular day at West Cove Middle School.

They reluctantly team up and soon discover that the mayor and countless other adults, including Mateo’s dad, are infected—which means that West Cove, and possibly all of Earth, is in danger.

What will they (and their new scientist friend) do? Ditch class and protect humankind, of course—because one unexcused absence doesn’t matter when the world is at stake!

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThirteen-year-old chef Lailu Loganberry must stop a war between the elves and scientists in this follow-up to A Dash of Dragon, which Kirkus Reviews calls “a recipe for success.” It’s the Week of Masks, a festival held to chase away evil spirits. But Lailu doesn’t have time to worry about demons. She has bigger fish to fry–or rather, griffons, now that she’s been asked to prepare a mystical feast for the king’s executioner, Lord Elister. Unfortunately Lailu’s meal is overshadowed by the scientists’ latest invention: automatons, human-shaped machines that will respond to their masters’ every order. Most people are excited by the possibilities, but the mechanical men leave Lailu with a bad taste in her mouth. Even worse, the elves still blame the scientists for the attacks on them weeks ago, and Lailu worries that the elves might be cooking up revenge. So when she and her sorta-rival-turned-almost-friend Greg stumble across the body of a scientist, the elves are the prime suspects. With help from Greg, her best friend Hannah, and the sneaky, winking spy Ryon, Lailu has to discover the truth behind the murder, and soon–because hostilities between the elves and the scientists are about to boil over faster than hydra stew. And just ask any chef: war is bad for business.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgNew Horizons was designed by NASA to study Pluto and the fringes of our solar system, farther away than any spacecraft has ever explored. Join science writer Elaine Scott as she tells the story of this mission. For Stephen Hawking, New Horizons signifies that “We explore because we are human and we want to know.” This remarkable ship, no bigger than a piano, and using no more energy than a lightbulb, has already traveled three billion miles out to Pluto, and is continuing on to the Kuiper Belt, the farthest reaches of our solar system. The book will feature the beautiful, amazingly sharp photographs it is sending back from its journey, which are letting scientists fill in the blanks in our knowledge of Pluto–and delivering a few surprises along the way. Elaine Scott tells the exciting story of everyone’s favorite planet, from Pluto’s discovery through the frustrating attempts to study such a distant object, the creation of the New Horizons project, scientists’ hopes and expectations for the mission, and what is being discovered. Her clear, engaging prose does more than narrate the events. By showing how scientists operate, their hypotheses, hopes, and disappointments, and how they make use of them, she gives readers an inspiring portrait of the scientific method itself.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness.

When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA fully illustrated, globe-trotting new middle grade fantasy-adventure series about mythical creatures and their cultures of origin, from the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale. Elliot and Uchenna have barely recovered from their first adventure with the Unicorn Rescue Society when the mysterious Professor Fauna approaches them with an all-new quest. And this time, they’re going to have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Basque Country. Elliot and Uchenna, with Jersey in tow, soon wonder whether their newest, fire-breathing rescue might be more than they can handle. And why do the evil-doing Schmoke Brothers seem to be involved yet again? This is the second book in Unicorn Rescue Society, an exciting and hilarious new series about friendship, adventure, and mythical creatures from around the world by Newbery Honor-winning author Adam Gidwitz teamed up with Mixtape Club founders Jesse Casey and Chris Smith, and Hatem Aly, illustrator of The Inquisitor’s Tale.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFans of the Princess in Black and Dory Fantasmagory series will love Isadora Moon: half-fairy, half-vampire–and ready for her first-ever human birthday party. Isadora Moon might be half-fairy, half-vampire, but she wants to have a totally normal human birthday party. She gives her mom and dad a list–cake, balloons, presents, and games. But when the invitations arrive on bats’ wings, Isadora worries that maybe her parents don’t know how to throw a human party. Which can mean only one thing: Isadora’s birthday is going to be anything but normal.

