New Releases

Interview with Celeste Lim, author of The Crystal Ribbon

In a story set in medieval China, Celeste Lim brings a young girl of exceptional heart together with the animal spirits of ancient myth to overcome a dark fate. Wed at age eleven to a three-year-old,  Jing’s life seems like a dismal sentence, and yet it is full of surprise and adventure.  In the interest of full disclosure, Celeste began weaving her tale while in my class at Manhattanville College’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. From the first evening she read aloud, her writing voice captivated  me and I felt certain that her tale was destined for publication. And now that it’s here, I get to interview her!

Would you tell us a little about your writing background and early writing experience?

Growing up in Malaysia exposed me to a myriad of languages at a young age. We learned Bahasa Malaysia, our national language, in class; English was a compulsory subject as well because we were colonized by the British; and I went to a Chinese school because of my heritage. Therefore, what I has been exposed to growing up taught me that English books were written for and about Western people; Chinese books were written for and about Chinese people; Malay books for and about Malay people, and so on. So naturally, when I attempted to write my first English novel at age seventeen, I wrote a story about three fair-skinned, red-haired sisters who live in New York City, a place I’d only ever read about in books and saw on TV. That manuscript has been sitting in a hidden folder on my computer ever since.

How did you come to write Jing’s story?

Your first class focused on writing from our unique reservoir of seminal experience. I remember how groundbreaking it felt to me to realize that I was actually allowed to write about what I knew in a language that was supposedly foreign to my culture. That was a huge turning point in my writing journey and was also how Jing’s story was conceived.

The Crystal Ribbon’s magical creatures or jing, are important elements in the story. Could you explain more about them here? Did the jing characters spark your imaginyation as a child? Do you have a favorite jing?

This is one of my favorite things to talk about! Just like beings such as fairies and mermaids, jing are mythical creatures that sprung from the lips of storytellers, and since then have consistently appeared in ancient and medieval Chinese literature. The existence of jing came from the Taoist idea that through enough spiritual training, anything is able to attain a higher level of existence. Jing are non-human creatures that, after a hundred years of spiritual training, have attained the ability to speak, and a human level of consciousness and intelligence.

Because these ideas are so much a part of our mainstream religion, as a child I took them for granted, being more intrigued by gnomes and fairies. But now I do actually have a favorite jing–the huli jing, or fox jing! Other than being a very handsome creature, it feels like a very complex character, having the potential to be equal parts good and evil, which is why I chose it to be my character Jing’s unlikely friend.

Although Jing’s world contains magical helpmates, she couldn’t escape being sold into marriage at age eleven. At the hands of her three-year-old husband’s family, she suffers many cruelties. Were these scenes difficult to write? Explain how you approached them.

The novel actually started out as a third-person narrative. As a person living almost a thousand years later, I found it difficult to write in a way that helped me connect intimately to those experiences. But when my editor suggested I switch to first person, the barrier seemed to disappear. First person is not my writing strength, but in this point of view, I was forced to experience everything as Jing.  I found that the words in these scenes came easier and sounded more authentic, raw, and immediate.

Although The Crystal Ribbon is set in medieval China, Jing could be a role model for girls today. What qualities do you think serve her best?

I’ll name two of the traits that I admire in Jing, resilience and introspection. I believe her resilience stems from hope, something that she carefully preserved and did not let her hardships extinguish. Initially, her hope might be that things will eventually change for the better on their own, but I think it is her introspection, her constant self-examination, that allowed Jing to discover the strength to change the course of her life.

Having a first book published can be both thrilling and daunting. Since this is your first experience with having a book published, what surprised you about the process?

It was surprisingly less stressful than I anticipated! I am admittedly a bit of a Hermione Granger when it comes to things I’m unfamiliar with. I remember researching and reading up tons about the publishing process and hearing many anecdotes of bad publishing experiences from fellow authors. But fortunately, I have a good working relationship with my editor. I believe that is a huge reason why I feel safe and reassured in her hands.

New Releases for April

Spring has Sprung!  Are you anxious to sit out in the sun and catch some rays? Why not take a book. Take a look at this awesome new releases for some good relaxing time.

Good news! We have 4 MUF members with new releases this month. Congratulations to Amber J. Keyser, Tricia Springstubb, Patricia Bailey, and Jennifer Swanson.

 

Cody and the Rules of Life by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick Press)


In Cody’s life, many things are hard to predict. Like why her older brother, Wyatt, is obsessed with his new bicycle called the Cobra, or why her best friend Pearl suddenly wants to trade favorite toys. Pearl says she will trust Cody with Arctic Fox because Cody is a trusty person. But Cody doesn’t want to give up her beloved Gremlin, and she regrets it as soon as she hands him over. When the Cobra goes missing, Cody has to decide for herself who is trusty and who is not. If only she had Gremlin to talk to! Surely Pearl wouldn’t mind if she secretly traded back . . . it’s not stealing if it belonged to you in the first place, right?

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey (Albert Whitman and Co.)

