New Releases

January 2024 New Releases!

 

Happy 2024 to all our readers! Here are some great new middle-grade books to start your year off right.


Alterations by  Ray Xu  

Kevin Lee is having a really bad week. Although he lives in a crowded Toronto apartment above the family’s alterations and dry-cleaning store, he mostly goes unnoticed. School isn’t exactly an oasis either—being one of the few Asian kids makes for some unwelcome attention. But when Kevin’s class plans a trip to Thrill Planet, a spectacular theme park, will he finally have a chance to turn his life around, or will it just be another day for Kevin Lee?

 


Amil and the After by Veera Hiranandani

At the turn of the new year in 1948, Amil and his family are trying to make a home in India, now independent of British rule.

Both Muslim and Hindu, twelve-year-old Amil is not sure what home means anymore. The memory of the long and difficult journey from their hometown in what is now Pakistan lives with him. And despite having an apartment in Bombay to live in and a school to attend, life in India feels uncertain.

Nisha, his twin sister, suggests that Amil begin to tell his story through drawings meant for their mother, who died when they were just babies. Through Amil, readers witness the unwavering spirit of a young boy trying to make sense of a chaotic world, and find hope for himself and a newly reborn nation.

 

 


Between Two Brothers by  Crystal Allen  

Isaiah “Ice” Abernathy has always worshiped his older brother, Seth. For years they’ve been not just brothers but best friends—and as Seth starts his senior year, Ice is eager to spend as much time with his brother as he can, making memories before Seth goes to college.

But when Seth announces he’s leaving much earlier than expected, and then he misses an important event—one he’d promised to attend—it causes a major fight.

Filled with regret, Ice plans to apologize to Seth later the next day, but later never comes, as he finds out Seth was in an accident—one that leaves him in the hospital. And the doctors say he may never recover.

Racked by fear and guilt, Ice chooses to step up, defy the experts, and help Seth recover in a way only he can—by trusting in their bond and the undying love between two brothers.


Break by  Kayla Miller 

Spring Break is full of possibilities…but not for Olive.

This year, Olive is leaving her friends and all of their exciting vacation plans behind to visit her dad at his new apartment in the city.

Goober is thrilled to spend a whole week with their father and has a long list of activities for their time together. Olive, on the other hand, still remembers the hurt of their dad moving halfway across the world. She would rather spend time with her friend Bree or scrolling through her new phone to keep up with everything she’s missing back home than catch up with him.

As the week winds on, the normally easygoing Olive finds feelings of loneliness and resentment throwing her out of whack. Is there any hope of salvaging the visit—or will Olive’s Spring Break be a Spring Bust?

The New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Kayla Miller returns with another vibrant and emotional story about the power of second chances and how the fear of missing out can lead to missing out on what’s right in front of you.


Chasing Stars by Meg Gaertner

Growing up comes with growing pains no matter what, but for twelve-year-old Libby, the changes feel like more than she can bear. After an incident caused by his worsening dementia, Libby’s grandfather comes to live with her family, a move that ripples out into other changes. Libby’s dad quits his job to become the grandfather’s primary caretaker, while her mom picks up the financial slack by working extra shifts. Meanwhile, Libby’s older sister and ex-best friend, Erica, packs for a move to boarding school to make room in their modest family home. Libby feels like her cozy world is crashing down around her. But how can she keep up when she’s the only one standing still?

 

 

 


The Code of Life by  Dr. Carla Hafner, illustrated by Mike Scheier  

Why do children look like their parents? Why are some people blond and others brunette, and where do we get our eye color from?

This book explains genetic theory, what genes are, why DNA plays an important role and what all these insights have to do with a curious monk. An exciting journey through the history of science, present-day genetic research and engineering and right through to the question of identity – because who would have thought how much of our personality is defined by our genes and how interesting genes can be?

 

 


The Curse of Eelgrass Bog by  Mary Averling  

Nothing about Kess Pedrock’s life is normal. Not her home (she lives in her family’s Unnatural History Museum), not her interests (hunting for megafauna fossils and skeletons), and not her best friend (a talking demon’s head in a jar named Shrunken Jim).