 

 

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgDarek and Zantor work to convince everyone that dragons and humans can get along in this second book in the fantastical Dragonling chapter book series

Ever since Darek saved Zantor the dragonling, they’ve been inseparable. Darek is the only family Zantor has ever known. But now Darek is bringing Zantor home from the Valley of the Dragons, and the villagers are up in arms He and his brother Clep are called traitors. Their best friends are turning against them. Even Darek’s father has been threatened for allowing the enemy in their midst.

How can Darek prove that dragons are good neighbors to the villagers?

 

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgKids who love video games will love this first installment of the new 5-book series about 12-year old Jesse Rigsby and his wild adventures inside different video games.

Jesse Rigsby hates video games – and for good reason. You see, a video game character is trying to kill him. After getting sucked in the new game Full Blast with his friend Eric, Jesse starts to see the appeal of vaporizing man-size praying mantis while cruising around by jet pack. But pretty soon, a mysterious figure begins following Eric and Jesse, and they discover they can’t leave the game. If they don’t figure out what’s going on fast, they’ll be trapped for good!

Fun, relevant, and action-packed Trapped in a Video Game is the perfect book to get kids off screens and into books! Included in this edition is a bonus More to Explore section that teaches computer programming concepts through a fun game.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWatch out, middle school In her second foray out of graphic novels and into middle grade, Babymouse has a smartphone, and she’s not afraid to use it. . . . Ping Ping The sound of texting is in the air. Everyone at middle school has a cell phone. Babymouse just has to get one, too. But having a phone is a lot of work Building up a following on SoFamous, learning text lingo, keeping up with all the important koala videos . . . Babymouse is ready to tear her whiskers out. Why does it suddenly feel like she has no friends? Somehow, Babymouse needs to figure out how to stop worrying and love her smartphone . . . if Locker doesn’t eat it first. #Typical.

 

 

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgIt’s Desmond and Andres versus the Zombie Zookeeper in the fourth book of the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter book series. Welcome to Kersville, a town with a spooky history and a collection of ghosts and spirits who are major mischief-makers. Most kids spend their days without ever seeing or dealing with a ghost, but some kids get stuck with a haunt. When that happens, they call Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol. There’s no job too spooky, icky, or risky for Desmond. I’m not like that at all. My name’s Andres Miedoso. I’m Desmond’s best friend and ghost patrol partner. For this case, we’re off to the zoo Zoo field trips are the best. You get to ride in a bus, you get to spend the day outside, and all the animals are safely far away in their enclosures. Nothing scary here, right? Wrong Leave it to Desmond Cole to find the one zookeeper who’s also a zombie. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Dragonfly comes a thrilling fantasy adventure about two magical friends living as refugees in a world that doesn’t trust magic. Perfect for fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and the School for Good and Evil series. There was no warning the day magic died in Talhaven. It happened with a giant explosion and the arrival of a skyship full of children, all with magic running through their veins and no memory of home. Rook and Drift are two of those children, and ever since that day, they’ve been on the run, magical refugees in a world that doesn’t trust magic. Because magic doesn’t die right away–it decays, twists, and poisons all that it touches. And now it’s beginning to poison people. Try as they might, Rook and Drift can’t remember anything about their lives before Talhaven. But it’s beginning to look like they’re the only ones who can save their adopted world . . . if that world doesn’t destroy them first.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA poignant middle grade debut about the friendship between a white girl and an elderly black woman in the 1960s South. Alice is angry at having to move to Rainbow, Georgia–a too small, too hot, dried-up place she’s sure will never feel like home. Then she gets put in charge of walking her elderly neighbor’s dog. But Clarence won’t budge without Miss Millie, so Alice and Miss Millie walk him together. Strolling with Clarence and Miss Millie quickly becomes the highlight of Alice’s day and opens her eyes to all sorts of new things to marvel over. During their walks, they meet a mix of people, and Alice sees that although there are some bullies and phonies, there are plenty of kind folks, too. Miss Millie shares her family’s story with Alice, showing her the painful impact segregation has had on their town. And with Miss Millie, Alice is finally able to express her own heartache over why her family had to move there in the first place. Tamara Bundy’s beautifully written debut celebrates the wonder and power of friendship: how it can be found when we least expect it and make any place a home.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Museum of Peculiar Arts holds many oddities–a mechanical heart, a diary bound in its owner’s skin . . . and Penny, a child-size marionette who almost looks alive. Fog clouds Penny’s memories from before the museum, but she catches glimpses here and there: a stage, deep red curtains, long-fingered hands gripping her strings. One day, a boy named Chance touches Penny’s strings and hears her voice in his head. Penny can listen, and watch, and think? Now someone else is watching Penny and Chance–a man with a sharp face, a puppeteer who has the tools to change things. A string through a needle. A twist of a spindle. And suddenly Chance is trapped in Penny’s marionette body, while Penny is free to run and dance. She knows that finding a way to switch back is the right thing to do. But this body feels so wonderful, so full of life How can Penny ever return to her puppet shell?

