New Releases

New Releases for May 2022!

May brings a bounty of new middle grade books, fiction and nonfiction, covering many different perspectives and cross-cultural voices. Here is just a sampling of what’s new this month.


José and the Pirate Captain Toledano

by Arnon Z. Shorr (Author) Joshua M. Edelglass (Illustrator)

Set in the shadows of the Spanish Inquisition, this is the coming-of-age story of José Alfaro, a young refugee who forms a powerful bond with the mysterious Pirate Captain Toledano. It’s also a dynamic pirate adventure on the high seas, with hand-to-hand combat and ship-to-ship action, and the powerful story of a dark time in history when people took different paths to survive.

 

 

 


Rise of the School for Good and Evil

by Soman Chainani

The battle between Good and Evil begins. Two brothers. One Good. One Evil. Together they watch over the Endless Woods. Together they choose the students for the School for Good and Evil. Together they train them, teach them, prepare them for their fate. Then, something happens. Something unexpected. Something powerful. Something that will change everything and everyone. Who will survive? Who will rule the School? The journey starts here. Every step is filled with magic, surprises, and daring deeds that test courage, loyalty, and who you really are. But they only lead you to the very beginning of the adventures that are THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL.

 

 


The Lion of Mars

by Jennifer L. Holm

Life on Mars is pretty standard…. until a mysterious virus hits.  Don’t miss this timely and unputdownable novel from the bestselling author of The Fourteenth Goldfish.
Bell has spent his whole life–all eleven years of it–on Mars. But he’s still just a regular kid–he loves cats and any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don’t they have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It’s up to Bell–a regular kid in a very different world–to uncover the truth and save his family…and possibly unite an entire planet.

Small Town Pride

by Phil Stamper

Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio.When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake. But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?

 


Kings of B’more

by R. Eric Thomas

Two Black queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by bestselling author of Here for It R. Eric Thomas. With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that—it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week.

To keep from completely losing it—and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad—Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things—big and small—they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

 


Singing with Elephants

by Margarita Engle

A powerful novel in verse from Newbery and Pura Belpré Award-winning author Margarita Engle about the friendship between a young girl and the poet Gabriela Mistral that leads to healing and hope for both of them. Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that’s okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic. Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature, moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage to stay true to herself and do what she thinks is right–attempting to rescue a baby elephant in need–even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves. A beautifully written, lyrically told story about the power of friendship– between generations, between humans and animals–and the potential of poetry to inspire action and acceptance.

 


This Is My America

by Kim Johnson

The Hate U Give meets Just Mercy in this unflinching yet uplifting first novel that explores the racist injustices in the American justice system. Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time–her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

 


History Comics: The National Parks: Preserving America’s Wild Places

by Falynn Koch

In this volume, turn back the clock to 1872, when Congress established Yellowstone National Park as an area of unspoiled beauty for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Meet the visionaries, artists, and lovers of the American wilderness who fought against corruption and self-interest to carve out and protect these spaces for future generations. See for yourself how the idea of National Parks began, how they’ve changed, and how they continue to define America.

 


Made in Korea

by Sarah Suk

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads–and maybe fall in love–while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity–one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover… What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school–all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for. But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

 


The Peach Rebellion

by Wendelin Van Draanen 

From the author of The Running Dream comes a heart-swelling historical tale of friendship, family, and the power of sisterhood to help heal the wounds of the past and step boldly into the future.

Ginny Rose and Peggy were best friends at seven, picking peaches on hot summer days. Peggy’s family owned the farm, and Ginny Rose’s were pickers, escaping the Oklahoma dust storms. That didn’t matter to them then, but now, ten years, hard miles, and a world war later, Ginny Rose’s family is back in town and their differences feel somehow starker. Especially since Peggy’s new best friend, Lisette, is a wealthy banker’s daughter. Still, there’s no denying what all three girls have in common: Families with great fissures that are about to break wide open. And a determination to not just accept things as they are anymore. This summer they will each make a stand. It’s a season of secrets revealed. Of daring plans to heal old wounds. Of hearts won and hearts broken. A summer when everything changes because you’re seventeen, and it’s time to be bold. And because it’s easier to be brave with a true friend by your side.

