New Releases

June New Releases!

Check out these releases coming up this month. Perfect for summer reading!
I’m really excited about my friend Mary Winn Heider’s debut novel, The Mortification of Fovea Munson. Mary Winn read a chapter at a writing workshop, and I know kids will love this story! Read on to learn about all the new books for the middle grade readers in your life!

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The Mortification of Fovea Munson Hardcover – June 5
by Mary Winn Heider (Author), Chi Birmingham (Illustrator)
Disney Press

Fovea Munson is nobody’s Igor. True, her parents own a cadaver lab where they perform surgeries on dead bodies. And yes, that makes her gross by association, at least according to everyone in seventh grade. And sure, Fovea’s stuck working at the lab now that her summer camp plans have fallen through. But she is by no means Dr. Frankenstein’s snuffling assistant!

That is, until three disembodied heads, left to thaw in the wet lab, start talking. To her. Out loud.

What seems like a nightmare, or bizarre hallucination, is not. Fovea is somebody’s Igor, all right. Three somebodies, actually. And they need a favor.

With a madcap sense of humor and a lot of heart (not to mention other body parts), this is a story about finding oneself, finding one’s friends, and embracing the moment.

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Breakout -June 5
By Kate Messner
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum-security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics–a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project–Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

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Wild Rescuers: Guardians of the Taiga (book 1) -June 5
by StacyPlays 

HarperCollins Publishers

From the creator of the mega-popular YouTube series Dogcraft, comes a thrilling illustrated novel about a girl raised by a pack of wolves and her quest to protect their shared forest home. The first in a new Minecraft-inspired fantasy adventure series!

Stacy was raised by wolves. She’s never needed humans to survive and, from what she sees of humans, they’re dangerous and unpredictable. For as long as she can remember, Stacy’s pack of six powerful, playful wolves—Addison, Basil, Everest, Noah, Tucker and Wink—have been her only family.

Together, Stacy’s pack patrols the forest to keep other animals safe, relying on her wits and each wolf’s unique abilities to accomplish risky rescue missions. But as the forest changes and new dangers begin lurking, are Stacy and the wolves prepared for the perils that await them?

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The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair – June 12
by Amy Makechnie
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A ten-year-old girl is determined to find her missing neighbor, but the answers lead her to a places and people she never expected—and maybe even one she’s been running away from—in this gorgeous debut novel that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.

Guinevere St. Clair is going to be a lawyer. She was the fastest girl in New York City. She knows everything there is to know about the brain. And now that she’s living in Crow, Iowa, she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn.

But Gwyn isn’t in Crow, Iowa, just for royal cows. Her family has moved there, where her parents grew up, in the hopes of jogging her mother Vienna’s memory. Vienna has been suffering from memory loss since Gwyn was four. She can no longer remember anything past the age of thirteen, not even that she has two young daughters. Gwyn’s father is obsessed with finding out everything he can to help his wife, but Gwyn’s focused on problems that seem a little more within her reach. Like proving that the very strange Gaysie Cutter who lives next door is behind the disappearance of her only friend, Wilbur Truesdale.

Gwyn is sure she can crack the case, but when she does she finds that not all of her investigations lead her to the places she would have expected. In fact they might just lead her to learn about the mother she’s been doing her best to forget.

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Everything I Know About You – June 19
By Barbara Dee
Misfit Tally is forced to room with queen bee Ava on the seventh grade field trip to Washington, DC, and discovers several surprising things about her roommate—including the possibility of an eating disorder—in this timely new novel from the author of Star-Crossed and Halfway Normal.

During a class trip to DC, twelve-year-old Tally and her best friends, Sonnet and Caleb (a.k.a. Spider) are less than thrilled when they are assigned roommates and are paired with kids who are essentially their sworn enemies. For Tally, rooming with “clonegirl” Ava Seely feels like punishment, rather than potential for fun.

But the trip is full of surprises. Despite a pact to stick together as much as they can, Sonnet pulls away, and spider befriends Marco, the boy who tormented him last year. And Marco just might “like” Tally—what’s that about?