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgJasmine’s best friend, Linnie, has just gotten a puppy. And now Jasmine wants a pet of her own―a flamingo! So when her grandmother sends Jasmine a daruma doll as a surprise gift, Jasmine colors in one doll eye and wishes for a flamingo to keep.

Next, Jasmine tries to convince her parents that she’s responsible enough for a pet. She cleans her room, brushes her teeth, takes out the trash, and, most importantly, researches everything she can about flamingos. But soon it becomes clear that her wish may never come true! Will Jasmine’s daruma doll ever get its second eye? Luckily her big sister, Sophie, has a surprise planned that fulfills Jasmine’s wish beyond her wildest dreams.

Debbi Michiko Florence is at her best in this sweet, special story of sisterhood and new responsibilities!

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA Mississippi ghost town and an art mystery combine in this gorgeously written debut just right for fans of Three Times Lucky and A Snicker of Magic. How far would you go to find something that might not even exist? All her life, Cricket’s mama has told her stories about a secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Now Mama’s run off, and Cricket thinks the room might be the answer to getting her to come back. If it exists. And if she can find it. Cricket’s only clue is a coin from a grown-over ghost town in the woods. So with her daddy’s old guidebook and a coat full of snacks stolen from the Cash ‘n’ Carry, Cricket runs away to find the room. Surviving in the woods isn’t easy. While Cricket camps out in an old tree house and looks for clues, she meets the last resident of the ghost town, encounters a poetry-loving dog (who just might hold a key to part of the puzzle), and discovers that sometimes you have to get a little lost . . . to really find your way.

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA quirky Dungeons & Dragons-inspired adventure that will appeal to gamers and readers of the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series. What if your favorite fantasy game characters showed up on your doorstep IRL? Sixth graders Ralph, Jojo, Noel, Persephone, and Cammi are hooked on fantasy tabletop role-playing games. When they somehow manage to summon their characters to Ralph’s house, things take a truly magical turn
The five are soon racing around town on a wild adventure that tests their both their RPG skills and their friendship. Will Ralph and crew be able to keep their characters out of trouble? Trying to convince a sticky-fingered halfling rogue not to pickpocket or a six-foot-five barbarian woman that you don’t always have to solve conflicts with a two-handed broadsword is hard enough. How will they ever send the adventurers back to their mystical realm?

 

 

 

July is overflowing with great books! Which of the July New Releases are you putting at the top of your stack this month?

 

 

DC Zooms into Middle Grade with New Imprint

Graphic novels have been zooming into the MG space in a big way in the past few years. In fact, middle grade graphic novels are probably the hottest category in publishing right now.

Traditional kidlit publishers have been moving toward graphic novels since Scholastic launched their Graphix imprint in 2005 and acquired Jeff Smith’s Bone series, but graphic novel publishers have also been moving toward kidlit. Also in 2005, NBM Publishing started their Papercutz imprint, which publishes graphic novel versions of classic middle-grade series, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as well as series featuring popular pop culture characters, such as Lego Ninjago and Disney Fairies, and original titles such as the popular Geronimo Stilton series.

