Posts Tagged book lists

December New Releases

It’s time to explore new book releases for the middle-grade readers in your life! I’m sitting at my desk, in my cozy office with a view of the fresh snow on the banks of the river beyond. The steam from my cup of tea swirls into the air, my Labrador retriever is snuggled back behind my desk. All I need is a great book to enjoy, to complete this perfect winter’s morning. Here are some great titles to enjoy with the younger readers in your life.  They make perfect gifts! Ordering through the links on Bookshop.org supports local booksellers. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

Available Now!

A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem: The Final Gambit by Christopher Healy, Walden Pond Press

Buy this book here.

It is 1884, and Molly and Cassandra Pepper, Emmett Lee, and Emmett’s long-lost father are sailing back to New York following their death-defying adventure in Antarctica. Having discovered a subterranean world at the South Pole while saving the world from certain doom once again, surely their accomplishments will finally earn them the recognition they deserve.

Unless, of course . . . well, you know by now.

And so do the Peppers and Lees. They’re used to having their deeds covered up by the government in order to protect powerful men, and frankly, they’re sick of it. And when their return to New York doesn’t go the way they’d planned, they decide that maybe it’s best to go into hiding and accept that, perhaps, the forces aligned against them are just too great.

As the 1884 presidential election approaches, however, our heroes discover a plot against leading candidate Thomas Edison that only they can stop. It’ll be up to them to decide whether to come out of hiding, make the perilous journey to Washington, DC, and do the right thing one last time. Even if it means risking everything they have left.

The Rembrandt Conspiracy by Deron Hicks, HMH Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

In this standalone companion to The Van Gogh Deception, Art and Camille team up once again to solve a large museum theft, using one of the biggest heists in history to help them solve the case. Perfect for fans of Dan Brown and the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Book Scavenger series.

Something’s brewing at the National Portrait Gallery Museum in Washington, D.C. twelve-year-old Art is sure of it. But his only proof that a grand heist is about to take place is iced mocha, forty-two steps, and a mysterious woman who appears like clockwork in the museum.

When Art convinces his best friend, Camille, that the heist is real, the two begin a thrilling chase through D.C. to uncover a villainous scheme that could be the biggest heist since the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990. With a billion dollars’ worth of paintings on the line, the clock is ticking for Art and Camille to solve the conspiracy.

Build It! Make It! Become a Super Engineer by Rob Ives, Beetle Press

Buy this book here.

Have fun powering up tiny versions of real-life vehicles and robots. Step-by-step, clear instructions are combined with cool illustrations to show you how to make all kinds of aircraft, boats, cars and robots – safely. Simple household items can be transformed into 36 awesome MAKERSPACE MODELS.

. Launch a rocket with air and water power

. Build a soda bottle submarine

. Make an insect-droid with wire legs

. Explore eco-friendly solar power and more.

Unplug and become a super engineer and learn the science behind each project. Building your own stuff is inspiring for the budding engineers of the future. With hands-on fun learning, using high interest, brightly presented photographs of the finished result for guidance, it’s a cool way to spend time.

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.

Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans–especially witches–but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing . . . Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut–and Baba Yaga’s body!

Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa De La Cruz, Roaring Brook Press

Buy this book here.

Real life and fairy tales collide in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy, book one in the new middle-grade Never After series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent–he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

Hatch The Overthrow by Kenneth Oppel, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

Fans left desperate for more at the end of Bloom will dive into this second book of the Overthrow trilogy–where the danger mounts and alien creatures begin to hatch.

First the rain brought seeds. Seeds that grew into alien plants that burrowed and strangled and fed.

Seth, Anaya, and Petra are strangely immune to the plants’ toxins and found a way to combat them. But just as they have their first success, the rain begins again. This rain brings eggs. That hatch into insects. Not small insects. Bird-sized mosquitos that carry disease. Borer worms that can eat through the foundation of a house. Boat-sized water striders that carry away their prey.

But our heroes aren’t able to help this time–they’ve been locked away in a government lab with other kids who are also immune. What is their secret? Could they be…part alien themselves? Whose side are they on?

Kenneth Oppel expertly escalates the threats and ratchets up the tension in this can’t-read-it-fast-enough adventure with an alien twist. Readers will be gasping for the next book as soon as they turn the last page…

Week of December 7

Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home by Kate Andersen Brower, HarperCollins Publishers

Exploring the White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home

Buy this book here.