 


Land of the Cranes

by Aida Salazar

From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.

Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.

Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?

 


 

Hope you enjoy these and the many other middle grade books releasing in May! Happy reading . . .

April Showers bring New Releases!

Happy Spring! Check out all these new titles showering middle-grade readers this month. Adventure, friendship, mystery and an inspiring true story of survival are featured in these titles for every younger reader on your list!

Wild Ride Author: Keith Calabrese, Scholastic Press, April 5

Swindle meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in this action-filled comedy!

No parents. No rules. No curfew.

Things are about to get dangerous…

The grownups are out-of-town, and for Charley Decker that means one thing: a last epic weekend with her older brother Greg before he leaves for college. Bring on the burgers, milkshakes, and movie marathons!

So when Greg ditches Charley for a date night downtown, she’s kind of crushed. Worse, he gets their mom’s boyfriend’s super-expensive, super-rare Mustang towed and needs Charley’s help to get it back. What’s an unsupervised seventh grader to do? Grab her best friends, sneak into the city, pull off the ultimate car heist, and then make Greg pay, of course!

Only now the Mustang has a new feature in the trunk: a stowaway named Mitch who’s guarding a world-changing secret. And a pair of seriously big, seriously scary dudes are after him.

What follows is an all-night race around the clock as Charley and her friends try to dodge the twin terrors, save Mitch, fix a sibling squabble…and get the Mustang home before morning!

I Will Protect You Author: Eva Mozes Kor with Danica Davidson, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 5

The illuminating and deeply moving true story of twin sisters who survived Nazi experimentation, against all odds, during the Holocaust.

Eva and her identical twin sister, Miriam, had a mostly happy childhood. Theirs was the only Jewish family in their small village in the Transylvanian mountains, but they didn’t think much of it until anti-Semitism reared its ugly head in their school. Then, in 1944, ten-year-old Eva and her family were deported to Auschwitz. At its gates, Eva and Miriam were separated from their parents and other siblings, selected as subjects for Dr. Mengele’s infamous medical experiments.

During the course of the war, Mengele would experiment on 3,000 twins. Only 160 would survive–including Eva and Miriam.

Writing with her friend Danica Davidson, Eva reveals how two young girls were able to survive the unimaginable cruelty of the Nazi regime, while also eventually finding healing and the capacity to forgive. Spare and poignant, I Will Protect You is a vital memoir of survival, loss, and forgiveness.

Consider the Octopus Authors: Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin, Henry Holt and Co., April 5

When chance, or fate, throws two twelve-year-olds together on board a scientific research ship at the edge of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s not all smooth sailing!

Jeremy “JB” Barnes is looking forward to spending the summer before seventh grade hanging on the beach. But his mother, a scientist, has called for him to join her aboard a research ship where, instead, he’ll spend his summer seasick and bored as he stares out at the endless plastic, microbeads, and other floating debris, both visible and not, that make up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Miles and miles away, twelve-year-old Sidney Miller is trying to come up with an alternate activity worthy of convincing her overprotective parents that she can skip summer camp.

When Jeremy is asked to find the contact information for a list of important international scientists and invite them to attend a last-minute Emergency Global Summit, he’s excited to have a chance to actually do something that matters to the mission. How could he know that the Sidney Miller he messages is not the famous marine biologist he has been tasked with contacting, but rather a girl making podcasts from her bedroom–let alone that she would want to sneak aboard the ship?

Consider the Octopus is a comedy of errors, mistaken identity, and synchronicity. Above all, it is a heartfelt story about friendship and an empowering call to environmental protection, especially to our young people who are already stepping up to help save our oceans and our Earth.

Karthik Delivers Author: Sheela Chari, Amulet Books, April 5

Award-winning author Linda Williams Jackson pulls from her own childhood in the Mississippi Delta to tell the story of Ellis Earl, who dreams of a real house, food enough for the whole family–and to be someone.