But the uneasy peace in Ava and Tally’s room is quickly upended when Tally begins to suspect something is off about Ava. She has a weird notebook full of random numbers, and doesn’t seem to eat anything during meals. When Tally confronts Ava, Ava threatens to share an embarrassing picture of Tally with the class if Tally says anything to anyone about her suspicions. But will Tally endanger more than her pride by keeping her secret?

This is one class trip full of lessons Tally will never forget: how to stay true to yourself, how to love yourself and embrace your flaws, and how being a good friend can actually mean telling a secret you promised to keep…

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Why Can’t I Be You? – June 19
By Melissa Walker
HarperCollins Publishers
Claire Ladd knows that this summer is going to be special. She and her two best friends, Ronan and Brianna, are turning twelve. She is leaving camp behind and gets to do what she wants all day. She feels everything starting to change.
But things don’t always change for the better.
With Brianna’s cousin Eden visiting for the summer, Claire feels like a third wheel. Even though she is only a year older, Eden seems so much more sophisticated and glamorous . . . and when she’s around, she takes up everyone’s attention, including Brianna’s.
But that doesn’t explain why things have felt awkward with Brianna ever since she moved to a fancy new house, or why Ronan, who lives in the trailer next to Claire’s, has started acting moody anytime anyone mentions his dad.
Claire has always been happy with her life just as it is, but as the summer wears on and the issues with her friends start to grow, she can’t help but wonder: Would everything be better if she could just be someone else?

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The Lost Continent (Wings of Fire, Book 11) – June 26
by Tui T. Sutherland

Scholastic, Inc.
For centuries there have been rumors of another continent on the dragons’ planet — another land far across the ocean, populated by tribes of dragons very different from those we know. But there’s never been any evidence, and most dragons dismissed the rumors as fairy tales.

Until now.

Because it turns out the stories are true.

And the other tribes are coming.

Interview with Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Author of The Frame-Up

I’m so excited to chat with Wendy McLeod MacKnight about her latest middle grade mystery, THE FRAME-UP.

MUF Interview Wendy McLeod MacKnight The Frame-UpWhen Sargent Singer discovers that the paintings in his father’s gallery are alive, he is pulled into a captivating world behind the frame that he never knew existed.

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.  

With an imaginative setting, lots of intrigue, and a thoroughly engaging cast of characters, The Frame-Up will captivate readers of Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere.

What inspired this art gallery mystery?

I have always loved art — and wished I painted or drew better! — and I always wanted to figure out a way to make the world of art come alive to kids and adults. Certainly, the book has nods to Harry Potter and Night at the Museum, but I wanted to do something different; I wanted to show two worlds co-existing and not intersecting and how the hidden world would organize itself to protect itself, and I wanted to have readers think about how creativity brings things to life. Theoretically, a painting is simply a flat image on a wall. But depending upon the person viewing it, it can be so much more than that. I wanted to give kids (and the adults in their lives) ways to think and look at art that made it fun and thought-provoking and I hope I succeeded!

Please, tell us about the paintings featured in the book and/or about the real-life Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Oh gosh, where to begin? The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is a magical place, set on the banks of the St. John River in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was a gift to the province by Lord Beaverbrook, a native New Brunswicker who found fame in fortune in the U.K. during the first half of the twentieth century and is a towering figure in World War II history and the history of the London press. He filled the gallery with priceless masterpieces, as fine as any collection, in my opinion.

The hardest thing for me was choosing which paintings would be characters. I knew I had to include at least one Dalì, plus the massive Gainsborough, and the portrait of Mona Dunn. I chose paintings I’ve always loved and which included great characters for my story, like the portrait of Helena Rubinstein, Madame Juliette dans le Jardin, and Lucian Freud’s Hotel Bedroom.

But really, the star is Mona Dunn. I have been besotted with her portrait since I first laid eyes on it, and my affection for her has never waned. There was never any doubt that this would be the girl who would live her life behind the frame, and yet long to still be connected to the outer world. It’s as if her artist, William Orpen, knew she was destined to be in a book, the way he captured her. In the novel, I describe her as #TheOtherMona, but really, I think she is a more glorious portrait than the Mona Lisa!!!