DC Zoom logo. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.Since then, the genre has continued to grow. According to the American Bookseller’s Association, comics and graphic novels saw a strong sales growth in 2014-2017, due in large part to the success of middle-grade authors such as Raina Telgemeier and Dav Pilkey. In February 2018 at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference, DC Entertainment announced two new imprints: DC Zoom for middle-grade readers and DC Ink for young adults. These imprints combine popular middle-grade and YA authors, acclaimed artists, and iconic DC characters to create unique, out-of-continuity stories that are aimed specifically at young readers.

At the ALA Annual Conference this week, I had the opportunity to learn about some of the upcoming titles from DC Zoom and listen to their authors talk about the experience of working on these graphic novels. Read more

Some Fun MG Summer Reads, Coming Your Way!

NOTE: This post by Jonathan Rosen originally ran on May 28th, but it was so chock full of great summer reads, we decided to run it again and include one more book, one we just featured a few weeks ago.

Hello Mixed-Up Filers!

Hope you are all doing well! I have to say, summer is my favorite time of the year. I love having my kids off from school and being able to do things with them. I love the promise of adventure. New things can happen every day. I love summer movies, summer camp, and most of all, summer reading! Some really fun books come out in the summer, and this year is no exception.

I looked through those June, July, August releases, and though there were soooooo many I was looking forward to, I picked out five that immediately caught my eye.

What’s that you say? Jonathan, stop talking and get to them? Okay, okay, my impatient friends. Without further ado, here we go!

  1. The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (June 5th)

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again.
In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that!

Seriously, brings me back to being a kid, when all you needed was a large cardboard box to imagine anything. Really looking forward to this one.

 

                 2) The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight (June 5th)

MUF Interview | Wendy McLeod MacKnight | The Frame-Up

Filled with shady characters, devious plots, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.

There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule. Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret.

And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to find the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.

I already read this one, and it was so much fun. I can’t wait until everyone else gets a chance to see it. And hey, who doesn’t love talking paintings?

         3) Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya (Aug 21)

Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target.
After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father–who walked out of their lives ten years ago–is somewhere on the island.
So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

In some ways, this book reminds me a lot about my youth and living in Mexico. Feeling out of place and having to speak Spanish. Plus, it shares a release date with me. That has to mean something!

 4) Smack Down in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl (July 10)

How far would you go to find something that might not even exist?
All her life, Cricket’s mama has told her stories about a secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Now Mama’s run off, and Cricket thinks the room might be the answer to getting her to come back. If it exists. And if she can find it.
Cricket’s only clue is a coin from a grown-over ghost town in the woods. So with her daddy’s old guidebook and a coat full of snacks stolen from the Cash ‘n’ Carry, Cricket runs away to find the room. Surviving in the woods isn’t easy. While Cricket camps out in an old tree house and looks for clues, she meets the last resident of the ghost town, encounters a poetry-loving dog (who just might hold a key to part of the puzzle), and discovers that sometimes you have to get a little lost . . . to really find your way.

First off, I love the title. It caught my eye, but after reading what this was about, I can’t wait to read it!

 

     5) Nightbooks by J.A. White (July 24)

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.

Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.

This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

I love just about ANY witch story, and this one looks like it’ll be fun.

 

These are just some of the great MG stories coming out this summer, but there are many more that I didn’t have room for, like a certain vampire sequel to a bunny story, `so please be on the lookout for all of them!

 

6) Where the Watermelons Grow, by Cindy Baldwin (July 8) 

Cindy Baldwin

When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again–that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be taken away like last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations. But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must find a way to truly love her own mother, sickness and all.

Gorgeous prose, heart-stopping scenes between Della and her father and mentors as she navigates this sad, tough time in her life. (Last note from Heather Murphy Capps)

Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny, South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring around his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into, in particular the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country has been really willing to accept responsibility. He is the author of Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, and its sequel, From Sunset Till Sunrise. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, and his own website, WWW.HouseofRosen.com