New Releases

Interview & Giveaway: 5 Questions for Lindsey Stoddard, author, BRAVE LIKE THAT

We’re happy to welcome Lindsey Stoddard, #kidlit author of the new middle-grade novel, BRAVE LIKE THAT, to the site for five fast questions PLUS a free giveaway of her book. Read on for our interview and details on how to win a copy! 

Mixed-Up Files: Can you give a summary on what your new title is about? 

Lindsey Stoddard: BRAVE LIKE THAT is the story of 11-year-old Cyrus Olson who was left on the step of a firehouse when he was a newborn and was adopted by one of the firefighters, who’s also a local football legend. Cyrus is expected to be the town’s next great wide receiver but he doesn’t know how to tell his dad he’s not brave like that. With the help of a stray dog, a new group of friends, and a kid who moves to town, Cyrus learns what kind of brave he is.

Brave Like That

MUF: I’ve been thinking quite a bit about kids and bravery during such a difficult and unsettling time. What can middle grade readers get from your book, particularly about bravery and feeling afraid, that might be relevant and helpful?

LS: I’ve been thinking of this too, and hoping that even through this isolating time, kids are finding ways to feel less alone. Books are always a great tool for that. In BRAVE LIKE THAT, Cyrus discovers that he’s not as alone as he thinks, that everyone has something that makes them feel different. He also uncovers the different types of bravery in the people around him, and that makes him feel stronger and more self-assured. To middle grade kids, right now, I’d say, gather courage from the courage you see around you. From the first responders, sure, but also of your family members, or a friend, or neighbor, a worker, and if you can’t find strength there, look for it in the pages of a good book and run away, as far as you can, with that character.

MUF: Since kids don’t have the same access to libraries at this moment, how will readers find out about your book? Can you talk a bit about releasing a new #kidlit book during such a different publishing landscape?

LS: The release of a new book is so exciting, and it was really hard to have school visits and launch events canceled FOR BRAVE LIKE THAT, but I’m very much hoping that they’ll just be postponed, and that when schools and libraries and bookstores can reopen safely, we’ll find a way to celebrate the novel and its readers. I hope the families that can, will support their local independent stores, or order a signed/personalized copy through my local indie, The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont. I’ll be doing some virtual visits with school groups and book clubs throughout the rest of May and June and will post some fun giveaways and sneak peeks on my social media accounts.

Lindsey Stoddard

Lindsey Stoddard, #kidlit author, BRAVE LIKE THAT

MUF: What’s next for you? Are you working on any new books or any other projects?

LS: My next novel, BEA IS FOR BLENDED, is due out in 2021 and I’m so excited for it! I’m in the beginning drafting stages of another idea and spending lots of time with my family while we’re all home. I think maybe I was really getting into the BRAVE LIKE THAT spirit because we just adopted a pup of our own!

MUF: What are a few of your favorite middle grade books of the past few years? What should kids add to their ‘to read’ pile if they’re looking for cool stuff to read?

LS: My favorite reads from the last couple years were:  THE BRIDGE HOME by Padma Venkatraman– I can still feel every little part of that world the author created. It’s a story about friendship and family and survival and it’s just so beautifully done. I loved every word. It was written in the 2nd person POV, which really helped to build the suspense. THE BRIDGE HOME

IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD by Ashley Herring Blake– Ivy felt so very real. I was right there in her shoes for the whole book.

SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS by Renee Watson– I love a good NYC book, and all of Renee Watson’s books are amazing. It’s a story about place and history and family and learning exactly where and who you come from.

NEW KID by Jerry Craft– Such big issues dealt with such honesty and humor.

New Kid Cover

LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA by Erin Entrada Kelly– The world she built in this book was so magical and the story was so full of adventure and courage that I just couldn’t put it down.

Lalani of the Distant Sea Cover

Find Lindsey on Twitter: @lindseystoddard and Instagram: @lindseystoddardwrites






May New Releases

So . . . sudden homeschooling while working from home is exhausting, right? I know a lot of parents are in the same boat. Luckily, there are some fantastic middle grade new releases out this month to keep kids reading, thinking, and even cooking (and everyone staying sane)! Happy reading!


The One and Only Bob

by Katherine Applegate

HarperCollins (May 5, 2020)

Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.

Bob, Ivan, and Ruby have touched the hearts of millions of readers, and their story isn’t over yet. Catch up with these beloved friends before the star-studded film adaptation of The One and Only Ivan hits theaters in August 2020!



Becoming Brianna

By Terri Libenson

Balzer + Bray (May 5, 2020)

Middle school is full of challenges.

