Posts Tagged Claire Legrand

Dealing with Mental Health Issues in Middle Grade Literature

Mental Health in Middle Grade Literature

Mental Health in Middle Grade Literature

(EDITED TO ADD: Responsibility in these kinds of topics is of the utmost importance. There are many books that do NOT handle issues like these appropriately–and some that increase stigmas rather than assuage them–so please make certain that books are informed whenever they assert any kind of mental illness. Familiarize yourself with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, build relationships with professionals, and be careful that books you recommend are supportive and empowering rather than detrimental. 

It is important to represent these children in the fiction they read, but it is essential that they be represented well.)

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mental health and neurodivergence in children’s literature.

As a bit of background, I’ve worked with teens and tweens in various capacities for most of my adult life, providing mentorship and guidance to kids from all sorts of backgrounds. And I’ve seen all types; enough to know that neurodiversity—that idea that everyone’s brain works differently—is the order of the day. Every child is different.

But in those differences, I’ve also seen a lot of hurt. Social structures come easy for some kids, but not for others. Some excel at math, while others look at numbers and see Greek. Many, many struggle with deep insecurities when they see the difference between themselves and those kids who are celebrated by the culture at large. And sometimes those differences in cognitive function provide enough pain and disruption to a kid’s life that they leave any sense of normalcy behind.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (image by Sean Easley)

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (image by Sean Easley)

That’s a painful place to be. Students who find themselves on the margins of what we call “mental health” often experience an overwhelming sense of confusion and sadness as a result. They feel lost, adrift, and often, alone.

It’s part of our nature, I think, to believe that when hard times come, we are the only ones facing them. And when a child’s daily experience consists of a consistent string of hard times and marginalization—of any type—that sense of loneliness and hopelessness can grow even greater. As those feelings grow, so too does the gulf that these kids experience between them and the world at large.

This isn’t just something to only consider once a kid gets older and their “brain has developed,” as some might say. Statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness say that half of all mental health conditions begin by the time a child turns fourteen. Half. That means half of all people with these mental health issues are first experiencing these issues when they are readers of middle grade literature.

And yet, when I start seeking out books for this age group that feature these kinds of kids, the pickings are often slim. This is the time in these kids’ lives when they’re discovering what their life is going to be like—what they are going to be like—and they (and the adults in their lives) have to work hard to find examples of other kids coping with these experiences.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (image by Sean Easley)

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (image by Sean Easley)

I’ve overheard parents say that they don’t want their kids reading “books like that,”—referring to those books that address mental health issues—because they don’t want their kids “exposed to that sort of thing.” This is exactly the problem, though. The kids whose parents want to shelter them from neurodiversity and neurodivergence often end up with distorted understanding of kids in their own schools who experience life differently from them. And a child who’s experiencing these feelings of differentness and otherness needs to know that their experience isn’t something to just discount. Their life has infinite value, even if they don’t realize or believe it yet.

That’s where the educators, librarians, and authors of middle grade come in. It’s our responsibility to give these kids access to books they can see themselves and learn that they fit in the world, just like anyone else. They need to know that it’s okay to claim a spot on the map and make it their own.

And I have been grateful to find more books and authors doing this lately. Books like the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look and Kenneth Oppel’s psychological horror The Nest give us a look at kids exhibiting some OCD tendencies. Dusti Bowling’s Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus centers on a girl with physical challenges, but her close friend deals with his Tourette’s throughout the book in a very positive way. Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, and Claire Legrand’s Some Kind of Happiness all give heartfelt portrayals of depression. Donna Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin provides a deep rendition of a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. And Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy puts a beautiful fantasy twist on neurodiversity.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (image by Sean Easley)

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (image by Sean Easley)

These are still only the tip of the iceberg. It’s important that kids with cognitive differences be normalized because—in reality—the existence of these kinds of differences IS normal. These kids are all around us. They are us. Librarians and teachers know how common those differences are, and often do a wonderful job of celebrating those books that will reach these kids where they’re at. And putting those books in the hands of kids who don’t have those cognitive “differences” will go a long way to building compassion, understanding, and acceptance of kids who feel unloved, confused, and unaccepted.

What books have you loved or recommended because they gave honest, normalizing portrayals of neurodivergence? Add your suggestions in the comments below!

New Middle-Grade Releases: October 2016

October’s new books are packed with mystery and adventure, history and heroics, and friendship and fun. First up: a new novel by MUF’s own Amie Borst, written with her daughter, Bethanie. Click on the titles to purchase from your favorite Indie Bookseller.


Snow Fright
9781631630903
(Scarily Ever Laughter) by Amie Borst and Bethanie Borst

Sarah White is gorgeous even if she is a little bit rotten. A mirror arrives on her twelfth birthday and she thinks it’s the perfect gift, but when the mirror swallows her whole, Sarah finds herself in the dead center of the Underworld. Sarah now has to deal with her decaying flesh and sudden craving for brains. By the time Sarah escapes the Underworld, she finds her new zombie life less than appetizing. Even worse, she needs to return to the Underworld to save her friends, Cindy and Scarlet. With a poisoned apple, a crow named Raven, and a glowing necklace, Sarah sets off to rescue her friends. She must succeed, or she’ll be a brain-craving zombie forever.

9780316125925When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller. Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.

9781629797403Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. This emotionally resonant novel in verse by award-winning author Nikki Grimes celebrates choosing to be true to yourself.

9780374302825Cinnamon Moon by Tess Hilmo

On the same day as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, 250 miles away in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, there was an even more devastating fire. Twelve-year-old Ailis and her younger brother, Quinn, survive, but their family does not. Ailis and Quinn are taken by a family acquaintance to live in a boarding house in Chicago, where they meet six-year-old Nettie, an orphan displaced by Chicago’s fire. But the woman who runs the boarding house makes their lives miserable, and Ailis vows to find a way for the three of them to leave. Ailis finds a job at a millinery shop and Quinn plays his fiddle on the streets so they can save money. Then Nettie disappears, and Ailis and Quinn discover she’s been kidnapped by a group that forces children to work in the sewers killing rats. Can they find a way to rescue her?

