New Releases

New Releases: July 2022

Whether you’re inside, cooling off on the couch, or in your backyard, basking in the sun, July is a great month for losing yourself in a book. And the good news is that there are plenty of new books to choose from. Take a look at some upcoming middle-grade releases. There’s something for everyone in this sampling of fantasy, contemporary, graphic, and verse novels, along with some nonfiction and a mouth-watering cookbook. Mouse over the titles of your favorites for purchasing information.


Blood Brothers by Rob Sanders

Calvin Johnston’s secret is out. He and his brothers are tainted. Untouchable. And the bad blood flowing through their veins is threatening to kill them. So are some of their neighbors in Ashland, the “Friendliest Little Town” in Florida.

The Johnston brothers are kicked out of everything―school, baseball, scouts, even church. Ashland’s anger has erupted into a fireball of hate.

The only silver lining is that Calvin’s best friend Izzy lives 65 miles away at the beach, and has no idea about his secret. But news has a way of spreading. Calvin and his brothers are in the fight of their lives. As a matter of fact, they’re fighting for life itself.



Flipping Forward and Twisting Backward by Alma Fullerton

Claire is by far the best gymnast on her team, and she’s well on her way to qualifying for the state championships. The gym is where Claire shines. But at school, she’s known as a troublemaker. She seems to spend more time in the office than in class–which is fine with her since it enables her to hide the fact that she can’t read. She has never been able to make sense of the wobbling jumble of letters on a page. No one except her BFF knows.

But when a sympathetic principal wonders if Claire is acting out because she’s dyslexic, her mother balks. She’s afraid Claire will be labeled “stupid” and refuses testing. Claire has always assumed she’s dumb; she never imagined her reading problem could have a solution. Is she strong enough to take on both her reading challenges and her mother’s denial? Is it worth jeopardizing her spot in qualifiers? Told in clear and poignant verse and featuring black and white illustrations, Claire’s struggle with something that seems to come easily to everyone else will resonate with readers and have them cheering her on.


Be Real, Macy Weaver by Lakita Wilson

Eleven-year-old Macy Weaver knows relationships are complicated. Fresh off her latest friendship breakup, she’s spent most of her summer break on her own. So when Macy’s mother decides to go back to college three states away, Macy jumps on the chance to move–anything for a fresh start.But Macy’s new home isn’t exactly what she expected. Her mother’s never around and her dad’s always working. Lonelier than ever, Macy sets her sights on finding a new best friend. When she meets Brynn, who’s smart and kind and already seems to have her whole life figured out–down to her future as a high fashion model–Macy knows she’s it. The only problem is that Brynn already has a BFF and, as everyone knows, you can only have one.

Resorting to old habits, Macy turns one small lie into a whole new life–full of fantastic fashion and haute couture–but it isn’t long before everything really falls apart. Ultimately, Macy must determine how to make things right and be true to herself–rather than chasing after the person she thinks she’s supposed to be.


Bright by Brigit Young

Marianne Blume knows she’s one of the stupid kids. After years of trying and trying and feeling like she’s always failing, she has mastered the art of turning off her brain whenever questions or lectures arise. She gets by in school on a combination of luck, deflection, and charisma–that is, until she lands in the classroom of Mr. Garcia.

To avoid flunking Mr. Garcia’s class, Marianne joins her school’s Quiz Quest team, hoping the move will ingratiate her to him, the team’s coach. Can Marianne learn to be smart if she puts her mind to it? And what does it really mean to be “bright,” anyway?

Bright is a readable and empowering story about bucking labels, overcoming preconceptions, and learning to find–and uphold–your own self-worth.


J.R. Silver Writes Her World by Melissa Dassori

What if you could write your dreams into reality with the stroke of a pen?

Sixth grade is off to a difficult start for Josephine Rose Silver. Her best friend, Violet, returns from camp with a new best friend; her parents refuse to grant her more independence; and her homeroom teacher, Ms. Kline, is full of secrets. When Ms. Kline unveils a collection of old Gothamite magazines and tells her students to build their writing skills by crafting short stories inspired by the iconic covers, J.R. discovers a peculiar power: The stories she writes come true. Soon J.R. is getting a cell phone, scoring game-winning goals, and triggering school cancellations. But it’s not long before she realizes that each new story creates as many conflicts as it does solutions. And when J.R. tries to write about her fallout with Violet, all of her problems converge.