Mona Dunn | Interview with Wendy McLeod MacKnight | Th Frame Up








What I didn’t realize was that it was MY responsibility to procure the rights to reproduce the images in the book, though I had no idea at the time I procured them that the book would actually be published! But Greenwillow Books has made a gorgeous book, and the fact that they’ve included a sixteen-page full-color insert of all of the paintings who are characters in the book is amazing to me! I can just imagine kids flipping back and forth as they read!

I loved your first novel, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! And, as a little sister, really resonated with the sibling relationship. So, tell me, who is your favorite character – either from Pig Face or The Frame-Up – and why do you love them more than anyone else?

Oh my! I adore Lester (AKA Pig Face), because he is loosely based on my younger brother, although with my quirks, but if I had to pick one character that I absolutely adore, I’m going with Sir Charles Cotterell in The Frame-Up, because he just makes me sooo happy. He has a small role, but good one!

Will you tell us a little bit about your writing process? In particular how do you go about tackling a mystery story?

First of all, I do a VERY ROUGH outline, and then I write. I’m trying to do a better job of pre-plotting, but I think I may be the writer who really needs to get to know their character through writing, and however much I think I know but doing character sketches, it’s only when I put them in the scenarios that their true colors come out! And the mystery, went through several iterations, and honestly, the mad scramble at the end required LOTS of re-writing so it actually made sense. In The Frame-Up, there are several mysteries: what’s going to happen now that someone from outside the frame knows about the world behind the frame; will Sargent and his father actually come together; and is someone up to something nefarious at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and if so, who? I have to map it all out and try to find a way to weave it all together in a logical, straight forward way. But I’ll be honest: sometimes I trap myself in my own maze and have to ask for help to get myself out!

What would you like readers to take away from this book?

My greatest wish is that kids (and adults!) are inspired to go to their local art gallery or museum and “visit” the paintings. So often, we shuffle from one painting to the next, not knowing how we should be approaching it. Many galleries do an amazing job of talking about the creation of the art, but for some of us, the only way we can connect is by imagining the day it was painted, thinking about what the artist saw and was thinking, and depending on the kind of art, what the subject was also experiencing. My greatest compliment was when, after he’d finished the book, my husband said he’d never look at art the same way again!

In your book, Mona is eternally 13 years old. Is there a certain age that most feels like you? If so, what about being that age sticks with you?

Truthfully, I think I will always be fourteen years old. I’ll be on my deathbed at a hundred and five (!) and still be as excited and hopeful and curious to see how it all turns out as I was when I was that age. I was fourteen when I had to move away from my hometown, which was absolutely heartbreaking, but it was also the year I had an amazing English teacher, had my first date, and tramped about in the woods with my best friends, just like Tracy and Pig Face do. You know things, but you don’t know things, which I think is a delicious way to live your life!

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Wendy. I can’t wait to grab a copy of THE FRAME- UP for myself. I’m sure our readers feel the same way.

Wendy McLeod MacKnight || MUF Interview with Wendy McLeod MacKnight | The Frame UpWendy lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and wrote her first novel at age nine. During her first career, she worked for the Government of New Brunswick, ending her career as the Deputy Minister of Education. She has been know to wander art galleries and have spirited conversations with the paintings – mostly in her head, though sometimes not. Her debut middle grade novel, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! was published by Sky Pony Press in 2017. She can’t wait for The Frame-Up to come out so she can share her love of art and her love for the world-class  Beaverbrook Art Gallery. She hopes readers will be inspired to create their own masterpieces and visit their own local art gallery. And even better, she hopes they’ll come to Fredericton and visit the  Beaverbrook Art Gallery and meet Mona and the rest of the characters in the book (and maybe Wendy, too!)

THE FRAME-UP comes out June 5, 2018. You can pick up a copy at your favorite independent bookstore or anywhere else books are sold.