But things get even stranger than usual when Kess meets Lilou Starling, the new girl in town. Lilou comes to Kess for help breaking a mysterious curse—and the only clue she has leads straight into the center of Eelgrass Bog.

Everyone knows the bog is full of witches, demons, and possibly worse, but Kess and Lilou are determined not to let that stop them. As they investigate the mystery and uncover long-buried secrets, Kess begins to realize that the curse might hit closer to home than she’d ever expected, and she’ll have to summon all her courage to find a way to break it before it’s too late.

 


Emma and the Love Spell by Meredith Ireland 

Twelve-year-old, Korean American adoptee Emma Davidson has a problem. Two problems. Okay, three:

1. She has a crush on her best friend, Avangeline, that she hasn’t been able to share
2. Avangeline now has to move out of their town because her parents are getting a divorce
3. Oh, and Emma is a secret witch who can’t really control her powers

It’s a complicated summer between sixth and seventh grade. Emma’s parents made her promise that she’d keep her powers a secret and never, ever use them. But if Avangeline’s parents fell back in love, it would fix everything. And how hard could one little love spell be?

This fast-paced, heartfelt story is a powerful exploration of learning to embrace who you are, even when your true self is different from everyone around you.


Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors By Gail D. Villanueva

Lulu Sinagtala can’t wait for a fun Christmas break. She’s excited to hang out with her sister, Kitty, and best friend, Bart; to reenact her favorite legends from Tagalog folklore (like the amazing tale of Bernardo Carpio); and, of course, to eat as much yummy street-side inihaw as possible!

But when a vicious wakwak attacks her neighborhood and kidnaps Mom, Lulu discovers the creatures and deities of Tagalog myth are real and that two additional Realms exist beyond our own. To make it worse, Lulu has superhuman strength and the ability to wield magic, meaning she’s the only one powerful enough to stop the evil spirit who’s determined to rule the three Realms at all costs. No pressure, right?

Lulu, Kitty, and Bart set off on a quest to rescue Mom, where they outsmart cunning enemies, battle vengeful beings, and form unlikely alliances. Soon they find themselves swept into a centuries-long fight, unraveling secrets about Lulu and her past that threaten to upend everything and throw the whole universe into chaos. Can Lulu muster the strength (superhuman or not) to find out who she really is and who she can trust to save Mom and the three Realms before it’s too late?


The Misfits #1: A Royal Conundrum by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat 

When a notorious thief is out for priceless treasure (gems! cats! general decorum!)—who’re you gonna call? An elite team of crime-fighting underdogs, that’s who! Olive Cobin Zang has . . . issues. And they mostly aren’t her fault. (No, really!) Though she often slips under the radar, problems have a knack for finding her. So, imagine her doubts when she’s suddenly dropped off at the strangest boarding school ever: a former castle turned prison that’s now a “reforming arts school”!

But nothing could’ve prepared Olive for RASCH (not “rash”). There, she’s lumped with a team of other kids who never quite fit in, and discovers that the academy isn’t what it seems—and neither is she. In fact, RASCH is a cover for an elite group of misfits who fight crime . . . and Olive has arrived just in time.

Turns out that RASCH is in danger of closing, unless Olive’s class can stop the heist of the century. And as Olive falls in love with this wacky school, she realizes it’s up to her new team to save the only home that’s ever welcomed them.


The Unbeatable Lily Hong by Diana Ma

If there’s one thing Lily Hong can’t stand, it’s being second best. That’s why she and Max Zhang have been bitter rivals ever since he swooped into town as the new kid with the cool clothes and his fancy downtown Chinese school and showed her up in the fifth-grade reading challenge.

She had wanted to be the one to win the pizza party for their class. Okay, so that was two years ago . . . her best friends Kelli and Lauren didn’t totally get it, but they were on her side. And that’s why they agreed to help Lily with her submission for the Clarktown’s Got Talent video competition. Filmmaking is Lily’s passion—which means winning is more important to her than ever.

