This month we celebrate a cornucopia of wonderful new middle-grade releases. Be sure to tell us which books you’re thankful for in the comments below.
COOL PHYSICS by Sarah Hutton, illustrated by Damien Weighill from Pavilion (November 1st) Aimed at older children and curious adults, this book covers everything you need to know about some of the most complex scientific ideas the world has ever seen, made accessible and fun—Newton’s Theory of Relativity, quantum physics, nuclear fission and fusion, quarks, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and that old favorite E=mc2 are all explained here, clearly and entertainingly. There are also 10 practical experiments to give you even more insight into the theories, including making a pinhole camera, a whirlpool in a bottle and electric circuits with Play-Doh.
MOSQUITOES DON’T BITE ME by Pendred Noyce from Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (November 1st) Mosquitoes don’t bite Nala Simiyu. It’s part of who she is, like being a half-Kenyan seventh-grader whose mother is in a wheelchair. But when a schoolmate’s father–who happens to head up a large drug company–learns of Nala’s special power, the excitement begins. After helping out with mosquito research, Nala has the chance to travel to Kenya to investigate mosquitoes’ reactions to her father’s family. All goes well until a man heartbroken by his daughter’s death from malaria kidnaps Nala. In the midst of a realistic adventure story, this book will introduce young readers to such dilemmas as health disparities, subtle racism, and who owns biological information. Brave, fallible, compassionate and spirited, Nala is a strongly relatable character in a loving, imperfect family.
FIREFLY WILDLIFE ATLAS by John Farndon from Firefly (November 1st) This beautiful book is from the producers of Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals, praised by Kirkus Reviews: “the entries come from all over the world; some are common and others rare, but all are interesting in some way… for browsers and researchers alike, this is a useful and inviting display — and a bargain.”
Firefly Wildlife Atlas is similar but approaches the animal kingdom by means of habitat. It is also remarkable for its scope and presentation, covering almost 1000 animals in meticulous full-color illustrations and concise authoritative text. From millipedes to monkeys, this book offers a detailed and thorough guide to a wide array of the world’s mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as insects, spiders and other invertebrates.
THE GETAWAY (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID #12) by Jeff Kinney from Amulet (November 7th) Greg Heffley and his family are getting out of town. With the cold weather and the stress of the approaching holiday season, the Heffleys decide to escape to a tropical island resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation. A few days in paradise should do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family. But the Heffleys soon discover that paradise isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Sun poisoning, stomach troubles, and venomous critters all threaten to ruin the family’s vacation. Can their trip be saved, or will this island getaway end in disaster?
DANIEL COLDSTAR #1 The Relic War by Stel Pavlou from HarperCollins (Novemeber 7th) Below the surface on a forgotten planet, Daniel Coldstar searches for relics from a lost civilization. Daniel has no memory of his past. All he knows is to do his job and fear the masters of the mines.
Until he unearths a relic more powerful than anything he has ever seen. A relic that might help him escape…
What follows is an epic outer space adventure filled with Truth Seekers, anatoms, Leechers, and the evil Sinja who seek to control the universe.
All that stands in their way is a boy named Daniel Coldstar, whose journey will change the galaxy forever.
HOW OSCAR INDIGO BROKE THE UNIVERSE (AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN) by David Teague from HarperCollins (November 7th) Oscar Indigo has never been good at baseball, so naturally he’s nervous when he has to fill in for his team’s injured All-Star, Lourdes. Luckily, Oscar has a mysterious gold watch that can stop time, which he uses to fake a game-winning home run. Now Oscar’s the underdog hero of his town and even Lourdes wants to be his friend.
But the universe is a precarious place, and you can’t just steal time without any consequences. If Oscar doesn’t find a way to return the time he stole, the universe will unwind completely.
Oscar wants nothing more than to ask Lourdes for help, but what would a baseball star like her think of a guy whose fake home run actually destroyed the universe? But as he and Lourdes grow closer, Oscar understands that it isn’t always what you do that makes you special—but who you are. And that confidence just might be the key to fixing the universe.
