New Releases: April 2021

April is a marvelous month for getting out of the house as the weather gets warmer. Whether you’re relaxing on your porch or exploring nature, there are several new releases for you to bring along. So, grab a book and head for the great outdoors! (Mouse over the titles for a link to purchase from our Bookshop page.)

 

Up first, we’re pleased to feature our own Jennifer Swanson’s brand-new book for explorers and collectors:

Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil, and Shell Hunting: The Definitive Interactive Nature Guide by Jennifer Swanson

Writer Jennifer Swanson and artist John D. Dawson invite you to rewild your life! With metal corners and 448 full-color pages, Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil & Shell Hunting is an indispensable tool for young explorers and rock collectors.

Make every day an adventure with the included:
– Immersive activities to get you exploring
– Write-in sections to journal about experiences
– Next-level adventures to challenge even seasoned nature lovers

No experience is required―only curiosity and courage. This interactive field guide to rocks, fossils, & shells, includes:
-Digging, chiseling, hammering, and wading for rocks and minerals
-Identifying rocks & minerals by location, texture, color, shape and size
-Determining between rocks, geodes, and space rocks
-Finding fossils and setting up a dig site
-Searching and snorkeling for shells
-Storing and displaying your collection
And so much more!

 

Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suárez. For science she’s got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be as smart as her brother, Roli. She’s been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she’s tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball.

One thing is for sure, though: Merci Suárez can’t dance—not at the Heart Ball or anywhere else. Dancing makes her almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.

 

It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Emmett and his older brother Luke have always been “Batman and Robin,” though they’re quick to bicker about who’s who. Spending the summer at a historic Black summer camp seems like a wonderful adventure for the two to share, but since Luke is there as a junior counselor, he seems to spend all of his time being everyone else’s big brother, and ignoring Emmett.

As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the “It Takes A Village” entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of “superfriends,” who’ll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family. It Doesn’t Take a Genius is inspired by the feature film Boy Genius, starring Miles Brown, Rita Wilson, and Nora Dunn.

 

The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam

Many years ago, in the kingdom of Fenwood Reach, there was a powerful Windwitch who wove the seasons, keeping the land bountiful and the people happy. But then a dark magic drove her from the realm, and the world fell into chaos.

Brida is content in her small village of Oak Hollow. There, she’s plenty occupied trying to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to in her work as a hedgewitch’s apprentice—until she accidentally catches the attention of the wicked queen.

On the run from the queen’s huntsman and her all-seeing Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and who she is destined to be—and that she may hold the power to defeating the wicked queen and setting the kingdom right again.

 

Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope

Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mother’s death. But staying away from the sea isn’t easy on his tropical island home where he’s stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Dagan, the brawn to Noa’s brains.

When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for other kingdoms in search of help. But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noa’s worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the map’s confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.

 

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect–but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie’s sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn’t be more of a pain if she tried. It’s all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still–there’s sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire–even if she doesn’t have the guts to talk to him.

It’s a time of sunshine, siblings, and stress. Will Millie be able to find her way in her family, and keep her balance as the the world around her loses its own?

 

 

The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman

Any child can spark magic, but only the elite are allowed to kindle it. Those denied access to the secrets of the kindling ritual will see their magic snuffed out before their thirteenth birthday.

Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic is the best kindling school in New York City―and wealthy twelve-year-old Emma Harris is accustomed to the best. But when her father dies, leaving her penniless, Emma is reduced to working off her debts to Miss Posterity alongside Izzy, a daring servant girl who refuses to let her magic be snuffed out, even if society dictates she must. Emma and Izzy reluctantly form a pact: If Izzy teaches Emma how to survive as a servant, Emma will reveal to Izzy what she knows about magic.

Along the way, they encounter quizzes that literally pop, shy libraries, and talking cats (that is, house dragons). But when another student’s kindling goes horribly wrong, revealing the fiery dangers of magic, Emma and Izzy must set aside their differences or risk their magic being snuffed out forever.

 

The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon

Mickey is angry all the time: at his divorced parents, at his sister, and at his two new stepmoms, both named Charlie. And so he can’t resist the ad inside his pack of gum: “Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Buy The Anti-Book! Satisfaction guaranteed.” He orders the book, but when it arrives, it’s blank–except for one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the pages with all the things and people he dislikes . . .

