New Releases

STEM Tuesday – Special Announcement– STEM/STEAM Books Releasing in 2020

STEM Tuesday CoSTEM Costume Contest

 

 

We’re taking time away from our regular monthly posts to present a special look at the STEM/STEAM kidlit titles releasing this year.

We’re sure that we will probably miss a few, but we’ll try to include as many as possible. 

Drumroll….

 

 

 

Planet Ocean by Patricia Newman, Fall

ICK: Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses by Melissa Stewart, Summer

Beastly Bionics by Jennifer Swanson, June

One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet by Anuradha Rao

The Farm That Feeds Us: A Year In The Life of An Organic Farm by Nancy Castaldo , May

Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W Larson, illus. by Tracy Suisak

Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You Never Heard Of by Helaine Becker

Thirteen Ways to Eat A Fly by Sue Heavenrich

What If? by Heather Camlot

Amphibian Acrobats: Frog, Salamander, and Caecilian Showstoppers in Verse by Leslie Bulion

Skywatcher by Carrie Arcos

The Kitchen Pantry Scientist’s Guide to Chemistry by Liz Lee Heinecke

Wild Art Workshop for Kids by Nick Neddo

Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed The World by Kazoo Magazine

National Geographic’s Ultimate Food Atlas by Nancy Castaldo and Christy Mihaly, September

Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain by Tod Olson

Accidental Archeologists by Sarah Albee

To Fly Among the Stars by Rebecca Siegel

Tracking Pythons by Kate Messner, March

Solve This: Forensics by Kate Messner and Anne Ruppert

Amazing Amphibians by Lisa Amstutz, February

Python Catchers by Marta Magellen

Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creaturs Close to Home by Mary Kay Carson, spring

STEM Tuesday book list prepared by

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 multi-starred title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. The Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, and a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy! Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

 

March New Releases

The month of March not only brings us spring, but also brings us a plethora of new books about spies, stars, wizards, and giants. For a taste of what the month has to offer, read on!

 


City Spies 

By James Ponti

Sara Martinez is a hacker. She recently broke into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers. However, instead of being hailed as a hero, Sara finds herself facing years in a juvenile detention facility and banned from using computers for the same stretch of time. Enter Mother, a British spy who not only gets Sara released from jail but also offers her a chance to make a home for herself within a secret MI5 agency.

Operating out of a base in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from various parts of the world. When they’re not attending the local boarding school, they’re honing their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.

Before she knows what she’s doing, Sarah is heading to Paris for an international youth summit, hacking into a rival school’s computer to prevent them from winning a million euros, dangling thirty feet off the side of a building, and trying to stop a villain…all while navigating the complex dynamics of her new team. No one said saving the world was easy…

 

 

What Stars are Made Of

By Sarah Allen

Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky.

When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled―but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecelia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice?

 

  

The Wizenard Series: Season One

By Wesley King (author), Kobe Bryant (creator)

Reggie has never felt destined for greatness. He dreams about basketball brilliance all day and night, but the hard truth is that he’s a benchwarmer for the West Bottom Badgers the worst team in the league. Even their mysterious new coach, Rolabi Wizenard, can’t seem to help them end their losing streak.

Reggie is willing to train tirelessly to improve his game, but the gym itself seems to be working against him in magical ways. Before Reggie can become the player he dreams of being, he must survive the extraordinary trials of practice.

This is the illuminating follow-up to the #1 New York Times best seller The Wizenard Series: Training Camp―a story of strain and sacrifice, supernatural breakthroughs, and supreme dedication to the game.

 

 

If We Were Giants

By Dave Matthews and Clete Barrett Smith, illus. Antonio Javier Caparo

Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic community hidden inside a dormant volcano. She and her father are the only two people allowed to venture beyond its walls. Kirra is in training to become a Storyteller like him, and together they travel from village to village spreading fearsome tales designed to keep outsiders away from their secret nest.

One day, after hearing rumors of strangers called the “Takers,” Kirra leaves the volcano by herself, hoping to discover her own story. But she unknowingly leads the Takers back to her doorstep, and they rob her of everything she has ever held dear.

A devastated Kirra is found by a boy named Luwan and adopted into his family, which lives among others high in the trees of a dense forest. Now quiet and withdrawn, Kirra hides her dark past from everyone and never wants to leave the safety of her tree dwelling. Luwan, on the other hand, loves to explore. One day it leads to trouble: He is captured while spying on a group of strangers. The Takers have returned. To save the Tree Folk, Kirra must face her inner demons and summon all her storytelling to weave the most important tale of her life.

 

 


Dragonslayer 
(Wings of Fire: Legends)

By Tui T. Sutherland

Ivy doesn’t trust the Dragonslayer. He may be her father and the beloved ruler of Valor, but she knows he’s hiding more than the treasure from the sand dragon he killed two decades ago.

Leaf doesn’t trust dragons. They’re the reason his favorite sister, Wren, is dead, and now he’ll do whatever it takes to slay even one.