MARTHA AND THE SLAVE CATCHERS by Harriet Hyman Alonso, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon from Triangle Square (November 7th) Thirteen-year-old Martha Bartlett insists on being a part of the Underground Railroad rescue to bring her brother Jake back home to their abolitionist community in Connecticut. It’s 1854 and though African-Americans and mixed-race peoples in the north are supposed to be free, seven-year-old Jake, the orphan of a fugitive slave, is kidnapped by his “owner” and taken south to Maryland. Jake is what we’d now describe as on the autism spectrum, and Martha knows just how to reassure him when he’s anxious or fearful. Using aliases, disguises, and other subterfuges, Martha artfully dodges Will and Tom, the slave catchers, but struggles to rectify her new reality with her parents’ admonition to always tell the truth. She must be brave but not reckless, clever but not dishonest. But being perceived sometimes as white, sometimes as black during the perilous journey has thrown her sense of her own identity into turmoil. Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.
MUTANT BUNNY ISLAND by Obert Skye, illusrated by Eduardo Vieira from HarperCollins (November 7th) Ten-year-old Perry Owens has learned everything he needs to know from comic books. So when Perry receives a troubling message from his favorite uncle, Zeke, he knows exactly what’s wrong. Obviously, evil newts wearing trench coats must have kidnapped Zeke. Now they’re holding him hostage somewhere on Bunny Island, the remote vacation destination that Zeke calls home.
On his own, Perry travels to Bunny Island, where dozens of bunnies are running wild. One in particular doesn’t seem quite right. A creature this cute shouldn’t exist in nature. Are there truly evil newts on the loose, or something much stranger…and more disturbingly adorable?
CICI’S JOURNAL: The Adventures of a Writer in Training by Joris Chamblain, and Aurelie Neyret from Feiwell and Friends (November 7th) Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?
In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.
A CHILD THROUGH TIME from DK (November 7th) An original look at history that profiles 30 children from different eras so that children of today can discover the lives of the cave people, Romans, Vikings, and beyond through the eyes of someone their own age.
History books often focus on adults, but what was the past like for children? A Child Through Time is historically accurate and thoroughly researched, and brings the children of history to life—from the earliest civilizations to the Cold War, even imagining a child of the future. Packed with facts and including a specially commissioned illustration of each profiled child, this book examines the clothes children wore, the food they ate, the games they played, and the historic moments they witnessed—all through their own eyes. Maps, timelines, and collections of objects, as well as a perspective on the often ignored topic of family life through the ages, give wider historical background and present a unique side to history. Covering key curriculum topics in a new light, A Child Through Time is a perfect and visually stunning learning tool for children ages 7 and up.
THE LOST FROST GIRL by Amy Wilson from Katherine Tegen Books (November 7th) With a name like hers, Owl never expected her life to be normal, at home or at school. But when Owl finds out that she is Jack Frost’s daughter, her world shifts beyond what she could ever imagine.
Determined to meet him, Owl delves into Jack’s wonderful world of winter and magic–the kind of place she thought only existed in fairy tales. And as she notices frost patterns appearing on her skin and her tears turning to ice, Owl starts to wonder if being Jack Frost’s daughter means that she has powers of her very own.
At once breathtaking and brimming with heart, The Lost Frost Girl is a story of family, friendship, and the magic of embracing who you are meant to be.
THE REAL MCCOYS by Matthew Swanson, illustrated by Robbi Behr from Imprint (November 7th) Her name’s Moxie. Moxie McCoy.
Bold, opinionated, and haplessly self-confident, the world’s greatest fourth-grade detective faces her biggest challenge! When someone kidnaps beloved school mascot Eddie the Owl, Moxie is on the case―but she’s forced to fly solo now that her best friend (and crime-solving partner) has moved away.
Moxie must interview her classmates―both as potential new best friends and as possible suspects. She finds clues and points fingers but can’t save the owl on her own. Enter Moxie’s little brother, Milton. Quiet, cautious, and boring as a butter knife, he’s a good listener.
Can the Real McCoys form an unlikely alliance and solve the crime of the century?
LILY’S MOUNTAIN by Hannah Moderow from Houghton Mifflin (November 14th) Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally. In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting–and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places.
GOLDELINE by Jimmy Cajoleas from HarperCollins (November 14th) In the wild, free woods of the Hinterlands, where magic is as real as stories are, Goldeline travels from camp to camp with Gruff and his bandits, getting by on the things they steal from carriages that pass through the woods.