Unfortunately, finding time to work on her video submission is proving harder than ever. In addition to doing regular homework and attending the Chinese school her parents own and run out of the Clarktown Community Center, Lily’s been getting weird vibes from her parents lately and she can tell something is up. Then her mom announces that the Clarktown Community Center is having its first showcase, and the students of Hong Chinese Academy will be performing as a group—traditional Chinese dance!

Lily is more confused than anything else—the community center is practically falling apart and they think this is a good time to put on a show? Could it be that the community center is in trouble and the only way to save it is to make the showcase a huge success? Lily has no choice. She’ll have to juggle the video competition and the art of Chinese dance simultaneously. But when Max Zhang unexpectedly shows up in her class at Chinese school with his perfect Mandarin and his surprisingly good dance skills, Lily might just have to embrace her longtime rival as a key part of her plan to save the community center.


Shark Teeth by Sherri Winston

Sharkita “Kita” Hayes is always waiting.
Waiting for her mama to mess up.
Waiting for social services to be called again.
Waiting for her and her siblings to be separated.
Waiting for her worst fear to come true.

But Mama promises things are different now. She’s got a good job, she’s stopped drinking, stopped going out every night-it’s almost enough to make Kita believe her this time. But even as Kita’s life is going good, she can’t shake the feeling that everything could go up in flames at any moment. When her assistant principal and trusted dance coach starts asking questions about her home life, Kita is more determined than ever to keep up appearances and make sure her family stays together-even if it means falling apart herself.

As the threat of her family being separated again circles like a shark in the water, the pressure starts to get to Kita. But could it be that Kita’s worst fear is actually the best thing that could happen to her family . . . and to her?

Ring in The New Year With Middle Grade Books!

The New Year is just around the corner, so there is much to celebrate! Along with resolutions and fresh starts, there is an epic batch of middle grade books for you to discover.

To give you a small sample of what’s to come, I’ve selected 24 titles to set your sights on in 2024.

And because I am a HUGE Taylor Swift fan  . . . I placed my book, HART & SOULS at number 13 on the countdown.

Have fun shopping!

1. PLAY THE GAME by Amar Shah (3/5/24) 

Raam Patel is eager to prove himself ever since he didn’t make the middle school’s basketball team. So, when Hoop Con comes to town he is determined to be there and take his shot. His big moment proves to be unforgettable… but not in the way he’d hoped. Raam gets schooled by the camp’s golden boy right in front of his NBA idol. To make matters even worse, this fail goes viral.

Raam is used to being the underdog, but becoming the newest meme might be something even he can’t overcome alone. He skips town in an effort to lay low and take a break from basketball. However, he’s met with new courts, fresh kicks, and tough new competition, changing his whole outlook on the game. Raam has the skills, but now it’s time to unlock the mental game.

2. FINN AND EZRA’S BAR MITZVAH TIME LOOP by Joshua Levy (5/14/24) 

Finn and Ezra don’t have a lot in common—except, of course, that they’re trapped in a bar mitzvah time loop, reliving their celebrations in the same New Jersey hotel over and over and over again. Not ideal, particularly when both kids were ready for their bar mitzvahs to end the moment they began. Ezra comes from a big family—four siblings, all seeming to get more attention than him, even on his bar mitzvah weekend. Finn is an only child who’s tired of his parents’ constant focus, even worse on his bar mitzvah weekend. They just want to get past it, just want to grow up. And now they’re both stuck. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. No way out.  

Until Finn and Ezra meet and realize they’re not alone.

Teaming up, they try everything they can think of to break the loop. But nothing works, and after every reset, the boys’ schemes become more desperate. As their frustrations build, the questions mount and real-life problems start to seep through the cracks. With all the time in the world, can Finn and Ezra ever figure out how to move forward?

3. THE CURSE OF EELGRASS BOG  by Mary Averling (1/2/24) 

Nothing about Kess Pedrock’s life is normal. Not her home (she lives in her family’s Unnatural History Museum), not her interests (hunting for megafauna fossils and skeletons), and not her best friend (a talking demon’s head in a jar named Shrunken Jim). 