Wren doesn’t trust anyone. She swore off humans after her village tried to sacrifice her to the dragons. She only has one friend, a small, wonderful mountain dragon named Sky, and they don’t need anyone else.

In a world of dragons, the humans who scramble around underfoot are easy to overlook. But Ivy, Leaf, and Wren will each cross paths with dragons in ways that could shape the destiny of both species. Is a new future possible for all of them . . . one in which humans can look to the skies with hope instead of fear?

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks

By Stuart Gibbs

Teddy was all set for a campout at his friend Sage’s family ranch—but then Sage gets terrible news: The skull of a rare dinosaur that was being excavated on his property has mysteriously vanished overnight in the middle of a rainstorm, even though it weighed 500 pounds. Not a single footprint has been left behind. Since the dinosaur was top secret, the police don’t believe anyone outside the dig could have stolen it.

A T-rex skull can sell for millions of dollars, and everyone is a suspect—including J.J. McCracken, the owner of FunJungle.

Meanwhile, Teddy’s old foes, the Barksdale twins, have gotten into trouble with an illegally purchased anaconda, and Teddy’s girlfriend Summer wants to find out who’s behind the local trade in black market reptiles. The two cases will drag Teddy into more danger and chaos than ever before, in this mystery that’s stranger than fiction.

 

 

Emily Windsnap and the Tides of Time

By Liz Kessler

When Emily makes a wish on a magic stone, she gets a glimpse of what the future holds — and it’s a disaster! She tries to make things right, but each trip through time takes Emily to a future where things turn out badly for either the humans of Brightport or the merpeople of Shiprock.

Plastic pollutes the ocean, garbage overflows the landfills, and the two towns are no longer getting along. Emily realizes she can’t save her hometown and the ocean alone, but with help from her best friends, Shona and Mandy, she’ll have to find a way to get humans and merpeople to work together.

Will Emily be able to create a better future for everyone, including herself? This new adventure gives readers a glimpse at what Emily and her friends could be like as grown-ups, with a fresh story that explores how uniting communities can make a future that’s bright for everyone.

 

 

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom

By Louis Sachar, illus. Tim Heitz

Welcome back to Wayside School!

Your favorite students and teachers are all here. That includes Sharie, who loves her striped-and-spotted umbrella more than anything; Kathy, who has a bad case of oppositosis; Jason, who has to read the longest book in the world; and the rest of Mrs. Jewls’s class on the thirtieth floor, who are busily collecting toenail clippings.

Everyone is scrambling to prepare for the all-important Ultimate Test, but meanwhile, there is a mysterious Cloud of Doom looming above them …

 

 

Black Brother, Black Brother

By Jewell Parker Rhodes

Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbing him “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.

When he’s bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, “King” Alan, he’s suspended from school and arrested for something he didn’t do.

Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden’s help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what. As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.

Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy’s fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.

 

 

The Great Upending

by Beth Kephart

Twelve-year-old Sara and her brother Hawk are told that they are not to bother the man—The Mister—who just moved into the silo apartment on their farm. It doesn’t matter that they know nothing about him and they think they ought to know something. It doesn’t matter that he’s always riding that unicycle around. Mama told them no way, no how are they to bother The Mister unless they want to be in a mess of trouble.

Trouble is the last thing Sara and her brother need. Sara’s got a condition, you see. Marfan syndrome. And that Marfan syndrome is causing her heart to have problems, the kind of problems that require surgery. But the family already has problems: The drought has dried up their crops and their funds, which means they can’t afford any more problems, let alone a surgery to fix those problems. Sara can feel the weight of her family’s worry, and the weight of her time running out, but what can a pair of kids do? Well, it all starts with…bothering The Mister.

 

 

Writing and Illustrating Funny Poetry For Kids – Author Interview with Vikram Madan, and Giveaway

At Mixed-Up Files today, we’re thrilled to have author-illustrator Vikram Madan. Vikram talks about his new book A Hatful Of Dragons that comes out on April 21, 2020. He also shares his exciting publishing journey along with other writing tips.

                                                           

 

  1. Tell us about A Hatful Of Dragons. What inspired you to write the book?

A Hatful of Dragons: And More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems’ is a quirky, eclectic collection of funny rhyming poems woven together with rich illustrations featuring recurring characters and sub-plots – a double dose of visual and literary fun for all ages 7 and up.

As a kid I loved both cartooning and writing poems but never thought of combining the two till I encountered, much later in life, Shel Silverstein’s work. I was instantly attracted to the concept of words and images working together to create a funnier experience. So much so that ‘A Hatful of Dragon’ is my third collection of self-illustrated funny poems featuring intertwined words and drawings.

 

  1. What would you want readers to take away from A Hatful Of Dragons?

I would love for readers of all ages to come away from this book with the idea that you can have a lot of fun playing with language and also with a desire to read more rhyming poetry.

