New Releases

Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad #3: The Law of Cavities Blog Tour + Giveaway

Welcome to the Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad #3: The Law of Cavities Blog Tour!

Follow along as we celebrate the release of The Law of Cavities (October 11th) with behind-the-scenes looks from author Valerie Tripp, plus 5 chances to win all 3 books in the Izzy Newton series!

Girls Care Deeply: 
Tapping into girls’ profound desire to protect the environment and animals
by Valerie Tripp

Once again, my trusty Lunch Bunch girls were the source of my story’s heart and soul. With a combination of hilarity, dismay, and happiness the girls talked about Outdoor Education Weekend memories like crushes, gelatin for dessert, creepy-crawlies, ancient showers, and ghost stories. And through it all, beneath the jokes, their deep concern for the outdoors, for protecting the environment and animals came through loud and clear. When I listened to this extraordinary group of middle school girls, I learned that they take science seriously – and they also take science to heart. They taught me:

  • Science is not cold or arcane. It is a practical, human – sometimes even humorous — part of everyday life that when applied, makes life better.
  • It’s okay – in fact, it’s great! — to be smart, caring girl who is interested in science, especially the environment.
  • It’s okay – in fact, it’s great! – to be your quirky, unique, honest self.
  • It is okay — in fact, it’s essential — to make mistakes, learn from them, and laugh at them.
  • The best solutions happen when we listen to different points of view and combine talents.
  • Sometimes an idea that seems laugh-out-loud silly is brilliant.
  • The steps in the scientific method (identify the problem, gather relevant data, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis) can be used to solve scientific research problems AND behavior/learning/emotional/interpersonal problems.

How could I celebrate and honor my Lunch Bunch girls’ interest in the environment? Well, my Lunch Bunch girls were rapturous about raptors, especially owls, because “they are so cute.” They wanted the Squad to find that the island was newly inhabited by a kind of owl that is on the endangered animal list. I was thrilled: I love owls, and right here in Montgomery County we have owls we haven’t had before. They’re here because of climate change. And there are certainly owls on the endangered list.

That core idea connected to something in my brain. In 2001, my friend, the poet Mary Clare Powell, sent me her poem “Things Owls Ate”. It begins:

The sixth graders are dissecting them,
regurgitated refuse, indigestible parts
of things owls ate, found where owls roost,
near the white splash markings on barn boards.
The kids say the idea is gross but once they cut
open the hard shells it is soft gray feathers
and hair they first find. At the center of
that bed the bones appear, scapula and tiny skull.
The children are excited to match bone to
bone, using a printed guide, laying out the
frames of tiny eaten things. They learn anatomy.

That quiet poem stayed tucked in my brain for 20 years, waiting to connect to the spark the Lunch Bunch girls gave me for Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: The Law of Cavities, a story about owls, and how there are surprises hidden in people and places, just as there are in owl pellets. Mary Clare illustrated for me the metaphorical link between fact and fiction, nature and human nature. My lovely and generous friend Kay Taub gave me an owl pellet of my own to dissect, much to my delight, and a printed guide to learn from. Clearly, generosity is abundant in people who love owls. Bárbara Freitas and Emma Gesiriech, both raptor experts, graciously answered my owl questions with expertise and enthusiasm and came up with even better ideas to bring authenticity to the story. My daughter Katherine, another owl fan, helped me tremendously by recollecting with great good humor and specificity her memories of dealing with dental braces and her 6th grade outdoor education experience. We laughed and laughed and all the while, Katherine was providing me with valuable pages of notes. Katherine’s professional research and writing about the benefits of outdoor education for middle school students was an inspiration—as Katherine herself always is!

My friends Betsy Randall-David and Sara Jarvis sent thoughtful, thorough lists and, during our video call, generated a treasure trove of outdoor, environmentally connected games and activities for Camp Rosalie Edge, all tried and true from Camp Lala-Gigi, which they created for their lucky grandchildren. Essential to my story were Betsy and Sara’s observations and insights about children’s interactions and behaviors while camping. Mary-Grace Reeves, my pen pal since she was a little girl, has just graduated from Stanford Medical School. It was exhilarating how Mary-Grace immediately understood the idea of science-effecting-girls’-friendships and came up with the funny, smart, perfect idea of hair turning green from oxidization, which I loved. Becky Baines thought up the great title: Izzy Newton and S.M.A.R.T. Squad: The Law of Cavities. Thank you, Becky! Shelby Lees and Erica Green are my partners in joy in creating the S.M.A.R.T. Squad stories. I can never thank them enough for asking the question that brought all the elements of this story together: What if Izzy has braces? 

