Posts Tagged Holly Goldberg Sloan

A Valentine to Our Favorite Books

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Mixed-Up Files team shares the middle grade books they love the most. Share your loves in the comments section! 

“As an adult I really enjoyed Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Mackall. Truly heartwarming story about loving yourself, having a positive outlook, and being kind. I cry just thinking about it!”
Amie Borst

 

 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. How can you not love a book about a gorilla who paints?”
—Natalie Rompella 

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages is a perfect blend of emotional journey, immersive history and science on both a large (nuclear physics) and small (inquisitive kid) scale.”
—Jacqueline Jaeger Houtman

 

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume sparked my love of reading and writing. It was one of my favorite books as a child, became even more special when I saw it through the eyes of my own children, and will remain one of the most beloved books for the rest of my life.”
—Mindy Alyse Weiss  

“I love Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan for its messages of hope, recovering from a tragedy, and learning to rely on your inner strength.”
Michele Weber Hurwitz  

“I loved Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin for Rose’s indomitable spirit, despite the challenges she faces.”
Beth Von Ancken McMullen

“I love the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott. I have read it several times, and in fact, am now re-reading it again. It is filled with mystery, fantasy, and tons of historical figures. The way he weaves history, science, magic and fantasy together is just stupendous. Makes me lose myself in his world every time I read it.”
Jen Swanson

“Two of my favorite books are perfect for Valentine’s Day because they are both love letters in story form. My childhood favorite, Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl is the world’s best love letter to dads. More recently, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson is a heartfelt love-letter to teachers.”
—Julie Artz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve got to give two as well… one to an old love, and another to a new one! Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising is probably THE book that made me want to become an author. Seeing Will grow and become capable of surviving meant so much to me at the time. And more recently, Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy tugged at my heart in a way few books can. Seeing a kid who thinks he’s broken discover that people can love him for who he is… that’s love.”
—Sean Easley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got to give two too!! Also, like Sean, I’ve got old and new.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle will always always hold a special place in my heart because tesseracts are fascinating science and Meg Murray. I always want to read about a brave and smart girl. And A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd because magic, mystery, family, and finding your home are themes I will read again and again. Plus the language is so so beautiful!!”
Heather Murphy Capps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To choose just one is hard, but I’ll go with Bridget Hodder’s The Rat Prince. I just adored how she used the rat’s POV to share the familiar tale, and there’s even a teeny bit of romance in there.”
Sheri Larsen

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary! And more recently, Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor. Lovable Ramona doesn’t always behave, which is very refreshing in a character. Connor’s character Addie has a way of being upbeat in the face of terrible odds. She’s resourceful in the most heartbreaking way.
Phyllis Shalant

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, a deep and sensitive dive into the heart of a boy. I love everything about this book and the spare language Schmidt uses to communicate so much.”
Amber J. Keyser

“Amber stole mine. But I refuse to change my answer, so put me down for Okay for Now, as well. It made me laugh. It made me cry. And sometimes it did both within the span of a single page.”
TP Jagger

“I have to second Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan.”
Dori Hillestad Butler

“My latest favorite is Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan for its use of POV switches and voice.”
—Jenn Skovira Brisendine

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Now? If I have to choose just one I’d say Crossover, by Kwame Alexander. SO powerful – feelings like a punch to the chest – but real and hopeful and so true to how kids feel things.”
Valerie Stein

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Why? Because it’s a beautifully written, Jungle Book-inspired tale with ghosts and ghouls and creatures of the night fighting the man Jack who means to harm the orphan Bod. All in an ancient burial ground/cemetery. And it starts with the multiple homicide of Bod’s family by Jack. An exceptional book at all turns and it landed perfectly in my literature sweet spot.”
Michael Hays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My favorite that I discovered as an adult is Skellig by David Almond. I really think it’s the perfect book–spare, lovely, magical, and with so much heart. As a kid, my favorite was Anne of Green Gables, which I am loving all over again now that I’m reading it aloud to my 8-year-old redhead.”Kate Manning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“On the fantasy side, I still love the Harry Potter books and on the historical fiction side, Blood on the River James Town, 1607 by Elisa Carbone. It’s a story about the founding of James Town. It kept my 5th grade class riveted in their seats.”
—Robyn Oleson Gioia

 

The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato has stolen hearts in my family. My daughter has read it more times than I can count. And she cries every time.”
Louise Galveston  

 

 

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume is THE book of my tween years–Blume gets kids of a certain age so perfectly right. What a gift!”
—Andrea Pyros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Pyros is the author of My Year of Epic Rock, a middle grade novel about friends, crushes, food allergies, and a rock band named The EpiPens.