9781423160922The Hammer of Thor: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2 by Rick Riordan

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost; it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

9780062574329Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal by DanTDM

After a day of experiments, Trayaurus and DanTDM are about to call it a night when a strange-looking crystal plummets to earth, breaking into five pieces that scatter far and wide. DanTDM and Trayaurus recover one of the shards and quickly realize they are in possession of an object more powerful than anything they’ve ever known. But they’re not alone—Dan and Trayaurus’s archenemy, Denton, has also found a shard and manipulated its power for evil. He has created a cloning machine and is producing a terrifying marauding army intent on hunting down the remaining crystals in his effort to become all-powerful. It’s down to DanTDM and Trayaurus to stop him. Will they prevail, or will the forces of evil be too great for them to overcome?

9780399551499Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later, when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine (an ancient computer and a tin bucket). The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that will eventually take his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years requires not only imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe.

9780374302610Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley, illus. Jillian Tamaki

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she’ll be leaving behind. There’s just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

9781481445627Spy Ski School (Spy School #4) by Stuart Gibbs

Twelve-year-old Ben Ripley is not exactly the best student spy school has ever seen—he keeps flunking Advanced Self Preservation. But outside of class, Ben is pretty great at staying alive. His enemies have kidnapped him, shot at him, locked him in a room with a ticking time bomb, and even tried to blow him up with missiles. And he’s survived every time. After all that unexpected success, the CIA has decided to activate Ben for real. The Mission: Become friends with Jessica Shang, the daughter of a suspected Chinese crime boss, and find out all of her father’s secrets. Jessica wants to go to ski school in the Rocky Mountains, so a select few spy school students are going skiing too—under cover, of course. Ben might not be able to handle a weapon (or a pair of skis), but he can make friends easy peasy. That is, until his best friend from home drops in on the trip and jeopardizes the entire mission…

9780316349543Dog’s Best Friend (Middle School #8) by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illus. Jomike Tejido

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and Rafe Khatchadorian is just trying to live in it. Life in middle school is finally starting to seem bearable-until Rafe spots his grandmother standing on the free-meal line at the local soup kitchen. In order to help bring in more money, Rafe concocts a brilliant plan—a dog-walking business that soon turns into a huge money-making neighborhood empire. He’ll even have extra cash to buy his own WormHole Deluxe Multi-Platform GameBox! That is, until two terrible twins launch the Great Dog War by sabotaging Rafe’s flyers and stealing his customers. Plus, his bratty kid sister Georgia has skipped a grade—so now she’s in all of Rafe’s classes. Throw a kid a bone!

9781627798686Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet by Jacqueline Kelly, illus. Teagan White and Jennifer L. Meyer

From Newbery honor author Jacqueline Kelly comes a new illustrated chapter book series for younger readers featuring the beloved characters from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. In Calpurnia Tate, Animal Doctor in Training, Callie Vee, Travis, and Dr. Pritzker help animals big and small. When soft-hearted Travis discovers an abandoned baby skunk, he can’t help but bring him home and take care of him. Stinky, as Travis names him, settles in pretty well. But when Travis discovers Stinky’s litter-mate, Winky, who is in need of some help, things get complicated around the Tate house. One skunk is a piece of cake; two is just asking for trouble. Will Travis and Callie be able to keep the critters away from Mother’s careful eyes―and nose?

9780374302955Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery by Jill Diamond, illus. Lesley Vamos

Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl have been best friends since first grade. Every Friday afternoon, they get together in Lou Lou’s backyard garden for their PSPP (Post-School Pre-Parents) tea party. They chat about school, discuss Pea’s latest fashions, and plot the weekend’s activities. But all plans go out the window when a series of small crimes crop up around El Corazón, their quaint and quirky neighborhood, right before the Día de Los Muertos procession. First, Pea’s cousin’s quinceañera dress is tragically ruined. Then Lou Lou’s beloved camellia bush, Pinky, suffers a serious blow. And that’s just the beginning! When clues start to appear in El Corazón’s outdoor murals, the best friends join forces, using Lou Lou’s floral expertise and Pea’s artistic genius to solve the mysteries. Accented by Lesley Vamos’s spirited black-and-white illustrations, Jill Diamond’s debut is a delightful introduction to two very creative best friends and their unforgettable adventures!

9780316405744The League of Unexceptional Children: Get Smart-ish by Gitty Daneshvari

Jonathan Murray: Twelve years old. Wears khaki pants to tell the world he plans on driving the speed limit when he grows up. Saved the world once; it was probably a fluke. Shelley Brown: Twelve years old. Narrates her imaginary exploits as if she is the subject of a documentary film. Saved the world once; it was probably a fluke. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has called upon Jonathan and Shelley to catch a criminal who has stolen a virus that makes people lesssmart. When the stakes are this high, can the kids be the utterly average spies the world needs them to be and save the day? Embrace your unexceptional side in this hysterically funny sequel!

9780545840712Liberty (Dogs of World War II) by Kirby Larson

Fish has a knack for inventing. His annoying neighbor, Olympia, has a knack for messing things up. But when his latest invention leads Fish to Liberty, a beautiful stray dog who needs a home, he and Olympia work together to rescue her. At the Higgins boatyard, where the boats that just might save the Allied forces during World War II are built, the wartime workforce is integrated and includes women and the disabled. However, a friendship that crosses racial lines is not the norm in 1940s New Orleans. Fish, who suffered from polio and whose dad is away fighting in Europe, looks up to Mr. Higgins, and he’s thrilled when one of his inventions helps Mr. Higgins’s engineers unlock the mechanics of the landing crafts. Mr. Higgins inspires him to be bold and brave. As Fish enlists the help of unexpected friends and allies to save Liberty, he finds his perceptions of the world—of race and war, family and friendship—transformed.

9780062272515StarChaser (TodHunter Moon #3) by Angie Sage, illus. Mark Zug

In the third and final book in the TodHunter Moon series, Tod must find a replacement Egg of the Orm before the Castle—and all its Magyk—disappears forever. Almost one year ago, Alice TodHunter Moon left her PathFinder village to become Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap. Now in faraway lands, the Castle is in peril. The brilliant blue stone is crumbling to dust and both the witch Marisa and the wicked Red Queen have their eyes on the throne. But as Tod sets off on a hazardous journey to find a new Keystone, her life may be in the greatest danger of all. Can she save the Castle while evading the fate that befell her mother? This epic finale to the series praised by Kirkus as “fast-paced, fully satisfying, and ExtraOrdinary” celebrates how hard work, selflessness, and the courage to be who you are can create a harmony that spans the seas and stars.