Have you ever wondered what exactly goes on inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Sure, the president of the United States works and resides there, but do you know who helps keep this historic house running?

It’s no simple task, especially when there are important state events and foreign dignitaries—in addition to presidential pups, mischievous children, and even a couple of ghosts. And its Residence workers and first ladies make sure everything is in check and running smoothly.

Featuring fascinating photos, fun facts, and memorable quotes from the residents and first ladies of the White House, Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home is the perfect read for any curious kid!

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggit-Phillips (author) and Isabelle Follath (illustrator), Aladdin Paperbacks

Buy this book here.

Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl in this riotously funny, deliciously macabre, and highly illustrated tale of a hungry beast, a vain immortal man, and a not-so-charming little girl who doesn’t know she’s about to be eaten.

Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.

But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.

The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?

 

Week of December 14

Mighty Justice: The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Lovetree by Katie McAbe Adapted by Jabari Asim Roaring Brook Press

Buy this book here

A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe.

Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the height of Jim Crow, Dovey Johnson Roundtree felt the sting of inequality at an early age and made a point to speak up for justice. She was one of the first Black women to break the racial and gender barriers in the US Army; a fierce attorney in the segregated courtrooms of
Washington, DC; and a minister in the AME church, where women had never before been ordained as clergy. In 1955, Roundtree won a landmark bus desegregation case that eventually helped end “separate but equal” and dismantle Jim Crow laws across the South.

Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Week of December 21

The Dog Who Saved the World by Ross Welford, Schwartz & Wade Books

The Dog Who Saved the World

Buy this book here.

In this fast-paced time travel adventure into the future, a girl and her dog set out to save the world from a deadly plague.

He smells terrible. He’ll eat literally anything. And he’s humanity’s only hope….

When 12-year-old Georgie makes friends with an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test-subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual reality 3-D version of the future. At first, it’s just a game. But when a deadly virus threatens to wipe out every pup on the planet, Georgie and her beloved (and very smelly) dog, Mr. Mash, along with best friend Ramzy, must embark on a desperate quest to save the dogs– and also all of humanity. And they have to do it without actually leaving the room. This high-concept, astonishing new novel from the author of Time Traveling with a Hamster takes us on an epic adventure, and asks the question: is it really possible to alter the future?

STEM Tuesday — Coding– Book List

Let’s get coding! Why? Because coding skills develop students’ logical thinkng and problem solving skills, teach structural thinking and how things work, and is fun and rewarding. We’ve assembled a varied list of books on coding designed to capture a middle-grade reader’s imagination.

Code This Game! Make Your Game Using Python, Then Break Your Game To Create a New One! by Meg Ray and Keith Zulawnik

This is a great book for instruction on how teens can create their own video game.

Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver In You by Jennifer Szymanski

Join the Coder Crew’s mission and learn coding with puzzles, games, and fun characters.

Can You Crack the Code? A Fascinating History of Ciphers and Cryptography by Ella Schwartz; illustrated by Lily Williams

Delve into the history of codes in this fun book that introduces readers to wartime secrets and hidden messages.

Coding Creations by Janet Slingerland

Young readers will use SCRATCH, a computer language, to create their own music, stories, games, and animations.

Video Game Coding by Janet Slingerland

Slingerland takes readers on the path of discovery with this title about coding video games.

So, You Want to Be A Coder? The Ultimate Guide to a Career in Programming, Video Game Creation, Robotics, and More!  by Jane Bedell

Readers who have begun having fun with coding will enjoy reading about STEM careers in coding, from cyber security to artificial intelligence to gaming.

Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games by Jon Woodcock

Learn to master SCRATCH in this step-by-step guide for young coders.

Code Your Own Games: 20 Games to Create with Scratch by Max Wainewright

More coding adventures await young readers in this additional Wainewright title.

Scratch Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by Al Sweigart

Here’s another title that uses SCRATCH to engage young coders.

Code Like A Girl: Rad Tech Projects and Practical Tips by Miriam Peskowitz

Step-by-step projects will guide young readers through the creative process, self-expressions, and telling their own stories. Projects include smartphone gloves and a motion sensor to tell when someone enters your room.