So, I merely combined the deep concern for the environment expressed by my Lunch Bunch girls with the generosity and kindness of owl lovers and the trials of braces and Ta Da! Izzy Newton and S.M.A.R.T. Squad: The Law of Cavities came to be.


A message to readers from author Valerie Tripp:
I hope my readers will come away with this message: You are a scientist. You observe, test, evaluate, and draw conclusions constantly. STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—is not restricted to labs or science fair booths or classrooms. You’re doing STEM stuff everywhere, all the time, when you cook, run, feed you pet, quench your thirst, dive into a wave, wash your hands, learn to do a cartwheel, spend time on your laptop, look up at the stars, cut an apple into parts and divvy up the shares. Know this, embrace this, celebrate this—and take responsibility for both exploring AND protecting this extraordinary, exciting, surprising universe. Get out there! Be active, curious, and focused. Take yourself seriously. Your actions matter because they will shape the world we all live in.  Be mindful, pay attention, learn, and live fully with courage and zest.  And don’t be afraid to fail. Chaos, mess, and failure are essential parts of all creative endeavors like science. Don’t worry. Things heal. Mistakes are forgiven. You have plenty of time to tidy up.


About the Book

BuyGoodreads

Meet the characters, watch the book trailer and check out the Educator and Reader’s Guides on the series website here!

The S.M.A.R.T. Squad is back to tackle more middle school mayhem with science, technology, engineering, math, and friendship!

In this third book in the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series, best friends Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Marie Curie, Charlie Darwin, and Gina Carver set out on a mystery-filled Outdoor Adventure Camp experience.

Now that Izzy’s finally found her voice in public speaking class and become an ice hockey star, she’s determined to conquer her “dizzy-Izzy-ness” in new situations―including caring for her brand-new braces on an outdoor education overnight and her friends’ good-natured teasing about her friend Trevor. But the forecast for fun turns cloudy when the girls discover their cabin chaperone is none other than Izzy’s tough public-speaking teacher, Ms. Martinez, and their junior counselor is eighth grade mean girl, Maddie Sharpe.

When an innocent exchange of harmless pranks with Maddie takes a turn for the worse, the Squad turns to science to prove their innocence. That’s nothing, though, compared with the terrifying swamp monster haunting their campsite, a catastrophe befalling Ms. Martinez, and a mysterious disaster threatening the future of camp itself.

With their very survival on the line, will science be enough to save the day?

Praise:

“Wholesome entertainment for preteens, offering positivity without didacticism.”
Kirkus

“It’s one thing to have children’s books about scientists or podcasts or stories about strong women in STEM, but it’s another world entirely when your children get to feel represented by the characters they’re reading about. The characters in the Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series are diverse, smart, and sure of themselves the way all middle school girls are—through their dreams and newly acquired skills they’re still getting used to.”
Romper

About the Author

VALERIE TRIPP is the co-creator of the American Girl book series that includes titles featuring Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Maryellen, Molly, and Samantha. Tripp also wrote American Girl’s Wellie Wishers titles, Hopscotch Hill School titles, numerous leveled readers, songs, stories, skills book pages, and plays for educational publishers. Tripp is writer and editorial director of the Boys Camp series, and a writer, editor, and art editor for Sterling Publishing Company. Tripp received a B.A. and honors as a member of the first co-educated class at Yale University and a master’s of education degree from Harvard University.


GIVEAWAY

  • Five (5) winners will receive the complete 3-book Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series: Absolute Hero, Newton’s Flaw, and The Law of Cavities
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/13 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


Blog Tour Schedule:

October 31st BookHounds
November 1st Teen Librarian Toolbox
November 2nd Pragmatic Mom
November 3rd A Dream Within a Dream
November 4th From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors

November New Releases

Grab a warm drink and a cozy blanket. There are some great books waiting for you in our November New Releases List.