9781512405798The Thief’s Apprentice (Master Diplexito and Mr. Scant) by Bryan Methods

Oliver, the meek son of a wealthy British industrialist, discovers the identity of a notorious thief, a man who has been skillfully evading Scotland Yard and snatching priceless artifacts for sport: Mr. Scant, his family butler. After first fearing for his life, Oliver discovers Mr. Scant’s secret within a secret: the butler’s crimes are actually a series of strikes against an underground group of business tycoons trying to master black magic.

9780062343222Stick Dog Slurps Spaghetti by Tom Watson

Stick Dog and his gang of hungry hounds want to play tug-of-war. Their search for rope leads to something even better—spaghetti! Once they get a taste, they must get some more. It will be their most difficult mission ever—and will demand all of Stick Dog’s problem-solving skills. They’ll need to scale the tallest mountain in the suburbs and sneak into a restaurant filled with people. Dangerous humans—a strange-talking girl, a huge chef, and a penguin-man—lurk around every corner. But there’s more than danger in the air. Stick Dog has caught the scent of something even more scrumptious than spaghetti. And he’ll risk everything to find out what it is.

9781626723368Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino

In twelve-year-old Giacomo’s Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. A few artists possess Geniuses, birdlike creatures that are the living embodiment of an artist’s creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punishment akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he’s in serious trouble. Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools–objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path―Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him.

9780553536027Home Sweet Motel: Welcome to Wonderland #1 by Chris Grabenstein

Eleven-year-old P.T. Wilkie may be the greatest storyteller alive. But he knows one thing for a fact: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live! All-you-can-eat poolside ice cream! A snack machine in the living room! A frog slide! A giant rampaging alligator! (Okay, that last one may or may not be made up.) There’s only one thing the Wonderland doesn’t have, though—customers. And if the Wonderland doesn’t get them soon, P.T. and his friend Gloria may have to say goodbye to their beloved motel forever. They need to think BIG. They need to think BOLD. They need an OUTRAGEOUS plan. Luckily for them, Gloria is a business GENIUS, and OUTRAGEOUS is practically P.T.’s middle name. With Gloria’s smarts and P.T.’s world-famous stories and schemes, there’s got to be a way to save the Wonderland!

9780545642712The Trials of Cinderella (Disenchanted: Tyme #2) by Megan Morrison

Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she’ll need some high-level support. Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts—but with the witch Envearia’s death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn’t know where to start. Serge can grant any wish—and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he’s catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody’s ever heard of … Ella Coach. This is a story about three people who want something better and who together find the faith to change their worlds. It’s Cinderella, brilliantly reimagined, and a delightful expansion of the wonderful world of Tyme.

9780062427731Foxheart by Claire Legrand, illus. Jaime Zollars

Orphan. Thief. Witch. Twelve-year-old Quicksilver lives as a thief in the sleepy town of Willow-on-the-River. Her only companions are her faithful dog and partner in crime, Fox—and Sly Boots, the shy boy who lets her live in his attic when it’s too cold to sleep on the rooftops. It’s a lonesome life, but Quicksilver is used to being alone. When you are alone, no one can hurt you. No one can abandon you. Then one day Quicksilver discovers that she can perform magic. Real magic. The kind that isn’t supposed to exist anymore. Magic is forbidden, but Quicksilver nevertheless wants to learn more. With real magic, she could become the greatest thief who ever lived. She could maybe even find her parents. What she does find, however, is much more complicated and surprising.

9781454920670Just My Luck (Zack Delacruz #2) by Jeff Anderson

Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zackever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.

9780670016662Fanny in France: With French Adventures and French Recipes by Alice Waters, illus. Ann Arnold

Fanny is a girl who knows a lot about food and cooking since she’s grown up in and around the famous restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. When Fanny’s mother, Alice Waters, the chef and owner of Chez Panisse, starts to watch her favorite old French movies, Fanny knows soon they’ll be packing their bags and traveling to France for a visit. In this sparkling book of whimsical stories, Fanny recounts some of her most fun-filled adventures with French friends and food. Join Fanny as she helps cook a huge bouillabaisse in Provence; learns how to make fresh cheese from a shepherd high up in the Pyrenees mountains; hunts for wild oysters off the coast of Bordeaux, and discovers how one chicken can feed nine people, if served a certain way. Fanny in France is also a beginner’s cookbook with forty simple, French-inspired recipes that encourage children and adults anywhere to cook and share delicious snacks and meals with family and friends using basic methods and the most sustainable ingredients.

9780803739857Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel by Ursula Vernon

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone does not like sitting around at home. How’s a princess supposed to have any fun when her parents are constantly reminding her to be careful and act princessly? So when her pal Prince Wilbur needs help finding a stolen hydra egg, Harriet happily takes up the quest. The thief’s trail leads them to a wicked witch and a tall tower, occupied by a rat whose tail has more to it than meets the eye!

9780545880169Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz

World War II is raging. Michael O’Shaunessey, originally from Ireland, now lives in Nazi Germany with his parents. Like the other boys in his school, Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth. But Michael has a secret. He and his parents are spies. Michael despises everything the Nazis stand for. But he joins in the Hitler Youth’s horrific games and book burnings, playing the part so he can gain insider knowledge. When Michael learns about Projekt 1065, a secret Nazi war mission, things get even more complicated. He must prove his loyalty to the Hitler Youth at all costs—even if it means risking everything he cares about. Including … his own life.

9780316384087Fairy Tail Ending (Ever After High: A School Story) by Suzanne Selfors

Meeshell is not an ordinary mermaid princess; she knows that someday, when she is older, she will leave her sea kingdom and live happily ever after on land with her prince. The thought of living on land is thrilling but also nerve-racking. Meeshell is glad she has years to prepare! But there is a change in the tides, and now Meeshell will start attending Ever After High. She has almost no time to do all of her preparing and planning. Can Meeshell fit in at Ever After High, or will she stand out like a fish out of water?

9780062284365Mr. Nick is a Lunatic! (My Weirdest School #6) by Dan Gutman

In this sixth book in the new My Weirdest School series, the teachers of Ella Mentry School are on strike! A.J. and the gang are getting a new principal, Mr. Nick, and he doesn’t believe in rules. Mr. Nick says the students don’t even have to learn if they don’t want to! What could possibly go wrong? Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman’s hugely popular My Weird School series has something for everyone.