With a pinch of magic, mystery, art history, and language arts woven into a journey of growth and self-confidence, this promising debut is a heartfelt and satisfying tribute to the power of words.


The Hike to Home by Jess Rinker


A Perfect Mistake by Melanie Conklin

Max wishes he could go back in time to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn’t remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He’s not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn’t going to make Joey talk to him again, or bring Will out of his coma.

When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered.


Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena by Julie C. Dao

Clip and Sadie Chu couldn’t be more different. Popular, athletic Clip wants to become his school’s first seventh-grade soccer captain, while brainy star student Sadie is determined to prove that she can do anything her boastful brother can. They have just one thing in common: they love laser tag. Like, really love it.

When the Blackwood Gaming Arena comes to town, bringing virtual reality headsets and state-of-the-art courses, they couldn’t be more excited–or competitive. But then a mysterious figure appears and claims to be a part of the game, forcing the Chus and their friends to save themselves from a sinister force lurking inside the simulation. Together, they must fight their way through epic battlegrounds that will test their speed, skills, and smarts . . . but will Clip and Sadie learn that they’re far better off working together than competing for the ultimate victory?

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad.

He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes … and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by.

Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet–and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting … and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.




Thirst by Varsha Bajaj

Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity–an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night.

Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses.

Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?




Quilting a Legacy (The Invincible Girls Club: Vol. 4) by Rachele Alpine and Steph B. Jones

Myka’s Gammy is coming to stay with her family for a few weeks, and Myka couldn’t be more excited! Her grandmother has always been the person who understands her better than anyone else, and Gammy’s visits include lots of quality time, fascinating stories, and Soul Food Sunday meals. But this time Gammy has a special surprise for her–a quilt that was created by and added onto by the women in their family for generations.

Myka is determined to carry on the tradition by signing her and Gammy up for quilting classes–joined by her best friends of course! But quilting turns out to be a lot harder than it seems, and Myka, who is used to being one of the best at each activity she tries, now feels like she’s the only one in the class who is struggling.

Will Myka be able to complete the family quilt before Gammy leaves, or is this one task that’s too hard to tackle? There’s only one way to find out … Thready, set, go!


Booked (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander and Dawud Anyabwile

In this electrifying follow-up to Kwame Alexander’s Newbery winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage. A New York Times bestseller and National Book Award Longlist nominee, now in a graphic novel edition featuring art from Dawud Anyabwile.

Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.

This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action, and emotion of a World Cup match.

A novel about a soccer-obsessed tween boy written entirely in verse? In a word, yes. Kwame Alexander has the magic to pull off this unlikely feat, both as a poet and as a storyteller. —The Chicago Tribune

Can’t nobody stop you

Can’t nobody cop you…


The Elephant Girl by James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku with Sophia Krevoy

Clever, sensitive Jama likes elephants better than people. While her classmates gossip—especially about the new boy, Leku—twelve-year-old Jama takes refuge at the watering hole outside her village. There she befriends a baby elephant she names Mbegu, Swahili for seed.

When Mbegu’s mother, frightened by poachers, stampedes, Jama and Mbegu are blamed for two deaths—one elephant and one human. Now Leku, whose mysterious and imposing father is head ranger at the conservancy, may be their only lifeline.

Inspired by true events, The Elephant Girl is a moving exploration of the bonds between creatures and the power of belonging.


Growing Up Feeling Great! The Positive Mindset Puberty Book for Boys by Ken Stamper

Get familiar with your feelings–a puberty guide for boys 8-12

Puberty is an exciting time–but it can also be overwhelming as relationships evolve and feelings become more intense. This guide explores these inevitable changes and teaches boys how to stay positive even when life gets a little bumpy. This standout among puberty books for boys provides:

Emotional awareness–Boys will learn all about how the brain controls their emotions, the effects of their rising hormones, ways to improve their outlook when feelings of anger or embarrassment arise, and more.

Engaging exercises–Kids will gain a better understanding of how to handle their emotions with interactive quizzes, matching exercises, and calming activities like deep breathing or muscle relaxation.

Awesome illustrations–Colorful drawings help emphasize important info and make reading this book tons of fun.


Kids Cook Gluten-Free by Kelli Bronski and Peter Bronski

Are you ready for the best gluten-free biscuits you’ve ever had? How about gluten-free mac and cheese? Or brownies? Kids Cook Gluten-Free teaches children to make all these and more. From crowd-pleasing favorites like Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Hamburger Sliders to more adventurous options like Crispy Dover Sole and Red Lentil Dal, kids will love trying something new.