But things get even stranger than usual when Kess meets Lilou Starling, the new girl in town. Lilou comes to Kess for help breaking a mysterious curse—and the only clue she has leads straight into the center of Eelgrass Bog.

Everyone knows the bog is full of witches, demons, and possibly worse, but Kess and Lilou are determined not to let that stop them. As they investigate the mystery and uncover long-buried secrets, Kess begins to realize that the curse might hit closer to home than she’d ever expected, and she’ll have to summon all her courage to find a way to break it before it’s too late.

4. THE WRONG WAY HOME by Kate O’Shaughnessy (4/2/24)

Twelve-year-old Fern’s lived at the Ranch, an off-the-grid, sustainable community in upstate New York, since she was six. The work is hard, but Fern admires the Ranch’s leader, Dr. Ben. So when Fern’s mother sneaks them away in the middle of the night and says Dr. Ben is dangerous, Fern doesn’t believe it. She wants desperately to go back, but her mom just keeps driving.  Suddenly Fern is thrust into the treacherous, toxic, outside world. 

At first she thinks only about how to get home. She has a plan, but it will take time. As that time goes by, though, Fern realizes there are things she will miss from this place—the library, a friend from school, the ocean—and there are things she learned at the Ranch that are just…not true.

Now Fern will have to decide. How much is she willing to give up to return to the Ranch? Should she trust Dr. Ben’s vision for her life? Or listen to the growing feeling that she can live by her own rules?

5. DAUGHTERS OF THE LAMP by Nedda Lewers (2/20/24) 

Sahara Rashad lives by logic. Loves science. And always has a plan. Except her dad just whisked her away to her uncle’s wedding in Egypt, upending every single plan she had for the summer.

In Cairo, Sahara’s days are filled with family—and mystery. First, Sahara’s cousins claim the pretentious bride-to-be is actually a witch. Then her late mother’s necklace starts glowing—and disappears.

Sahara’s attempts to recover the necklace lead her to the greatest mystery yet. Deep in an underground chamber lies Ali Baba’s magical treasure. Hidden from a line of sorcerers who threatened to use its powers for evil, the treasure was given to Sahara’s ancestor Morgana for safekeeping and passed down from mother to daughter for generations. Now only Sahara stands in the sorcerers’ way. Can the girl who’s never believed in magic trust the unknown and claim her legacy as the treasure’s keeper?

6. ISABEL IN BLOOM by Mae Respicio (4/9/24)

Twelve-year-old Isabel is the new kid in her San Francisco middle school. It’s the first time in many years that she’ll be living with her mother again. Mama’s job in the US allowed Isabel and her grandparents to live more comfortably in the Philippines, but now Isabel doesn’t really know her own mother anymore.  

Making new friends in a new city, a new country, is hard, but joining the gardening and cooking club at school means Isabel will begin to find her way, and maybe she too, will begin to bloom.

In this beautifully rendered novel-in-verse, Mae Respicio explores how growth can take many forms, offering both the challenges and joy of new beginnings.

7. THE COLOR OF SOUND by Emily Barth Isler (3/5/24)

Twelve-year-old Rosie is a musical prodigy whose synesthesia allows her to see music in colors.Her mom has always pushed her to become a concert violinist, but this summer Rosie refuses to play, wanting a “normal” life.

Forced to spend the summer with her grandparents, Rosie is excited to meet another girl her age hanging out on their property. The girl is familiar, and Rosie quickly pieces it together: somehow, this girl is her mother, when her mother was twelve. 

With help from this glitch in time―plus her grandparents, an improv group, and a new instrument―Rosie comes to understand her mother, herself, and her love of music in new ways.

8. MIND OVER MONSTERS by Betsy Uhrig (4/16/24)

FACE YOUR FEARS! That’s what the meditation app with the cheesy name De-stress-o-rama is telling Lena to do. She’s one of seven always-worried middle schoolers trying out this new app to see if it can help students handle stress. But something is going wrong—very, very wrong. 