9781484778654School of Secrets: Freddie’s Shadow Cards (Disney Descendants) by Jessica Brody

Freddie is the daughter of the infamous witch doctor, Dr. Facilier. She’s got voodoo in her blood, a deck of Shadow Cards in her hands, and a song in her villain-kid heart. When Freddie’s dreams of joining the acapella group at Auradon Prep fall apart, she uses her Shadow Cards to get her way. But dark magic always comes with a price.

 

9781338032871Magical Mission (Geronimo Stilton #64) by Geronimo Stilton

I was traveling to London, England on a secret mission! I had to investigate some strange occurrences—someone was trying to get their paws on the crown jewels! Trap came along, too, to compete in a big magic show. And before I could solve my mystery, Trap needed my help to perform an impossible magic trick. Could I do it all? Squeak!

9780545783972It’s a Doggy Dog World (Crimebiters #2) by Tommy Greenwald, illus. Adam Stower

Jimmy is sure that his dog Abby is special. After all, it was Abby who (with the help of Jimmy & friends) helped nab the criminal Barnaby Bratford and shut down Barnaby’s babysitting service, a front for robbing the nice folks of Quietville. Jimmy’s parents, on the other hand, are starting to feel like Abby is one destructive little dog (she chewed up Mom’s entire shoe collection!) and they insist on enrolling Abby in obedience training. The only problem is that the longer Abby’s in class, the more normal (read: boring) she becomes. Jimmy’s superhero crime-fighting vampire dog is slowly becoming just like every other dog. She doesn’t even sneak out at night anymore! At the same time Jimmy’s friends (the Crimebiters) are realizing that there’s just not very much crime to fight in their tiny town. But when Jimmy joins the lacrosse team & mysterious things start happening on and off the field, the Crimebiters realize that Abby better get back to her crime-fighting ways … and fast!

9780803738249Making Mistakes on Purpose (Ms. Rapscott’s Girls) by Elise Primavera

Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents is not your typical boarding school. Students arrive in boxes, birthday cake is served for breakfast, and two very talented corgis assist the rather quirky headmistress. This semester, the girls will learn how to get to The Top, but the semester is not off to a good start. One of the girls doesn’t make it back to school and when her friends try to rescue her, they wind up at the Bottom of the Barrel. Luckily, Ms. Rapscott knows that learning to fail is the secret to Going Far in life.

9780545928892Hot Cocoa Hearts: A Wish Novel by Suzanne Nelson

Emery Mason is not a fan of the holidays. She’s so over the tinsel, the shopping, and all the other trappings of the season. Unfortunately, this year, Em is forced to work—as an elf!—at her parents’ Santa photo booth at the mall. There, Em meets Alejandro Perez, who works at the hot cocoa shop next door and is always full of holiday spirit. Alex is cute, but he’s nothing like Em’s real crush—the brooding and artistic Sawyer Kade. But the more time Em spends with Alex, the more she realizes that she may not be the Grinch she always thought she was. Soon, a blizzard, a Secret Santa surprise, and a family disagreement throw Em’s world upside down. Can Em embrace the magic of the holidays and find the perfect boy to kiss under the mistletoe?

9780062392053Impyrium by Henry H. Neff

For over three thousand years, the Faeregine dynasty has ruled Impyrium. But the family’s magic has been fading, and with it their power over the empire. Whether it’s treachery from a rival house, the demon Lirlanders, or rebel forces, many believe the Faeregines are ripe to fall. Hazel, the youngest member of the royal family, is happy to leave ruling to her sisters so that she can study her magic. But the empress has other plans for her granddaughter, dark and dangerous plans to exploit Hazel’s talents and rekindle the Faeregine mystique. Hob, a commoner from the remote provinces, has been sent to the city to serve the Faeregines—and to spy on them. One wants to protect the dynasty. The other wants to destroy it. But when Hazel and Hob form an improbable friendship, their bond may save the realm as they know it…or end it for good.

9781101939758The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own. Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

9781481440424MINRS 2 by Kevin Sylvester

They are coming to get you. Hide. Hide. Hide. The children of Perses have been receiving this message on repeat, from Earth, for weeks. Christopher, Elena, and the other survivors of the attack on their space colony know two things: their victory over the Landers will be short-lived and a new wave of attacks is imminent. New Landers arrive sooner than expected. Led by the ruthless Kirk Thatcher, and armed with a new lethal kind of digger, they vow to hunt down and destroy everyone. The kids have nowhere to go but underground. Again. But resources and patience are running low and the struggle to keep everyone safe is complicated by all the infighting amongst the kids. As Christopher navigates the burden of leadership, he also has to decide whom he can trust. There are no easy answers. And with deadly consequences on the line, there is no room for mistakes. Will Christopher be able to successfully lead the group back to Earth? Or will Thatcher make sure no one survives?

NONFICTION

9780544319592Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

9780544824386The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay

Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained–with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth. An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay explains them all.

9780399541582What Was the Great Chicago Fire? by Janet Pascal

On Sunday, October 8, 1871, a fire started on the south side of Chicago. A long drought made the neighborhood go up in flames. And practically everything that could go wrong did. Firemen first went to the wrong location. Fierce winds helped the blaze jump the Chicago River twice. The Chicago Waterworks burned down, making it impossible to fight the fire. Finally after two days, Mother Nature took over, with rain smothering the flames. This overview of a stupendous disaster not only covers the fire but explores the whole history of fire fighting.

9780399541599What Was the San Francisco Earthquake? by Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler, illus. Ted Hammond

One early April morning in 1906, the people of San Francisco were jolted awake by a mammoth earthquake—one that registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Not only was there major damage from the quake itself but broken gas lines sparked a fire that ravaged the city for days. More than 500 city blocks were destroyed and over 200,000 people were left homeless. But the city quickly managed to rebuild, rising from the ashes to become the major tourist destination it is today. Here’s an exciting recount of an incredible disaster.

9780316213882Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean—and definitely not inside the lines—to be beautiful.