Next thing he knows, he’s wandering an anti-world, one in which everything and everyone familiar is gone. Or are they? His sister soon reappears–but she’s only four inches tall. A tiny talking house with wings looks strangely familiar, as does the mysterious half-invisible boy who seems to think that he and Mickey are best buds. The boy persuades Mickey to go find the Bubble Gum King–the king, who resides at the top of a mountain, is the only one who might be able to help Mickey fix the mess he’s made.

 

Thornlight by Claire Legrand

Resourceful twin sisters and a desperate queen must find a new source of magic to stop their kingdom from being consumed by darkness. Centuries and centuries ago, the Vale was split in two in a war between witches. Ever since, an evil darkness has been climbing, climbing, climbing out of the Break, infecting everything it touches. The people of the Vale fight it with discs made of lightning—and with an ancient spell. Brier Skystone is the youngest, most talented lightning harvester the Vale’s ever seen. Her twin sister, Thorn, is a sensitive artist who’s braver than even she knows. And young Queen Celestyna Hightower is determined to be Mender of the Break, the last of her family to bear the weight of anchoring the spell—which is really more of a curse.

As the darkness keeps coming, these three girls will each undertake their own perilous journeys to try to save their home—and each quest reveals an electrifying surprise. Perhaps they’ve been fighting the wrong monster all along. Claire Legrand creates an intricate and layered world full of unicorns, witches, mistbirds, grifflets, and unlikely heroes—with an appearance by the legendary witch Quicksilver Foxheart. This stand-alone companion to Foxheart explores what it means to be brave, and the destructive force of war on nature and community

 

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera

Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.

When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans and agrees to help her on her journey.

With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.

 

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight by Jen White

Cora is constantly counting the minutes. It’s the only thing that stops her brain from rattling with worry, from convincing her that danger is up ahead. Afraid of the unknown, Cora spends her days with her feet tucked into sand, marveling at La Quinta beach’s giant waves and her little sister Sunshine’s boundless energy.

And then danger really does show up at Cora’s doorstep―her absentee uncle, whose sudden presence in the middle of the night makes her parents nervous and secretive. As dawn breaks once more, Cora must piece together her family and herself, one minute at a time.

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is an endearing and revelatory middle-grade novel that is perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.

 

 

Warriors: The Broken Code #5: The Place of No Stars by Erin Hunter

The time has come to return to the Dark Forest. ThunderClan’s deputy, Squirreflight, has vanished with the cat now known to be an impostor, sowing suspicion and mistrust among the five Clans. The cause of their ancestors’ silence is finally clear—but so is the terrifying truth of the danger they must face if they hope to bring light back to the darkness . . .

Packed with action and intrigue, this sixth Warriors series is the perfect introduction for readers new to the Warriors world, while dedicated fans will be thrilled to discover the new adventures that unfold after the events of A Vision of Shadows.

 

 

 

Aru Shah and the City of Gold: A Pandava Novel Book 4 by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras.

Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wishes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her.

Aru also isn’t sure she still wants to fight on behalf of the devas in the war against the Sleeper and his demon army. The gods have been too devious up to now. Case in point: Kubera, ruler of the city of gold, promises to give the Pandavas two powerful weapons, but only if they win his trials. If they lose, they won’t stand a chance against the Sleeper’s troops, which will soon march on Lanka to take over the Otherworld. Aru’s biggest question, though, is why every adult she has loved and trusted so far has failed her. Will she come to peace with what they’ve done before she has to wage the battle of her life?

 


Greystone Secrets #3: The Messengers
 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past.

Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US. . . .

The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too.

After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control.

 

Shortcuts (Sanity & Tallulah 3) by Molly Brooks

Tallulah is great at piloting! And with her learner’s permit freshly reinstated, she has the perfect opportunity to prove it: filling in on the mail route to nearby stations while all the regular pilots are out sick. It’s her first big solo flight, and yeah, okay, her parking could use some work, but she’s not even a little bit nervous—she’s got Sanity along as copilot, plenty of old flight logs for navigation, and they’ll be in radio contact with Wilnick almost the whole time. All they have to do is follow the pre-approved route and stay out of the dangerous, uncharted, explosives-littered debris cloud . . . no matter how tempting a shortcut it is. Oh, and don’t cross the military blockade into the United Territories, obviously. See? No sweat!