Spies, Code Breakers and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids by Carole P. Roman

Take a look at another facet of coding with this historical STEM book that takes readers on a tour of the undercover operations that helped the Allies win WWII.

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change The World by Reshma Saujani

Be inspired by the creator of the Girls Who Code organization to get hands-on with this book. Create apps, games, and robots to make the world a better place.

Secret Coders 6-book series by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Although this series is fiction, former computer programming teacher Yang delivers an exciting mystery full of logic puzzles and basic coding instructions. Pair with any of the other coding books above.


Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. The Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com. Stay tuned for her upcoming Planet Ocean – spring 2021.

STEM Tuesday – Diseases and Pandemics — Author Interview

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’ve the pleasure of revisiting Gail Jarrow, author of the highly acclaimed Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary. Although this is a historical medical thriller its exploration of the opportunities and ethics of public health resonate in today’s COVID-19 reality.

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano: Thank you for joining STEM Tuesday again. I hope you are doing well during this pandemic. Fatal Fever takes readers to a time when typhoid fever outbreaks were not uncommon in the U.S. and elsewhere. What would you say the book is primarily about?

Picture of the cover of fatal fever. Gail Jarrow:  The book is part of my Deadly Diseases trilogy, which focuses on early-20th-century medicine.  I consider that period a turning point. After the acceptance  of  germ theory, scientists and physicians were looking for ways to prevent, treat, and cure diseases. I wrote Fatal Fever to explain how typhoid fever was tackled, and I chose Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary,  as a way to tell the story.

CCD: The opening scene, in which Mary Mallon seeks to escape from health officials and the police, is full of suspense. It’s a gripping beginning and it flows smoothly to the rest of the book’s structure. It makes me wonder how the book’s narrative arc took shape in your mind. Can you fill us on in some of that process?

GJ:  I think it helps readers to understand unfamiliar information, such as a disease, when I approach the subject through personal stories.  Because Mary Mallon was an asymptomatic typhoid carrier,  I couldn’t show the disease’s horrible toll by only telling  her story.  I found another way.  I discovered that George Soper (the sanitary engineer  who tracked her down) had helped to clean up a typhoid epidemic in my hometown of Ithaca, New York, in 1903.  Early in my  book, I use details about that episode to introduce readers to the biology of the disease, the ways it devastated the bodies of individual Ithacans, and the fact that there was no cure or treatment.  When Soper starts his search for Mary Mallon in New York City just three years later, the reader understands why he believes it is critically important to find her before she can sicken and kill others.

CCD: This book brings in various disciplines and topics –history, human rights and civics, and public health and the biology of disease all come into play. Yet it’s a tight story. Did you ever struggle with drafts that were too complex or too rambling a book for your readers?

GJ: My biggest hurdle is the jump from researching to writing. I’ve read thousands of pages of historical background, past and present scientific literature, and primary documents. From all that, I have to figure out the most engaging, accessible, and accurate way to present this knowledge in abbreviated form. One thing that often helps is to remember my days teaching middle-school science. If I were conveying this information to my students, how would I do it?  As I write, I keep an eye on vocabulary as well as sentence, paragraph, and chapter length. I read everything  aloud so that I hear how it sounds. I’m not afraid to slash my prose. When I hand my manuscript to my longtime editor, Carolyn Yoder, I always ask her to look for spots that drag or confuse.

CCD: How did you decide which scientific information to include and what to leave out?

GJ: I consider how much science background my typical readers probably have. Do they know enough that I can build on that foundation to explain new information?  I’m careful not to simplify so much that I make incorrect statements.  Sometimes, after reading many scientific papers and talking to experts, I realize that parts of the science aren’t settled. Depending on the topic, I might explain the debate. But if it’s too technical and in the weeds for my audience, I might not include that aspect. I ran into a different problem with my book about plague, Bubonic Panic. I came across a recent controversial hypothesis about the history of plague. Though intriguing, it was based on very weak evidence. If the evidence had been stronger, I might have mentioned the idea. But I decided it would be irresponsible to perpetuate what might turn out to be speculative balderdash.