9780385383424My Name is James Madison Hemings by Jonah Winter, illus. Terry Widener

In an evocative first-person account accompanied by exquisite artwork, Winter and Widener tell the story of James Madison Hemings’s childhood at Monticello, and, in doing so, illuminate the many contradictions in Jefferson’s life and legacy. Though Jefferson lived in a mansion, Hemings and his siblings lived in a single room. While Jefferson doted on his white grandchildren, he never showed affection to his enslaved children. Though he kept the Hemings boys from hard field labor—instead sending them to work in the carpentry shop—Jefferson nevertheless listed the children in his “Farm Book” along with the sheep, hogs, and other property. Here is a profound and moving account of one family’s history, which is also America’s history.

9780374302511Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat

Picking up where Tasting the Sky left off, Balcony on the Moon follows Ibtisam Barakat through her childhood and adolescence in Palestine from 1972-1981 and chronicles her desire to be a writer. Ibtisam finds inspiration through writing letters to pen pals and from an adult who encourages her to keep at it, but the most surprising turn of all for Ibtisam happens when her mother decides that she would like to seek out an education, too. This memoir is a touching, at times funny, and enlightening look at the not often depicted daily life in a politically tumultuous area.

Dorian Cirrone has written several books for children and teens. Her most recent middle-grade novel, The First Last Day (Simon and Schuster/Aladdin), is available wherever books are sold. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter as @DorianCirrone. She gives writing tips and does occasional giveaways on her blog at: http://doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog/

New Releases: May 2016

This May brings a flowering of fabulous and diverse books. Many have already garnered stars and accolades from reviewers, teachers, and librarians. These stories will tug at your heartstrings and tickle your funny bone—some of them all at once. Whether you’re looking for true tales of beating the odds, realistic novels about family and friendship, or fantastic stories of magic and mystery, you’ll find them this month.

9780553536744Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

9780062393777-2The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper by Annabelle Fisher

Fifth grader Pixie Piper has always known that she was a little different. She has a wild mop of hair that won’t stay put, her best friend is a boy, and to top it all off, she’s constantly coming up with rhymes and poems that just seem to pop out of her. Then, when Pixie thinks it can’t get any worse, she finds out that she actually is different—she’s a descendant of Mother Goose! This surprising and clever novel features family, friendship, poetry, a toilet museum, and just the right amount of magic, as well as a goose, a fox, and a beautiful golden retriever puppy. Rich, multigenerational characters and the real and powerful portrayal of grade-school friendships, with all their ups and downs, distinguish this terrific elementary school story that will appeal to fans of Judy Moody, Clementine, and novels by Wendy Mass and Lisa Graff.

51VTyQbjHzL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally—in this piercing middle grade novel by the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Johnson Steptoe Award. Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). But when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

9780544612310It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block … for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle-grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.

9781101994825-1 Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

9780545846608Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL. Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common—but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

51FL8xsYKpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Return to the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel by Melissa de la Cruz

Mal’s an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she’s broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding they return home, Mal can’t believe it. Sure, she’s King Ben’s girlfriend now, and she’s usually nice to her classmates, but she still didn’t think anyone would be silly enough to try to push her around. The thing is, it kind of worked. Especially since she and her friends have a sneaking suspicion that their villainous parents are behind the messages. And when Evie looks into her Magic Mirror, what she sees only confirms their fears. Maleficent’s just a tiny lizard after her run-in with Mal at Ben’s Coronation, but she’s the worst villain in the land for a reason. Could she have found a way to escape? Whatever’s going on, Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay know they have to sneak back to the Isle and get to the bottom of it.

9780525426394Theodore Boone: The Scandal by John Grisham

Thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone knows every judge, police officer, and court clerk in Strattenburg. He has even helped bring a fugitive to justice. But even a future star lawyer like Theo has to deal with statewide standardized testing. When an anonymous tip leads the school board to investigate a suspicious increase in scores at another local middle school, Theo finds himself thrust in the middle of a cheating scandal. With insider knowledge and his future on the line, Theo must follow his keen instincts to do what’s right in the newest case for clever kid lawyer Theo Boone.

9780062411006Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties by Tom Watson

There’s a new pet in town: Stick Cat! Perfect for fans of Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the Stick Dog books, Stick Cat features Tom Watson’s trademark combination of laughs, adventure, and hilarious stick-figure drawings. It’s a big day in the big city for Stick Cat and his best friend, Edith. There are treasures to hunt, songs to sing, pigeons to catch, and naps to take. But way up on the twenty-third floor, danger lurks just around the corner. Terrible noises and violent crashes trap a desperate man in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will need to navigate his way across the alley—and around Edith’s peculiar ways—to attempt a rescue. Stick Cat’s high-wire act is sure to please cat lovers and Stick Dog fans everywhere.

9781250063885Invision: Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Think you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders? Nick Gautier was born to bring about the end of the world. It’s not easy being the heir of a demon overlord. But Nick is determined to thwart his destiny and get into a good college. To be more than his genetics and prophecy foretell. No one is ever going to tell this stubborn Cajun who and what he really is. Or how to live his life. Not even the Fates of the Universe. But now that he and his team of ancient gods and demons have claimed the Eye of Ananke and he sees the missteps of the future, he has to battle the demons within that are far deadlier and more treacherous than any he’s battled before. All the while his arch nemesis is back and determined to reclaim his place as the harbinger for Armageddon. Even if it means killing Nick and barbecuing everyone he loves to do so.

9780545800495Sticks & Stones (Upside-Down Magic #2) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Strange things are happening at Dunwiddle Magic School-and the Upside-Down Magic class is getting blamed! Yes, Marigold did shrink Lacey Clench to the size of an insect. But that was an accident. And, yes, most people weren’t prepared for Nory to transform into a squippy (that’s half squid, half puppy)—but it’s not like Nory “meant” to mix up paws and tentacles. And while Bax does have the unfortunate magical condition of turning into a stone, he swears he has nothing to do with the rocky magic that’s been happening in Dunwiddle’s halls. When things get messy, it’s easy to point your finger at the kids with the messiest magic. But the Upside-Down Magic students aren’t going to let themselves get in trouble. Instead, they’re going to find out what’s really going on—and get their school back on track before something really wacky happens.