January 2017: New Releases

Could there be a better month to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and read? I don’t think so. Plus, January is a great month to find the latest release of your favorite series or author along with some fabulous debuts, short stories, and nonfiction. So pull out those holiday gift cards and head to your nearest bookstore so you can snuggle up with one of this month’s offerings.


9780375831997The Warden’s Daughter
by Jerry Spinelli

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she’s also living in a prison of grief and anger about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl’s nickname is Cannonball. In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie’s best friend is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. All will play a role in Cammie’s coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.

 

9780545783873The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley

Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family’s bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can’t tell anyone who she really is. Elvin’s living on Harlem’s cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked. When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin’s grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune—one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don’t find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same. In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.

 

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins. With her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background—and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia! Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, while emphasizing the importance of role models, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery.

 

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King

Obe Devlin has problems. His family’s farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn’t like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks. One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags … No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there’s never been a creature like this before. The animal—Marvin Gardens—soon becomes Obe’s best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

 

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys—an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves. Because Jonathan has done something terrible. And he’s willing to accept whatever punishment he has coming. Just as he’s getting used to his new situation, however, a freak accident leaves the troubled boys of Slabhenge without any adult supervision. Suddenly the kids are free, with an entire island to themselves. But freedom brings unexpected danger. And if Jonathan can’t come to terms with the sins of his past and lead his new friends to safety … then every boy on the island is doomed.

 

Yours Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) by Heather Vogel Frederick

Even Truly Lovejoy has to admit that teeny-tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, has its charms—like the annual maple festival, where tourists flock from all over to sample the local maple syrup, maple candy, maple coffee, and even maple soap! But when someone tries to sabotage the maple trees on her friend Franklin’s family farm, Truly has to rally the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes to investigate. Meanwhile, she uncovers another, more personal mystery under the floorboards of her very own home—a diary written centuries ago by her namesake, the original Truly Lovejoy…and it might just prove her family’s ties to Pumpkin Falls run deeper than anyone ever could have imagined.

 

Horizon (Horizon Book 1) by Scott Westerfeld

This harrowing tale of supernatural suspense kicks off a new series from the visionary mind of #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld. When a plane crash-lands in the arctic, eight young survivors step from the wreckage expecting to see nothing but ice and snow. Instead they find themselves lost in a strange jungle with no way to get home and little hope of rescue. Food is running out. Water is scarce. And the jungle is full of threats unlike anything the survivors have ever seen before — from razor-beaked shredder birds to carnivorous vines and much, much worse. With danger at every turn, these eight kids must learn to work together to survive. But cliques and rivalries threaten to tear them apart. And not everyone will make it out of the jungle alive.

 

Siren Sisters by Dana Langer

Lolly Salt has three beautiful sisters. When they’re not in school or running their small town’s diner, they’re secretly luring ships to their doom from the cliffs of Starbridge Cove, Maine. With alluring voices that twelve-year-old Lolly has yet to grow into (not that she wants to anyway) the Salt sisters do the work mandated by the Sea Witch, a glamorously frightening figure determined to keep the girls under her control. With their mother dead after a terrible car crash, and their father drowning in his grief, the sisters carry on with their lives and duties … until a local sea captain gets suspicious about the shipwrecks. On the day before her birthday, Lolly watches in helpless horror as her sisters are lured themselves by curse-reversing fishermen—and suddenly it’s up to her and her best friend Jason to rescue the sirens of Starbridge Cove.