The group’s fears are becoming all too real, first lurking and dangling, then chasing them around and threatening to swallow them whole. From a stubborn inky blob that is fear of the dark, to the queasy giant in sweaty underpants that is fear of public speaking, monsters are invading Cranberry Bog Middle School! Can Lena’s group of worriers figure out how to conquer their fears before the whole school is swarmed?

9. ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS : A PASSOVER CELEBRATION IN 14 STORIES Edited by Chris Baron, Joshua Levy, Naomi Milliner (3/26/24) 

Welcome to Passover, a Jewish holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years. The heart of Passover is the seder—a meal full of rituals, special foods, and songs—where we gather together to retell the story of the Exodus, when the Jewish people achieved freedom from Egypt. 

And yet this story is about more than the ancient past. The seder’s themes of freedom, joy, tradition, and more, are timeless and universal, for all.

In this unprecedented collection of short stories, 14 bestselling and award-winning authors each reimagine a different step of the seder for today’s young readers. Through historical and contemporary fiction, verse and prose, fiction and nonfiction, these gifted writers from different Jewish traditions and backgrounds gather around the seder table and invite everyone to join them.

 

10. HEROES OF HAVENSONG: THE LAST ICE PHOENIX  by Megan Reyes (1/23/24)

Blue, River, Shenli, and Wren are still reeling from the discovery that they are the four heroes foretold to save their world. The weight of their destiny and the expectations that come with it is a heavy burden, but when danger once again finds them and the people they love, there’s no choice but to act. 

Shenli and Wren both remain outsiders—one as a prisoner tired of being a pawn and the other banished from the home she fought to save. Meanwhile, Blue and River face a quest for a mythical creature that will take them beyond the world they know—with the fate of the Meraki people hanging in the balance. Although they just found one another, the four heroes are once again scattered across Haven—all facing new journeys, impossible choices and shocking truths. As their world prepares for war, will they be able to unravel what the Fates have in store for them and find their own path?

11. CRUSHED by Melanie Conklin (7/16/24)

Sophie Valentine would rather be at home, doing school virtually. Instead, she’s waiting in a crowded middle school building for her best friend, Eve, who’s finally back after an extended absence, which only Sophie knows the truth about.

But when Eve returns, things aren’t the same. First, Eve stops walking to school with her in the morning. Then, she’s ditching Sophie to hang out with the Crash Crew, a group of popular kids notorious for their social media dares. Eve seems to fit right in, but Sophie is devastated: Did she just lose her best friend?

When rumors surface that Eve is hiding a painful secret she didn’t share with Sophie, Sophie is spurred on an investigation to discover what—or who—caused the incident behind Eve’s sudden change…and why all clues lead back to the Crash Crew. Using lessons from her forensics class and the help of a new friend, Sophie will have to uncover the truth before more harm is done.

12. MOUNTAIN OF FIRE: THE ERUPTIONS AND SURVIVORS OF MOUNT ST. HELENS by Rebecca E. F. Barrone (5/14/24)

For weeks, the ground around Mount St. Helens shuddered like a dynamite keg ready to explode. There were legends of previous eruptions: violent fire, treacherous floods, and heat that had scoured the area. But the shaking and swelling was unlike any volcanic activity ever seen before.Day and night, scientists tried to piece together the mountain’s clues―yet nothing could prepare them for the destruction to come.

The long-dormant volcano seethed away, boiling rock far below the surface. Washington’s governor, Dixie Lee Ray, understood the despair that would follow from people being forced from their homes. How and when should she give orders to evacuate the area? And would that be enough to save the people from the eruption of Mount St. Helens?

13. HART & SOULS by Lisa Schmid (7/23/24) 

After getting bullied at Figueroa Elementary, Stix Hart wants nothing more than to fly below the radar at middle school. He’s heard all the horror stories, but none involved ghosts. 