9780316401425Ever After High: Truth or Hair by Suzanne Selfors

The fifth hexciting book in Suzanne Selfors’ Ever After High: A School Story series. Holly and Poppy O’Hair are twins, but it’s always been easy to tell these sisters apart. Because she is destined to be the next Rapunzel, Holly has always had the longest locks at Ever After High, while Poppy, whose fairytale destiny is up in the air, wears her hair short to express her individuality. But when Poppy’s hair begins growing longer and longer, while Holly’s hair gets shorter and shorter, it seems as if the sisters might have to reveal the secret they’ve been keeping about their destinies. Can they turn this bad hair day around, or will their fairytale ending be a fairy-fail?

9780385386708Voyagers: Escape the Vortex (Book 5) by Jeanne DuPrau

Earth is in danger! The only thing that can save our planet are six essential elements that can fuse into a new source of clean energy. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And it’s up to the Voyagers—a team of four remarkable kids and an alien—to gather them all and return to Earth. The Voyagers’ fifth stop is Planet Tundra and it may look like a giant marshmallow, but this is no winter wonderland—it’s a winter nightmare! This frozen landscape is the deadliest the Voyagers have encountered yet. Then, when the Omega team finds themselves in trouble, only Team Alpha can save them. But if the tables were turned, would the Omegas do the same? Do you have what it takes to be a Voyager? Find out at VoyagersHQ.com.

9780062192516House of Secrets: Clash of the Worlds by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

With their last adventure just barely over, the Walker kids thought life would finally go back to normal. But things don’t remain calm for long … especially when the colossus Fat Jagger turns up in San Francisco Bay—and he’s in danger! With the police closing in, the Walkers must figure out how to save their giant friend. When a frost beast is spotted in Santa Rosa—and more mystical creatures start appearing all over America—it’s soon clear that the characters from Denver Kristoff’s works are invading the real world. It’s up to Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia to reenter the book world one last time to keep the worlds from colliding, causing mass destruction. They will have to track down three Worldkeepers hidden in Kristoff’s books—magical items that when used together will seal the worlds off for good. But the Walkers’ first move leads them straight into the Wild West, with lethal outlaws and lawless deputies—and that’s just the beginning. They’ll encounter dinosaurs, aliens, killer robots, and the Wind Witch herself—with new friends and old—and be faced with some of the deadliest choices they’ll ever have to make. The scariest thing of all could be deciding who to trust, since everyone is hiding something.

9781250066046Royal Wedding Disaster: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she’s a real live PRINCESS OF GENOVIA. Not only does she get to live in an actual palace with her newly discovered family and two fabulous poodles, but she also gets her very own PONY! Of course, things aren’t going exactly like she imagined. Her half-sister Mia is very busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding, and her father is actually getting remarried himself—to Mia’s mother!—and spends most of his time “renovating” the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Olivia hardly gets to see either of them. Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia’s wedding, and needs Olivia’s help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia (although Grandmere says they are just jealous). As the day of the wedding gets closer and closer, Olivia becomes more and more worried. For such a carefully planned event, it seems like a LOT of things are going wrong. Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster?

9781250045812 Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary. The Players: Rex-One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother. Tunde-This14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village. Painted Wolf-One of China’s most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father’s new deal with a corrupt Chinese official. The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run.

61hzBZrTdxL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_The Lost Cipher by Michael Oechsle

Lucas’s father has recently died in Afghanistan, and to help him cope, his grandmother sends him to Camp Kawani, a camp for kids who have lost a parent. While there, he hears about the local legend of Thomas Jefferson Beale. Beale supposedly hid a hoard of gold in the mountains 200 years before. The location is encrypted in a set of codes no one has ever been able to decipher. When Lucas and his newfound friends decide to track down the treasure, they embark on a mission that could be too dangerous to survive.

9780316298582Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding, author, Sydney Smith, illustrator

Kim Fitzgerald-Trout took to driving with ease–as most children would if their parents would ever let them try. She had to. After all, she and her siblings live in a car. Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together in a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go–to the school, the laundromat, or the drive-in. If they put their minds to it, the Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home. Award-winning poet and screenwriter Esta Spalding’s exciting middle grade debut establishes a marvelous place where children fend for themselves, and adults only seem to ruin everything.

9780062270849Curiosity House: The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past … before their past unravels them. Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever. But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts.

9780399159992The Skeleth (The Nethergrim) by Matthew Jobin

For the lords of the north, land is power. The Nethergrim, now awoken and free to wreak its evil upon the world, offers the promise of victory to those ruthless enough to accept its foul bargain. One ambitious lord, eager for the chance to conquer and rule, succumbs to temptation and helps to free the Skeleth—eerie, otherworldly beings said to be unstoppable in battle. The Skeleth merge with the bodies of their victims, ruling their minds and turning them into remorseless killers. Worse yet, to kill the man inside the Skeleth only frees it to seize a new host, starting a cycle of violence that has no end. Such chilling tales are not enough to stop young Edmund, innkeeper’s son and would-be wizard, from seeking a way to turn back the oncoming tide of destruction. Along with his best friends—Katherine the trainer of war-horses and Tom the runaway slave—Edmund searches for a magical weakness in the Skeleth, something that might allow him to break their never-ending curse. The three friends join with the legendary hero Tristan in a battle of courage, wisdom, wits, and sacrifice to stop the Skeleth from ravaging their homeland and all they hold dear.

9781442466012Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Reality and fantasy collide in this heartfelt and mysterious novel for fans of Counting by 7s and Bridge to Terabithia, about a girl who must save a magical make-believe world in order to save herself. Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real—and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones. With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

61scXhICU0L._SX365_BO1,204,203,200_Trouble the Water by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Eleven-year-old Callie is fearless, stubborn, and a little nosy. So when she sees an old yellow dog wandering around town by itself, you can bet she’s going to figure out who he belongs to. But when her sleuthing leads her to cross paths with a white boy named Wendell who wants to help, the segregated town doesn’t take too kindly to their budding friendship. Meanwhile, a nearly invisible boy named Jim is stuck in a cabin in the woods. He’s lost his dog, but can’t remember exactly when his pup’s disappeared. When his companion, a little boy named Thomas, who’s been invisible much longer than he, explains that they are ghosts, the two must figure out why they can’t seem to cross the river to the other side just yet … And as Callie and Wendell’s search for the old dog brings them closer and closer to the cabin in the woods, the simmering prejudices of the townspeople boil over. Trouble the Water is a story that spans lifetimes, showing that history never truly disappears, and that the past will haunt us until we step up to change the present and stand together for what is right.