In the meantime, feel free to keep the conversation going by commenting below. I’d love to talk more about Wendy’s books, art, mystery novels, or even your eternal age. 🙂

STEM Tuesday Inventors- Those Awesome People of Science – Writing Craft & Resources


Reading Between the Facts

Don’t you just love it when a story comes to life? When you are reading something and you can smell the sooty aromas, hear the grinding gears of a new invention, taste the tang of tart pie? And when, long after you’ve put a book down, you find yourself wondering about the characters? But that’s fiction, right? A story that wraps you up and carries you away.

Wait, what about fact-filled books that transport you like that? When I looked at this month’s book list, packed with techy inventions and their nerdy inventors, a story that transported me was the last thing I expected. Physical science isn’t my thing, so I gritted my teeth anticipating some dull, dry reading.

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Boy was I wrong. Flying Machines: How the Write Brothers Soared had me so hooked I convinced my aerospace engineer husband he had to read it (sidenote: he was impressed with the accuracy of the content).  Eureka! Poems About Inventors drew me through periods of history I had never cared about. And then there’s Isaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d which made me pondering how light works, I mean really think about the physics of it. A week later I found myself Googling “Newton’s Laws of Motion because I wanted to actually understand them – not just memorize them. How did this book do this to me?

I had to know.

So I did what every good writer does, I studied the words on the page. I looked at how Mary Losure cast stories, how she used sentences, how she arranged paragraphs, and how she constructed chapters that draw me in. And then I noticed something.

Writing Between the Facts

Mary Losure had written a lot between the facts. When you research a historical figure, you only have so much information.  From the level of detail included (like the child’s drawings found in the house where Isaac grew up) it is obvious that this author dug and dug and dug until she found gold. But even a gold nugget won’t reflect light unless it is polished and placed in just the right position – in this case it shone a spotlight on Isaac’s childhood attributes. Losure had to bridge the gaps between the facts.

I’m not saying she falsified facts. No, through clearly-stated, careful conjecture, she brilliantly brought her readers into the world of inquiry.

“Far in the future, a child’s drawings would be found scratched in the farmhouse’s soft stone walls: a windmill, a church, a figure with a spurred boot. It was clear the child who drew them was bright and imaginative. The pictures had been hidden by layers of plaster for many years. The people who found them wondered if the drawings had been made by Isaac. It was easy to imagine him scratching away, unnoticed by anybody in the busy household.” Page 5, The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d

Once I noticed that, I turned my mental search engine on, pulled out my wet-erase markers and transparency paper. I got to work. I wanted to ferret out all of the hard facts on a page, find the gaps between them, and see how Losure bridged them. Laying the transparency paper over a page allowed me to mark up the page without leaving a mark in the book.

I highlighted the obvious facts in green, qualifying words in red, and passages I wasn’t sure about in yellow.

Page 5, Isaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d 

Cool! Working my way through the book, I found lots of examples:

  • She presented us with quotes from texts he read: “In his book The Mysteries of Nature and Art, there were instructions for making: A Water Clock …” page 31
  • She admitted we don’t know but presented evidence: “No one today can know exactly how Isaac and his friends spent their time, but the list Isaac made …” page 55
  • She referenced oral history: “To this day, people tell an old familiar story …” page 122

I learned lots of writing moves from Mary Losure that day. And as a bonus, the next time I read a fact-filled text, you can be sure my mind will read right between the facts – that’s an skill for every reader needs to hone.


By Heather L. Montgomery

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are WILD about animals. She reads and writes while high in a tree, standing in a stream, or perched on a mountaintop boulder.

The O.O.L.F Files

For the Out of Left Field (O.O.L.F) post, let’s look at inventions gone wrong.

Some inventions are completely pointless, like shoe umbrellas and the car exhaust grill :

Inventions aren’t always used the way they were intended. Read how a soybean fertilizer became Agent Orange and why the Wright brothers regretted creating airplanes:

Time shares 50 of the worst inventions, including pay toilets, DDT and hair in a can:,29569,1991915,00.html

And then there are always human errors… To read true tales of technological disasters, check out Steven Casey’s Set Phasers on Stun.