On Stix’s first day of sixth grade, his anxiety is off the charts. It doesn’t help when he spots a kid who reminds him of his old bully, Xander Mack. Soon after, he encounters two other students who take a keen interest in him. He quickly learns the spooky truth—the trio are lost souls in need of a solid. When the ghosts tell him they’ve been stuck in middle school for decades, it’s up to Stix to figure out how to help these not-so-normal new friends.

Solving this paranormal predicament will take some serious sleuthing and a tremendous act of courage. Can Stix solve this mystery and help these spirits move on before it’s too late?

 

14. NOT THE WORST FRIEND IN THE WORLD by Anne Rellihan (2/6/24)

It’s the thirty-fourth day of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Missouri, and eleven-year-old Lou wishes she could rewind time. 

Lou wants to go back to the ninth day of sixth grade—the day before she fought with her best friend Francie and said the terrible, horrible things she can’t unsay. Or better yet, she would go back to fifth grade when Francie was still the Old Francie.

Then the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a mysterious note. It says she was kidnapped. (!) If Lou can help Cece, maybe she can prove she’s not the world’s worst friend.

But as observant Lou uncovers the complicated truth about Cece’s family, she starts to panic. Can she help Cece without hurting her? Or will Lou end up losing another friend instead?

15. LEI AND THE INVISIBLE ISLAND by Malia Maunakea (6/4/24)

After saving her best friend and ancestral guardian, Kaipo, from Pele the Fire Goddess’s traps, and successfully preventing lava from destroying her Tūtū’s house, all Lei wants to do is take a nap. The only problem? Kaipo’s ʻaumakua pendant is missing, and without it, he will soon disintegrate . . . emotionally and physically.  

So Lei, Kaipo, her favorite talking bat, Ilikea, and newcomer Kaukahi—a fiercely independent fashionista—set off on a journey to an invisible island where they hope to find Kaipo’s pendant. To get there, they’ll have to contend with sharks, jump over a rainbow, and literally float on clouds. And when they arrive? The crew realizes that the missing pendant is the least of their problems. For there are evil spirits on this island, and they’re out for blood.

16. THE MUTANT CRITTER SITTER by Heather Macht (Fall 2024)

Chloe’s summer was supposed to be filled with skateboarding, hanging out with friends, and staying up late every single night watching scary movies. But, after a trip to the skatepark left her skateboard broken in two, her entire summer was ruined. Now, her dad is forcing her to work all summer long so she can learn responsibility and earn a new one. What a bummer! 

After a morning of searching for jobs, Chloe answers an unusual ad that turns her summer upside down. Somehow, she said yes to being a Critter Sitter for a Not-So-Mad Scientist’s crazy mutant creations. One thing’s for sure, whether it’s being chased by a giant Mean-us Flytrap, bathing an Electric Seal, caring for Pea Monkeys, or walking a fluffy pet Pali-gator, Chloe’s summer is filled with extraordinary and unexpected adventures.

17.THE LOST FOREST: AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY BENEATH THE WAVES by Jennifer Swanson (4/2/24)

Take a deep dive with scientists exploring a sunken cypress forest that had been undisturbed in the Gulf of Mexico for fifty thousand years.

18. JAMIE by L.D. Lapinski (5/28/24) 

Jamie Rambeau is a happy 11-year-old, nonbinary kid who loves hanging out with their two best friends, Daisy and Ash. But when the trio find out that their local middle schools separate into a school for boys and a school for girls, their friendship suddenly seems at risk. And when Jamie realizes no one has thought about where they are going to go, they decide to take matters into their own hands.

As the friends’ efforts to raise awareness eventually become a rooftop protest against the binary rules for the local schools, Jamie realizes that if they don’t figure out a way forward, they could lose both their friends forever.

19. THE DETENTION DETECTIVES: MURDER BY MISTAKE (1/25/24) by Lis Jardine

Headstrong Lydia leads the new case. As a school reporter, she’s great at getting the facts. But when someone unexpected arrives at Gran’s, it’s clear she’s missing some clues… 

Sensitive Daniel is convinced this case is linked to their first. As a young carer he’s got a lot on his plate, so he needs the trio to work on this together. He just needs to persuade…

Not-so-new-boy Jonno, who’s settled in at Hanbridge High. But he’s so distracted by his new band – maybe solving crimes just isn’t cool anymore? Or maybe he’s scared of finding out the truth…

20. THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA by 52 Different Authors  (7/9/24)  

Every state has an urban legend that evokes fear and curiosity in equal parts, and we’ve chronicled all of these logic-defying horrors here in the Haunted States of Americaanthology.  