Life in a 1905 Nevada mining town is not easy for any thirteen-year-old. For Kit Donovan, it seems downright impossible. When her mother dies of a fever, Kit is certain she is to blame. Guilt-ridden, she is determined to honor her promises to her mother―namely to be a “proper lady.” Only being a lady is tougher than it looks. When Kit discovers that Papa’s boss at the gold mine (the menacing and self-serving Mr. Granger) is profiting from unsafe working conditions in the mine, she convinces her dad to speak out. But sometimes doing the right thing leads to trouble. Now Kit must find a way to expose Granger’s misdeeds before it’s too late. Aided by an eccentric woman, a Shoshone boy, and a drunken newspaperman, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit defies threats of violence and discovers that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

 

Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser  (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing)

Jessie Vale dances in an elite ballet program. She has to be perfect to land a spot with the professional company. When Jessie is cast in an animalistic avant-garde production, her careful composure cracks wide open. Nothing has felt more dangerous. Meanwhile, her friend Dawn McCormick’s world is full of holes. She wakes in strange places, bruised, battered, and unable to speak. The doctors are out of ideas.These childhood friends are both running out of time. Jessie has one shot at her ballet dream. Dawn’s blackouts are getting worse. At every turn, they crash into the many ways girls are watched, judged, used, and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?

 
Zoology: Cool Women who Work in Science by Jennifer Swanson (Nomad Press)


Love to work with animals? Zoology is the study of everything having to do with animals, including how and why they look, act, and behave in their environments and with other animals. As a zoologist, you might study how elephants solve problems or take care of tigers at a zoo.

 

Snowflake Freezes Up (Grimmtastic Girls) by Joan Holub (Scholastic)


Snowflake isn’t sure which fairy tale character she is. But with her magical powers causing lots of trouble, she’s definitely on thin ice! So just in case she might be a villain, Snowflake is chilly to her classmates. Can she keep her cool until she knows her whole story, or will her social life at Grimm Academy be permanently frozen?

 

The Bad Guys in The Furball Strike Back by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic)

Mr. Wolf and his bad buddies have messed with the wrong guinea pig–one who is secretly an evil mad scientist. And the nasty little furball wants revenge! Will they survive? Will they be heroes? And will they ever stop trying to eat each other?!? It’s time for the Bad Guys to spring into action!

Panda- Monium by Stuart Gibbs (Scholastic BFYR)

Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth when the zoo’s newest addition goes missing–before she even arrives –in Panda-monium, the latest novel in Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series.
FunJungle is frenzied, awaiting the arrival of its most thrilling animal yet–Li Ping–a rare and very expensive giant panda that the zoo went to enormous lengths to secure. But when the truck transporting Li Ping shows up, its precious cargo has vanished into thin air. The FBI steps in to investigate, and Teddy is happy to leave the job in their (supposedly) capable hands. After all, FunJungle has never encountered a crime this serious. But when someone threatens to blackmail Teddy’s girlfriend, Summer, if he doesn’t solve the crime, his involvement in this mystery is no longer black and white.

 

The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (Henry Holt & Co. BFYR)


Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then, they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers an arson fire.

The clock is ticking as the arson fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.

 
Titanic Treasure by Eric Luper (Scholastic)

Cleo and Evan have a secret. A collection of books so dangerous they are lockedup tight. And only they can find the keys to release the magic inside!
A FORTUNE LOST AT SEA!
When Cleo and Evan set sail on the Titanic, time is not on their side! The famous ocean liner is destined to hit an iceberg. If they can stop a thief from stealing a priceless jeweled book–and find their next key–they might avoid sinking with the ship in this historic disaster!

July Middle Grade Book Releases

It’s July and the summer book releases are underway! Below is a list of middle grade titles releasing this month.  Check back here every month to find out about the latest MG titles.

Our Very Own ‘From The Mixed-Up Files’ Authors:

THE HEALING SPELL (Scholastic Press) – Kimberley Griffiths Little. Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it’s crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother’s coma, but she can’t tell anyone. It’s up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

MAMBA POINT (Knopf) – Kurtis Scaletta. When his dad gets a job at the U.S. embassy in Liberia, twelve-year-old Linus Tuttle knows it’s his chance for a fresh start.

More July Releases:

BITES (Scholastic Paperbacks) – Lois Metzger (Editor). Spine-tingling tales by some of today’s best writers.

CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK (Hyperion Book CH) – Sara Pennypacker (author), Marla Frazee (illustrator). It’s Clementine’s turn to be “Friend of the Week”! The other kids will make her a booklet, full of the things they value about having her in the class. Clementine begins to get nervous, she has to get a great booklet to compete with her friend Margaret.

DANIEL X: DEMONS AND DRUIDS (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) – James Patterson and Adam Sadler. Daniel X’s continues to hunt and eliminate each and every intergalactic criminal on Earth.