Sanity and Tallulah’s pre-approved route didn’t say anything about space stations exploding, enemies in need of rescue, or getting caught in the middle of a border crisis in danger of escalating into all-out war, but sometimes totally awesome pilots have to change plans on the fly, and only an excellent copilot can keep things from going completely upside down.

 

 

The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing

After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.

Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . .

A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)

 

Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick

Magic Olive Poindexter has big shoes to fill. Her mother was a professional cheerleader, her father is a retired NBA legend, her big sister is the new face of the oh-so-glamorous Laker Girls, and her grandmother was the first black cheerleader ever on Valentine Middle School’s HoneyBee cheer squad. Magic wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps. But first, she has to survive Planet Pom Poms, the summer cheer camp where she’ll audition for a spot on the HoneyBee squad. But with zero athletic ability and a group of mean girls who have her number, Tragic Magic is a long way from becoming the toe-touching cheerleader heroine she dreams of being.

Things start to look up when her best friend Cappie joins her at camp—until Cappie gets bitten by the popularity bug, that is. To make matters worse, Magic’s crushing hard on football star Dallas Chase. Luckily, Magic’s not alone: with the help of a new crew of fabulous fellow misfits and her Grammy Mae’s vintage pom poms by her side, Tragic Magic might just survive—and even thrive—at cheer camp.

 

Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

Everyone knows that twelve-year-old Madison “Madi” Lewis is not allowed to bring home any more animals. After she’s saved hairless mice, two birds, a rabbit, and a stray tom cat that ended up destroying the front porch, Madi’s parents decide that if they find one more stray animal in the house, she won’t be allowed to meet Jane Goodall at an upcoming gala event.

But when Madi and her two best friends, Aaron and Jack, rescue beaver kits whose mother was killed, they find themselves at the center of a local conspiracy that’s putting the beavers and their habitats in danger.

As Madi and her friends race to uncover the threat targeting the beavers, Madi must put her animal whisperer skills to the test in both raising the orphaned beaver kits and staying out of trouble long enough.

 

 

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, author, Frane Lessac, illustrator

Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.

 

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya

Welcome to the Fungarium! Step into the world of fungi and learn all about these strange and fascinating life-forms.

Illustrator Katie Scott returns to the Welcome to the Museum series with exquisite, detailed images of some of the most fascinating living organisms on this planet—fungi.

Exploring every sort of fungi, from the kinds we see on supermarket shelves to those like penicillium that have shaped human history, this collection is the definitive introduction to what fungi are and just how vital they are to the world’s ecosystem.

 

 

 

13 Things Strong Kids Do: Think Big, Feel Good, Act Brave by Amy Morin

Do you worry that you don’t fit in? Do you feel insecure sometimes? Do you wish your life looked as perfect as everyone else on social media? Do you have anxiety about things you can’t control? Being a tween can be really hard, especially in today’s world.

You balance it all—homework, extracurricular activities, chores, friendship drama, and family, all while trying to give the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing. Sometimes when we try to look perfect on the outside, we can feel rotten in the inside.  Do you want to become a stronger person, inside and out? By picking up this book, you’re already taking the first step toward becoming a better person where it counts—by training your brain.

Prominent psychotherapist and social worker Amy Morin offers relatable scenarios, then shows tweens the ways they can develop healthy habits, build mental strength, and take action toward becoming their best selves. 13 Things Strong Kids Do gives tweens the tools needed to overcome life’s toughest challenges.

 

Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones

Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she’s alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They’ve already lost their parents and Great Grammy–they can’t lose each other, too.

The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can’t even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they’ll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!

This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they’re missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy’s survival treats.

 

 

 

 

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Dorian Cirrone
Dorian Cirrone's most recent middle-grade novel is the award-winning,THE FIRST LAST DAY. She has published several books for children and teens. Visit her at www.doriancirrone.com
2 Comments
  1. This is such a fantastic list and mix! Adding to my TBR list 🙂

  2. Wow! That is a big list for the month with lots of terrific books. Thanks for the post.

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