 

  1. What were some of the most fun and challenging parts about writing A Hatful Of Dragons?

The poems in my original manuscript were largely disconnected from each other. While shortlisting the poems, Rebecca Davis, my editor, instinctively zeroed-in on the uniqueness of creating cross-connections between poems. As I developed the illustrations for the book, I had a lot of fun thinking of ways to interconnect the poems visually. For example, a main character in one visual might show up later in the book as a secondary character in another visual, helping create a cohesive, but weird, universe for the characters. I hope kids will have fun closely inspecting the illustrations for cross-connections.

The most challenging part of the book was stuffing 13.8 billion poems into 64 pages. 🙂

Actually I found doing the illustrations to be a challenge as I underestimated the sheer physical work required to get through multiple rounds of revisions and changes. Somewhat like running a marathon, most enjoyable, not while you’re doing it, but well after it is done. 🙂

 

 

Another challenge was coming up with a distinctive title for the book. The title poem ‘A Hatful of Dragons’ did not exist in my original manuscript. We thought of titling the book ‘There’s a Dragon in My Wagon’ but an internet search showed half-a-dozen books already had that title. Many other title poems from the manuscript did not pass internal sales and marketing reviews. I finally proposed ‘A Hatful of Dragons’ and once that title was approved, I had to then write a title poem from scratch worthy of the book. Talk about pressure! 🙂

 

  1. You began your writing career by self-publishing your work. How did the experience influence you as a children’s writer? How did you make the transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing?

Prior to self-publishing, I spent a decade trying to have my rhyming picture books and themed poetry collections published. I found agents and publishers reluctant to consider poetry. With rejections piling up, I actually gave up writing and submitting for a few years. However the itch never went away. In 2012, I spent a summer writing a fresh collection of poems. I decided then that if no one would publish my poems, I would publish them myself, which led to my first collection ‘The Bubble Collector’.

 

Once ‘The Bubble Collector’ was out, I realized writing the book was the easy part. Marketing, distribution, getting anyone to notice a self-published book, was incredibly hard (more so for us introverts!). I learnt that if I didn’t do the hustle, no one else would. With perseverance and leg work, I was able to get the book into local bookstores, gain a few favorable reviews and endorsements, and conduct some school visits. The book went on to win a 2013 Moonbeam Book Award for Children’s Poetry and was invited to apply to the 2014 WA State Book Awards. All in all, for a self-published poetry book, it did quite ok. The ‘hustling’, however, left me with deep appreciation for traditional publishing.

Upon completing the manuscript for my second collection (in 2015), I decided to give the traditional channel another shot. It took a year of querying agents before one, Rosemary Stimola at Stimola Literary Studios, expressed interest in the manuscript. (The modest success with the self-published book really helped my pitch). It took Rosemary another year to find a publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. The publisher scheduled the book for a 2020 release, five years from when I finished the manuscript. Despite the slow pace of traditional publishing, I’ve really enjoyed working with my editors, Rebecca Davis and Barbara Grzeslo – the book is so much better than I could have made just by myself – and I’m looking forward to it being available everywhere without having to knock on doors, one at a time. 🙂

And since the second book was going to take five years, I squeezed out another self-published poetry collection, ‘Lord of the Bubbles’, in 2018, which went on to win a 2019 Moonbeam Award for Children’s Poetry.

 

 

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Although I was writing and drawing from a really early age, I didn’t take my art seriously because I couldn’t see how to traverse the gap between what I made and what I admired. With no insight into the creative journey, the learning process, the blood, sweat, and tears that every piece of art demands, I did not believe in my own abilities. My epiphany came when one day, as an adult, I accidently wandered into an exhibition of original Dr. Seuss manuscripts. Typewritten sheets covered with frustrated scribbles, crossed out over and over again in search of better options. I was stunned to realize that the ‘genius’ was in the incessant revision, the twenty attempts before something worked, the trying, trying, trying and not giving up. Looking at those manuscripts was the first time I thought to myself, “Wait, if this is how it’s done, then maybe I can do this too!” Thank you Dr. Seuss – I wish I could have sent my younger self to see that!

 

  1. Do you have any other advice/tips for writers?

In visual-art circles the running joke is that ‘Only the first fifty years are the hardest’. In other words, the ‘successful’ artists are the ones who find ways to persist. The same is true for writers. Patience, persistence, working on your craft, and never giving up! (And if you do feel like giving up, read a book, any book, by creative coach Eric Maisel).

 

Here’s a cool flip-through video that Vikram made for the book: https://youtu.be/XswGM2FLlBM

Seattle-area Author-Artist Vikram Madan grew up in India, where he really wanted to be a cartoonist but ended up an engineer. After many years of working in tech, he finally came to his senses and followed his heart into the visual and literary arts. When not making whimsical paintings and public art, he writes and illustrates funny poems. His books include ‘The Bubble Collector’, ‘Lord of the Bubbles’, and ‘A Hatful of Dragons’. Visit him at www.VikramMadan.com

 

Want to own your very own ARC of A Hatful Of Dragons? Enter our giveaway by leaving a comment below! 

You may earn extra entries by blogging/tweeting/facebooking the interview and letting us know. The winner will be announced here on March 2, 2020 and will be contacted  via email and asked to provide a mailing address (US/Canada only) to receive the book.