Each recipe has kid-friendly instructions with a list of common kitchen terms and tools. Guides to gluten-free eating, safety tips, and basic techniques help young readers get comfortable in the kitchen. Kids can make delicious food with a parent or all by themselves. No matter what, it’ll be a whole lot of fun–and taste great!


The Science Spell Book: Magical Experiments for Kids by Cara Florance

Have you ever wished you could cast a real spell with the wave of a magic wand? Have you ever wanted to mix a real color-changing potion? Now kids can perform magical feats with a few simple ingredients and a little help from science.

Kids will learn about physics, biology, chemistry, and more through 25 dazzling experiments and activities including:

Elixir of Enlightenment–brew a stunning color-changing tea!

Chaotic Calling–learn about chaos theory while creating art with a pendulum!

Fluorescent Feast–create a meal that glows under a black light!

North Divination–make a homemade compass!

Each experiment includes simple instructions, diagrams to follow along with, and an explanation of the science behind each magical experiment.





Diversity in MG Lit #37 June 2022

Here’s a round up of new and diverse books on sale this June. It is by no means a complete list of every diverse book published this month. Please add your own favorites into the comments below.
book cover Days of InfamyLet’s start with non fiction. What I like about Days of Infamy: How a centurey of bigotry led to Japanese American internment by Lawrence Goldstone is that it takes a larger slice of history, giving context and detail to story of discrimination against the Asian American community. In addition to historical photographs, maps, and documents throughout, the book contains an index, bibliography and detailed sources notes. Bravo, Scholastic and Lawrence Goldstone for including the extras to refute doubters and give curious readers more information.
Horse Country: Friends Like These by Yamile Saide Méndez is the second in a new series. I highlighted the first in March and I’m happy to see that a sequel is just as charming and has followed so closely. A third in the series, Where There’s Smoke, will be out in the fall. As a bookseller trying to get MG readers hooked on a new series it really helps to have the first books roll out quickly.
The Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo is a debut novel in verse about author’s childhood. Her family immigrates from Taiwan in the 1980s and opens a small restaurant. The story is beautifully told. I found my self really rooting for this family. There was nothing extraordinary about their struggles, but they faced them with grace and courage that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to make a go of a new business.
book cover Onyeka and the Academy of the sunOnyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tolá Okogwu is a celebration of black hair–vibrant, curly, and big! The twelve year old hero is a mythical being from Nigerian folk lore, a Solari. Her powers emanate from her magnificent black hair, and she must used them to be a force for good in her new superhero school The Academy of the Sun. Great fun for fans of the Marvel franchise.
book cover Punky AlohaPunky Aloha By Shar Tuiasoa is a vibrantly illustrated chapter book about gathering your courage and going out in the big world. Set in Hawaii, Punky takes her grandmothers sunglasses and the spirit of Aloha on her very first solo errand to a neighborhood shop. If you are charmed by the Netflix show Old Enough, you’ll love Punky Aloha.
All Four Quarters of the Moon by Chinese-Australian writer Shirley Marris a novel about love and resilience interwoven with Chinese mythology, a world made entirely of paper, and an ever changing moon. Fans of When You Trap a Tigerwill appreciate its powerful and compassionate voice.
book cover Undercover LatinaKids at the older end of the MG span will appreciate the smart, entertaining, and politically astute debut MG novel of Aya De León. It’s called Undercover Latina, and it’s about a Latina who goes undercover as a white girl to infiltrate a white nationalist group and bring them to justice. This one has a bit of a bite to it, but young social justice warriors are going to love Andréa Hernández-Baldoquín and her undercover persona Andrea Burke.
Everyone knows that middle school is the great training ground for extortionists. In Destiny Howell’s book High Score the hero Darius James, the new kid at the neighborhood middle school, is trying to figure out how to help his friend Connor who owes the biggest bully on the block. 100,000 arcade tickets. Fortunately DJ, knows all about running scams. This fast paced and engaging story will make a perfect summer vacation read.
Do you have a favorite diverse summer read? Give it a shout in the comments below.

Interview With Debut Author, Catherine Arguelles

I always love to interview authors, but this one is especially near and dear to me. Catherine is not only my critique partner and a good friend, but her debut novel, FLIP TURNS is with Jolly Fish Press. So we are now pub-sisters!