CCD: I have experienced similar decisions in my own writing. Deciding which new ideas to include can be a tough call! Moving on…Obviously, as a book that features a dangerous infectious disease, there are parallels to our current COVID-19 pandemic. Which Fatal Fever themes and issues resonate most strongly for you as the world faces and attempts to cope with COVID-19?

GJ:  In my Author’s Note to Fatal Fever, which I wrote several years ago, I raised the issues that arise when a deadly, highly contagious, and untreatable disease strikes.  I was thinking about typhoid fever in 1900 and the plight of Mary Mallon when quarantines and contact tracing were part of the story. But what I wrote then applies to any epidemic:  What do we expect health authorities to do? What government actions would or should we tolerate? Does protecting a city/state/country override the rights and freedoms of an individual?  You can’t get any more relevant to COVID than that!

public health poster/cartoon

 The numerous historical images and documents in FATAL FEVER, such as this cartoon (Page 115), help to bring readers back to the early 20th century and better understand the tale and its context.

CCD: In Fatal Fever, you point out that science understanding that asymptomatic individuals can spread typhoid fever was new at the time when Mary Mallon was identified as a carrier. Today, we are facing a new disease, and information about its transmission has developed and evolved over the months. I wonder if you see anything in the story of Mary Mallon and her intersection with disease, transmission, and public health that might be of use in our individual and collective responses to COVID-19?

GJ: I personally learned several lessons from Mary’s case and typhoid outbreaks. People whose job it was to worry about public health (officials, medical personnel) had one agenda. People who had to make a living to support themselves and their families (Mary, other typhoid carriers) had a different agenda. The goals and needs of these groups ended up in conflict.  Compromises had to be found.  They have to be found today, too.

World Health Organization slide about how COVID-19 is spread.

An early 21st-century public health slide about how COVID-19 spreads. Note that as of this posting, WHO and the US Centers for disease control acknowledge that asymptomatic individuals can also spread the coronavirus. (Source: World Health Organization)

 

Another lesson is a hopeful one. The diseases I’ve studied from 100 years ago have been controlled and, in some cases, conquered.  We have witnessed amazing discoveries in COVID treatments and vaccines in nine or ten months. It took years, even decades, to make that progress with earlier diseases. Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents suffered through much worse times—disease-wise—than today, and they coped and survived. History gives us perspective.

CCD: I appreciate that hopeful, historical angle! As you explain in a short video on your website, you write about history. Yet science themes come into your books. What thoughts do you have about how these historical stories might impact readers’ relationship to science?

GJ: First, as I mentioned above, I think personal stories make scientific topics more relatable.

Second, the history of science shows that understanding and “theories” change as we gain more information. In the past, scientists and physicians  fervently believed in ideas that we now know were absolutely wrong, and the scientific/medical establishment criticized and ridiculed anyone who challenged those ideas. Two examples of 19th-century mavericks who are relevant today as we deal with antiseptics and handwashing: Lister and Semmelweis. Scientific views change. Careful observation and proof from unbiased tests are essential.

CCD: Stepping away from history—what’s new for you as an author, and what we can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

The cover of Gail Jarrow's most recent book, BLOOD AND GERMS.

Gail Jarrow continues to write about the intersection of history and medicine. BLOOD AND GERMS is her most recent book.

GJ: In keeping with my interest in history and the evolution of medicine, this fall I launched my Medical Fiascoes series with Boyds Mills & Kane. The first book, BLOOD AND GERMS: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease,  came out last month. The second book, AMBUSHED!: The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield, will be published next fall, and it explores the way medical ignorance led to his death. I’m currently in the midst of research for the third book in the series.

CCD: This is exciting! I’m sure we all look forward to exploring more medical history with you as our thoughtful, informative guide, Gail. I want to thank you for your wonderful writing and for this interview. Stay well.

 

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Win a FREE copy of FATAL FEVER: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary!

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Photo of Carolyn DeCristofanoYour host is Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, founding STEM Tuesday contributor, STEM Education Consultant, and author of STEM books for kids. Her books include A Black Hole is NOT a Hole, Running on Sunshine: How Does Solar Energy Work?, and National Geographic Kids Ultimate Space Atlas.

 

 

 

Gail Jarrow is the author of nonfiction books and novels for ages 8-18. Her nonfiction books have earned numerous awards. Photograph of author Gail Jarrow