9780399174995A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

In this magical companion to the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, it’s summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don’t know is that they’ve been gathered for a reason—one that the camp’s director wants to keep hidden at all costs. Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper’s head and placed into another. And no one knows why. With a camp full of kids, a lake full of magic, and a grown-up full of a secrets, A Clatter of Jars is a story of summer, family, and the lengths we go to win back the people we love.

9780545907347 Sealed With a Secret by Lisa Schroeder

When Phoebe finds a beautiful antique at a flea market, she’s not sure whether it’s as valuable as it looks. But inside she discovers something truly amazing, a letter written during World War II, from a young girl to her sister who’s been evacuated from London. The letter includes a “spell” for bringing people closer together: a list of clues leading all through the city. Each stop along the way adds up to magic. Phoebe is stunned. Not only has she found a priceless piece of history, the letter is exactly what she needs—she’s also separated from her sister, though not by distance. Alice leaves for university soon, but in the meantime, she wants nothing to do with Phoebe. They used to be so close. Now that Phoebe has this magical list, maybe she can fix everything! That is, unless she accidentally makes everything worse instead.

9781481452236Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen

From three-time Newbery Honor author Gary Paulsen comes a laugh-out-loud novel about six wacky misfits who get stuck together in a school restroom and discover friendship. It seemed like a normal school day, until a horrible storm forced the very cautious school administration to make everyone hole up in a safe place. Six students find themselves stuck in a tiny, questionably smelly space—a school bathroom—with a stuffed cat for entertainment. Hijinks ensue and the unexpected happens. They enter as strangers … and leave as friends. Get to know the story even better with a special script that accompanies the novel, so any six kids can get together with their friends and perform the story anywhere they’d like.

61N1yDfDqBL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Lost Realm (Crown of Three) by J.D. Rinehart

The kingdom of Toronia is being torn apart by civil war. The kingdom’s only hope comes in the form of illegitimate triplets, who are prophesied to kill the king and rule together in peace. Separated at birth and scattered throughout the realms, the triplets face a desperate fight to secure their destiny. Will they survive long enough to rule? The resurrected King Brutan and his army of the dead control the city of Idilliam. Outside, Eloide and Tarlan are trying to hold their own army together and find a way to rescue their brother Gulph who is trapped inside the city. Or is he? Gulph has found a passageway to the lost realm of Celestis, which lies beneath Idilliam. There he is reunited with the mother he has never known—but she can’t remember him. If Gulph stays in the city, will he also forget those above ground whom he loves? Meanwhile, Tarlan and the wizard Melchior set out on a quest to restore the wizard’s powers, leaving Eloide and her army to keep watch. But Eloide is betrayed, her troops slaughtered, and she is taken captive by Lord Vicerin, her former guardian, who is determined to use her to get to the throne. Seemingly further from the throne than ever, the triplets will need to use all of their strength and abilities if they are to survive—let alone rule.

9780062364371Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

Are you ready for Ivy Pocket? The wickedly funny, completely unreliable maid of no importance returns—this time as a coffin maker’s daughter—in this action-packed sequel to Anyone but Ivy Pocket. Everyone seems to want a piece of Ivy Pocket. Her adoptive parents keep trying to get her to clean the funeral home, even though Ivy’s certain she’s already the picture of a perfect daughter. A beautiful heiress named Estelle wants Ivy to uncover the dark truth behind her brother’s death. Her new friend, Miss Carnage, keeps asking Ivy the most curious questions (the poor, clueless dear). To top it all off, Ivy must protect the Clock Diamond from the evil Miss Always, who seems to be lurking around every corner! A fast-paced and hilarious follow-up to Anyone but Ivy Pocket, which Booklist praised as “a droll chapter book with a Victorian setting and a one-of-a-kind protagonist.” This is the second of three books about Ivy Pocket!

9780062342065-1Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle

On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes. The first wish is an impossible wish. The second is a wish she can make come true herself. And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart. Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be … noticed. So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined.

9780062374547 Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

Perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons, this debut middle grade novel is the story of two girls and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and loss. Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and, most of all, freedom from her mom’s life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules. When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the summer she’s always craved. Especially when California offers Annie a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is—and fix what’s broken between her mom and her grandfather. But Annie’s summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery and love will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.

51IpUi+hCZL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it. Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world. Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of strange and wonderful surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.

9781250059475Moone Boy: The Fish Detective by Chris O’Dowd and Nick V. Murphy

It’s lean times at the Moone Boy household and all Martin wants is a Game Boy. If he wants a Game Boy though, he’s going to have to work for it. So his imaginary friend, Sean, suggests he get a job. After failing to find work as a stable boy, cowboy, or homeboy, the Moone boy instead becomes Boyle’s main butcher boy. But Francie Feeley’s Fabulous Fishatorium across the road is luring all their customers away. Convinced something fishy is afoot, Martin and Sean decide to go on an undercover mission to discover the secrets of the mysterious fish factory. But can Agent M double-O N E get to the bottom of Feeley’s slippery schemes without ending up sleeping with the fishes himself?

9781484725528The Drake Equation by Bart King

Noah Grow is a bird-watcher. If you’re picturing some kid in a big floppy hat, peering up into trees through giant binoculars … well, good job. That’s exactly what he does. Right now, Noah is on a quest to find a wood duck. According to his calculations, aka the Drake Equation, the odds are good—really good—for spotting one. That’s why he gets off the bus at the wrong stop. And that’s how he ends up running down a hill, crashing into a fence, and landing right next to a strange, glittery disk. Noah and his best friends, Jason and Jenny, soon discover that the mysterious disk is, well, mysterious. It gives Noah peculiar powers. As things go from odd to outrageous, Noah is swept up in a storm of intergalactic intrigue and middle-school mayhem. There’s much more at stake than Noah realizes.

9781484728543What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Abandoned in the jungle of the Nepalese Borderlands, two-year-old Nandu is found living under the protective watch of a pack of wild dogs. From his mysterious beginnings, fate delivers him to the King’s elephant stable, where he is raised by unlikely parents—the wise head of the stable, Subba-sahib, and Devi Kali, a fierce and affectionate female elephant. When the king’s government threatens to close the stable, Nandu, now twelve, searches for a way to save his family and community. A risky plan could be the answer. But to succeed, they’ll need a great tusker. The future is in Nandu’s hands as he sets out to find a bull elephant and bring him back to the Borderlands. In simple poetic prose, author Eric Dinerstein brings to life Nepal’s breathtaking jungle wildlife and rural culture, as seen through the eyes of a young outcast, struggling to find his place in the world.