It’s 1967, and eleven-year-old Ellis Earl Brown has big dreams. He’s going to grow up to be a teacher or a lawyer–or maybe both–and live in a big brick house in town. There’ll always be enough food in the icebox, and his mama won’t have to run herself ragged looking for work as a maid in order to support Ellis Earl and his eight siblings and niece, Vera. So Ellis Earl applies himself at school, soaking up the lessons that Mr. Foster teaches his class–particularly those about famous colored people like Mr. Thurgood Marshall and Miss Marian Wright–and borrowing books from his teacher’s bookshelf. When Mr. Foster presents him with a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ellis Earl is amazed to encounter a family that’s even worse off than his own–and is delighted by the Buckets’ very happy ending. But when Mama tells Ellis Earl that he might need to quit school to help support the family, he wonders if happy endings are only possible in storybooks. Around the historical touchstone of Robert Kennedy’s southern “poverty tour,” Linda Williams Jackson pulls from her own childhood in the Mississippi Delta to tell a detail-rich and poignant story with memorable characters, sure to resonate with readers who have ever felt constricted by their circumstances.

Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend, Author Katie Zhao, Random House for Young Readers, April 26

An epic new fantasy series inspired by Chinese mythology that #1 New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia calls a hilarious tussle between homework, family, and heroism. When a girl awakens the stuff of legends from an old family recipe, she must embrace her extraordinary heritage to save the world.

Winnie Zeng has two goals: survive her first year of middle school and outdo her stuck-up archnemesis, David Zuo. It won’t be easy, since, according to her older sister, middle school is the pits. Luckily, Winnie studied middle school survival tactics in comic books and anime, and nothing will stop her from being the very best student.

But none of Winnie’s research has prepared her to face the mother of all hurdles: evil spirits. When she makes mooncakes for a class bake sale, she awakens the stuff of legends from her grandmother’s old cookbook, spilling otherworldly chaos into her sleepy town.

Suddenly Winnie finds herself in a race against time, vanquishing demons instead of group projects. Armed with a magic cookbook and a talking white rabbit, she must embrace her new powers and legacy of her ancestors. Because if she doesn’t, her town–and rest of the world–may fall to chaos forever.

The Pear Affair Author: Judith Eagle Illustrator: Jo Rioux Walker Books US, April 26

Nell is determined to find her beloved missing au pair in this vibrant adventure set in, and underneath, Paris.

Penelope Magnificent spends as little time as possible with her awful parents–a grocery-mogul father and a fashion-obsessed mother who loves expensive purses more than she does her daughter. But when they mention an important trip to Paris, Nell begs to come along. Paris holds something very dear to her: her old au pair Perrine–Pear–who lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week, promising to come to her rescue, but recently the letters stopped. With the help of a savvy bellboy named Xavier, Nell sets out from her parents’ ultra-fancy Parisian hotel to find her beloved Pear. But Pear’s old neighbors and coworkers are strangely tight-lipped. And as Nell’s search for the truth takes her and Xavier to some of the darkest, most mysterious parts of the city, a sinister plot comes to light involving the destruction of a cherished–and delicious–part of Parisian life. Food, fashion, and intrigue abound in this delightful caper from the author of The Secret Starling.

Coming of Age: 13 B’nai Mitzvah Stories

edited by Jonathan Rosen and Henry Herz Albert Whitman & Co., April 19

What does it mean to become an adult in your faith? Join thirteen diverse characters as they experience anxiety, doubt, and self-discovery while preparing for their b’nai mitzvah. And whether celebrating with a lavish party or in reception room A with an accordion player, the Jewish rite of passage remains the same. Filled with humor, hope, and history, there’s something in this anthology for every reader, regardless of their faith.

World Building with Bestselling #Kidlit Author Lisa McMann

Author Lisa McMann stopped by The Mixed-Up Files Of Middle Grade Authors to talk about hew new middle-grade fantasy, THE FORGOTTEN FIVE: MAP OF FLAMES; world building; and what goes in to writing a series. Here, she shares her process on beginning a new series and what to do about readers who don’t start from the beginning. 

Mixed-Up Files: Tell us about your new book.