Looking for True by Tricia Springstubb


When two unlikely friends bond over shared compassion for a bereft but lovable dog, they learn what it truly means to find a sense of belonging and identity.

11-year-olds Gladys and Jude live in the same small, rust belt town, and go to the same school, but they are definitely not friends. Gladys is a tiny, eccentric, walking dictionary who doesn’t hesitate to express herself, while Jude likes to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. But they both agree that a new dog in the neighborhood is being mistreated by its owner.

Gladys would like to do something to help while Jude is more resigned to the situation until the dog (who Gladys has named True Blue) disappears. They hatch a plan to find her and once they do, realize they have a problem: Gladys’s father is allergic and Jude’s mother hates dogs. There is no way they can bring her home. They hide True Blue in an abandoned house on the edge of town, but as their ties to the dog–and to one another–deepen, so does the impossibility of keeping such a big secret. Yet giving True up will break all three of their hearts.

Told in alternating voices set in a small, rust-belt town, True Blue is a story about family, identity, and finding friends in unexpected places.

 

 

Midnight at the Shelter by Nanci Turner Steveson

Written with a distinctively doggy voice, great humor, and plenty of heart, this novel from acclaimed author Nanci Turner Steveson is a perfect pick for readers looking for a touching animal story in the vein of Because of Winn-Dixie or Marley & Me.

Rescue dog MahDi is happy helping his human partner, “MomDoc,” with the important work at her vet clinic and the local animal shelter. The two of them make a good team, caring for the town’s pets and matchmaking rescue animals with the families who need them.

When the shelter is suddenly down a staff member, the animals have to deal with a new caretaker: Huck, an unpleasant man who seems to have no problem threatening the animals he’s supposed to care for. As more dogs crowd into the shelter than are going to new homes, MahDi begins to worry that if MomDoc isn’t around, there is no telling what Huck might do.

With three perfectly good legs, the heart of a true leader, and his pack mates by his side, MahDi is willing to risk everything to save his shelter-friends from an uncertain future.

 

 

 

 

Controlled Burn Erin Soderberg Downing

From acclaimed middle-grade and chapter-book author, Erin Soderberg Downing, Controlled Burn is a story that blends family, friendship, fire, and the rocky path toward healing our deepest fears.

Twelve-year-old Maia’s parents say she’s lucky she noticed something as early as she did. Lucky to have smelled the smoke, lucky to have pulled her sister, Amelia, out of their burning house. But is it really “lucky” when Amelia’s stuck in the hospital, covered in burns? And is it “lucky” when Maia knows it was her candle, left unattended, that started the fire in the first place?

When she’s sent to spend the summer with her grandparents in Northern Minnesota while her sister heals, Maia discovers that her anxieties and demons are intent on following her wherever she goes…unless she can figure out how to overcome them. But what if she can’t? Maia barely knows her grandparents, she desperately misses her sister and home, and she’s not thrilled to be spending the summer with Grandpa Howard on his daily motorcycle rides out to the middle of the woods, where he spends all day keeping watch for forest fires. There are no kids her age in Gram and Pop’s small town at “the end of the road”–just the chatty nine-year-old neighbor who is intent on getting his Bear Scout badge at all costs, and a friendly, stray dog who’s been lurking around.

But Maia will soon learn that nature is a powerful teacher, and sometimes our greatest strengths show themselves when we have to be there for someone else. As she begins to figure out how to face her guilt and paralyzing fears, she’ll discover there’s a fine line between fear and adventure. And when danger strikes again, Maia must summon all her bravery and overcome her self-doubt if she wants to save those she loves most.

 

 

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine

What was the pandemic of the century like at the start? This swift, gripping novel captures not only the uncertainty and panic when COVID first emerged in Wuhan, but also how a community banded together.

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home.

 

 

 

 

The Cool Code by Deirdre Langeland (Author) and Sarah Mai (Illustrator)

In this funny and heartfelt slice-of-life graphic novel for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Kayla Miller, when coding whiz Zoey goes from homeschooled to new school, she develops an app to help her make friends. Will the Cool Code help Zoey fit in? Or will it completely crash her social life?

In an attempt to fit in, Zoey develops an app called the Cool Code with a cute llama avatar that will tell her everything from what to say to what to wear based on pop culture algorithms she’s uploaded.