 

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

In the village of Huanan, in medieval China, the deity that rules is the Great Huli Jing. Though twelve-year-old Li Jing’s name is a different character entirely from the Huli Jing, the sound is close enough to provide constant teasing-but maybe is also a source of greater destiny and power. Jing’s life isn’t easy. Her father is a poor tea farmer, and her family has come to the conclusion that in order for everyone to survive, Jing must be sacrificed for the common good. She is sold as a bride to the Koh family, where she will be the wife and nursemaid to their three-year-old son, Ju’nan. It’s not fair, and Jing feels this bitterly, especially when she is treated poorly by the Koh’s, and sold yet again into a worse situation that leads Jing to believe her only option is to run away, and find home again. With the help of a spider who weaves Jing a means to escape, and a nightingale who helps her find her way, Jing embarks on a quest back to Huanan–and to herself.

 

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres

Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It’s no fun being known as the “Taco Queen” at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family’s livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck’s unlikely champion.

 

The Homework Strike by Greg Pincus

Middle school is hard work, and Gregory tries to be a good student. He participates in class, he studies for his tests — he and his friends even help each other with their assignments. But no matter what he does, there’s never enough time to finish all his homework. It just isn’t fair. So Gregory goes on a total, complete homework strike. No worksheets, no essays, no projects. His friends think he’s crazy. His parents are worried about his grades. And his principal just wants him to stop making trouble. Can Gregory rally his fellow students, make his voice heard, and still pass seventh grade? Find out in this book for anyone who thinks school is stressful, gets headaches from homework, or just wants to be heard.

 

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia. Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk.

 

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pia

Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets. And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines. But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth. So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…

 

The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 3) by Jordan Stratford, illus. by Kelly Murphy

The Wollestonecraft Girls embark on their most important case yet–the famed dinosaur fossil hunter Mary Anning is being blackmailed. Her precious dog has been snatched and the kidnappers are demanding that Miss Anning authenticate some fake dinosaur bones up for auction at the British Museum in order to get him back. Ada and Mary have just three days to track down the fossil fakers, find the dog, and save the integrity of science! The game is truly afoot in this quirky caper involving blood-sucking leeches, an asthmatic pug, smoke bombs, secret elevators, diabolical disguises, and wicked word-play.

 

A Crack in the Sea by H.M. Bouwman

No one comes to the Second World on purpose. The doorway between worlds opens only when least expected. The Raft King is desperate to change that by finding the doorway that will finally take him and the people of Raftworld back home. To do it, he needs Pip, a young boy with an incredible gift—he can speak to fish; and the Raft King is not above kidnapping to get what he wants. Pip’s sister Kinchen, though, is determined to rescue her brother and foil the Raft King’s plans. This is but the first of three extraordinary stories that collide on the high seas of the Second World. The second story takes us back to the beginning: Venus and Swimmer are twins captured aboard a slave ship bound for Jamaica in 1781. They save themselves and others from a life of enslavement with a risky, magical plan—one that leads them from the shark-infested waters of the first world to the second. Pip and Kinchen will hear all about them before their own story is said and done. So will Thanh and his sister Sang, who we meet in 1978 on a small boat as they try to escape post-war Vietnam. But after a storm and a pirate attack, they’re not sure they’ll ever see shore again. What brings these three sets of siblings together on an adventure of a lifetime is a little magic, helpful sea monsters and that very special portal, A Crack in the Sea.

 

Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh, editor

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

 

Journey Through Ash and Smoke (Ranger in Time #5) by Kate Messner and Kelley McMorris

Ranger is a time-traveling golden retriever with search-and-rescue training. In this adventure, he goes to Viking age Iceland, which proves to be tough terrain for Ranger to navigate. Usually it’s Ranger’s job to save the day before he can return to his family, but he meets a girl named Helga who rescues him more than once. And when a nearby volcano threatens to erupt and Helga’s new baby brother or sister starts to come early, they must journey through ash and smoke to find Helga’s father. But if Helga doesn’t need Ranger’s help, how will he ever get home?

 

Wrath of the Storm (Mark of the Thief #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Trouble has a way of seeking out Nicolas Calva, and it’s not likely to leave him alone any time soon. With Caesar’s magic bulla, the Malice of Mars, and the possibility of a Jupiter Stone in play, all the powers of Rome are circling Nic. He’ll have to maneuver his way through scheming government officials and reawakened magical beasts to save the Empire. Can he manage to keep his friends and family safe, claim his own freedom once and for all, and rescue the Empire — before the magic gets the better of him? With twists and turns on every page, critically acclaimed author Jennifer Nielsen weaves an epic, action-packed conclusion to her extraordinary Mark of the Thief trilogy.

 

Bad Kitty Takes the Test by Nick Bruel

Based on her previous bad behavior, the Society of Cat Aptitude has determined that Kitty is not only a bad kitty but a bad cat. In order to redeem her feline status, Kitty must take an aptitude test to determine if she deserves to be a cat. If she fails, she will no longer be able to be a cat. With the help of Chatty Kitty, who is the instructor at Cat School, and Uncle Murray, who thinks he’s just there to renew his driver’s license, Kitty learns all about being a cat and a little about herself.

 

The Wizard’s War (Key Hunters #4) by Eric Luper

Cleo and Evan have a secret. A collection of books so dangerous they are locked up tight. A friend has vanished inside the pages of one of them. It’s up to them to find the key that will set her free. The quest is clear. To save the kingdom, Cleo and Evan must battle clever elves, horrible trolls, and the mighty Golden Dragon. Magic will help them win the war—and find the right key. But it will take more than swords and spells to survive this epic fantasy!

 

Secret Origins (Story Thieves) by James Riley

Owen and Bethany have sworn off jumping into books for good. But they didn’t make any promises about not jumping through strange portals that lead to a comic book world. Jupiter City was once filled with brightly costumed superheroes and villains, but nowadays, there’s nothing left but the Dark. Even the villains are terrified of the Dark’s shadows, and most of the heroes have either disappeared or been lost to mind control. The one hero who might have stopped all of this, Doc Twilight, has been imprisoned by the Dark. But who is Doc Twilight really? And how can Bethany and Owen defeat the Dark without superpowers of their own? They’ll definitely need the help of some old friends and new allies to bring the light back to Jupiter City, and find out the truth behind the Dark. It all comes back to Bethany’s own secret origins. What really happened when her fictional father disappeared years ago? Who is Nobody, and why is he writing these Story Thieves books? And what kind of super villain name is The Rotten Banana?

 

Heidi Heckelbeck Tries Out for the Team by Wanda Coven, illus. by Priscilla Burris

It’s time to sign up for sports at school and Heidi is excited (and a little nervous) to find the perfect fit. Lucy is great at soccer. Bruce is great at baseball. Heidi, well, the only thing she’s great at is being awful at every sport she plays! Can Heidi shake off her slump with a little magic or will Melanie’s teasing make her throw in the towel for good?

 

Robot Revolution (House of Robots #3) by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illus. by Juliana Neufield

After a few early glitches in their relationship, Sammy and his “bro-bot” E are now fast friends. In fact, E is such a valued member of the family that the other electronic occupants of the House of Robots are feeling sorely unappreciated. And when Sammy’s inventor mom becomes distracted by a top-secret project, the robots soon begin to fall into disrepair. Cue a robot revolt, with the droids wreaking harmless havoc in the house! Armed with pranks like glue in the shampoo bottles and flying toast missiles, the robots demand to be cared for. It’s up to Sammy and his disabled sister Maddie to keep the peace until his mom reveals her secret project … and why it was worth the wait.

 

The Big Secret (Tales of Sasha #1) by Alexa Pearl, illus. by Paco Sordo

In the first book of the Tales of Sasha series, a young horse named Sasha discovers a big secret about what makes her different from her friends and family. Sasha has always felt a little bit different from the other horses in her home of Verdant Valley. She loves running and jumping and the feeling of being in the air, and she longs to explore the forest beyond her valley. One day during class, the white patch on Sasha’s back gives her an itching feeling that makes her want to soar, and she leaps over a big rock. When she lands, she realizes that her patch is sparkling! But what does it mean? Find out in the first book of this magical new series!

 

Journey Beyond the Trees (Tales of Sasha #2) by Alexa Pearl, illus. by Paco Sordo

In this second book is the Tales of Sasha series, Sasha, her best friend Wyatt, and their teacher Caleb journey into the forest to try and find where Sasha came from. Sasha has finally discovered what makes her different from her friends and family—she can fly! Determined to find other flying horses like her, Sasha sets out on a magical journey beyond the trees that line her valley, with the help of her teacher, Caleb, and her better-than-best friend, Wyatt.

 

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much (Book #3) by Tom Angleberger, illus. by Cece Bell

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much brings readers back to the wacky world of Inspector Flytrap’s Detective Agency, home to the world-renowned solver of BIG DEAL mysteries. The plant detective works tirelessly with his assistant, Nina,on his community’s unsolved cases. There’s no case too big, but there are definitely cases too small for this endearingly self-important plant detective. Celebrating the disabled yet enabled, the character Inspector Flytrap is wheeled everywhere (on a skateboard, of course) by his goat sidekick as this mystery-solving duo works on cases such as “The Big Deal Mystery of the Stinky Cookies” and “The Big Deal Mystery of the Missing Rose.”

 

Rolf (Dog Diaries #10) by Kate Klimo, illus. by Tim Jessell

Scrappy dachshund Rolf von Noodle may be missing a hind leg, but he’s got attitude and can-do spirit to spare! If anything, his tripod status gives him something special: real empathy for people overcoming physical challenges. And as his owner Mindy discovers, it makes him an ideal choice to become a therapy dog. With realistic black-and-white illustrations and an appendix that includes photographs and information about the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program, therapy dog training, tripod dogs, and more, this is the kind of fact-based fiction reluctant middle grade readers sit up and beg for!

 

Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria J. Coe

Life is pretty much a bag of treats when you’re an endlessly energetic Jack Russell Terrier. For Fenway, days are filled with important things like defending the Dog Park from wicked squirrels, snuggling with Hattie, and catching up on the neighborhood gossip with the next-door dogs Goldie and Patches. But that all changes the day a fiendish new intruder enters Fenway’s turf: he’s fluffy, he twitches evilly, and he smells worse than squirrels. He’s a bunny. An evil bunny. And Fenway can’t fathom why, but Hattie ADORES him. Goldie and Patches warn him that short humans are fickle: sometimes they love a new pet more than an old one. Fenway can’t believe his own Hattie would choose another pet over him. But taking matters into his own paws just makes everything worse. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet too–and is he tough enough to take on an entire gang of evil bunnies?

 

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Brian can think of a few places he’d rather spend his summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole. Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge, wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it’s not just a home it’s a castle. Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball. This funny, fantastical story will resonate with any reader who’s ever wished a little adventure would find them.

 

Hideout by Watt Key

In this riveting middle-grade adventure, the son of a Mississippi policeman finds a boy living on his own in the wilderness. Twelve-year-old Sam has been given a fishing boat by his father, but he hates fishing. Instead he uses the boat to disappear for hours at a time, exploring the forbidden swampy surroundings of his bayou home. Then he discovers a strange kid named Davey, mysteriously alone, repairing an abandoned cabin deep in the woods. Not fooled by the boy’s evasive explanation as to why he’s on his own, Sam becomes entangled in his own efforts to help Davey. But this leads him to telling small lies that only get bigger as the danger increases for both boys and hidden truths become harder to conceal.

 

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt (Olympians) by George O’Connor

Shunned even before she was born and destined to live a life of solitude, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, finds power through her skilled hunting ability and mighty bow. She slays those who wish to do harm to the innocent and takes care of the young and helpless. She protects women and young girls, helps in childbirth, soothes, and is unrivaled in her hunting abilities. In the latest volume of Olympians, New York Times–bestselling author George O’Connor continues to turn his extensive knowledge of the original Greek myths into rip-roaring graphic novel storytelling.

 

Calvino (Horse Diaries #14) by Whitney Sanderson, illus. by Ruth Sanderson

Shunned even before she was born and destined to live a life of solitude, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, finds power through her skilled hunting ability and mighty bow. She slays those who wish to do harm to the innocent and takes care of the young and helpless. She protects women and young girls, helps in childbirth, soothes, and is unrivaled in her hunting abilities. In the latest volume of Olympians, New York Times–bestselling author George O’Connor continues to turn his extensive knowledge of the original Greek myths into rip-roaring graphic novel storytelling.

 

NONFICTION

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal, illus. by Laura Freeman

As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland’s dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

 

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

At sixteen years old, Laurie Hernandez has already made many of her dreams come true—and yet it’s only the beginning for this highly accomplished athlete. A Latina Jersey girl, Laurie saw her life take a dramatic turn last summer when she was chosen to be a part of the 2016 US Olympic gymnastics team. After winning gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, Laurie also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her wide-eyed and animated expressions, Laurie continued to dance her way into everyone’s hearts while competing on the hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, where she was the youngest-ever winner of the Mirrorball Trophy. Poignant and funny, Laurie’s story is about growing up with the dream of becoming an Olympian and what it took to win gold. She talks about her loving family, her rigorous training, her intense sacrifices, and her amazing triumphs.

 

Where Is The Colosseum? by Jim O’Connor, illus. by John O’Brien and David Groff

The Emperor Titus opened the enormous Colosseum in AD 80 to host 100 days of games, and it will astound readers to learn what the ancient Romans found entertaining. Over 50,000 screaming fans watched gladiators battling each other to the death, men fighting exotic wild beasts, and even mock sea battles with warships floating on an arena floor flooded with water. By AD 476 the Roman Empire had fallen, and yet the ruins of the Colosseum remain a world-famous landmark of an unforgettable time.

 

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-i-l! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Dorian Cirrone is the co-regional advisor for the Florida Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She 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/

August New Releases

Where has the summer gone? Whether you’re hitting the school supply sales or putting the final touches on your classroom or library, don’t forget to stock up on the newest middle-grade reads, hot off the press. As an animal lover, I’m especially excited about all the wonderful new novels featuring furry protagonists!

TheSharkCallerTHE SHARK CALLER by Dianne Wolfer from Penguin Random House Australia – August 1 Isabel is on a plane heading back to her island birthplace in Papua New Guinea. Izzy is looking forward to seeing her family again, but there’s another tragic reason for the trip. Izzy’s twin brother, Ray, died in a freak diving accident, and Izzy and her mum are taking his ashes home for traditional death ceremonies. After they arrive, Izzy realises things have changed since their last visit. Logging threatens the community’s way of life and sharks no longer answer the song of the shark callers. Izzy’s cousin Noah explains that the clan needs someone to undertake a traditional diving ritual. The person must be a twin from the shark calling lineage. The dive will be perilous. And Izzy is the last twin. Will she have the courage to attempt the dive? And what deep, dark secrets will the ocean reveal if she does?

AppleblossomThePossumAPPLEBLOSSOM THE POSSUM by Holly Goldberg Sloan, illustrated by Gary A. Rosen from Puffin – August 2nd Appleblossom is the youngest in her oppossum family, and the most timid. But she has a talent for playing dead, which serves her well when her training is finished and she must venture out on her own. She and her siblings have been warned to hide during the day, and to avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded “hairies” (aka dogs). Still, Appleblossom finds herself fascinated by a human family and their pet dog. While spying on them one day, she accidentally falls down the chimney, thus beginning her true adventure, including an encounter of the human kind: the little girl in the house wants to dress her up and keep her as her new pet. Luckily Appleblossom’s faithful brothers have been watching, and they launch a successful rescue mission, which includes breaking into the house, outwitting the dog, and even enlisting their long-lost father.

TheCandyMakersAndTheGreatChocolateChaseTHE CANDY MAKERS AND THE GREAT CHOCOLATE CHASE by Wendy Mass from Little, Brown – August 2nd It has been a few months since the Harmonicandy was chosen as the winner of the nationwide candymaking contest. Forever changed by the experience, Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy have returned to their regular lives. But when presented with the chance to go on tour to promote the new candy, they each have very different reasons for hitting the road. The stakes are a lot higher than they thought, however, and a decades-old secret is revealed. In this action-packed adventure, the four friends embark on a journey full of hidden treasures, imaginary worlds, rivers of light, a map of awe, a sky of many colors, and one very small cat who thinks he’s a dog. And candy. LOTS and LOTS of candy.
They’ve already learned to trust one another. Now they’ll have to trust themselves in order to face what lies ahead and save what really matters.

WhoWasMiltonBradleyWHO WAS MILTON BRADLEY? by Kirsten Anderson, illustrated by Tim Foley and Nancy Harrison – August 2nd Born in Maine in 1836, Milton Bradley moved with his family to the working-class city of Lowell, Massachusetts, at age 11. His early life consisted of several highs and lows, from graduating high school and attending Harvard to getting laid off and losing his first wife. These experiences gave Bradley the idea for his first board game: The Checkered Game of Life. He produced and sold Life across the country and it quickly became a national sensation. Working with his company, the Milton Bradley Company, he continued to produce board games, crayons, and kid-friendly school supplies for the rest of his life. He is often credited as the father of board games, and the Milton Bradley Company has created Battleship, Jenga, Yahtzee, Trouble, and many more classic games.

HundredPercentHUNDRED PERCENT by Karen Romano Young from Chronicle – August 9th The last year of elementary school is big for every kid. Christine Gouda faces change at every turn, starting with her own nickname—Tink—which just doesn’t fit anymore. Christine navigates a year’s cringingly painful trials in normalcy—uncomfortable Halloween costumes, premature sleepover parties, crushed crushes, and changing friendships. Throughout all this, Tink learns, what you call yourself, and how you do it, has a lot to do with who you are.

FuzzyFUZZY by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger from Amulet – August 16th When Max—Maxine Zelaster—befriends her new robot classmate Fuzzy, part of Vanguard One Middle School’s new Robot Integration Program, she helps him learn everything he needs to know about surviving middle school—the good, the bad, and the really, really, ugly. Little do they know that surviving sixth grade is going to become a true matter of life and death, because Vanguard has an evil presence at its heart: a digital student evaluation system named BARBARA that might be taking its mission to shape the perfect student to extremes!

NoWayWay!NO WAY…WAY!: STINKY, STICKY, SNEAKY STUFF by Tracey West, illustrated by Luke Flowers from Smithsonian – August 16th You’ll definitely say “no way!” when you read this new addition to our Smithsonian nonfiction line. But “way!” There really is a plant that smells like a corpse. And there’s some cool science going on when it comes to sweaty feet. Ditto for how geckos hang upside down (hint: sticky hairs). Not to mention all the cool facts and photos of human and animal camouflage, spies, trompe-l’oeil art, and other sneaky stuff you’ll find in this fascinating fact book.

ZoeInWonderlandZOE IN WONDERLAND by Brenda Woods from Nancy Paulsen Books  – August 16th Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods introduces introverted, daydream-prone Zoe, who’s afraid her real life will never be as exciting as her imaginary one. Zoe Reindeer considers herself “just Zoe”—never measuring up to her too-perfect older sister or her smarty-pants little brother. Truthfully, though, she’d rather just blend in with the plants at the family business, Doc Reindeer’s Exotic Plant Wonderland. She does have one friend, Q, and he’s the best one ever—but he’s moving away, leaving Zoe to fend for herself, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. That is until a tall astronomer from Madagascar comes to the nursery looking for a Baobab tree. His visit starts a ball rolling that makes Zoe long for real adventures, not just imaginary ones—and shows her that perhaps her first real adventure is finally beginning.

ThornghostTHORNGHOST by Tone Almhjell from Dial – August 16th Strange things are happening around Niklas Summerhill’s home. A green-eyed beast is killing animals in the woods, and the nightmares that have haunted Niklas since his mother died grow more terrifying with every night. When the beast turns out to be a troll brought to life from his own games, Niklas knows he has to stop it. With the help of his lynx companion, Secret, he finds the source of the magic: a portal to another world. But this realm, once the home of peaceful animals, is also in danger. The evil Sparrow King is hunting down the few survivors from a devastating war, and a dark, blood-thirsty plant is infecting the valley. Niklas must try to save both worlds. But first he has to uncover the truth about his mother’s last words: “I’m a Thornghost.”

SoldierSisterFlyHomeSOLDIER SISTER, FLY HOME (upper MG) by Nancy Bo Flood from Charlesbridge – August 23rd  Tess is having a hard enough time understanding what it means to be part white and part Navajo, but now she’s coping with her sister Gaby’s announcement that she’s going to enlist and fight in the Iraq war. Gaby’s decision comes just weeks after the news that Lori Piestewa, a member of their community, is the first Native American woman in US history to die in combat, adding to Tess’s stress and emotions. While Gaby is away, Tess reluctantly cares for her sister’s semi-wild stallion, Blue, who will teach Tess how to deal with tragic loss and guide her own journey of self-discovery.

Lori Piestewa was a real-life soldier who was killed in Iraq and was a member of the Hopi tribe. Back matter includes further information about Piestewa as well as a note by author Nancy Bo Flood detailing her experiences living on the Navajo reservation. A pronunciation guide to all Navajo vocabulary used within the text is also included.

TheRatPrinceTHE RAT PRINCE by Bridget Hodder from Foster, Farrar, Straus and Giroux – August 23rd The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman on the night of the big ball. And he’s about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on his way to a most unexpected happy ending!

 

 

 

TalkingLeaves

TALKING LEAVES by Joseph Bruchac from Dial – August 23rd From the acclaimed author of Code Talker, a compelling new work of historical fiction about Sequoyah and the creation of the Cherokee alphabet. Thirteen-year-old Uwohali has not seen his father, Sequoyah, for many years. So when Sequoyah returns to the village, Uwohali is eager to reconnect and learn from one of his people’s greatest craftsman. But Sequoyah’s new obsession with making strange markings causes friends and neighbors in their tribe to wonder whether he is crazy or worse—practicing witchcraft. What they don’t know, and what Uwohali discovers, is that the strange markings are actually symbols, an alphabet representing the sounds of the Tsalagi (or Cherokee) language.

MAXI’S SECRETS (OR WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM A DOGMaxisSecrets) by Lynn Plourde from Nancy Paulsen Books – August 23rd When a BIG, lovable, does-it-her-way dog wiggles her way into the heart of a loudmouth pipsqueak of a boy, wonderful things happen that help him become a bigger, better person. Timminy knows that moving to a new town just in time to start middle school when you are perfect bully bait is less than ideal. But he gets a great consolation prize in Maxi—a gentle giant of a dog who the family quickly discovers is deaf. Timminy is determined to do all he can to help Maxi—after all, his parents didn’t return him because he was a runt. But when the going gets rough for Timminy, who spends a little too much time getting shoved into lockers at school, Maxi ends up being the one to help him—along with their neighbor, Abby, who doesn’t let her blindness define her and bristles at Timminy’s “poor-me” attitude. It turns out there’s more to everyone than what’s on the surface, whether it comes to Abby, Maxi, or even Timminy himself.

ISurvivedTheEruptionOfMountStHelensI SURVIVED THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT ST. HELENS, 1980 by Lauren Tarshis from Scholastic – August 30th It was one the most beautiful mountains in America, Mount St. Helens, in Washington State. But what many didn’t know was that this peaceful mountain had an explosive past. For more than a century, it had been quiet. But below ground, pressure had been building, and soon, Kaboom!Mount St. Helens would erupt with terrifying fury. Eleven-year-old Jessie Marlowe knew the mountain well, and like many, she never imagined that this serene wilderness could turn deadly. But on May 10th, 1980, Jessie finds herself in the middle of the deadliest volcanic eruption in U.S. history. Trapped on the mountain, she must escape clouds of poisonous gas, boiling rivers, and landslides of rock, glacial ice, and white-hot debris.The newest book in the I Survived series will take readers into one of the most environmentally devastating events in recent U.S. history.

MakingFriendsWithBillyWongMAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG by Augusta Scattergood from Scholastic – August 30th Azalea is not happy about being dropped off to look after Grandmother Clark. Even if she didn’t care that much about meeting the new sixth graders in her Texas hometown, those strangers seem much preferable to the ones in Paris Junction. Talk about troubled Willis DeLoach or gossipy Melinda Bowman. Who needs friends like these! And then there’s Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother’s garden. Billy’s great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren’t friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.
Inspired by the true accounts of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the civil rights era, these side by side stories–one in Azalea’s prose, the other in Billy’s poetic narrative–create a poignant novel and reminds us that friends can come to us in the most unexpected ways.

What books are you looking forward to reading this month?

Louise Galveston is the author of By the Grace of Todd and In Todd We Trust (Penguin/Razorbill)