From the Jersey Devil to La Llorona, each story included introduces a new chill inducing, stomach churning monster, spectre, or poltergeist certain to keep you up at night. A broad ranging collection of authors, including seasoned veterans and some first timers making a fright-tastic debut, have all united to unearth the scariest lore from each state in the US, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico. Make sure to strap in for this spooky cross country tour, but be extra careful not to let any of these terrors follow you home.

21. THE GREAT ZOODINI by PJ Gardner (7/23/24)

After his latest zooscape goes wrong Zoodini winds up at the Twin Buttes Drive-In and Animal Sanctuary. At first he’s disappointed. How is a fennec fox supposed to make the news and get famous breaking out of this place? Simple, break ALL the animals out.

22. SKYLIGHT by Patchtree Jones (7/23/24)

Five-foot-eight and only in the seventh grade, Sofia Luana is used to being bullied in her Colorado school. After her parents suddenly decide to move to California, Sofia’s only hope is her best friend, Cara Felicity, who says her family’s moving to California, too. 

On their plane ride halfway across the country, Sofia and Cara see a magical door in the clouds where the girls soon find themselves in a new land filled with a shapeshifting octopus, winged warriors, and the exiled sorceress, Muet, starting a war to take the throne.

With her best friend, Sofia must learn to embrace her royal lineage, figure out who can be trusted, and find the courage to make her own decisions to end the war—or else Muet and her Night Army will extinguish Sofia’s skylight forever.

23. INVISIBLE ISABEL by Sally J. Pla (7/9/24)

Isabel is a small, kind, shy girl who feels a bit invisible at home and school.One day, some worry-moths appear in her belly. A tender little novel in verse for younger middle-graders about friendship, anxiety, shyness, and the mysterious mind/body connection.

24. THE RULE OF THREE by Heather Murphy Capps (8/6/24)

When the rules no longer apply, how do you keep your head in the game?

Wyatt has a three-part Plan for Life, and it starts now, at the beginning of seventh grade, with tryouts for his local travel baseball team. A biracial kid in a mostly white town, he’s always felt like a bit of an outsider. The baseball field is the only place where he feels like he truly belongs. If he can just make the team, everything else will fall into place: school, friends, even his relationship with his often-distant dad. But after upsetting incidents at tryouts, something inexplicable happens: wisps of smoke form around Wyatt.
As Wyatt tries to figure out what’s causing this mysterious smoke and how to control it, he discovers it’s connected to a painful family history. The more he learns, the more Wyatt begins to question the rules he’s always followed to fit in. With tensions rising at school and on the field, can he face the injustices of the past while keeping his cool in the present?

Ho! Ho! Ho! December New Releases

Just in time for the holidays, check out these new releases! Make sure to put them on your Wish List…or pick up a copy or two for your favorite middle-grade readers.

The Last Rose

Written by Leah Cypess, Delacorte Press, December 5 release

The fourth book in the Sisters Ever After series of fairy tale retellings, this is the wild story of Mera, the only one who can save her beautiful older sister when she is kidnapped by the Beast who viciously rules over their small village.
For as long as Mera can remember, she and her sister Darina have feared the Beast who lurks in the castle above their village. On countless nights they have locked themselves into their home while the Beast led his hounds on the Wild Hunt, preying on anything in his path.
Now Darina has been kidnapped by the Beast, and only Mera can save her. But she soon finds that in the Beast’s eerie, magic-haunted castle, nothing is quite what it seems–including her own sister. Here, Mera will discover the dark secrets that have bound her village to the Beast for so long.
But in order to set them all free, she will have to face the most dangerous secret of all: the truth about herself.