But when the app gives her ridiculous advice, awkwardness and hilarity ensues. With a few upgrades and a bit of debugging from the coding club, the app actually works–Zoey gets really popular . . . and gets her pulled in all kinds of directions, including away from her real friends.

Life’s most complicated choices. . . is there a code for that?

 

 

 

Operation Final Notice by Matthew Landis

Told in alternating points of view, this middle grade novel, following best friends Ronny and Jo, is about anxiety, being in over your head, and learning to accept help–even if you don’t know how to ask

Eight hundred seventy-eight dollars. That’s how much Ronny needs by January 4th to make to keep his family’s only car from getting repossessed. Since a workplace injury disabled his dad and forced the family to move from their home into the apartment complex across the street, Ronny’s been learning all sorts of things–like what letters marked with Final Notice means and that banks can take cars away for being behind on payments.

His best friend Josefina Ramos is also counting down until the start of January when her life could change forever–that’s when she has her big cello audition at the prestigious music academy Maple Hill. Except she can’t play a solo performance without something disastrous happening and no one seems to hear her when she talks about how nervous she is.

As the countdown to the new year rolls ahead, Ronny and Jo learn what can happen to best-laid plans and how to depend on one another and their community when things get tough.

 

 

 

Daisy Woodworm Changes the World by Melissa Hart

Thirteen-year-old Daisy Woodward loves insects, running track, and hanging out with her older brother, Sorrel, who has Down syndrome and adores men’s fashion. When her social studies teacher assigns each student an oral report and project to change the world for the better, Daisy fears the class bully–who calls her Woodworm–will make fun of her lisp. Still, she decides to help Sorrel fulfill his dream of becoming a YouTube fashion celebrity despite their parents’ refusal to allow him on social media.

With the help of her best friend, Poppy, and Miguel–the most popular boy in school and her former enemy–Daisy launches Sorrel’s publicity campaign. But catastrophe strikes when her parents discover him online along with hateful comments from a cyberbully. If Daisy has any hope of changing the world, she’ll have to regain her family’s trust and face her fears of public speaking to find her own unique and powerful voice.

Daisy Woodworm Changes the World includes an author’s note and additional resources.

 

 

 

 

Heart Finds by Jaime Berry

A heartwarming novel about a girl who must learn to let go of the past and embrace the future, perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo and Barbara O’Connor.

Eleven-year-old Mabel Cunningham is a quiet loner who only feels free to be herself when she’s “extreme treasure hunting” with her grampa–much to her perfectionist mother’s disapproval. Nothing excites Mabel more than discovering a heart find, an item that calls to her heart, and the maybes that come along with it.

But when her friendships start to crumble and her grampa suffers a stroke, Mabel quickly learns that real-life maybes are harder to handle than imagined ones. Desperate to change things back to the way they were, Mabel devises a plan that she believes will fix everything. Except bringing her plan to fruition means lying to her grampa and disappointing her mother.

Will Mabel learn that letting go of the past doesn’t mean letting go of her grampa and that embracing the future might be one of her most important heart finds yet?

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Stone Creek by Briana McDonald

The Hardy Boys meets We Dream of Space in this tender middle grade adventure about a girl with the heart of an explorer who discovers more than she bargained for with her two brothers over the course of one fateful week.

Finley Walsh and her best friend Sophie were adventurers, like the ones they grew up reading about in 100 of the World’s Greatest Female Adventurers–that is, until Sophie found new friends. Between losing her best friend and feeling overlooked by her mother and older brother, Finley is determined to prove herself by becoming a great adventurer like the ones in her book.

The perfect opportunity comes when she and her brothers stay with an estranged relative in Stone Creek, a remote tourist town dedicated to the legend of a local adventurer who went missing two decades before. Finley knows that if she finds the missing woman, she’ll not only be able to prove herself to Sophie and her family, but also be able to meet a real, live adventurer just like her.

Finley convinces her brothers to join her in her rescue mission. But as they delve deeper into Stone Creek’s painful past, it becomes harder to know who they can trust–including each other–and they realize some places are better left unexplored.

 

 

 

Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties by Kellye Crocker

Anxiety has always made Ava avoid the slightest risk, but plunging headfirst into danger might be just what she needs.