The Forgotten Five: Map of Flames by Lisa McMann

Lisa McMann: THE FORGOTTEN FIVE: MAP OF FLAMES is the first book in a middle grade fantasy series. It’s about five supernatural kids, raised in isolation, who enter a hostile-to-supers civilization for the first time to search for their missing criminal parents…and the stash they left behind.

MUF: Let’s talk about world building. How does the shape of a series come about? Do you come up with a single story first, or a world you want to flesh out?

LM: I usually come up with the immediate setting first—where are we when the story begins? In MAP OF FLAMES, it’s a criminals’ hideout on a beach with no electricity, no technology, just a handful of cabins in a lush setting that’s isolated from the modern world. Next I came up with the destination—where are these kids going and what does that look like. I wanted a big contrast between the two things here, so I went with a NYC or Chicago-type of city. When I imagined how the kids would get from one place to the other, the map of southern Europe factored in—I pictured the hideout at the boot heel of Italy, and the big city of Estero at the bottom of Spain (though I brought them closer together so it wouldn’t take so long to get there). So that map was in my head, as well as the contrasting locations. In one of my other series, THE UNWANTEDS, the hidden magical world of Artimé is designed to look like a place where my mother grew up, along the shore of Lake Michigan. I took that real life location and added magic to it.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMannFor me the shape of the series comes from two things: developing flawed characters and their relationships, and introducing a plot in which the antagonists push the protagonists too far, forcing these main characters to take action. Both things drive the series, with all kinds of setbacks as the heroes attempt to overcome evil and build strengthening relationships at the same time. The bigger the world and its problems, and the more troubled the characters and their need to fix themselves, the longer the series can run.

MUF: What are the biggest challenges in writing a series, and how does that compare when you write a stand-alone novel?

LM: Now you’ve got me looking back at my career and realizing I’ve only ever written three stand-alones out of 28 books. So maybe my biggest challenge is being able to write a book and actually tie up all the loose ends!

With a series, you are writing a story arc within each individual book, but also a story arc for the whole series. That can be tricky to get the hang of—parts of the plot need to resolve while other parts need to become more conflicted. It’s definitely something that my editors have helped me see and understand in past series’. It really takes a conscious effort to recognize the two different arcs.

Author Lisa McMann

Lisa McMann, author. Photo by Ryan Nicholson

MUF: Do you expect that readers will always read in order, or do you find that many people jump in in the middle of a series? If that’s the case, how do you provide back story for new readers without turning off anyone who’s started with book #1?

LM: I absolute wish I could force everyone to read the books in order—I’m a bit controlling this way, haha. But I know this doesn’t always happen. In the early pages of every sequel, I try to weave in key elements of things that happened in the past, kind of the same way TV shows give you the recap of important scenes from the previous episodes. I don’t want this to ever feel heavy-handed or annoying for those faithful readers who read the books in order, though. So it’s a delicate balance to inform or remind but not overdo.

MUF: How much collaboration is involved with your editor on a book series?

LM: I think this depends more on the editor than the writer. Some editors want an outline ahead of time that they can contribute to or approve of. Others are fine with letting an author do their thing and being surprised with the way a book turns out. Both ways work. I prefer not having to write an outline, because I feel like doing that takes something away from the creative process of writing the story—it feels limiting. But if that’s what the editor needs, I’m happy to provide it.

MUF: How do you keep track of your characters and their environment so you don’t forget details?

LM: I keep it all in my head. I might jot down a few notes on my phone app—notes about a key sentence that will carry through to the next book. But it’s also not too difficult to search for the information I need in previous books if I can’t remember something. I know many writers keep copious notes and use other means to track everything—they are likely cringing right now. I just work a different way. I can see a picture of things in my mind. I think my book details take up most of the space in my brain because I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.

MUF: If you would like to share any recent/new-ish middle grade books you’ve enjoyed, we’d love to hear your recommendations! 

All Thirteen

LM: I love Kelly Yang’s Front Desk Books. And Christina Soontornvat’s non-fiction All Thirteen. On my nightstand I have A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow and The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix—excited to dive in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find Lisa at @lisa_mcmann on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram and /McMannFan on Facebook