Posts Tagged Gabriela Epstein

New Releases: August 2022

It’s summertime and the reading is easy. Take a look at just a few of the middle-grade books coming out this month:


Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein (illustrator)

Can five overlooked kids make one big difference? There’s George: the brain. Sara: the loner. Dayara: the tough kid. Nico: the rich kid. And Miguel: the athlete. They’re all stuck together when forced to complete their school’s community service hours. Although they’re sure they have nothing in common with one another, some people see them as all the same . . .  just five Spanish-speaking kids.

Then they meet someone who truly needs their help, and they must decide whether they are each willing to expose their own secrets to help . . . or if remaining invisible is the only way to survive middle school.

With text in English and Spanish, Invisible features a groundbreaking format paired with an engaging, accessible, and relatable storyline.



Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston

After finding her brother and saving the entire supernatural world, Amari Peters is convinced her first full summer as a Junior Agent will be a breeze. But between the fearsome new Head Minister’s strict anti-magician agenda, fierce Junior Agent rivalries, and her brother Quinton’s curse steadily worsening, Amari’s plate is full.

So when the secretive League of Magicians offers her a chance to stand up for magiciankind as its new leader, she declines. She’s got enough to worry about! But her refusal allows someone else to step forward, a magician with dangerous plans for the League. This challenge sparks the start of the Great Game, a competition to decide who will become the Night Brothers’ successor and determine the future of magiciankind.

The Great Game is both mysterious and deadly, but among the winner’s magical rewards is Quinton’s last hope—so how can Amari refuse?


Gravebooks by J.A. White

Alex thought he was done with witches. But when Natacha, the witch who held him captive for scary stories, appears again one night, Alex realizes he’s trapped in a nightmare—literally. She’s found a way to enter his dreams with a new, terrifying familiar named Simeon. And they once again want Alex to write. Transported to a story graveyard with best friend Yasmin, Alex will have to complete an original scary story each night.

But what does Natacha plan to do with his finished stories? And what makes a story good enough? While Natacha might have control of the beginnings, only Alex has the power to write the ending.




 Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden

It’s been three months since Ollie made a daring deal with the smiling man to save those she loved, and then vanished without a trace. The smiling man promised Coco, Brian and Phil, that they’d have a chance to save her, but as time goes by, they begin to worry that the smiling man has lied to them and Ollie is gone forever. But finally, a clue surfaces. A boy who went missing at a nearby traveling carnival appears at the town swimming hole, terrified and rambling. He tells anyone who’ll listen about the mysterious man who took him. How the man agreed to let him go on one condition: that he deliver a message. Play if you dare.

Game on! The smiling man has finally made his move. Now it’s Coco, Brian, and Phil’s turn to make theirs. And they know just where to start. The traveling carnival is coming to Evansburg. Meanwhile, Ollie is trapped in the world behind the mist, learning the horrifying secrets of the smiling man’s carnival, trying everything to help her friends find her. Brian, Coco and Phil will risk everything to rescue Ollie—but they all soon realize this game is much more dangerous than the ones before. This time the smiling man is playing for keeps. The summer nights are short, and Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Phil have only until sunrise to beat him once and for all—or it’s game over for everyone.


Crunch by Kayla Miller

Kayla Miller, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of ClickCamp, Act, and Clash, returns with a new Olive story! Olive is balancing the too-many things she wants to do with the too-few hours in the day to do them. When everything adds up, suddenly it’s crunch time!

It’s no secret that Olive loves trying new things. Between taking guitar lessons, making a short film, joining Berry Scouts, and leading the charge on her school’s dress code reform, Olive has her hands full! But she enjoys being busy, so staying on track with her jam-packed schedule should be no problem … right?

As weeks fly by, it gets harder and harder for Olive to find time for her activities, never mind time for herself. Will she be able to accomplish her goals, or will all her sizzle turn to fizzle?

The New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Kayla Miller delivers a vibrant and timely story about the importance of balance, effort, and reaching out for help.

Interview with Edgar® Award-Winner Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Today, I’m particularly excited to introduce Mixed-Up Files readers to Christina Diaz Gonzalez. I’ve known Christina for many years and have followed her amazing career. In April, Christina was the recipient of the prestigious Edgar® Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America, for her novel Concealed. She is the author of several other award-winning books, including The Red UmbrellaA Thunderous Whisper, Moving Target, and others. Upcoming novels include: Invisible (a graphic novel available in August 2022) and The Bluest Sky (a historical fiction novel available in September 2022). Her books have received numerous honors including the Florida Book Award, the Nebraska Book Award, and the International Latino Book Award. Her work has also been designated as an American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection, and as an International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choice book. Christina currently lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband, sons, and a dog that can open doors.

(Mouse over the titles of books for purchase or preorder.)


About Concealed

Dorian: First, huge congratulations on all the accolades you’ve gotten for Concealed. Can you tell us a little about the book and what inspired the story?

Christina: Thank you … I’m so thrilled about the response Concealed has received. Concealed is the story of a girl (currently named Katrina) who believes she and her parents are in the Witness Protection Program … having to change their names and move every time their cover could be revealed. But when her parents disappear, Katrina discovers that living a life of lies has been the biggest lie of them all. She discovers that the only way to save her parents is to find out the truth about who she is and why they have been on the run … even if it means destroying everything she has ever believed about herself and her family.

As for what inspired the story … a news story sparked my imagination, but I can’t say much more without giving away a huge spoiler (although I do address it in an author’s note at the back of the book).


Dorian: That’s really intriguing. What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

Christina: There were various levels of research like delving into scientific journals, plotting out travel times between cities, and researching where dairy farms in Georgia might be located. I try to add a level authenticity to even my more outrageous twists and plot scenarios.


Dorian: Concealed has a lot of twists and turns. Did you know what they would be when you first sat down to write the book, or did they come to you as you wrote?

Christina: I knew what some of the BIG twists would be, but many of the smaller ones revealed themselves as I wrote the story. I am much more of a “pantser” (write by the seat of my pants) instead of a plotter who outlines the whole book before writing the first draft.


Books by Christina









Dorian: What do you enjoy most about writing for the middle-grade audience?

Christina: I love writing (and reading) middle-grade books because it seems to be a time in a person’s life where the impossible can still be possible. There is no one path to follow because it’s a time of discovering who you are and who you want to be.


Writing Tips

Dorian: What are three of your best tips for our readers who are writers or would like to become writers?


  • Write the story you would want to read.
  • Write from your heart.
  • Just write (you can always make it better when you revise).


Upcoming Books

Dorian: What do you have in the works that our readers can look forward to?

Christina: I have a graphic novel, Invisible (a Breakfast Club-inspired story set in middle school that is illustrated by Gabriela Epstein), coming out this August and a historical fiction novel, The Bluest Sky (set during Cuba’s 1980 Mariel boat lift where over 125,000 Cubans came to the US) that comes out in September. Needless to say, I am excited for the Fall!









Thanks, Christina, for taking the time out to share with MUF readers!