Dad hasn’t even been dating his new girlfriend that long, so Ava is sure that nothing has to change in her life. That is, until the day after sixth grade ends, when Dad whisks her away on vacation to meet The Girlfriend and her daughter in terrifying Colorado, where even the squirrels can kill you! Managing her anxiety, avoiding altitude sickness, and surviving the mountains might take all of Ava’s strength, but at least this trip will only last two weeks. Right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters in Delft by Nika Teran

“Antonia felt a pull, and that tingling in her bones she’d experienced before. She approached to read the letters on the golden-colored plate: Johannes Vermeer: The View of Delft.”

While on a visit to The Cloisters in New York City, Antonia and her little sister get pulled into a painting and land in the Dutch city of Delft in 1647. Will Antonia outwit two ancient spirits, keep her wayward sister safe, and find the way back home?

Sisters in Delft is about friendship, sisterhood, and mysterious worlds that lie just beyond our reach.

 

 

 

 

 

See anything  in our November New Releases you can’t wait to curl up with? Let us know in the comments.

Diversity in MG Lit #40 October 2022

This month brings a mix of fiction and nonfiction for MG readers. I’m looking forward to putting these books in the hands of patrons at Annie Blooms Books where I’m a part time bookseller.
But I’m also a full time writer and I have a big deadline in November so I’m going to skip the November reviews and write a short report on changes in how Barnes and Noble acquires MG fiction and a detailed analysis of the breakdown of titles on the shelf in my local Barnes & Noble store. I know it’s been on people’s minds and I always find gathering data a help in deciding where to expend my energies in promoting diverse literature for kids.
Here are the October new releases.
Graphic Novels
Freestyle by Gale Galligan is a sweet and funny look at the ups and downs of middle school. I appreciated the depictions of a hip hop dance crew. In addition to racial, ethnic and gender diversity its nice to see dance other than ballet presented in a graphic novel. (Scholastic)
book cover my nest of silenceThere are several good books about Japanese internment for MG readers. What intrigues me about My Nest of Silence by Matt Faulkner is the mix of prose and graphic novel elements. I’ll be very curious to see how it does in the bookshop. It does create a conundrum about whether to shelve it in fiction or in the graphic novel section. Librarians, I’d love to hear in the comments how you are handling it. (Atheneum)
Fiction
I love it when an author, who has already made a name for themselves writing about their own diverse experience, then chooses a story that transcends the subjects of race and ethnicity. A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga is an absolute charmer narrated by a fictional mars rover named Resilliance. It follows the machine’s POV as it reflects not just on its mission on Mars, but the meaning of friendship. A sweet story even non-space geeks will love. (Balzer & Bray)book cover A Rover's Story
The Lords of Night by JC Cervantes is a companion title to his popular Storm Runner series, set in the wolf of Aztec mythology. (Disney Hyperion)
book cover Shad HadidShad Hadid & the Alchemists of Alexandria by George Jreije is a spin on the boy goes to wizard school story, this time it’s an Arabic protagonist and the magic is alchemy. (Harper)
Nonfiction
The legacy of an integrated military is the result of the courage and excellence of many black servicemen and women. Dr. James B. Williams is one of the greats, his lifelong leadership in medicine and civil rights is an inspiration. Unlawful Orders: a portrait of Dr. James B Williams ,Tuskegee Airman, Surgeon & Activist by Barbara Binns is liberally photo illustrated and contains a detailed bibliography. (Scholastic Focus)book cover Unlawful Orders
Toxic masculinity is a problem that transcends race and ethnicity and yet it is most harmful to marginalized children. Boys will be Human: A gut-check guide to becoming th strongest, kindest, bravest person you can be, by Justin Baldoni is a thorogh look at what it means to be male and how to navigate the world in a way that is life affirming for boys. I recommend it for boys older than 10. It’s a great family resource for starting important conversations.(Harper)
Better Than We Found It: conversations to help Save the World by FrederickJoseph and Porsche Joseph is daunting in its wide-ranging content. But taken a section at a time, it’s a great introduction to issues for young activists. It covers topics from disinformation and climate change to indigenous land theft and the prison-industrial complex; 16 topics in all. Another great conversations starter for kids from about 10 well through their teens. (Candlewick)