But someone is after Goldeline. The same man who wants to cleanse the Hinterlands of anyone who’s different–and who convinced the overzealous Townies that her mother was a witch–suspects that Goldeline might be a witch, too. Now Goldeline must summon all the courage and magic she got from her momma to escape her pursuers, save her friends, and maybe even find a place to call home.
PENELOPE MARCH IS MELTING by Jeffrey Michael Ruby from Delacorte (November 14th) Something sinister has come to Glacier Cove, an icy-cold town that sits on top of an iceberg. Nothing bad ever happens here. Until now. And it’s up to Penelope March to stop it. Mmm-hmm, that Penelope–the bookworm who lives in the ramshackle house with her brother, Miles. The girl with the mom who–poof –disappeared. The one everyone ignores . . . except strange Coral Wanamaker, a tiny thing with raven-black hair and a black coat. When Penelope meets someone who seems to know secrets not only about Glacier Cove but about Penelope herself, she and Miles are pulled into an ancient mystery. Together, they’ll face the coldest, cruelest enemy ever known. Looks like the girl who only reads about adventures is going to start living one. Magic cookies. Volcanoes. Penguins. Sea monsters. And a girl hero with the strength and imagination to spring into action.
IN THE COUNTRY OF QUEENS by Cari Best from Farrar Straus Giroux (November 28th) Eleven-year-old Shirley Alice Burns lives with her domineering mother, Hurricane Anna, and loving Grandmother. One day she unexpectedly discovers that her beloved father isn’t in Absentia as her family would have her believe, but dead. And she understands all too well why they haven’t told her; she’s always been shy and quiet, and Anna has always been protective of her. But if Shirley doesn’t start speaking up, she isn’t going to be able to do the things she wants to do: go on vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee with her cousins, stop taking ballet lessons, and talk about her father. Through the help of a mouse, her hero Pippi Longstocking, and her cousin Phillie, Shirley finds the strength to give her dreams a voice and convince everyone, even Hurricane Anna, that she doesn’t need to be sheltered, especially from the truth. IN THE COUNTRY OF QUEENS is the debut novel from acclaimed picture-book author Cari Best.
CHARLIE NUMB3RS AND THE MAN IN THE MOON by Ben and Tonya Mezrich from Simon and Schuster (November 28th) Charlie is recruited to use his mathematical prowess to discover what happened to a box of stolen moon rocks in this follow up to Bringing Down the Mouse.Charlie Lewis is really good at math. So good, that he’s approached by a mysterious woman who needs his help. The woman is carrying an incredible item: an actual moon rock, one of the most valuable objects on Earth, and she’s investigating the theft of a box of moon rocks from NASA’s vault at the Johnson Space Center, and believes the stolen rocks are now in the possession of a former astronaut. Although she claims to work at NASA, Charlie suspects she is something else–but he decides the adventure is too good to pass up. Charlie and the whiz kids go undercover by entering the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s paper airplane contest, and head down to the nation’s capital. Working together, they master the principles of aerodynamics, wind science, and gravity to excel in the competition.Charlie must decide how far he’ll go to solve the mystery of the stolen moon rocks; is he willing to betray a new friendship? Or has he unwittingly been drawn into something even bigger than some missing chunks of the moon?
ODDITY by Sarah Cannon from Feiwel and Friends (November 28th) Welcome to Oddity, New Mexico, where normal is odd and odd is normal.
Ada Roundtree is no stranger to dodging carnivorous dumpsters, distracting zombie rabbits with marshmallows, and instigating games of alien punkball. But things haven’t been the same since her twin sister, Pearl, won the town’s yearly Sweepstakes and disappeared . . .
Along with her best friend, Raymond, and new-kid-from-Chicago Cayden (whose inability to accept being locked in the gym with live leopards is honestly quite laughable), Ada leads a self-given quest to discover Oddity’s secrets, even evading the invisible Blurmonster terrorizing the outskirts of town.
But one of their missions goes sideways, revealing something hinky with the Sweepstakes . . . and Ada can’t let it go. Because, if the Sweepstakes is bad, then what happened to Pearl?