Mercy Watson is Missing! Tales from Deckawoo Drive

Written by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, Candlewick Press, December 5 release

Every favorite character from Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson books makes an appearance in this extended, riotously funny series crescendo.
When Mercy Watson the pig goes missing, all of Deckawoo Drive is in an uproar. The Watsons are inconsolable, and the local police, fire, and animal control departments are no help whatsoever. Bossy neighbor Eugenia Lincoln is not quite as sad as she might be, but thankfully her sister, Baby Lincoln, has the idea to hire a private investigator. Granted, Percival Smidgely, PI, may be more bumbler than gumshoe, but his pigeon, Polly, is there to point the way. Meanwhile, Frank and Stella Endicott and Stella’s friend Horace Broom are ready to do some investigating of their own. Will the clever neighborhood sleuths manage to follow the trail of hoofprints–and a certain overwhelmingly enticing scent–and recover their porcine wonder? With deftly paced narrative comedy, visual slapstick, abundant artwork in both black and white and full color, and warm affection for their cast of characters, Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen bring us a highly satisfying, extra-special series finale that rewards loyal fans–and invites new readers to explore the stories that came before.
Written by Melissa De La Cruz, Roaring Brook Press, December 5 release

Return to the land of Never After, where real life and fairy tales collide, in book four of New York Times-bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz’s hit middle grade series.

To save her mother from Olga’s evil clutches, Filomena and her friends will set off for new lands and new adventures. Without a moment to lose, Filomena must travel to the legendary land of Camelot to find the sword of Excalibur – the only thing that can save Fil’s mother from Olga’s mysterious illness that has poisoned her body.
But Camelot is not all that it seems. Fil and the crew quickly realize that there is another fairy tale that has taken hold in the land of Arthurian Legend. . . that of the Wizard of Oz! With the help (and hindrance) of the Wicked Witches of the East and West, lions and tigers and bears will surely be the least of Fil and the gang’s troubles.
As the League of Seven follows the yellow brick road to retrieve the sword and complete their most important quest yet, they find nothing will thwart the ogres and their mission to destroy Never After. In a land where nothing is truly as it seems, will Fil and the League of the Seven survive the witch’s tests? Or will Olga’s perilous plans rip Fil’s mother away from her forever?

Eyewitness Fossil

DK Publishing December 5 release

Packed with striking photography, Eyewitness Fossil explores the creatures and plants that lived long ago.

Become an eyewitness to the natural treasures found in rocks in this picture-led reference guide that will take you on a visual tour of all things fossils. Children will be mesmerized by the bones, teeth, and plants from long ago that have all been turned to rock.

This beautifully illustrated guide for kids aged 9+ gives an insight into how paleontologists learn about ancient life forms. Striking photographs, detailed diagrams, and lots of examples of fossils help you to learn what can be discovered around the world and why some fossils lead to new discoveries about the past.

Shelter for Lost Dreams

Written by Alfonso Font, Dark Horse Books, December 19 release

In a house of wonder, two children will learn life lessons through stories spanning across time.

During his first stay with his uncle, a boy discovers the magical world that is his uncle’s house. Surrounded by eclectic antiques, a vast library of books, strange objects, and whimsical animals, he is overcome with curiosity. Here, he meets a girl who shares his sense of wonder. With his uncle’s wisdom and an enchanted gift, the children will learn important life lessons through the diverse experiences of people throughout time—from common hikers encountering an unusual creature, to a general making the final decision to end a war, and many more!

Robert Winston: The Story of Science

Written by Robert Winston, DK Publishing, December 12 release

Let Professor Robert Winston take you on a scientific journey through human history in this fact-packed science book.

Delve into the stories of history’s most influential scientific experiments, inventions and life-changing discoveries that have impacted our understanding and changed the world in this science book for kids aged 7-9.Robert Winston’s The Story of Science will teach children about the incredible world of science through fascinating facts, innovative inventions, and daring discoveries. Learn how random accidents have led to some of the greatest findings our world has ever seen, and how anybody who dares to dream can be successful.