Everyone knows how much brainy Bri likes the spotlight (not). So why did she ever agree to something that forces her to learn a new language, give a speech, help organize a party, and juggle drama at school and home?! As the big event inches closer, Bri wonders if it’s all worth it. . . .

Told in alternating past and present chapters, Bri’s heartwarming story unfolds over the eight months leading up to her bat mitzvah—as well as over the course of the big day itself.


The Hive Queen (Wings of Fire, Book 12)

by Tui T. Sutherland 

Scholastic Press (May 5, 2020)

Growing up in the hives, Cricket has always had a million questions. Why are trees forbidden, even in art? Why do her parents seem to hate her? And the biggest, most dangerous and secret question of all: Why is Cricket immune to Queen Wasp’s powers? Whenever the queen takes control of all the HiveWings, speaking through their mouths and seeing through their eyes, Cricket has to hide, terrified of being discovered.

Now she’s hiding again, wanted for stealing the Book of Clearsight along with her new SilkWing friends, Blue and Swordtail, and the fierce LeafWing, Sundew. The fugitives need answers, and fast, in order to prevent a LeafWing attack. But Cricket has more questions than ever. How can she stay hidden and discover the queen’s deadliest secret? And if she does succeed — can a powerless dragonet really do anything to topple a regime and stop a war?

Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion (The Questioneers)

by Andrea Beaty  

Amulet Books (May 12, 2020)

Iggy Peck is an architect at his very core: When he’s not making houses out of food, his head is up in the clouds, dreaming of design. So he’s totally blown away when Ada Twist’s Aunt Bernice inherits an old house from ice-cream mogul Herbert Sherbert that is filled with countless rooms from all his favorite architectural periods. But something’s not quite right . . . Everyone says the house is haunted, and it seems that a number of priceless antiques—which were supposed to help Aunt Bernice pay for the house’s upkeep—have gone missing. If they can’t find those antiques, Aunt Bernice might lose the house forever. It will take all of Iggy’s knowledge of architecture and the help of the other Questioneers—Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Sofia Valdez—to solve the mystery and find the treasure!


Chef Junior: 100 Super Delicious Recipes by Kids for Kids! 

by Anthony Spears, Abigail Langford, Paul KimballKatie Dessinger, and Will Bartlett

Sterling Epicure (May 19, 2020)

Cookbooks for kids often focus on bland “child-friendly” fare, but the authors of Chef Junior, five young cooks between the ages of 12 and 15, challenge that assumption. Instead, they present a repertoire of healthy, delicious, and inventive recipes that range from easy to advanced. Kids will love these dishes and drinks, including Tiramisu French Toast, Coconut Chicken Nuggets, Garden Fresh Pesto Pasta, Peach Cobbler, chocolate-y No-Bake Cookies, and Mango Lemonade, along with perennial favorites like mac ‘n’ cheese, hamburgers, pizza, and tacos. In addition, children will learn how to set up a working pantry and shop for healthy, high-quality ingredients; use kitchen tools (including knives) safely and skillfully; and create meal plans the whole family will enjoy.



Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring

By Matthew Burgess, Illustrated by Josh Cochran

Enchanted Lion Books (May 19, 2020)

From Matthew Burgess, the much-acclaimed author of Enormous Smallness, comes Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring. Often seen drawing in white chalk on the matte black paper of unused advertising space in the subway, Haring’s iconic pop art and graffiti-like style transformed the New York City underground in the 1980s. A member of the LGBTQ community, Haring died tragically at the age of thirty-one from AIDS-related complications. Illustrated in paint by Josh Cochran, himself a specialist in bright, dense, conceptual drawings, this honest, celebratory book honors Haring’s life and art, along with his very special connection with kids.


Machines That Think!: Big Ideas That Changed the World #2 

by Don Brown

Amulet Books (April 28, 2020)

Machines That Think! explores machines from ancient history to today that perform a multitude of tasks, from making mind-numbing calculations to working on assembly lines. Included are fascinating looks at the world’s earliest calculators, the birth of computer programming, and the arrival of smartphones. Contributors discussed include Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, Ada Lovelace, and Bill Gates. From the abacus to artificial intelligence, machines through the ages have pushed the boundaries of human capability and creativity. Back matter includes a timeline, endnotes, a bibliography, an author’s note, and an index.



5 Weird Facts I Learned About the Ocean by 11-year-old Grace

Welcome, eleven-year-old Grace (main character in Alice Kaltman’s new middle-grade novel, The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh). Thanks for stopping by MUF to tell us all about the ocean. And thank you to your creator, Alice Kaltman, for offering to give away a copy of your story!

Enter the giveaway below. 

The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman

5 Interesting/Fun/Weird Facts I Learned About the Ocean by Grace Minnaugh, main character in The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman

I guess you could say I, Grace Minnaugh, lead a decidedly double life. When I’m on land, I’m all girl, but when I’m fully submerged in seawater I’m all mermaid. I only discovered my mermaid self when I moved to California from Ohio, where there isn’t a puddle of seawater anywhere except maybe at aquariums, so you can imagine my surprise when I first transformed.

I learn new things about life underwater every time I take a dive. Some of these oddities are particular to me, myself, and I as a mermaid, and some are honest to goodness facts that sounds too fantastical to be true. Here are my top five ocean-y shares:


  • I breathe fish-style underwater, with magical gills that pop out from behind my ears once I’m in mermaid mode. Breathing with gills is awesome. I take sips of water through my mouth, and exhale the water through my gills. My gills dissolve the oxygen from the water (The O in the H2O), and pump it through my blood to my cells. My gills feel like little curtains flapping behind my ears. Ticklish, but not annoying. It’s a relaxing tickle, more like a scalp massage.
  • I adore dolphins. Even before I became a mermaid I thought they were the most amazing animals on the planet. Did you know that merpeople and dolphins share a very cool power, aside from being lovable and super friendly? We both navigate through the water using a technique called echolocation. We emit bio sonar waves from our foreheads that rebound off creatures and plants and tell us how far away and how big they are. This is a crucial skill to have when we’re about to encounter a hungry Great While or Tiger Shark. Usually those guys leave us alone, but when they’re particularly peckish, our flesh-eating shark friends can be a tad unpredictable. Better to use echolocation and find a hiding place to chill for a while then be a shark’s midday treat. Interesting sidebar: Dolphins have gigantic foreheads, which human scientist have decided to call melons, because, duh, they look like melons, but we merpeople have much more attractive, normal-sized foreheads.
  • Some merpeople, but not all, can swim really fast, like faster than a speedboat fast. I’m one of those lucky ones. I wish you could see me kick my monofin as rapidly as possible, while the water courses through my gills, and my hair streams behind me like a sail. I suppose you’ll have to read “The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh” to find out more about this particular mer-superpower. I can’t even describe how stupendous it feels.
  • One of my favorite sea species of all times is the sea slug. Those little creatures store up sun rays like plants and illuminate like little blobs of sunshine underwater! Sea slugs are particularly handy—if slippery— to have around when you’re fluttering through a super dark underwater cavern many meters under the surface. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly gotten lost, but for those little babies lighting my way. My all time favorite type of sea slug is the Flabellina polaris, or Tanglewing. It is covered with tendrils tipped with light, like a magical illuminated feather; beautiful, but super slimy to the touch so beware!
  • Lastly, I’m not sharing this to be a mer-Debby Downer, but rather, to alert you to something you can do to help save our oceans: One of the most spectacular living entities underwater are the many, many species of coral. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful they are—the shapes, the sizes, the awe-inspiring colors, and how important they are to the ocean ecosystem. But coral reefs are being destroyed all over the globe. It really stresses me out. One thing that kills coral is when humans use non-reef friendly sunscreen and swim with that stuff sprayed or glopped all over their bodies. These products are super bad for coral, in a variety of ways. You can read more about it here, but in the meantime, tell your parents to just buy mineral sunscreens, especially lotions containing non-nano zinc dioxide as the primary active ingredient. Everything else is poison!
Alice Kaltman, author of The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

Alice Kaltman, author of The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh

About The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman 

Eleven-year-old Grace Minnaugh is not a fan of big changes. She’s miserable during her first weeks in the seaside town of La Toya, sulking like a spoiled brat. Her family embraces the California lifestyle and Grace decides to embrace the seductive beauty of the sea. One fateful morning, while taking a predawn swim, she is caught in a thunderstorm. Without the ocean skills to survive, she’s sucked below the surface, convinced she will drown. Instead, a new life begins. Gills rip open from behind her ears and her legs fuse together to form a fishtail. Grace Minnaugh is a mermaid, and a gorgeous one at that. On land, Grace is still the same walking, talking social misfit she’s always been. But in the salty sea, she’s an underwater marvel. Grace decides not to tell a soul about her flip-floppy double life, but things get complicated when Grace befriends Alfie DeCosta, a kid who’s obsessed with finding an elusive shipwreck off the coast of La Toya. Grace knows exactly where the shipwreck is. But she can’t tell Alfie about it, or can she?


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