I am so happy for Catherine and delighted the world gets to read her book. She is an incredibly gifted writer, and I am positive this is just the beginning of a very successful career.

I already know she’s fabulous, now it’s time you do, too!

Lisa: Tell us about Flip Turns.

Catherine: Okay! Flip Turns is a Middle Grade mystery featuring Maddie, a thirteen-year-old girl with anxiety who is struggling with the unwanted attention of a boy at school. When her family’s community pool is vandalized, threatening Maddie’s swim team, Maddie and her best friend Ez search for the culprit while dealing with friend and family dynamics, competitive swimming, and crushes.

Flip Turns comes out on September 13!

Lisa: What inspired the idea for this book?

Catherine: I swam on a summer swim team (Go Piranhas!) like Maddie’s while I was growing up. In the 14 summers on that team, we had our share of pranks and catastrophes. When my daughter started swimming on a team a few years ago, I got to thinking, what if those “pranks” and “accidents” weren’t really accidents or weren’t just pranks? What would make someone want to cause problems at a pool?

Lisa: Did you base any characters on people you know?

Catherine: Heh. Yeah. But I can’t tell you some of them to protect the people involved! I can tell you that both my middle school daughter and I have anxiety, so a lot of Maddie’s feelings and reactions are based on our experiences. But the closest to real-life character is Maddie’s big brother Jack who’s teasing yet loving personality is much like my own brother’s. And like Jack, my brother was a lifeguard adored by all the girls!

Lisa: How much of your real-life experiences play a role in the stories you tell?

Catherine: A lot! In Flip Turns, the swim meets and practices came straight out of my own memory. Also, I had an unwanted admirer in middle school and heard a lot of “Just be nice to him.” I wanted that inappropriate attention to be something we talk about instead of something we try to ignore.

Lisa: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

Catherine: There’s a scene at the first swim meet where Lucas (the unwanted admirer) tries to hug Maddie. She’s only wearing her bathing suit and shorts and gets very uncomfortable. Every time I worked on that scene, I got the creeps. It’s a super cringey moment. But I think it’s authentic. Hugging is a big thing in middle school, but not everyone likes it.

Lisa: Which of your characters are most likely to be an activist, and what kind?

Catherine: I think Maddie’s best friend Ez would be an activist. She’s very driven and persistent in reaching her swimming goals, and she acts like a bit of an activist towards Maddie, encouraging her to stand up for herself and what she wants. Ez is the person throughout Flip Turns who keeps reminding Maddie that the attention from Lucas is inappropriate. I could see her being an activist for sexual harassment awareness and policy.

Lisa: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

Catherine: I definitely relate to Maddie, the main character. Like I said above, we both have anxiety, and we’re both little sisters. We also both struggled to deal with the attention of that unwanted admirer, while at the same time enjoying crushes on nice boys. We have some differences though—Maddie loves art while I was more interested in reading and writing.

Lisa: What books did you like to read when you were a kid?

Catherine: I loved mysteries – Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, this wonderful series called T.A.C.K. that I’m pretty sure is sadly out of print now. I definitely wanted to be an amateur sleuth like the characters in those books. I’m also a fan of Astrid Lindgren – I loved Pippi Longstocking, but her lesser-known book Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is one of my favorite MG’s of all time.

Lisa: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Catherine: I really enjoy Erin Entrada Kelly’s books, and I’d love to watch her do school visits and meet readers.

Lisa: What advice would you give twelve-year-old, Catherine?

Catherine: I would encourage 12yo me to be more assertive in dealing with that unwanted admirer. I’d tell her to be clear about the discomfort, not just with him but also with adults and friends. And I’d tell her to worry less about what other people thought. Both of my kids have so much more confidence than I did as a middle schooler, and it’s a joy to watch them navigate the drama and social situations without a lot of the hurt and awkwardness I felt. I want to be more like my kids!

Lisa: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I can hardly wait to celebrate your Book Birthday! 

Catherine: Thanks, friend.


About Catherine Arguelles 

Before writing novels, Catherine earned a BA in English with a minor in Women’s Studies and a MA in Psychology and Counseling. She has worked as a counselor with middle school students, a fundraiser for non-profits, and is the proud parent of two feminist readers. She lives in Northern California, and her favorite event was once the 100-yard backstroke.

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