DOODLEBUG: A NOVEL IN DOODLES (Feiwel and Friends) – Karen Romano Young. Moving is tough. Being the new kid in school is even tougher. But the hardest thing of all about the move that Doreen “Dodo” Bussey’s family is making is that she suspects it might be because of her.

ELVIS & OLIVE: SUPER DETECTIVES (Scholastic Press) – Stephanie Watson. Natalie and Annie decide to put their detective skills to use as they open the E & O Detective Agency to solve neighborhood mysteries.

FAIRY SCHOOL DROPOUT UNDERCOVER (Feiwel and Friends) – Meredith Badger. Elly Knottleweed-Eversprightly has a secret. She is a fairy, and she even has the wings to prove it. Every time Elly goes to a new fairy school, it ends in disaster. But human school should be a piece of cake.

GERONIMO STILTON #5: THE GREAT ICE AGE (GERONIMO STILTON GRAPHIC NOVELS) (Papercutz) – Geronimo Stilton. When Geronimo’s nemeses the Pirate Cats try to travel through time to the year 1889, they accidentally end up in 37993 BC!

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON BOOK 7 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) – Cressida Cowell. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III has three months, five days and six hours to discover America, get back to Berk, save his father, battle Polar serpents and win the annual Inter-Tribal Friendly Swimming Race. Can he do it?

LIVES OF THE PIRATES: SWASHBUCKLERS, SCOUNDRELS (Harcourt Children’s Books) – Kathleen Krull (Author), Kathryn Hewitt (Illustrator). After a ten-year hiatus, this book (with 48 illlustrations) marks the return of Krull and Hewitt’s very popular LIVES OF series of collective biographies (known by kids and teachers nationwide as the “Big Head books”).

MY LIFE AS A BOOK (Henry Holt and Co.) – Janet Tashjian (Author), Jake Tashjian (Illustrator). Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is ready to play, but his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp. As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself, he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls.

NIGHTMARE ACADEMY #3: MONSTER WARS: (HarperCollins) – Dean Lorey. Monsters are everywhere and the danger to our world has never been greater. And Charlie Benjamin, armed with the Sword of Sacrifice and the help of his friends, is our only hope.

ORPHAN (Westside Books) – John Weber. After finding out at the age of 13 that he’s adopted, Homer decides he must find his real family who he learns live in New York City.

SCHOLASTIC CHILDREN’S DICTIONARY (2010 EDITION) (Scholastic Reference) – Now including terms such as DVD, browshttp://www.scholastic.com/elt/student_reference/childrens_dictionary.htmer, rap and almost 200 other new entries.

THE AMAZING WORLD OF STUART (Orchard Books) – Sara Pennypacker (author). Two Stuart novels in one amazing book. STUART’S CAPE and STUART GOES TO SCHOOL.

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE CHILDREN’S SCIENCE DICTIONARY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Grade 4-6, A dictionary that introduces the language and concepts of science.

THE FOOL’S GIRL (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books) – Celia Rees. Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission.

THE GRIMM LEGACY (Putnam Juvenile) – Polly Shulman. Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual library – a lending library of objects, not books. Including the Grimm Collection, powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF BIRTHDAYS: TEEN EDITION (Razorbill) – Alice Thompson, Joost Elffers, Gary Goldschneider. Teen version of the wildly popular adult book, provides astrological insight into the character of people born on each of the 365 days in the calendar year.

THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN (Knopf Books for Young Readers) – Shutta Crum (Author), Lee Wildish (Illustrator). A kingdom is at war. A princess has been kidnapped by a dragon queen. And Thomas, the shortest of all the squires, volunteers to set out on a quest to rescue her.

TOTALLY NOT BORING SCHOOL PLANNER (DEAR DUMB DIARY) (Scholastic Papaerback) – Jim Benton (author, illustrator). A school planner with two sheets of stickers, a pen, and three interactive books. After all, Planning to put something off until the day before it’s due is a totally legitimate kind of planning.

VENOM AND SONG: THE BERINFELL PROPHECIES SERIES – BOOK TWO (Thomas Nelson) – Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. – Now in the strange realm of Allyra, the Seven young lords confront a traitor in their midst, a creature-infested forest, teenage fears and doubts, inexplicable mysteries… and the Spider King himself.

WHO WAS JIM HENSON? (Grosset & Dunlap) – Joan Holub (author), Nancy Harrison (illustrator). Jim Henson broke into television with a five-minute puppetry segment when he was only a freshman in college. Learn what happened after than throughout this easy-to-read biography.

Please note that this list has been created as a resource for those searching for new titles and doesn’t represent our endorsement of any one book.

Authors, do you have a middle-grade book coming out in the near future? Send us an email at newreleases@fromthemixedupfiles.com with your name, title, and publisher, and we will include your title in our list of upcoming releases. All books must be published by a traditional publisher as listed in the latest Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Fiction and non-fiction welcome.

Please allow us a one-month lead time. We also ask that you do not send ARCS or books for reviews since we do not post reviews on our site. However we will gladly accept an ARC or book donated for one of our book giveaways.