 

NONFICTION TITLES

9780544223790We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman

In his signature eloquent prose, backed up by thorough research, Russell Freedman tells the story of Austrian-born Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They belonged to Hitler Youth as young children, but began to doubt the Nazi regime. As older students, the Scholls and a few friends formed the White Rose, a campaign of active resistance to Hitler and the Nazis. Risking imprisonment or even execution, the White Rose members distributed leaflets urging Germans to defy the Nazi government. Their belief that freedom was worth dying for will inspire young readers to stand up for what they believe in. Archival photographs and prints, source notes, bibliography, and index included.

9780544319615The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller, author, Vincent X. Kirsch, illustrator

In 1843, fourteen-year-old Hanson Gregory left his family home in Rockport, Maine, and set sail as a cabin boy on the schooner Achorn, looking for high-stakes adventure on the high seas. Little did he know that a boatload of hungry sailors, coupled with his knack for creative problem-solving, would yield one of the world’s most prized and beloved pastries. Lively and inventive cut-paper illustrations add a taste of whimsy to this sweet, fact-filled story that includes an extensive bibliography, author’s note, and timeline.

9780399173820Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars by Gregory Zuckerman, Elijah Zuckerman, and Gabriel Zuckerman

Discover the inspirational real-life stories of superstar athletes like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Tim Howard, and more! Team USA goalkeeper Tim Howard was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in 6th grade. He went on to become a national treasure after single-handedly keeping America competitive in the 2014 World Cup. Stephen Curry was told he was too small, too weak, and too slow to even receive a scholarship to play college basketball. He outworked everyone and went on to become MVP of the National Basketball Association. Jim Abbott was born without his right hand, yet he refused to be defined by what he lacked. He went on to pitch a no-hitter in the Major Leagues. Athlete after athlete in this book found discipline, hope, and inspiration on the playing field, rising above their circumstances. Filled with first-hand accounts from stars who exemplify the idea of enduring at all costs, Rising Above will serve as a must-read source of inspiration for kids and sports fans of all ages.

9781481449380You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford, author, Jeffery Boston Weatherford, illustrator

Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford’s innovative history in verse celebrates the story of the Tuskegee Airmen: pioneering African-American pilots who triumphed in the skies and past the color barrier. I WANT YOU! says the poster of Uncle Sam. But if you’re a young black man in 1940, he doesn’t want you in the cockpit of a war plane. Yet you are determined not to let that stop your dream of flying. So when you hear of a civilian pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute, you leap at the chance. Soon you are learning engineering and mechanics, how to communicate in code, how to read a map. At last the day you’ve longed for is here: you are flying! From training days in Alabama to combat on the front lines in Europe, this is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the groundbreaking African-American pilots of World War II. In vibrant second-person poems, Carole Boston Weatherford teams up for the first time with her son, artist Jeffery Weatherford, in a powerful and inspiring book that allows readers to fly, too.

9781609587451Worry: How to Feel Less Stressed and Have More Fun (Smart Girl’s Guides) by Nancy Holyoke and Judy Woodburn

Every girl worries from time to time. Maybe it’s an argument with a friend, or a big test, or a performance in front of a crowd. Maybe it’s her body. Maybe it’s even something fun, like a slumber party or overnight camp—or something really big, like moving away or her parents’ divorce. For many girls, even small worries can take on a life of their own and get in the way of enjoying life. But this book will help take charge of your worries. You’ll learn tried-and-true ways to overcome fears and create a sense of calm. You’ll take quizzes and find out about yourself and what concerns you, and you’ll read advice from real girls who found ways to deal with their own worries. The book is packed with proven techniques for handling worry and creating confidence—freeing you to be the girl you’re meant to be.

9781613734223Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More (Women of Action) by Cheryl Mulenbach

They were called sleuths in skirts, guardian mothers, copettes, and police in petticoats. It would be a long time—well over 150 years—before women in law enforcement were known simply as police officers. Balancing the stories of trailblazers from the past with those of today’s dedicated officers, chiefs, FBI agents, and forensics experts, this collection of riveting biographies traces the evolution of women in policing. Women in Blue inspires readers to value those who broke through barriers—often enduring ridicule and discrimination as they fought for equality—while original interviews shed light on the daily challenges, rewards, and life on the job of various women currently in the trenches of law enforcement. The chronological progression puts hot-button issues like police brutality, race relations, and the treatment of suspects and prisoners into historic context and shows how many women in law enforcement are working to challenge and improve their field.

9780448487854What Were the Twin Towers? by Jim O’Connor, author, Ted Hammond and Kevin McVeigh, illustrators

When the Twin Towers were built in 1973, they were billed as an architectural wonder. At 1,368 feet, they clocked in as the tallest buildings in the world and changed the New York City skyline dramatically. Offices and corporations moved into the towers—also known as the World Trade Center—and the buildings were seen as the economic hub of the world. But on September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack toppled the towers and changed our nation forever. Discover the whole story of the Twin Towers—from their ambitious construction to their tragic end.

9780448486925What is the Declaration of Independence? by Michael C. Harris, author, Jerry Hoare and Kevin McVeigh, illustrators

On a hot summer day near Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his desk and wrote furiously until early the next morning. He was drafting the Declaration of Independence, a document that would sever this country’s ties with Britain and announce a new nation—The United States of America. Colonists were willing to risk their lives for freedom, and the Declaration of Independence made that official. Discover the true story of one of the most radical and uplifting documents in history and follow the action that fueled the Revolutionary War.

9781426324178National Geographic Kids Almanac 2017 by National Geographic Kids

This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include highlights on National Geographic Explorers and their amazing projects (plus, ways you can get involved!); a tour of history’s most famous sites; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “17 Facts for 2017” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more.

Dorian Cirrone has written several books for children and teens. Her middle-grade novel, The First Last Day ( June 2016, S&S/Aladdin) is available for preorder. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter as @DorianCirrone. She gives writing tips and does occasional giveaways on her blog at: http://doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog/